La Cucina Caldesi
118 Marylebone Lane London W1U 2QF
This little bit of Marylebone has been somewhat colonised by the Caldesis, by which we mean the Tuscan chef Giancarlo Caldesi and his wife Katie, who opened their café-restaurant here a decade ago and started their cooking school a few years later. You may recognise them from telly – they had their own show for a while and are regulars on Saturday Kitchen – but they're much more than minor culinary celebs, and their cookery school celebrates food from all over the peninsula. They by no means teach all the classes themselves, but even if you don't get Katie or the effusive Giancarlo, the teaching is of a high quality, and the range of mostly one-off courses incredibly and excitingly wide, with everything from 'Beginners' Italian' to a fab three-course menu – most of which you get to eat before you go home – plus wine tastings and classes on food from every important Italian region, from Tuscany to Naples. You can also do classes at their 'campagna' restaurant in Bray, or at their house in Gerrards Cross, but wherever you choose, classes are above all a pleasure, and, much like Italian food itself, a celebration of life.