Five of us girls spent two weeks in Italy to celebrate several of us turning 50. We stopped in Rome, Florence, Capri, Venice and Tuscany. And of course with this group, we wanted to see everything we could, do everything we could and eat gelato every chance we got!

Chef Jeff in Tuscany with pasta

We never went to bed until two or three in the morning, so by the time we got to Tuscany, we were all looking forward to a few relaxing days in the five-bedroom Villa Tavernaccia. While we were there, we spent one day sightseeing in Florence, and another whole day at the Prada factory outlet.

Although there are plenty of great restaurants in the area, our Host Melissa suggested that we have a chef cook for us the night after our shopping excursion. Villa Tavernaccia is a perfect home to cook in, and since we were exhausted from the day, we were all really looking forward to staying in. We pulled in the driveway just as our chef, Jeff, was arriving. I cannot say enough about him or his cooking. He is phenomenal, delightful and a perfect gentleman. He made sure we were having fun with fabulous food and wine the entire time. Some of the girls are more talented at cooking than others, but he led us through all of his techniques with ease and charm. Best of all, he shared with us all about his tremendously gifted life as a musician and chef. He is a culinary delight to spend time with, and in addition, a renowned concert pianist! When he cooks for people in his own home, he plays piano for them. What a treat that would be!

Although I wouldn't have changed a thing about this experience, when my husband and I return to Tuscany next spring, we're already planning on cooking with Jeff in his home, where he has an entire cooking kitchen downstairs, with all sorts of fun, fancy chef toys.

Lisa Erwin is a member of destination club the Quintess Collection.

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