“In a most bucolic setting, on a historic, working farm, Ian Knauer and Shelley Wiseman have built a magical space. Amateur cooks, professional chefs, cooking-show groupies and gourmets gather in the lovely 19th century stone house to take detailed instructions from the two leaders. Ian and Shelley come at cooking (and prepping, and serving, and most everything, really) from different angles: Ian refers to himself as a “forager,” and will indeed scour the roadside for wineberries or edible wild plants, the odd raccoon; Shelley is classically-trained in the French tradition. Each has a different way of making the basics, from vinaigrette to bread to pie crust. Both are smart, funny, low-key, have worked and lived all over the world. Each is incredibly gifted and valid in his/her own right. Together, they make a team that hits many different notes and techniques ever so richly.
A typical class goes like this: you locate the place, you park next to the sheep, cattle and chickens. You are welcomed into the stone house, open-planned, with views of all surrounding fields and Burpee-seed-planted garden. You don an apron, grab your packet of the recipes for that class, wash your hands, and gather around the butcher-block island in the middle of the large room. Everyone is given a task in prepping, sometimes the same all around, like chopping onions in a Knife Skills class, or kneading dough for Tuscan pasta. Sometimes it’s grating zest, or manning the food processor. Everything is thoroughly explained and demonstrated. You go through most steps of the five or six recipes in order of allocated time, so that all is ready together for dinner, a couple of hours later. When the salad has been washed and dressed, and the granita has been frozen, the tomato sauce gently bubbled and the rabbit cleverly pieced, you gather around the long table to eat. Bottles of wine are opened, and the food you just cooked is laid out on the island for you to serve yourself. You can go back for seconds. You can steal a deeply browned croissant filled with beet puree and dark chocolate before you start your meal, because extras have been made and there’ll be plenty for everyone.
A couple of hours later, you have made new friends, new business connections. You look at the calendar and see which class you’d like to take next, or perhaps just come for one of the weekly dinners where you simply sit your tired frame down and get fed. You shop around for the Mason jars of pickled dill stalks, the peaches in honey and star-anise and cloves, the canned tomatoes. They might be out of Shelley’s cook books that day, but perhaps have some of Ian’s fabulous “The Farm.” You are sated, at peace, smiling, and can’t wait to tell more of your friends about this magical place in the middle of nowhere.
I’ve been there over a dozen times now, and the experience has been superlative every single time. This is a gem in our midst.”
-- Suzanne Perrault
“I have gone to several classes at the Farm School. While I have definitely picked up some useful tips, The Farm School is much more than a deep investigation into "cooking" per se. It is a wonderful total experience. It combines all aspects of my favorite things. The two chefs are delightful, the ambience is beyond description, the people I've met seem to be of a world apart. One is transported to somewhere you would love to stay forever. I recommend highly a trip to Stockton, NJ, a stones throw to Heaven.”
— Bette Baer
“I am beyond thrilled to have discovered the classes and sit down dinners provided by the Farmhouse Cooking School. The classes are deeply satisfying; bringing back to us what we have sadly lost as a culture, namely, people cooking and eating together from the bounty of the land around us. Not so different from what Alice Waters introduced in the early 70's in her restaurants and garden projects. But what Ian and Shelly are doing is taking this vision further and getting us all together in a beautiful farm kitchen and taking the mystery out of making delicious food. All mostly from their garden or local farms, including Jeanmarie's grassfed cattle and sheep. Their enthusiasm in truly contagious - I have never had so much fun cooking (and eating!). And, their classes are beautifully organized and packed with information. We are given printed out recipes of what we are cooking so we can participate without having to constantly take notes. And then we get to sit down together, pass the wine, and eat this most delicious food that we cooked together!”
— Laurie Latner