Between busy work schedules, spending time with loved ones and catching up on hobbies, taking the time to cook a full meal from start to finish, using only freshly sourced ingredients, can seem like the ultimate luxury. Transport yourself to the sprawling landscape of Tullamore Farms in Stockton, New Jersey, like we did for our New England road trip with the new Lincoln MKX, and that very same idea suddenly seems much more attainable.
And what if you could not only have that time and access, but also the guidance to build your kitchen skills and experiment? Enter The Farm Cooking School. Founded and run by former Gourmet Magazine recipe chefs Ian Knauer and Shelley Wiseman, the school resides on a working farm in the New Jersey countryside and provides guests with a truly unique, fully immersive cooking experience where students come for a day or a weekend and learn to prepare beautiful, elegant dishes…literally from the farm to the table.
“There are many aspects to the experience,” Shelley explains. “Looking out in every direction there are fields, and cows roaming around. They get a sense of where the different things we source come from. Then they sit down together and have dinner or lunch after the class and come away with new friends. That’s a really important aspect.”
And for both Ian and Shelley, it’s those connections that make what they do so fulfilling. “I’ve always enjoyed teaching classes,” Ian says. “It’s part of cooking that we both really love because we get to interact with people one-on-one.”
Students have the opportunity to select from a range of classes at the farm, including Cheesemaking, Mexican Food Techniques, Knife Skills and Decorative Cakes. And they can further their experience by staying in one of the furnished rentals on the farm, or in Shelley’s guest room at her home in New Hope, Pennsylvania. “It really makes the experience that much better,” she explains.
By making a weekend out of their cooking adventures, guests have the opportunity to learn everything about the school, from the cooking to the farming. “Some of them even pitch in around the farm,” Ian says. “They want to see that aspect of the business. Not to mention that there’s lots of really cool stuff to do around here.”
“Everything about this area is just really quite extraordinary,” Shelley continues.
For two accomplished chefs coming from the fast-moving publishing world, the opportunity to step back and reconnect with their love of cooking has been a decision that brought its own additional rewards.
“I can tell you we’re not in it for the money,” Ian laughs. “Cooking is something I’ve always gravitated towards. I, personally, just continue to learn…and I learn a lot by being able to teach.”
“The hours are better than at a restaurant,” he continues. “You have what you love to do, in the time you love to do it, in the place that you love to do it. Once you have those three things, the money doesn’t matter.”
“It’s a really high quality of life,” Shelley chimes in. “Everyone is very relaxed. And to be in direct contact with the people you’re serving is a very rich experience.”
Turning their love of cooking into an engaging, one-of-a-kind experience is not the only thing that makes The Farm Cooking School stand apart. “We’re not in this sterile commercial kitchen,” Ian says. “You look out and you see the fields, and there’s no way you could feel intimidated.”
“It feels like home,” Shelley concludes.
We discovered Farm Cooking School on our road trip in the Lincoln MKX. Discover more about the MKX here.