We are traveling as a family to Italy in May 2013 for ten days. My son ( whos 17) is very keen to be a chef and is looking for inexpensive ( down to earth) interactions with people who run eateries/ chefs/ food related jobs. Not a typical "food tour" but more like spending some time and building authentic food centred experiences. ideally would be to stay in a place where the owner is the chef?
I suggest you to stay on of many Tuscany's farmhouses or to take one of short cooking courses in Florence. Check this website to find the farmhouse that can satisfy your needs. - http://www.venere.com/farmhouses/italy/tuscany/
I agree, there are many farmhouses in Italy and they are often called 'agriturismo' - which basically means they are a way for urban dwellers to spend sometime in the country. Usually these places are family-run, and they will generally have a farm, olive oil, garden, orchard, etc. Occasionally you can find places where you can spend some time working and preparing the food as well. Most of these places will require that your son know some basic Italian, so if you don't know the language, you will specifically have to check that the owner speaks English.
Italians are generally extremely open and generous, and would be happy to take time to teach your son - I recommend staying in smaller towns for an authentic experience. Tuscany is definitely most well known for its food, but Emilia Romagna area also produces a lot of the produce and agriculture and is another great place to visit. Examples of good areas may be in wine region surrounding Florence/Siena in the smaller towns of Cortona, Pienza, Montalcino - these were someof my favorite spots to eat and you can find many agriturismo in this area. I hope this helps, and reply if you want further information on this!
thanks so much for the inputs- Delicious, Milos 1947 and Globalmomma.
Globalmomma, do you have any links I can check out to places where youve stayed, personally?