Circle of Misse

A Cook Progresses

Carefully dressing plates for dinner service
Carefully dressing plates for dinner service 

This extended version of 'Begins & Prepares' picks up where the 'Begins' experience leaves off, delving deeper into the sensory side of food and wine, and introducing more advanced techniques. This course will broaden your knowledge and deepen your passion for all things gastronomic while boosting your confidence and appreciation for the magic that food, wine and entertaining can bring to our lives.


Who Attends?  EVERYONE. Whether you’ve just discovered your home has a kitchen, or you’ve been cooking since you were a toddler, or anywhere in-between. Avid foodie all the way to the simply curious: you’ll love this course because it’s about learning new things and getting a taste of the best the French culinary scene has to offer. The ‘Progresses’ of the title refers to the continuation of the discovery you embarked on at the beginning of the week in ‘Begins & Prepares’. With the extra couple of days it builds on the imaginative and creative aspects of cooking and gastronomy in a fresh, open and thoughtful manner. It is designed to excite the senses, engage curiosity and get you excited about flavours, textures and culinary stories, histories and the science of food, regardless of cooking experience or knowledge. From someone who just discovered their kitchen has an oven to the most avid foodie and home cook. Wherever you start experience-wise ‘Progresses’ moves you the next level by providing even more practical application of your new skills and understanding acquired during the week.

‘Such an enjoyable week. Everything the three of you did for us was so caring for us all. I shall look forward to being much more adventurous with my cooking at home. I leave with very many happy memories. Many thanks to you all.’

- Di (Beverley, UK)

Multiple skills levels on the same course?  Not to worry. Everyone works at their own pace. We keep the course size small (never more than four) and you work with our entire kitchen team, so we are able to give individual attention. In fact, a few weeks before the course begins, we send you an email asking some questions about your experience and interest in food, wine and cookery. We use that information to tailor the course specifically to your needs. We use tested teaching methods and exercises that work on multiple levels, allowing participants at different knowledge and skill levels to take part. As the course progresses participants will work with different members of the kitchen team on developing specific skills of interest to them.

How does it work?  Depending on your existing culinary skill levels and particular interest, you’ll begin the week with a combination of sessions that include hands-on cooking, practical tips and kitchen skills development; as well as exploratory, sensory and creative exercises centred on cooking, flavours, gastronomy and French regional culinary culture, you become immersed in a world of creativity and culinary delights. This first part of the programme follows the general shape of the ‘A Cook Begins & Prepares’ with some variation based on your specific interests. Then with your additional couple of days, you’ll continue to explore and learn new skills, including additional food research and menu planning exercises. This will all culminate in an exciting final project where you get to research, design and implement a menu you choose with the help of our kitchen staff which we’ll serve to all participants gathered at Misse for our various activities at the farewell dinner on Saturday night. Circle of Misse is a working kitchen that is at the heart of all activities here, turning out three exceptional meals every day, along with amazing selection of baked goods, homemade charcuterie, and other culinary delights. You’ll become a part of that world. We’ll visit artisan food producers, oil presses, cheese producers, vineyards, markets and other sites where you’ll learn about food and engage your senses through a series of fun creativity exercises. You’ll explore taste, learning why certain foods and flavours combine better than others. We’ll explore some culinary history, make connections between food, culture, nature, science, happiness and well-being. You’ll learn kitchen skills, techniques you can apply at home, both to become a better, a happier cook, but also to impress your friends. This a truly immersive and creative experience.

I don’t drink, is this course still for me?  Absolutely. While wine plays an important part in French culinary history and we take advantage of the rich resources of our own wine region by exposing participants to its history and variety, non-drinkers are welcome and get just as robust of an experience. All our tasting experiences work just as well with other non-alcoholic specialities of the region.

I am vegetarian or pescatarian, is this course for me?  Absolutely. We cook for all appetites here and our repertoire includes an extraordinary number of vegetarian dishes. We’re only an hour and half from the coast, so our markets feature some of the best fish and seafood in the country. We can’t promise that there won’t be meat dishes prepared on your course by others, but we always include vegetarian dishes as well and can ensure that you don’t have to work with meat if you do not wish to.

What will I take away?  Confidence in yourself and a desire to try new things in all areas of life. A deeper appreciation of seasonal cooking, a sheaf of recipes, tips and ideas, along with a desire to continue to explore the concepts you discovered during the course. You’ll also leave with a deep understanding of menu planning, food research skills, dinner party hosting skills, along with a brilliant tried and tested menu of your own devising that we’ll serve the final night. You can use this menu back home to pamper your friends and family and continue to grow your culinary repertoire.

‘More than enjoyable, your cookery course in August was sensational and I can't wait to try the recipes on my West Australian friends. Thank you Aaron!! See you next year for another Missé experience.’

- Margaret (Perth, Australia)


Course Length: Starts Sunday late afternoon, ends Sunday morning (7 nights)

Schedule: Schedule: Morning and afternoon sessions each day. Excursions to area attractions such as markets, vineyards, oil presses, artisan food producers and chateaus built into programme. Free time available each day.

Prior cooking experience or knowledge required?  No. Creativity based and suitable for both the absolute beginner, experienced and seasoned cooks and foodies.

Can I bring a non-cooking friend or partner?  Absolutely, as long they want to participate in one of our other creativity based programmes. We have both writing and painting experiences for all skill and interest levels that run concurrently with our cooking course. We’ve designed it that way for your convenience. Because of how meals, excursions and general logistics work, we simply can’t provide accommodation only options. Besides, there’s so much fun, activity and excitement at Misse, everyone always wants to be a part of the activities. If the other person(s) in your group wishes to attend a course which is shorter than yours, we offer a ‘retreat top-up’ package so that they can enjoy accommodation, food, wine and the relaxation of a retreat during the days that their course is not running.

Accommodation:  The Circle of Misse comprises several beautiful properties, including, the Misse Farmhouse and River House in the Thouet River Valley, and the Old Post Office House in nearby Moncontour. All the properties have beautiful rooms with double beds, wardrobes and writing desks. Most share a bathroom. Due to the nature of how we schedule courses, we regret that we cannot take requests for particular properties or rooms. For the 2015 season, due to renovation work at the Misse Farmhouse, all courses and most accommodation will be held at The Old Post Office.

Meals & Drinks:  Breakfast, lunch & dinner each day, including wine & cocktails. Coffee, tea, juices, soft drinks and snacks available all the time.

Cost: £895  (includes EVERYTHING except travel to France). To secure a place a deposit of £300 is due at the time of booking; the balance is due 45 days before the course starts.

Booking & Dates

Please see the Food & Wine Calendar for dates and details of how to make a booking.

Travel Information

Please note: Due to changes to Ryanair's schedule in 2015, all pick-ups and drop-offs will be made at Poitiers.
Free pick-up and drop-off at Poitiers Airport or Poiters Centre Rail Station (coordinated with the Ryanair London Stansted Flight) as follows:
Pick-up Poitiers Airport 17:00 (flight FR8474 London-Poitiers arrives 16:40)
Pick-up Poitiers Centre Rail Station 16:00
Drop-off Poitiers Airport circa 15:00 (flight FR8475 Poitiers-London departs 17:05)
Drop-off Poitiers Centre rail station circa 15:30

Participants can also make their own way via train to Thouars (our local rail station) or drive to Misse (we will provide directions).

Cooking Courses in Pictures

  • Garganelli served with both fennel & tomato and pork ragus

  • A Wild Nettle (Stinging) Risotto

  • Writers reap rewards from the cookery school

  • Making Halloumi Cheese

  • Taking a break to taste a Sauvignon Blanc from Haut Poitou

  • A Misse speciality - Tagliatelli with Radish Leaf Pesto

  • Cooks Prepare White Asparagus Risotto

  • A Festive Ballotine of Turkey (Boned, layered and cooked in its original skin)

  • Peaches poached in Cabernet Franc Wine

  • Pasta Sunflowers stuffed with wild rabbit and dressed with a Girolle Sauce