My main cooking skill is devouring dishes other people have made, but I've also sniffed out many appetizing culinary experiences over the years. From Australia's Barbecue for Blokes classes (bbqschool.com.au) to Tokyo's Buddha Bellies bento box workshops (buddhabelliestokyo.jimdo.com), travelling epicureans have a bewildering menu of options.
Culinary travel writer Cinda Chavich (tastereport.com) suggests you start by deciding if it's a one-day lesson you want, or a more detailed, professional course.
Once you've decided, dive into the logistics. "Make sure the school isn't a two-hour bus ride from your hotel. Do you want private lessons or a group class? Does the school have enough stoves or stations for everyone or will you be sitting in a big theatre with a notebook while a chef does a demo?"
Budget considerations are also vital when classes sometimes cost thousands, says Chavich, who advises checking whether accommodation is included. For her, courses with visits to local markets or excursions into the area's foodie culture are worth paying extra.
Once you've cooked up your checklist of requirements, it's time to see what's on the specials' board. You won't be short of temptation.
For a touch of Italian, consider residential courses in a 16th-century villa at Tuscany's Toscana Saporita Cooking School (toscanasaporita.com) or add a day course to your visit to the capital via Cooking Classes in Rome (cookingclassesinrome.com).
Alternatively, master the art of croissant-making on a three-hour course at La Cuisine Paris (lacuisineparis.com). The school's additional 2014 options include a naughty-sounding Éclairs Afternoon guaranteed to derail your New Year diet resolution – which is exactly what should happen to all New Year diets.
Further south, Spain's Catacurian (catacurian.com) has been providing locally focused courses in Barcelona and beyond since 2003, while popular Jamie Oliver-branded classes (jamieoliver.com) on topics from Mexican street food to how to bone a chicken are ideal culinary add-ons in London and beyond.
It's not all about Europe, of course. Broaden your skills with an immersive class on authentic Singaporean cuisine in the city state – from chili crabs to chicken rice – at Cookery Magic (cookerymagic.com) or master the fundamentals of Vietnamese dining with a market tour and cooking class via Saigon Cooking Class (saigoncookingclass.com).
Closer to home, the United States has more options than a Vegas buffet. The Culinary Institute of America (ciachef.edu) stages classes from Texas to California. And if you're in Washington, find your inner Julia Child with a CulinAerie cooking lesson (culinaerie.com) after first dropping by the Smithsonian's exhibit on arguably America's favourite cook.
New York is also a hotpot of tasty possibilities. Peruse the dishes at the city's Institute of Culinary Education (ice.edu) – the upcoming Medieval Persian cooking looks intriguing – or add an entertaining Side Tour (sidetour.com) experience such as cheese-making or Chinese dumplings to your visit.
Since you're in New York, consider a free TV-show taping of the foodie-themed Rachel Ray Show (rachaelrayshow.com).
Wherever you go, the trick is to savour like the locals, says Chavich, who counts pasta-making with an Italian grandmother and scallop-shucking in Scotland among her favourite adventures. "I like experiential courses where you meet a great chef, cook for a few hours and learn a few tricks of their trade – then sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labours over a glass of local wine."
OUR READERS WRITE
- Cooking with Poo in Bangkok [cookingwithpoo.com]. It’s great walking around the market, picking out the food and then going into the slums and cooking in Poo’s house. @BangkokgirlBlog
- River Cottage [rivercottage.net] in the U.K. is a great cooking school. When we went they had a partridge shoot. Not for the faint of heart: shoot and prep your own bird. @SbonnerABV
- We were in Vietnam and while there were lots of classes, they all taught the same thing …Vietnamese pancakes! @mrcocekgrade4_5
- The best cooking class we took was at the Asia Scenic Thai Cooking School in Chiang Mai. The owner was great and included a trip to the local market, fresh picked herbs from the garden and a recipe book to take home. C Mitchell
- The New Orleans School of Cooking [neworleansschoolofcooking.com]. Great value – included beer and a historical focus. Plus, they were not afraid to use lard! @pmcb13
- There is no better cooking class than the weekends offered by Neil Baxter of Rundles in Stratford [rundlesrestaurant.com]. You work hard but it is exhilarating and the take-home learning sticks. Betty Kuchta
- Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School [annatascalanza.com] near Palermo in Sicily. Great food, great people, gorgeous scenery. @kattancock
- Had a great salsa experience in Cozumel while on a cruise. Fun mix of cooking and dance. Looking forward to a refresher course in February with Cruise Norwegian. @CMDPcomm
- Cook’n With Class in Paris [cooknwithclass.com]. Learn to make croissants or macarons in their gorgeous kitchens in the 18e. Fun and in English. @nikkibayley
- La Cuisine Paris [lacuisineparis.com], located right near city hall. It overlooks the Seine and has a fun offering of classes. @LostNCheeseland
- I had a nice cooking demo in Sri Lanka at Ella Spice Garden. @Sarah_Efron
- Turkish Flavours [turkishflavours.com] in Istanbul combines market visits on Istanbul’s European and Asian shores with a leisurely cooking class and lunch in a heritage apartment. @travelwriterNZ
- Really enjoyed the courses at Bettys [bettys.co.uk] in Harrogate in the UK – so many different classes to choose from! @TourismVicMedia
- Hard to beat Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa [lcbottawa.com]. Tradition, know-how and French accents! @OttawaJantine
- Who doesn’t like Thai food? I did the Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School [thaicookeryschool.com] and still use the recipes at home. @ClaireFromYVR
- On a tour of Vietnam in 2004, stopped in Hoi An for a group cooking lesson with Ms. Vy. @AnneinVan
- La Petraia in Tuscany – nothing like it. Foraging is featured. @ryanknighton
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