Rhode School of Cuisine
Mike Rhode had inherited a family interest in cuisine from his father. However, in the course of a long career in property development and management, he had built up a property company Luxury Destinations, renting out luxury properties in Italy and France.
Terri Rhode had had a highly successful career in customer service and sales. She also had a passion for cooking and fine food.
The idea for a cooking school came on a fall day in Giverny gardens in September, 1995. Mike and Terri were discussing the problems of renting luxury properties in Europe and in particular how to extend the season beyond the summer months, June, July and August, which were easy to sell. They had a superb chef, Frédéric Rivière, who had worked for several years in some of the properties, Villa Michaela, Chalet Hilary and Le Mas des Oliviers. With Frederic already on the payroll and several suitable properties available, the decision to launch the Rhode School of Cuisine was made.
As in every new business the learning curve was steep. From concept to the first actual week of operation at the Mas des Oliviers in the spring of 1996 marketing was the primary concern. Enough genuine customers were found to test the operation and refine the program. By fall of 1996 the idea looked feasible from a marketing and operational viewpoint. It was clear that RSC would prolong the season at the Villa and the Mas and thus achieve the first objective.
During 1997 RSC had 125 students. Frédéric Rivière ran a course at the Mas both spring and fall. After a search for the right individual, another excellent and enthusiastic chef, Giancarlo Talerico, was recruited to run the weeks at the Tuscan villa.
Experiencing a 60% increase in sales, 1998 yielded 200 students and ran at nearly full capacity in both France and Italy. During 1999, RSC sales increased another 25% and reached 250 students. Sales in 2000 and since have been limited primarily by the number of physical places available. Spontaneous testimonials from students have confirmed the excellent standards of the courses, the accommodation and the whole experience they have had on their weeks in the schools.