Cooking classes, market visits & maybe even a stop a mom’s house are all part of tours to Puglia, Italy
Zachary-Cy Vanasse

Massimo Bruno
Toronto-based chef Massimo Bruno invited a small group of journalists to his studio-kitchen on Thursday night for a literal taste of what is on offer during his chef-led culinary tours of Italy’s Puglia region.

Preparing the meal in the casual setting which sometimes serves as the location for Bruno’s supper clubs, the man who doesn’t want to be called chef described his love of food and of his home region.

Bruno grew up in the Puglia region, discovered his passion for cooking early in his life and is now sharing that passion with guests on his six-night culinary tours.

His tours are accommodated at a local boutique hotel which was converted from a farming complex with a series of 8th century stone huts where guests will learn the secrets of preparing many of the local favourites in Bruno’s two-days of cooking classes.

Classes begin, of course, in the same place any traditional meal in Puglia begins: the market. The market, as Bruno explained it, is like the Facebook for the region, it’s where everybody goes to catch-up, socialize and, of course, pick-up their ingredients for the day.

Bruno’s love and passion for the culinary arts is obvious and when he takes guests to a market one can correctly assume that he has chosen the market because it provides him and his guests with the highest quality, authentic ingredients.

Massimo Bruno
The meals he chooses to make with his cooking classes are sometimes decided upon on the fly, based on what is fresh and available in the market on the day of the classes, said Bruno.

A culinary tour of Puglia is also a cultural tour based purely on how important food is to the cultural fabric of the region, explained Bruno. Travellers will also visit wineries, historic sites and many of the unknown hidden gems that only a local like Bruno would know about. A tour might also include a trip to his mother’s house for a truly-authentic Puglia experience.

“Sometimes, we don’t always follow the itinerary,” said Bruno. While travellers are guaranteed plenty of food and cooking, if the weather suddenly calls for a day at the beach or a picnic in the forests, then he and the tour will improvise.

Many of the travellers Bruno takes on his tours are on two-week holidays, he said. Travellers will often take a week before or after the tour to travel on their own and use the other week to take in the authentic Puglia culinary experience on his tour.

After having nearly sold-out in 2011, the new season of tours is being launched earlier for 2012 so that additional dates can be added if needed. Departures are scheduled for May 20, May 30, Sept. 2 and Sept. 12, 2012.

From $2,499 per person, the six-night guided land-only tours include accommodation, transportation, most meals, two cooking days, daily excursions and entrance fees. Tours are commissionable to agents at 10 per cent.

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