Anyone who has taken a cooking class on the road knows that there’s a gratifying sense of feeling a little more like a local. Getting your hands dirty working with local ingredients rather than sitting down to another meal in a restaurant or at a hotel gives the instant feeling of getting closer to the place. It helps, too, that most great cooking classes that are available to travelers are hosted by local home cooks. Some are bed-and-breakfasts that open their kitchen to guests during their stay; others open their home kitchens to give a real taste of what it’s like to cook where they’re from.
There are boatloads of cooking courses that travelers can sign up for at any given time around the world. But we rounded up six unique ones to get the wheels turning and inspiration flowing. We love these cooking schools or courses because of their quirks — one is on a boat off the coast of San Diego, one costs $9,000 (OK, it comes with a hotel suite, too), one is hosted by the makers of very popular cooking machinery, and one lets you choose from a huge list of destinations and they do the rest.
All you have to bring is passion and a willingness to learn — and maybe the ability to boil a pot of water.
Not for the seasick-prone, The Floating Chef is a cooking school hosted on a boat (a 53’ Hatteras Motor Yacht, to be exact) off the coast of San Diego. Classes range from Knife and Chopping Skills (which seems particularly tough on a boat), a spa lunch menu, Italian dinner menu, and even a Mother’s Day brunch and cruise, which is a cooking class with complimentary mimosas.
The Kea Artisanal is not just a cooking school. It’s a full immersion into the flavors of Greece, with olive oil, honey, cheese, and wine tastings, group meals with the owners and friends, and walks through town to local artisans and through markets. Of course, the cooking workshops bring all of that newfound knowledge together.
Cook-O is a traveling gastronome's hotels.com. They are essentially a booking site for cooking classes all around the world — just select a destination from their drop down list (with more than 50 regions) and they list out all the courses and schools they’d recommend (and book for you) in the region. What we love is the variety. Chefs trained at Michelin-starred restaurants offer up their hard-learned lessons in Cape Town; a local chef dedicated to healthy cooking hosts you in Chicago; a home cook in Petra, Jordan, welcomes travelers who want to learn to cook local dishes; and culinary-minded kids are in luck with the Eat My Words school in Hong Kong.
Souk Cuisine gives travelers the chance to learn to cook Moroccan food like locals. In the same way that home cooks put together big family meals, the day starts with a tour through the souk to look for local ingredients. Then, guests get to learn local tips and tricks by cooking in the courtyard of a riad. Of course, the day ends by tasting what everyone makes. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/miss liz meow)
Ah, Trump. What will you think of next? It may be mind-bogglingly expensive, but you have to admit it sounds amazing. At the Trump International Hotel in New York City, guests can book a one-hour private cooking class with Jean-Georges Vongerichten followed by an hourlong pastry-making class for $9,000. It comes with a three-night stay in the Executive Park Suite, of course.
Tamarind is at once a charming, local-loved café and a cooking school where travelers can learn Lao cuisine inside and out. One-day cooking courses take visitors to the fish and produce markets before bringing the ingredients back to Tamarind (with a gorgeous view of the Nam Khan River) to cook much the way locals do. Then, on Friday nights, they host a Lao Feast, which brings travelers and locals together for a feast of traditional Lao dishes like whole fish stuffed with lemongrass and barbecued in banana leaves, and sticky purple rice in coconut milk for dessert.