Food – growing it, processing it, and sharing it with others – has always been a cornerstone of the culture at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Wisconsin home, Taliesin. For more than a century, Wright and his ancestors worked in harmony with the fertile hillsides to raise crops and enjoy the fruits of their labors. That legacy of celebrating the foods native to the Driftless area, practicing organic horticulture and feasting on farm-to-table meals continues today, with many opportunities for visitors to get a literal taste of Wright’s philosophy. 

In 1911, when Wright built his home, studio and architectural school near Spring Green, he was coming back to the rolling hills of the Driftless Area where his Welsh grandparents had settled and farmed in the mid-nineteenth century. In fact, Wright had spent summers in the country, working on the farm when he was a teenager. While he disliked the back-breaking work of plowing fields and tending livestock, he developed a real love of the landscape and nature in general, playing hookey from his chores in the afternoons and stealing away to enjoy the view from his favorite hill. That hill became the “shining brow” where Wright situated his home in a new, “organic” style – inspired by the shapes, colors and character of the landscape. 

True to his roots, when Wright planned his new home he included an orchard of fruit trees, a vineyard, and a working farm so that his retreat from the big city of Chicago could be fairly self-contained and self-sufficient. Years later, when he established an architectural apprenticeship program, he welcomed dozens of students to the estate who would “learn by doing.” In addition to honing their creative skills, their tasks included designing and building their own apartments on the property and working at least four hours per day on the farm, growing, tending, and preparing their own communal meals.  

Taliesin's space for learning and supporting national agriculture was seen on the national stage when Cheftestants from season 21 of Bravo's Top Chef were challenged to make Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired meals playing on the theme of duality on the Taliesin campus.

So it’s no surprise that today, food plays a big role in the UNESCO World Heritage Site’s ongoing educational programs. For years, area chefs have been invited to Taliesin to prepare meals for special events, highlighting the unique food culture of southern Wisconsin. Famed chef, restaurateur, and author Odessa Piper has also long been associated with the foodways programs at Taliesin, working with apprentice cooks and teaching cooking classes for the public. 

In 2024, the museum will launch a refreshed culinary arts work/study program called The Field School. Participants “learn by doing” within a supportive community of peers and mentors by cooking and eating together, testing new recipes and techniques, designing seasonal menus, and trying their hand at tasks like milking goats and canning tomatoes. They meet with local farmers and food producers, tend a kitchen garden on the Taliesin grounds and gain experience working in the kitchen for the Riverview Terrace Cafe — the only Wright-designed restaurant in the world, and a great place for a bite to eat, before or after a guided tour of the house. This fall, foodies can sign up for a bread baking laboratory experience coupled with a three-day, two-night stay at the historic property, led by local chef Bazile Booth.

Taliesin's season, including tours and the opening of the Riverview Terrace Cafe, lasts from April through November.