This summer, go straight to the source: learn to cook exotic dishes in their places of origin, from local professional chefs and guides! If you’re an aspiring chef and avid traveler, you’re sure to delight in the chance to hone your culinary skills while touring the world’s most beautiful regions. Let us recommend some fantastic cooking vacation ideas that are sure to satisfy your cravings for vibrant culture and authentic cuisine!
“Aegean Dreams on Mykonos” with Culinary Quests tour company: enjoy 6 days in the beautiful city of Mykonos, an island within the Cyclades chain dotted with trademark windmills and interwoven with narrow, winding town alleyways. Stay at one of the exclusive Small Luxury Hotels of the World while you learn the secrets of Greek cuisine from Kostas, resident chef, in the kitchen of Sakis restaurant. Visit the market with your tour guide and interpreter Sabina, who will teach you to identify and select the best of the local products for your classes. In your free time, explore the island’s treasures and experience rich Greek culture. The tour also offers a one day program, in case your own itinerary takes you elsewhere. Details at http://www.culinaryquests.com/trips/2/detail.
Cook’n with Class: this little Parisian gem is more than just a French cooking school in Paris – it’s an intimate place to have fun, explore French culture, and meet other international foodies! Classes are taught in English in 2 rooms with 5-6 students in each, so you know you’re in for a close and personal hands-on experience. A team of professional chefs with a wide range of culinary backgrounds delivers each lesson with uncompromising French elegance, and each 5-6 hour lesson is followed by a traditional French apertif – a token of true French hospitality. Learn how to make iconic French delights such as macarons, French bread, croissants and pastries; attend a wine and cheese masterclass; study elaborate cake decorating or French market culture; or take a private class by request. You can also enroll in packages that span up to a week with themes such as “Sweet & Beautiful” and “A Week in Paris”. Possibly the best way to experience France! Details at http://www.cooknwithclass.com.
“A Taste of Seville – the Tapas Capital of the World” with Gourmet Safari Tours: this 7-day tour includes a sumptuous medley of cooking classes, market visits, restaurant dining, olive oil and wine tasting, a tapas tour, and a visit to an olive oil mill. Your home base is in the historic city centre at Las Casas de la Juderia, where you’ll experience the heart and soul of Spanish culture. In class, you’ll learn to make favourites like gazpacho, paella, and tapas (as well as some lesser-known delectables), after which you’ll dine on the balcony overlooking the cathedral and Giralda. Tour includes a book of the recipes you created. Options for day trips or extended stays are available. Details at http://www.gourmetsafari.com/sp_tasteofseville.shtml.
A Taste of Culture: here, you’ll not only master the ins and outs of traditional Japanese cooking; you’ll also learn about historical Japanese food lore, cooking utensils and methods, ingredients, food presentation, and cultural customs. Instruction is in English, given by world-renowned Elizabeth Andon in either of her Tokyo or Osaka cooking schools. Details at http://tasteofculture.com.
The International Cooking School of Italian Food and Wine: the name says it all! Taught in a 16th century Renaissance Palazzo at the historic centre of the city, classes are small, intimate, and absolutely delicious. Lessons cover Italian food, wine, and culture, from the outdoor market to the restaurant kitchen and table. Choose from courses such as Essentials in Great Italian Cooking, Pizza Pizza Pizza, Savouring Emilia-Romagna & Tuscany, and October Truffle Fest. Prices include various levels of hotel accommodations in the heart of the city, and a daily Italian breakfast buffet. Details at http://internationalcookingschool.com.
“Jerking Things Up in Jamaica” with Epitourean: experience breezy shores of exotic cuisine and culture over 7 days of guided touring. Kick back and relax in your tropical Island Villa resort, situated 12 miles west of Montego Bay on a converted sugar plantation. Tour the countryside and coffee farms, visit the Appleton Estate Rum Distillery, peruse local artisans and markets, cruise the coast on a luxurious catamaran, and learn how to cook authentic Jamaican cuisine through hands-on demonstrations from local chefs. Find out how jerk spices and preparation transforms every type of meat and seafood; cook traditional fried fish and hard dough bread; brew real gingerbeer; and create exotic cocktails with rum from the distillery. Taste the tropics – then cook them at home! Details at http://www.cookingvacations.com/vacation/16/Jamaican-Culinary-Adventure.
Blue Elephant Cooking School: discover, relish, and learn to create Royal Thai cuisine! The Blue Elephant, which also operates a restaurant, a catering company, and a spice trade, offers classes for individuals of all culinary skill sets. Each class begins with a trip to the local markets with your instructor, where you’ll learn how to carefully select ingredients for your meal. Back in the kitchen, you’ll discover the art of preparing Thai dishes like spicy sour soup, Pad Thai, steamed coconut pudding, yellow curry, spicy glass noodle salad, and much more. Afterwards, you’ll retire to the restaurant to savour your creations, as well as others prepared by the resident chefs. Participants graduate with a certificate, a cooking set, and an apron. Details at http://www.blueelephant.com/cooking-school.
James St Cooking School: located in the buzzing city of Brisbane, this premier culinary institute has an 8-year history of imparting epicurean skills upon foodies of all sorts. The instructors focus on the senses as a cook’s most valuable tools, teaching students to taste, smell, feel, observe, and even hear the process in greater depth. They offer three types of classes: hands-on 3 hour lessons with 8-10 participants, 2 hour demonstration classes for those who prefer to sit back with a glass of wine and watch the chefs at work, and classes for kids (accompanied by parents or guardians) that run for 2 hours and include lunch. In addition, the school offers gift certificates and programs for corporate functions. Learn to cook the Aussie way in courses like Beer & BBQ, Elegant Cupcakes, Fast & Furious Seafood, Modern Australian, and more. Details at http://www.jamesstcookingschool.com.au.
Haven’s Kitchen: cooking with a conscience takes centre stage here, whether you’re taking a class at the cooking school, purchasing local wares at the shop, or using its rustic event space. The picturesque carriage house has a rooftop apiary and garden that cultivates a sustainable focus as well as tasty homegrown vittles, and all other materials are as locally-sourced as possible. As a student, you’ll get a multi-disciplinary lesson touching on history, culture, and economics as you work, along with sprinkles of wisdom. For six days of every week, the chefs and staff give lessons in baking, beverages, chocolate, legumes, sustainable cooking, knife skills, barbecue, and hosting a crowd; they also deliver lectures on topics such as sustainable kitchens, and host workshops with special guests. Be sure to bring your own Tupperware for leftovers, and remember their manifesto: “FOOD – buy it with thought, cook it with care, serve just enough, save what will keep, eat what would spoil, homegrown is best, don’t waste it.” Details at http://havenskitchen.com.