February 13, 2025 – March 28, 2025
Costs do NOT include flights to and from Sicily. Breakfast, dinner and weekend meals. Individual travel and transport on weekends.
Cook the Farm Winter Session encourages students to experience, think and taste what is in front of them. Lectures, presentations and field work sessions by subject matter experts (agronomists, enologists, professors, food professionals, etc.) are joined with group discussion to further the conversation about food and food systems. Site visits to cheesemakers, flour mills, citrus groves and more allow insight into the cultivation and production of local products. Hands-on, family style cooking classes help familiarize you with classic Sicilian cuisine, while demos and tastings open you up to new flavors. To understand food from the ground up, classroom and outdoor horticultural sessions expose participants to practices and methods used in sustainable cultivation. The program includes six nights of off site travel to explore the varying geography, food customs and traditions found around the diverse island of Sicily.
What’s new in 2025!?
Our six-week program is the best of the best. You can count on standard CTF programming remaining about 80% the same each year. However, we’re always on the lookout for new guest presenters, producers, and opportunities for you to expand your understanding of Sicily’s immense diversity. You can expect the same wonderful experiences, exposure to a myriad of people, places, and foods, and a true opening in your understanding of local food systems. During the six weeks, there will be some planned Saturday activities but also optional programmed weekends that you can sign up for if you wish to further enhance your experience. The course is, as always, a moment to challenge yourself to figure out what your priorities, interests, and goals are when it comes to participating in the food system.
As of 2024, 97 participants have been engaged in the CTF program. Participants have hailed from eleven different countries including the United States, Canada, Egypt, Australia, Brazil, the UK, Italy, Germany, Japan, Singapore, and the Netherlands. Students come from backgrounds as varied as fashion, finance, farming, front-of-house and back-of-house restaurant work, wine, catering, community organizing, teaching, non-profit management, politics, and real estate. Cook the Farm graduates have carried on to start their own farmsteads, flourish in food writing careers, open bakeries, work in food education, start media consulting businesses for small producers and farmers, and run corporate dining services.
Arrive on Thursday and get settled into your new hometown of Valledolmo. Join us at Case Vecchie to get a lay of the land. We will get to know each other and go over course aims and objectives. Saturday you will have a group visit around Valledolmo and a group lunch.
Starting from the idea of taste, we’ll explore what taste means scientifically and culturally. We focus on language as a tool for narrating our personal food experiences.
how to taste | the language of food | icons of Sicilian cooking | small batch cheese making | all about honey
citrus tastings | cheese-maker | shepherd visit
flavor specialist Nikki Welch | goat cheese maker and breeder Giacomo Gati |Miele Thun honey expert Francesca Paternoster
Dive into the Sicilian food landscape with a taste for Sicily’s staple crop: wheat. Get familiar with wheat varieties, processing practices, and uses.
wheat (origin, diversity, and uses) | from grain to flour to pasta | pasta making (northern and southern techniques) |
local flour mill | pastificio (pasta making factory!) | day trip to historic village bakery Forno Santa Rita
professional pasta-making master Rina Poletti |
Learn more about the liquid that gives Sicily a good name, in wine week! We examine the concept of terroir, what is “natural,” and communicating the tasting experience. Familiarize yourself with the Tasca D'Almerita wines made on site. Trip to our island's infamous volcano Mt. Etna !
vine pruning, soil tilling and treatment | technicalities of winemaking | Sicilian grape varieties | the pairing of wine and food | low intervention wines | wine tasting and talking with winemakers
Tasca d'Almerita Winery | Etna wineries | trekking on a volcano | wild pistachio grove
Professional pruner Livio Tognon | Sicilian winemakers TBC
A week dedicated to sustainable growing and eating from the ground up. From pasture to prosciutto, we forage and preserve our findings and focus on animals and animal products. A chance to think about how our food consumption shapes our identity and question the ethics of meat-eating.
foraging for wild edibles | preserving and canning | the art of butchering | a Sicilian BBQ| a day in the life of a shepherd |
local butcher | semiotics professor Gianfranco Marrone | Chiara Leto
Step back and consider how we give value to food and what we consider quality. Olive oil making, tasting, and history. Then head off to see Sicily's western Coast.
traditional Sicilian cooking | local food systems of Valledolmo | olive oil
Olive oil mill (not in production) | pruning in the vineyards and of olive trees | Salt flats of Trapani | Organic winemaker Natalia Simeti | Marsala making | The island of Mozia
| Olive Oil expert, taster, and grower Sarah Wolferstan | Local food purveyors from Valledolmo
An introduction to outstanding community builders of Sicily. And our time to celebrate the CTF 2024 community.
cooking as an educational practice | building community around food | final reflections
food journalist Rachel Roddy