Have you ever bitten into the rich, vanilla custard and buttery pastry layers of a mille-feuille and longed for the skills to reproduce its magic at home? Or struggled in vain to recreate the flavours of a Malaysian fish curry, knowing that to do so would be to instantly transport you back to that beach restaurant in Langkawi? You’re not alone – cooking schools are increasingly popular inclusions in many holiday itineraries. Here are some of the most popular destinations that offer visitors the chance to learn how to cook like a local.
Every region in Italy is a different food-lover’s dream, and every region has its own cooking schools where you can learn the art of Italian cuisine. From a day spent learning the secrets of amazing gelato at Bologna’s Gelato University to a week-long Tuscan villa stay that starts each day by browsing the local markets for the freshest local produce, Italy has an option for everyone.
The top five spices used in Indian cooking are turmeric, coriander, cumin, brown mustard seed and garam masala, and attaining mastery over the use of these spices and their myriad companions is the key to replicating the kaleidoscope of flavours found in great Indian cooking. As in Italy, each region of India has a unique cuisine: for example, in the Punjab region, dishes tend to have an emphasis on meat and roti, while in Kerala, many dishes are coconut-based, and seafood features prominently. A homestay is a great way to taste authentic Indian dishes and then learn how to produce them at home.
With its emphasis on fresh ingredients and limited use of dairy products and oil, it’s no wonder that Vietnamese cuisine is considered one of the healthiest worldwide. With combinations of flavours and textures that dance on the palate, memories of time spent in Vietnam are inextricably entwined with memories of dishes consumed – and you’ll find great food everywhere, from street vendors to cafes and restaurants. The cities of Hoi An, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are all great places to attend a cooking school, and many guided tours include a cooking class within their itinerary – so that you too can learn the Vietnamese art of combining fragrance, taste, texture and colour into memorable dishes.
From warm, freshly-baked empanada dough with a succulent filling of delicately-spiced beef and olives to meltingly-tender steak, cooked to perfection on a traditional parrilla, carnivores will find themselves in culinary heaven in Argentina. Sweet-toothed travellers will be equally enamoured with dulce de leche, lovingly drizzled over ice-cream, pancakes or waffles. If you want to take your barbecue skills to the next level, a day (or a week) at a Buenos Aires cooking school will introduce you to all the highlights of Argentinian cuisine, which is a mouth-watering blend of South American, French, Italian and Spanish influences.
Whether it’s moules in white wine sauce in Normandy, crêpes filled with tiny shrimps in Brittany, coq au vin in Burgundy or bouillabaisse in Marseille, every French region has its classic dishes that perfectly represent the local produce and culture. Many of the world’s grandest restaurants can be found in France, but you don’t need to spend a king’s ransom in order to eat like one, and you’ll find classes that impart the secrets of French cuisine in every corner of the country – all you need to do is decide – will it be cordon bleu or rustic and rural?
It’s been said that you must taste a culture to truly understand it, which is perhaps why so many of us are increasingly drawn to food-focused travel. Whether you’re a dedicated foodie or you simply want to experience a culture through its cuisine, your personal travel manager can help you find a cooking class almost anywhere in the world.