Our Story

We always look forward to rambling riverside walks by vineyards, vegetable gardens, wildflowers and olive groves in the Lagrasse countryside.


Several years ago, while on a long-overdue holiday in the deep south of France, Don & Kay unexpectedly discovered the plus beau village of Lagrasse and a riverside medieval balcony gîte they immediately recognized as home. It was like stepping into a dream they were compelled to turn into their reality. And that’s just what they did! So now Don and Kay are the owners of this French holiday home, but since their extended family and work life still keep them happily at home in California for most of the year, they are able to make the Balcony Gîte available for you to rent. To find out more about your own possibilities there, please visit the Rent Gîte page.

Cartoon of Kay & Don by the gifted and generous Chuck Pyle.
Cartoon of Kay & Don by the gifted and generous Chuck Pyle.

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Kay Baumhefner Biography

For most of her now happily long life, Kay Baumhefner has instinctively answered the call to both go to work and come back home to cooking. And in recent years, she has been able to expand that creative and fulfilling focus to include seasons immersed in the culinary culture and ongoing customs she has found in the village life at their new, actually medieval, holiday home in the deep south of France.

Right before that expansive opportunity presented itself, Kay was the chef-owner of Come Home to Cooking, where for eight years she taught small, hands-on classes in her professional home kitchen. That started in 2007, right after Kay completed her work as the executive chef at Della Fattoria in Petaluma, California, which was awarded a rating of 27 (“extraordinary to perfection”) for its food by the 2007 Zagat Survey. She continues to feel honored and delighted to be a part of the ongoing menu and recipe development that now includes Della Fattoria’s recent and timely transition of their popular indoor cafe to a grand mercantile stocked full of both delicious provisions to help support cooking at home, as well as full meals all ready to either take home or eat right outside at their parklet in front.

Overall, Kay is an experienced chef, teacher, and culinary consultant, who has been instrumental in creating and shaping a number of Sonoma County restaurants. When her career first turned to cooking over forty years ago, the only way she could get truly fresh, flavor-rich ingredients was to grow them on their farm herself. Now she also remains grateful to be able to continue to take advantage of the ready abundance in the local farmers’ markets, both here in northern California and also the south of France, as the inspiration for her naturally seasonal, country cuisine.

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Don Baumhefner Biography

Don Baumhefner is a consulting winemaker, wine educator and champagne producer in the Petaluma Gap region of the Sonoma wine country. His experience and expertise encompass all aspects of the wine industry. Over forty years ago Don first started working with the legendary Joseph Swan, and then moved on to also establish specialty wine shops and restaurants. Don is currently marketing his recently released 2010 En Tirage Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs and Blanc de Noirs freshly disgorged sparkling wines.

En Tirage.
En Tirage

More info about Don’s wines at entirage.com

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The Come Home to Cooking Story

Come Home to Cooking class.

Kay produced the Come Home to Cooking blog from 2008 to 2019, largely in support of her former Come Home to Cooking school. In 2021 the Come Home to Cooking blog was transformed into this Balcony Gîte website, to share Don & Kay’s newest venture, the Balcony Gîte, in Lagrasse, France.

While that represents a shift in her website’s focus, the Come Home to Cooking theme continues to run deep in everything Kay does. She wants you to know that the Balcony Gîte provides a complete, well-equipped and spacious kitchen, and there are tables both inside and out, where you can sit down to enjoy memorable meals with a fresh-air view of nature all around.

Balcony Gîte kitchen.
Balcony Gîte kitchen

Kay wrote in Come Home to Cooking, “It’s primal. It’s nourishing, creative, fulfilling, loving and timeless. When we Come Home to Cooking, we are literally feeding the need to come home to ourselves. Whether that means actually doing the cooking or walking in the door to inhale its aromas, this vital process offers us the opportunity to take time out from the rest of each day. It gives us time together, time to provide, share, delight in and feel grateful for the abundance …

Stone table set for a meal.

… No matter how simply done, good cooking engages all our senses to generously serve the possibility and purpose of being alive. So welcome home. You are loved and this is your safe house. That’s what it’s all about. And that’s also why I’m here to help you discover for yourself what it can mean to Come Home to Cooking – no matter what or where you call home.”

Á la Joie! — Kay Baumhefner

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Come Home to Cooking Articles

Articles and a feast of photos retained from the former Come Home to Cooking website that share an inherent French connection.

Life in France

Moules heart.

Cultural observations to help you both hear and see what it feels and looks like to be in the deep south of France.

Pantry Stock Tips

Don and Bio Pierre.

Making the most of your local markets to bring the best home fresh and keep creating a backbone pantry full of ready possibilities.

Kay’s Casual Recipes

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