What is a Culinary Concierge?
One of our favourite movies is Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel. It tells the story of M. Gustave and his loyal lobby boy Zero, as they navigate their way through an impossible series of events- at their most desperate times they have but one source to which they can turn, The Society of the Crossed Keys. An impeccably dressed, tight knit group of the most intrepid hotel concierges, who could spirit a wrongly accused yet nonetheless fugitive colleague off to a safe locale while all the while making dinner reservations for their most honoured guests.
"How does one come by front row aisle seats for a first night at the Opera Toscana with one day's notice? How does one arrange a private viewing of the tapestry collection at the Royal Saxon Gallery? How does one secure a corner table at Chez Dominique on a Thursday?"
Just as 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' is a love letter to a bygone era, the concierge evokes the splendour of a grand hotel and the luxury of globe trotting bon vivants taking in the sights of foreign lands from behind oversized sunglasses. These days, our holidays are much more diffuse, and we do a lot of the planning and wandering on our own. It's a great thing, don't get us wrong: when we travel we love exploring aimlessly and following our feet toward the next adventure (or hilarious mishap).
We first arrived in Italy on just such a lark, and more than three years later we've found some of the most incredible spots and secret corners in what is one of the lesser explored regions of the country. You see, in that expanse between Rome and Florence that is so often sped through on a leg of a great tour there are some of the most fantastic towns, sights, and experiences to be had in one of the most visited countries in the world. We thought that all of the knowledge that we'd managed to build up was too good to not share, so we dusted off our hospitality caps, started offering those tips and dropping those names to open doors that people might never have otherwise known existed.
Our background is in food, and the contacts that we've made are almost all involved in some way in the legendary network that makes Italy a standard bearer in the culinary world. As such, we decided that being concierges in the M. Gustave sense was not quite what our skill set warranted. Instead, we wanted to offer authentic experiences that could be tailored to each person but that would focus on getting to know food in Italy a bit better. Thus, the culinary concierge was born, where we offer:
We're happy to come to your home or rental property to prepare a meal for you and your guests, and can work with you to plan a menu or give you a taste of some local dishes. Let us know where you are and when you're hungry, and we'll do the rest.
During the season we are chefs in residence at the Abbazia di San Giusto, a 12th century Cistercian Abbey that has been incredibly restored and converted into an agriturismo and event space. Guests of the Abbey can book us to cook for them throughout their stay, and in special cases the Abbey is open to the public for dinner. Take a look at previous menus. Book your stay at the Abbey, you will not be sorry.
Italy is one of the best places to organise an event, for almost any occasion. We've put together academic conferences, corporate retreats, family reunions and birthday parties. Heck, we even helped celebrate a bishop being ordained!
If you've got an event in mind and want an incredible event, we'll help you find a space, set it up and of course prepare a stellar menu. Contact us and tell us some more about your plans, and we'll make it happen.
We know how many people love getting married in Italy, and we love seeing weddings here, but we're not wedding planners and we typically don't do wedding receptions. However, we know some great wedding planners all over Italy, and we're happy to put you in touch with them for your special day. Plus, we are happy to organise your rehearsal dinner or day after brunch!
Italy is a feast for the senses, and the best way to take it all in is to let your stomach lead you. We design culinary tours around the area from our base in Tuscania, and in partnership with our amazing friends at My Love Italy in Tarquinia.
Italy really is a bunch of different countries in one and even though you can't see it all in one go (or maybe even a lifetime) you can spend some time with farmers, artisans and local legends that make this such an incredible place.
We love going off the beaten path- hey, that's what brought us to Tuscania! But just because you want to avoid the tourist traps doesn't mean you have to go it alone. We'll work with you to design the tour you want, and we'll give you as much help (or distance) as you'd like. And we'll always be a phone call away in case you need us to translate, bail you out, or get you home.
Want to come with a group? Together with My Love Italy we've got immersive tours that take you all over the area and think of every detail without making you feel like you're a dime a dozen. We'll cook, we'll drink, we'll get authentic.
What is the point of having a Michelin trained chef if he can't teach you some pointers, right? Mark is an amazing teacher, and he's done cooking classes with groups from all over the world, and is a specialist of pasta making classes with kids as well as adults (check out his squad).
We also love the stories behind the dishes, which is what led Mark to teach a course about the culinary history of Tuscania at the Instituto Lorenzo de Medici for university students. We also think that cooking well is about knowing your kitchen, and your instruments, so we offer a knife skills class for aspiring chefs to get a handle (!) on their tools.
But cooking isn't all about the kitchen! We love doing foraging tours where we wander around the countryside gathering the ingredients that go into some of Tuscania's signature dishes. We are also honoured to work with our dear friend Francesco Marras, a Sardinian cheesemaker who practices the ancient art of pecorino out of his home studio. We'll take you to his home, help you make your own cheese, and even arrange to have it sent to you at home after Francesco ages it for you. Read more about his story here.
These are a few of the things that we do, but we can help you with a lot of other things that you might need while you pass through our neck of the woods. We can still get you tickets to shows, or on trains, or have you meet a prince or two and if you need it, we might just be able to spirit you away to a monastery for a bit of relaxation (we don't really traffic in fugitives though). But don't worry, no question is too silly, too small or too strange.
So grab those oversize sunglasses, and we'll get the Keys.