Giglio Italian Cooking School, Florence, Italy
Marcella Ansaldo is an authority on all things in Italian cooking; she hails from the sunny island of Giglio off the coast of Cinque Terre, owns a farmhouse in rural Tuscany, and teaches authentic recipes at her sunny and welcoming culinary studio on the outskirts of Florence. Sign up for scheduled group class to learn the art of pasta or the perfect tiramisu, or book a private lesson (perfect for families) to customize your menu using local items such as fresh spring green peas and ramps in a pesto for Florentine steak. Giglio Cooking School is the culinary choice of the hyper-selective Four Seasons Firenze, whose plush rooms in a renovated 16th century convent, outdoor pool, and the largest private park in the city, makes it an ideal place to stay. No surprise here: Italy is one of our favorite international destinations for foodies.
Le Cordon Bleu, Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute, Ottawa, Ontario
Le Cordon Bleu in Paris is where Julia Child earned her culinary degree; but you can get the same expert instruction without the cross Atlantic flight at the North American headquarters of the famed cooking school. Take a four-hour demonstration course, a four-day intro course, or channel your inner Julia Child by signing up for a grand diplôme (which can take nine months to obtain), all taught in a refurbished lumber baron’s mansion in the leafy Sandy Hill neighborhood just east of the downtown core.
The Hutong, Beijing, China
Get a taste of both authentic Chinese cuisine along with a look at the culture of regional cooking at this hands-on school located in one of the few remaining hutongs, or traditional neighborhoods, in Beijing. English-speaking instructors walk students through the steps of dumpling making, noodle pulling, spicy Sichuan dishes, and classic knife skills. One popular cooking vacation class focuses on Shanxi Noodles where first students learn to make long noodles from scratch and then turning them into a unique tomato-based dish that’s common in Western China. (In the mood for Chinese takeout now? Here are some healthy Chinese takeout options from your favorite restaurants.)