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WHEN

February 13, 2025 – March 28, 2025

PRICE

€ 11,400

Costs do NOT include flights to and from Sicily. Breakfast, dinner and weekend meals. Individual travel and transport on weekends.

What’s Included

  • All classes, outings, and housing over the 6-week period
  • All lunches during lesson days (Monday to Friday)
  • Six nights accommodation during field trips around Sicily (Accommodation for overnight trips is in shared double rooms. Single rooms available for a supplemental price)  
  •  
  • Transportation to and from daily lessons and for school outings
  • Initial pick up and final drop off at select times from Palermo airport or train station
  • Access to digital content such as recipes, presentations and readings as well as printed readings and handouts
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Cook the Farm

Winter Session 2025: February 13 - March 28, 2025

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. 

Participants

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.

Life in Valledolmo

You’ll be living in the town of Valledolmo, just eight kilometers away from the School (a 20-minute bus ride). With not even 4,000 people, this small hill town is a picture perfect representation of life in the heart of rural Sicily. Laundry on the lines, women endlessly sweeping the stoop and many old men lining benches watching the slow pace of life. It’s a chance to immerse yourself in typical small-town life and get to know what it’s like to live in a place that has at its core agricultural roots. There are a few pizzerias and small bars for coffee and drinks. The town is about 2 hours from Palermo and Catania, 1.5 hours from Cefalu, and 1 hour from Agrigento by car. The most accessible train station is Roccapalumba-Alia (about 40 minutes away).

In a family

If you’re looking to improve your Italian and get a taste of local life, consider a homestay. Each student has their own bedroom and bathroom but shares common space with the family. You can expect to be invited to family events, meals and on weekend trips.

In the convent

Situated on the main road in town, the convent has eight single rooms each with a private bathroom. The rooms are simple with small twin beds and furnished with basic necessities. Towels and sheets are provided. Laundry and cleaning are organized weekly. There is a communal kitchen stocked with basic utensils for cooking evening and morning meals. Wifi is available but not always reliable. There are two nuns who inhabit the nunnery in separate living quarters, but you can often find them roaming the halls or listening to mass on TV. You have your own keys to come and go as you please, but it is a shared environment and you are asked to be respectful of others.

Apply

Applications for 2025 are now open.

Apply here.

 Please reach out to cookthefarm@annatascalanza.com for any questions. 

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis with a first round of interviews scheduled for April.

Sessions

Monday - Friday, 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
(with some exceptions). Occasional Saturday excursions.

Language

English/Italian
(Course material in English. Translation provided for Italian lecturers/experiences)

Contact info

email:

Number of students

Maximum 14

Projected Program 2025

Projected schedule. Activities and presenters are subject to change without notice and dates of events may be shuffled to suit guest presenter and/or producer needs. The program below is an idea of themes, activities, and topics that may be covered.
There are two optional paid weekend trips: one to Palermo, the other to Catania so you can explore the island's two main cities.

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. 

Explore

how to taste | the language of food | icons of Sicilian cooking | ​small batch cheese making | all about honey

Visit

citrus tastings | cheese-maker | shepherd visit 

Guest presenters

f​lavor 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.  

Explore

wheat (origin, diversity, and uses) | from grain to flour to pasta | pasta making (northern and southern techniques) | 

Visit

l​ocal flour mill | pastificio (pasta making factory!) | day trip to historic village bakery Forno Santa Rita

Guest presenters

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 !

Explore
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

Visit

Tasca d'Almerita Winery | Etna wineries | trekking on a volcano |  wild pistachio grove

Guest Presenters

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.

Explore

foraging for wild edibles | preserving and canning | the art of butchering | a Sicilian BBQ| a day in the life of a shepherd |

Guest presenters

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.

Explore
 traditional Sicilian cooking | local food systems of Valledolmo | olive oil

Visit

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 

Guest presenters

| 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.

Explore

cooking as an educational practice | building community around food | final reflections 

Guest presenters

food journalist Rachel Roddy

Photos: Rachel Gonzalez CTF student 2024

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