taste . try . cook
the novanta food academy
food for thought ... quite literally
Anyone who wants to learn the essence of Italian cuisine has to head back to its roots. A handful of years ago, we did exactly that. It brought us to an abandoned village on the edge of the Casentine forest, in the rural heart of Tuscany. Along an ancient pilgrimage route we found slopes and forests where soil and climate create the perfect conditions for foodie treasures.
Each flavour here is a story in itself. Local knowledge of ingredients, their origin and preparation is shared from generation to generation, and amongst friends. As luck would have it, this is how we too were introduced to this valley and the people within it. Fabrizio told us about the pigs, boar and deer in the forest, and his mother taught us how to make real pasta. Massimo shared his knowledge of vegetables, where they grow best and when they have the most flavour. Marco introduced us to the grape varieties that thrive in the area and even Nicola dared to share the secrets of his truffle routes with us!
The Novanta Food Academy is the result of our collaboration with these local experts, and our great friends. They help us to link the valley; it’s land, it’s seasons and it’s traditions, with our kitchen. We connect their knowledge to our unstoppable need to experiment and innovate. Based on this, we have put together a unique program that can only exist here – inseparable from this valley, its flavours and its people.
In every edition of the Food Academy, our chef Jeroen Cappendijk chooses specific themes that match the season; The art of making a true sourdough, foraging and preparing mushrooms and truffles or sott’olio preserving vegetables. In this way, each edition opens up a world of new possibilities, both for professionals and for enthusiasts alike, hunting for something different; discovering unrivalled authenticity.
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Got an idea?
Just looking for a holiday with a hint of cucina? No worries! Come and stay with us, learn how to make pasta, hunt for truffles, and taste some local delicacies. The perfect balance of luxurious relaxation and food fueled learning. Check out availability here.
meet our tenacious teachers
[ Novanta's beloved head chef ]
Talents ; heart of Italian cuisine. Risotto masterclasses + preserving
Jeroen thinks, eats (of course,) and dreams of the Italian kitchen. Lucky then that his partner Annie (our brilliant Hotel Manager) has a soft spot for Jeroen’s al dente risotto! Jeroen is a through and through chef; schooled in Amsterdam but lost his heart to Italy the moment he arrived. Jeroen lives for tradition, and is convinced that we can successfully apply these traditions into a modern diet. Treating ingredients with more respect is the first step on that journey – and Jeroen is never happier than when he is in his kitchen learning from stubborn opinionated Italians, or sharing those secrets with others.
[ Farm to table poster guy ]
Talents ; Pork! Butchering, curing + nose to tail cooking
Where to start with this one …? Above all else, his passion is extraordinary. Make Fabrizio a quick bowl of pasta, he will thank you with a genuine smile, and promptly produce a sausage from his pocket (pun intended,) his knife from the other (no pun, are you mad?) and share the latest test batch recipe with the table from his organic salumeria. This is the man who brings the prosciutto into the bedroom in winter because, obviously, “otherwise it gets too cold.” Tough looking, but actually sweet and somewhat shy, Fabrizio is the kindest, wisest and most handy man in the whole of Casentino.
[ Culinary Swiss army knife ]
Talents ; Butchering, traditional Tuscan recipes + Bistecca Fiorentina
Massi is the type of guy who prefers to eat at home rather than a mediocre restaurant. Professional butcher, great chef, and an avid believer in Slow Food and traditional Italian cooking. Pronounce a pasta dish wrong and he will chop off your tongue with a cleaver! Massimo is the backbone of our F&B department. He sources only the best ingredients from all around the area, and takes great pleasure in being the Casentino – Novanta middle man, especially when it involves introducing new suppliers over long wine fuelled dinners!
The man is charm personified, quick witted and generous to the core – one of the greatest people imaginable to spend a masterclass with.
[ The epitome of a well travelled foodie ]
Talents; Concept. How to eat meat better, and the fine art of tasting
We are very excited to introduce our first Novanta Food Academy guest, Joël Broekaert!
After a history degree, a journalism masters and many years writing for the NRC and RTL (if you know what they are) he has finally settled into his lifelong passion of eating delicious food and writing about it! Now, lucky lucky Joël gets to travel the globe dining in the worlds best, and equally the worlds most basic (but of course secretly epic) restaurants, and telling his avid readers in great descriptive detail just what they’re missing. Thanks Joel! But it’s Joël’s passion for uncovering unique, undiscovered, transforming culinary gems which has brought him to us, and we are delighted to collaborate with him on this new addition to our Food Academy list.
[ The walking encyclopaedia ]
Talents; Foraging, the greatest hunt for truffles and mushrooms
Nicola is our man in the Field. His knowledge of the land and the treasures hidden within it is quite astounding. He knows where to find the good stuff; but not without the help of his furry (and rather loopy) companions.
This is by far the most magical part of walking the hills with Nicola, watching the amazing bond between a man and his dogs. Not to mention that it makes him easy to find; shouting in practiced despair as one of them chomps down a glorious truffle just before he can grab it from their slobbery grasp! But fear not … he is quicker than you think and we never come home empty handed – especially in Autumn when your pockets are stuffed with a bounty of wild mushrooms which he just couldn’t leave behind!