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Welcome to Sicily

Cook the Farm is an immersive and experiential style of food education that takes place at Case Vecchie in rural Sicily. The first winter program was inaugurated in 2016 by Anna Tasca Lanza owner and director, Fabrizia Lanza. Cook the Farm courses bring together participants from around the world to cook, eat and think about food landscapes. Lectures, tastings, and hands-on lessons both in the kitchen and on the land encourage participants to open their eyes to the complexity of our food systems at both local and global scales. Participants consider the stereotypes that underlie beliefs about traditional cuisines and grapple with the cultural, social, economic, and environmental issues around food. Cook the Farm is offered as a two-month winter session from mid-January to mid-March and as a weeklong intensive course in the fall.

Immerse yourself

Cook the Farm programs are unique in that students are housed off-site in the neighboring town of Valledolmo, just 8 kilometers away from the Case Vecchie (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.

Aims and Objectives

Our goal is to provide students with a comprehensive appreciation for food production that leads to a critical perspective on food, empowering awareness of self and surroundings. This immersive educational approach:

  • Provides access to Sicilian life and food production
  • Offers practical and theoretical lessons
  • Facilitates discussions to cultivate critical thinking
  • Exposes tools to enable self-directed learning after the program

How you learn

Frontal learning +
group discussions

Lectures, presentations, and explanations by experts in their fields (agronomists, enologists, professors, food professionals, etc.) are combined with group discussions to further the conversation about food and food systems.

Site visits

Cheese making, flour mills, farms, citrus groves and more...site visits allow insight into the growing and production of local products.

In the kitchen

Hands-on classes about bread baking, pasta making and classic Sicilian cuisine are combined with demos and tastings. Lessons are taught by our in-house chef as well as outside experts: butchers, cheese-makers, Michelin starred chefs and more.

On the land

Case Vecchie vegetable plots and orchards provide a training ground for understanding more about outdoor growing practices.

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Podcast from 2018

Who Should Apply

Cook the Farm benefits from diversity among participants. In the past, students have come from the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Brazil, the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Australia, and Canada and from a variety of backgrounds. However, all participants are motivated, curious, and excited about hands-on and field-based learning which requires hard work, patience, and a sense of community.

We’re looking for:

  • People interested in food from the source (how it’s grown, processed, cooked and enjoyed)
  • Those wishing to gain more kitchen confidence
  • All people curious and excited about Sicilian cuisine
  • Recent graduates interested in food but not yet decided on a career path
  • Those looking for a career change into a more food oriented profession
  • Culinary professionals, farmers, growers and restaurant workers looking for a more complete view of food and food systems

Cook the Farm Coming up

Cook the Farm Intensive Week

November 1 - 7, 2020

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01. Ancient Grains in Sicily

What brought a former mathematics student from Los Angeles to rural Sicily? Find out as Cook the Farm participant Annie Rimmon explores ancient grains, fascist communes, and Slow Food with Bonnetta dell’Oglio, Sicilian chef and food activist.

02. Let’s Talk Taste

Sommelier, former restaurant manager, and Cook the Farm participant Gwen Koch from Boston, Massachusetts talks sensory experiences, linguistic codes, and current wine writers with Nikki Welch, creator of the Wine Tube Map and professor at the University of Edinburgh.

03. The Wonderful World of Wine

Ben Lyttelton former restaurant manager and Cook-the-farm participant from London, England drinks his way through the world of natural wine with Sicilian winemaker and force of nature, Arianna Occhipinti.

04. Food and Identity in Diaspora

When newlyweds Brent and Marieke Desmond thought of their dream honeymoon, rural Sicily was probably not what first came to mind. Join them with Rita Bariche, founder of Diaspora Cuisine, and learn about the complex nature of Mediterranean cooking and how the Syrian diaspora is reshaping national cuisine and identity.

05. Farewell

Fabrizia Lanza returned to Sicily after already living her first life in Northern Italy. Hear about what she rediscovered about her homeland and what inspired her to invite participants from all around the world to live and learn for 10-weeks in her family estate, Regaleali.