8 Delicious Cooking School Vacations Every Foodie Has to Try
For hungry travelers looking to learn a new skill in the kitchen, here are eight delicious cooking vacations for every culinary skill level.
Spice Spoons, Phuket, Thailand
Before you ever step into the open-air kitchen with views of the Andaman Sea at Anantara’s Spice Spoons vacation cooking school to make addictive Massaman Beef Curry or sweet Sticky Rice with Mango, you’ll visit a local market to explore some of the region’s more unusual ingredients. Expect to see hand-shaped galangal, long beans almost a yard in length, tiny egglplants the size of a thumb, and a rainbow’s worth of spicy peppers. It’s the latter you should ask for assistance with as you create a delicate Tom Kha Gai coconut chicken soup; but luckily the instructors here are well versed in, well, spice. Here are seven authentic Thai recipes you can make at home.
El Pueblito Cooking School, Mayakoba, Mexico
Rich mole, smooth guacamole, and refreshing ceviche are some of the authentic Mexican dishes on the menu at charming El Pueblito Cooking School. Located in picturesque Mayakoba on the Riviera Maya, the vacation cooking school also offers classes that you won’t find elsewhere, such as an Insect, Agave, and Cocoa Workshop (crickets for dessert anyone?) and Patron tequila mixology (yes, you can drink the results of your final test). Down the road from the school is the Fairmont Mayakoba, the perfect place to continue you Mexican culinary adventure at one of its restaurants overseen by star Latin chef Richard Sandoval. Brush up on these common Spanish phrases before you go. These are mistakes you’re making in the kitchen that chefs wouldn’t.
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 a 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.
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.)
École de Cuisine Alain Ducasse, Paris, France
The famed French chef Alain Ducasse, who boasts 19 Michelin stars across his 23 restaurants, is the mastermind behind this exceptional cooking school on rue du Ranelagh in the heart of Paris’s 16th arrondissement. Travelers can sign up for a selection of classes (taught in English and French) ranging from macaron making and puff pastry presentation to baguette and bistro cuisine lessons. Commit these French phrases to memory before your trip.
Buddha Bellies Cooking School, Toyko, Japan
Buddha Bellies, offering hands-on lessons in washoku (Japanese cuisine) and sushi making, is a hidden gem in bustling Tokyo. In a small classes of six to eight students, travelers learn about the history of sushi, then learn how to craft the raw fish delicacy starting with learning how to use hand fans to cool the rice, to properly shaping nigiri, to creating a plate of perfect pieces that becomes lunch. Special kids classes are available as well. (By the way, did you know that sushi delivery by robot is coming to Japan?!)
New Orleans School of Cooking, New Orleans, Louisiana
Let the good times roll with a cooking school vacation in the Big Easy. At this fun and informative school, you can learn to cook, and get to sample, every mouthwatering New Orleans culinary specialty, including gumbo, jambalaya, BBQ shrimp, and grits, bananas foster, and even the city’s signature sweet, pecan pralines. Craving more? Take one of these U.S. road trips for foodies.