Tired of the usual sightseeing vacations? Try a cooking school vacation–it's fun, you get to eat, and there's no exam.
Get Away and Get CookingIf you love food (or just love to eat), consider a culinary adventure for your next vacation. Experienced travelers know that a plate and folk give the surest glimpse into the soul of a culture, so what better way to truly experience your destination than learning to cook the some of the local dishes? Explore the following cooking schools from across the country and discover your inner chef.
Viking Cooking School, Greenwood, MississippiViking's cooking classes are as sophisticated as their top-of-the-line appliances, cookware and cutlery. You can do a "hands-on" class or participate in observation-style instruction. Class times range from just a few hours to series classes that are held weekly for a period of 12 weeks. They have classes for kids, teens, and senior adults, and the classes are taught by regular instructors as well as visiting chefs. Menus and classes evolve with the seasons and new cooking trends, so there's always something new to learn. You can select from a wide variety of topics including basic cooking techniques, ethnic cuisines, baking, dinner parties or cocktails. Whatever you choose, you're guaranteed to have a blast.
Website: Viking Cooking School, Greenwood, Mississippi
700 Kitchen Cooking School, Savannah, GeorgiaAmid Savannah's lush squares and historic homes sits the AAA Four-Diamond Mansion on Forsyth Park, home to the cooking school that takes place above the hotel's restaurant, 700 Drayton. It features hands-on daily and weekly programs that can accommodate up to 16 people. The classes include ethnic and regional cuisines and are taught by Chef Darin Sehnert as well as invited celebrity chefs. You can also book private events for wedding parties or corporate team-building experience, so if you need a break from home tours and shopping, check out this cool school.
Website: 700 Kitchen Cooking School
La Cuisine Sans Peur ("Cooking Without Fear"), New York, New YorkChef Henri-Etienne Lévy teaches classical French cooking in the intimate setting of his own kitchen because he believes that the kitchen "is where good memories and social life have their beginnings." Classes are small–no more than four people at a time–so that everyone gets personal attention. Classes are offered in basic cooking and baking, as well as advanced classes on the regional cuisines of France. And, if you don't happen to live in the New York City area, or have no plans to travel there, you can book a five-day class in your area.
Website: La Cuisine Sans Peur
Tante Marie's Cooking School, San Francisco, CaliforniaTante Marie's is a private cooking school specializing in small class and hands-on classes where everyone cooks together under the guidance of the teacher. The school offers evening classes, weekend workshops, and one-week cooking vacations designed for home cooks, as well as cooking parties for groups wanting to have a good time cooking together. No previous experience required–only a desire to learn and have fun. There are also professional courses designed for those interested in a culinary career.
Website: Tante Marie's Cooking School
Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), New York, NYChosen by Saveur Magazine as one of their "100 Favorite Things." ICE was founded in 1975 by Peter Kump. Although ICE offers comprehensive career training programs in Culinary Arts, Pastry & Baking, and Culinary Management, it also offers 1,700 hands-on recreational cooking, baking, and wine education courses. This program was recognized in 2002 as the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Avocational Culinary School of the Year. Classes fill up early, so sign up now if you want to learn how to do a steakhouse menu, a Tuscan feast, or how to make the perfect éclair.
Website: Institute of Culinary Education
Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, Lake Buena Vista, FloridaIt's no surprise that Walt Disney World offers the largest, longest, and most diverse food-and-wine festival in the country. Cooking classes and demonstrations during the autumn event range from lectures to hands-on events. Enroll in wine school, meet celebrity chefs and cookbook authors, splurge on a Party for the Senses, featuring 25 chefs and over 70 wines and beers, or simply wander through Epcot's World Showcase and taste dishes from around the globe. You might even get to cook with Mickey Mouse.
Website: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival