Cooking Classes to Savor Around the World
Culinary travel is trending. We love authentic, regional foods and beverages, but we’re not just interested in eating. We also want to learn how to prepare those dishes, so we can whip up a rich risotto with flowers and herbs, or use riverweed, hot chillies and banana flowers to create a Laotian menu when we get back home. Take a cooking class at one of these hotels and resorts when you’re ready for an adventure that starts behind an apron. (See the websites for class dates, times and prices.)
Culinary Immersion at Terranea Resort, Rancho Palos Verdes, California
Book a three-day, two-night Land to Sea Culinary Immersion Package, led by Executive Chef Bernard Ibarra. You'll set out on a whale-watching picnic, complete with sea beans to nibble (sea beans are seeds and fruits that drift in the ocean), then travel to Catalina View Gardens to pick fresh produce, discuss seasonings, see honeybee hives and have a cooking lesson. Packages are designed for couples and include a choice of a sea salt or cheese making workshop; a pastry and liquor pairing; a “Farm-to-Terranea” lunch from the Catalina kitchen and dinner with wine.
National Treasure Journey at Regent Taipei, Taipei, Taiwan
The Regent Taipei's National Treasure Journey is a package that gives you a taste of both Taiwan's cuisine and the culture. It features a National Treasure Dinner Feast for two, at Silks Palace, at the National Palace Museum. Guests are served a nine-course meal of Chinese/Taiwanese dishes inspired by museum artifacts, like Jadeite Cabbage. After dinner, you've invited to a custard pie baking workshop.
Dietary restrictions? No worries. One Aldwych, a luxury hotel in London’s Covent Garden, hosts gluten and dairy-free master classes with Executive Chef Dominic Teague. Demonstrations and cooking sessions take place in the state-of-the-art kitchen at Indigo, the hotel restaurant. Guests learn to prepare lamb rump, smoked eggplant, citrus fruit and avocado salad, and more. Classes end on a sweet note, with instructions on making chocolate mousse and honeycomb and almond milk ice cream. Students also enjoy a three-course dinner with pairing wines, coffee and petite fours, and everyone goes home with a One Aldwych apron and recipe cards.
Each guest who enrolls in a White Barn Inn private cooking class also goes home with an exclusive apron from the resort. Executive Chef Derek Bissonette welcomes guests into the kitchen, where they work alongside his staff to prepare award-winning dishes for the Inn's evening menu. The classes run about two hours. Add a four-course dinner, if you wish, for an additional fee.
While you’re at this enchanting resort in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, save time to spend with one of the chefs and experience his or her daily routine. Cooking demonstrations are also available, so you can learn how to prepare a three-course luncheon of seasonal foods. You’re also welcome to stroll the gardens and grounds on a farmstead tasting tour, or join a Master Gardener as he discusses old-fashioned farming practices and seed-saving. Wine and food events are also held throughout the year; contact Blackberry Farm for a schedule.
Taste of Aruba, Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, Aruba
When you’ve had enough fun in the sun, join the chefs as they teach groups of four how to whip up an authentic, three-course Aruban meal. Guests prepare the island’s traditional dish, Keshi Yena. This creamy, Dutch-influenced dish consists of an imported Gouda rind stuffed and baked with veggies, meats and spices. Later, students enjoy a meal served with wine pairings in a private tasting room.
Interactive Cooking Lessons at JW Marriott El Convento Cusco, Cusco, Peru
Chef Thais Rodriguez draws on ingredients sourced from the Andes region and the Sacred Valley of the Incas for the lessons she gives at this five-star hotel, once a 16th-century convent. She begins by taking guests through the Mercado San Pedro, where most of the hotel's fruits, vegetables and dairy products are purchased. Sampling is encouraged, so you can taste a cherimoya (a fruit with a flavor reminiscent of bananas and pineapples), lucuma (a South American fruit with yellow flesh), Andean cheese or quinoa. Back in the kitchen, you'll experience a five-course "cook-and-eat-as-you-go" class as you prepare appetizers like ceviche; entrées like lomo saltado (a traditional stir-fried Peruvian dish); desserts made with native fruits, and more. The classes are recommended for groups of six or less, but larger groups can call ahead to inquire about accommodations.
Once a French Governor’s mansion, Sofitel Luang Prabang is now a luxury hotel and UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the mornings, guests accompany the hotel’s executive chef to local markets to shop for spices, garlic, riverweed, chilies and banana flowers. Back in the kitchen, they prepare a three-course Laotian meal and learn about traditional foods and local customs. You’ll leave with a satisfied appetite, an official cooking class certificate and a recipe book of your favorite dishes.
Sandpearl Resort, Clearwater, Florida
Go organic with a cooking class at Sandpearl Resort. Executive Chef of Caretta on the Gulf, a AAA Four-Diamond rated restaurant, leads his students through Caretta’s garden and kitchen as he discusses how to create all-natural menus with organic ingredients and seasonal foods. Later, he demonstrates preparing a meal, complete with an organic salad dressed in white balsamic vinaigrette, crab cakes, pan-seared wild grouper, fingerling potatoes and seasonal, organic vegetables. Adults can also enjoy an organic wine pairing. Sign up at least 24 hours ahead for this class, held on Saturdays at 3 p.m.
Casa Palopo, Atitlan, Guatemala
Casa Palopo is a boutique hotel in the hills above Santa Catarina Palopo village, about 90 miles from Guatemala City. It offers a fun class in tortilla making, led by a native tortillera from a nearby Mayan town. You’ll learn to make fresh corn tortillas by hand and cook them on the instructor’s comal, a flat griddle that’s been in her family for generations (it's also the same kind of cooking implement used by natives since Aztec times). While the tortillera helps you prepare up to 100 tortillas, the staff at the on-site restaurant, 6.8 Palopo, sets up a buffet of queso fresco, guacamole and refried beans. Personalize your tortilla and then sit on the outdoor terrace to enjoy them as you overlook beautiful Lake Atitlan and its three volcanoes.
Risotto Experience at Palazzo Victoria Verona, Italy
Discover why risotto has become one of Italy’s most beloved dishes at Palazzo Victoria, an elegant hotel located in the heart of Verona. You’ll begin this experience by driving less than an hour to Riseria Ferron, a risotto farm in the small village of Isola della Scala. Owner Gabrielle Ferron greets guests and leads them on a tour of his rice fields. After you pick flowers, herbs and hops, he'll show you how to use them in a four-course, hands-on cooking lesson to create delicious, rice-based dishes that range from breads to desserts.