Fantastic Personal Chef in Tuscany

li zuti dinner by chef in tuscany

Self-catering apartments and villas are ideal accommodations when traveling with kids in the countryside of Italy. The only downside is that if there is no onsite restaurant available, the meal hassle-factor grows exponentially.

Here’s why:

1. Villages are rarely walkable from rural apartments and villas in Tuscany. Even if the accommodations are within walking distance, these are not roads that are kid-friendly, particularly at night. Think no sidewalks, no lights, blind corners, and fast drivers. Not a good combination for a stroll to dinner.

2. Some families love to hit a fabulous Italian market and then cook the world’s best dinner at home. Fair enough, this is indeed enjoyable for those who are great cooks. But even so, do you want to be doing that every night?

3. Some of us (yours truly) are not accomplished in the kitchen and can think of nothing worse than having “the usual” meals while on vacation in Italy (of all places).

4. When you are out sightseeing all day in the countryside and navigating all those winding roads, the last thing you want to do is drive to dinner.

5. Italians eat late and restaurants don’t even think of opening until 7:30p. There is no such thing as a fast dinner in Italy — dinners out means your kids will be up late. This is fine for some nights, but doing it every night is tiresome.

graziella chef in tuscany

Chef in Tuscany

As a consequence, I was thrilled beyond belief to find Chef in Tuscany during our recent stay at Li Zuti Country Resort. The chef, Graziella, is an absolute joy. More importantly, she is an incredible cook and will come to your apartment and villa to make dinner your family!

My only complaint was that there was so much home-made, delicious food in front of the 3 of us that we couldn’t finish every morsel. We used Graziella on our last night in Italy, so lunch the following day was not an option. Usually one of the benefits of a in-villa chef is that you’ll get two or more meals out of a single session.

Graziella and her assistant will come to your kitchen and they bring everything they need. They’ll cook, serve, and clean up everything. It’s just like a restaurant but far more relaxing because nobody cares if your kids get crazy and you can put them to bed on time.

fresh food tuscan meal

Dinner Menu and Price

Graziella’s service is insanely reasonable for the quality level. Her lowest priced menu is 28€ per person and includes a starter, first course, second course, side dish, and dessert. She has a kids’ version (5-12) available for 20€ person (kids under 4 are free).

Here is a small sample of popular options off this menu

Starters: mixed crostini, aromatic bruschetta, caprese salad, Tuscan bread salad, Tuscan ham with local melon, cucumber with aged pecorino cheese and black pepper

Second Course: penne with meat sauce, spaghetti with courgettes/pine nuts/saffron, rough cut pasta with butter and fresh thyme, pasta with pesto and baby tomatoes, risotto with seasonal vegetables

Second Course: chicken with garden herbs, pork cooked in milk and seasonal perfume, chicken in red and yellow pepper sauce, Tuscan roast pork with potatoes, pork chops with vin santo sauce

Side Dishes: cannellini beans with baby tomatoes and spring onions, aubergines with wild mint, Florentine-style peas, beans in Tuscan virgin olive oil and black pepper

Dessert: typical Tuscan fruit bread with aniseed, chocolate roll, almond biscuits with vin santo wine, local bread and chocolate cake, tiramisu with orange and dark chocolate

Most of the vegetables and herbs Graziella uses are grown in her home garden. The pasta is made from scratch. She even grows her own olives!

I highly recommend Chef in Tuscany for one or more dinners. Really, it’s like eating in a fabulous restaurant … but better because you are far, far more relaxed with your kids in a setting where they can run around as needed.

Editorial Note: Ciao Bambino is offered free and/or highly discounted accommodations and services when we travel. While I’d love to be Conde Nast Traveler and have a steadfast editorial policy that we pay for everything — this is simply not viable for us. We travel too often for that, not to mention that our specialty is upscale and luxury accommodations.

We don’t and won’t write about things we don’t believe in. In addition, we are always candid about caveats and downsides. I’m taking the time to explain this now (we also include language at the end of any post where the stay or service was comped) because our dinner from Chef in Tuscany was free.

There was nothing about this dinner I didn’t like. I’d tell you if there was, and those that have followed the Ciao Bambino brand for years know that we are all about reliable, high-quality recommendations.

Relevant Links:

Ciao Bambino recommended Italy family hotels

52 things to know before traveling to Italy with kids

Finding the best family-friendly vacation rental

Kid-friendly tour guides in Italy 

Italy travel tips, creating a family-friendly itinerary

Rome and Florence car rental tips

Getting around Italy by train

15 Comments

  1. Passing this on to a technophobe mom friend who’s spending the summer in Europe – lucky dog! And will keep in my back pocket for when (if . . .) we make that 20th or maybe 25th wedding anniversary trip!

  2. Your own personal chef??? wow, now that sounds like luxury!! and the menu you listed there is mouth-watering!! I guess we can’t skip over Tuscany…travel for us is getting to be more about the food than the sights =) Would you be able to give us Graziella’s email or contact info and location? I would love to taste some authentic Tuscan cooking!
    Thanks!!

  3. Wow, that sounds amazing and what brilliant value! Personal chefs in the UK are a lot more expensive than that. I love self catering but don’t always fancy cooking. This sounds like a great alternative.

  4. I was thrilled to read this post about Chef in Tuscany and to consider her services for an upcoming trip to Tuscany in the fall. The thought of returning from a long day of exploring with our 4 children (plus another family) to a home-cooked Tuscan meal made me positively swoon! I was saddened though, to learn that the prices quoted in this blog post apply only if you are ordering more than a single meal service. The cost for dinner for the four adults in our party worked out to be closer to 80 euro per person. The chef assured us that the meal would have enough leftovers to last 3 days, but my surprise at the total cost may be too much to overcome. Bummed b/c it sounded fabulous!

  5. I feel myself to ansver, Megan in the following way: 80 euros to person was for a Cooking class that during 4 hours and that learns all the more famous plates of our beautiful Tuscany of supper with diploma and recipe book, if draft of a normal supper traditional tuscan menu that finds on my website the cost is 38 euros to person and if they are more of 10 persons as you were 32 euros to person . Patience, will be for the next time!!!

    Graziella Malgeri.

  6. 8 friends are renting a villa 23 k from Arrezo near Badia Agnano.
    Would love to have a chef for cooking lesson and meal on Monday, October 10. Can you accomodate us?

  7. Hi, Graziella sounds fabulous! We are seeking a private chef for a special occasion weekend near the town of Cortona in May. Would you please give me her e-mail address if she can manage that location or can recommend someone if she cannot? Thank you.

  8. 13 adults will be staying in a villa in Tuscany near San Gimignano in October. I am looking of for a chef experience for us on October. 18, 2012 for dinner. I will give you more details after I know you are available. I would also like a group price (in US dollars).
    Patty Ceresnie

  9. Second request. Are you available for a dinner m for 13 on October 18, 2012 in Tuscany near San Gimangnano.
    Patty Ceresnie

  10. Hi,
    I am looking for a chef to provide a private dinner at our rented villa near Lajatico for about 14 people. Please advise on prices an d menu.
    It will be around 25/05/15

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