Coleen Kirnan & Rhonda Vilardo
Owners Tuscan Women Cook
Calabasas | 310-613-1477 | tuscanwomencook.com
For more than 20 years Rhonda Vilardo worked as sales director for a national cosmetics company and Coleen Kirnan owned a commercial real estate firm before they joined together to purchase Tuscan Women Cook last year. Originally founded in 2000, Tuscan Women Cook provides an authentic immersion experience in the Tuscan countryside, including exclusive cooking classes taught by Tuscan women; private wine, cheese and olive oil tastings; and excursions throughout Tuscany including Montepulciano, Monticchiello, Pienza, Siena and Bagno Vignoni.
Tell us something unique about your business.
“Our cooking school is differentiated from other international cooking vacations because our classes are taught by the Italian nonnas (grandmothers)—the true chefs of authentic Italian fare. The local women of Tuscany share their techniques with our guests, including special ingredients and family recipes. Each cooking class culminates with a mouthwatering lunch. Our classes are ideal for cooks at all experience levels. Also, our program is located within a medieval village with fewer than 600 residents; it is not a tourist destination. What we offer is a true, unique immersion experience.”
Share a bit about the classes.
“There is as much or as little actual hands-on experience as the individual wants. You can come and get elbow-deep in pasta, or you can come and watch, simply enjoying the fruits of everyone’s labors.”
Other unique features of the experience?
“We tour Siena on market day, which is largely for locals. Our guide has a doctorate in Siennese history and shares the rich history of that city. Also, one of our cooking classes is at a family-owned farm, which was converted to a B&B and is taught by three generations of female cooks.”
Describe your clients.
“Men and women of all ages—from all over the world. It’s surprising how many men come with their spouses and end up enjoying the experience much more than they anticipated. We have single travelers, book, golf and wine clubs, reunions, graduates—you name it. There are also some serious wine and food aficionados. And regardless of the mix of the group, we always see friendships forged.”