2000s Archive

Cooking Schools: Fairburn Farm

An immersion program in Vancouver Island, Canada. See Gourmet’s full list of the world’s best cooking schools.
Fairburn Farm

Classes at Fairburn Farm focus on Italian food, but the real emphasis is on the region’s culinary artisans.

Our congenial group of eight launched immediately into a whirlwind of chopping, kneading, stirring, and tasting in the old farmhouse kitchen at Fairburn Farm Culinary Retreat and Guesthouse, six miles from the Strait of Georgia, which separates Vancouver Island from the mainland. Mara Jernigan, our host and teacher, showed us how to prepare the regional Italian food she loves—a terrific honey semifreddo, a parsley-infused tomato sauce, delicate pasta frolla (a short pastry crust for tarts), and a quick sautéed red cabbage with raspberry vinegar, among many other delectable dishes. She also introduced us to several of the incredibly passionate farmers (Lyle Young of Island Farmhouse Poultry), vintners (Giordano and Marilyn Venturi of Venturi-Schulze Vineyards), bakers (Jonathan Knight of True Grain Bread), and foragers (chef-writer Bill Jones) who are lucky enough to call the beautiful Cowichan Valley their home. (250-746-4637; fairburnfarm.bc.ca; $1,995 per person, double occupancy, for five days, including meals)

What I Learned

Pass dough through the pasta machine on its widest setting until it feels like leather. Then you can narrow the setting.

Biggest Surprise

The focus on restaurant-style cooking was confusing for those of us who just wanted to perfect our skills. It’s probably more straightforward today.

Before You Go

Pack indoor and outdoor shoes; you are in the country … and you might have to check the chicken coop for eggs.

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