If you’re looking to relax and recharge, you may have thought about booking a wellness vacation to get away from it all. But while kicking back at a spa for some R&R can be the perfect respite, it’s nice to use your downtime for more than poolside pressed juice and a well-deserved massage.
Planning a getaway around cooking can be a great way to learn a new skill to enhance your life back home. And if your idea of cooking currently involves little more than heating pre-made meals, don’t fret: These courses offer levels of instruction that’s appropriate for cooks of all levels, whether you’re just learning to boil water or want to expand your go-to dishes.
Ready to become a more confident home chef? Pack your bag and prepare to get cooking.
If you’re in the mood for harvesting your own picture-perfect fruits and vegetables, one of the best places to do so is central California. The founders of Happy Girl kitchen—husband and wife team Todd and Jordan Champagne—are well-connected in the local farming community and offer classes out of their Pacific Grove store, as well as San Francisco, Oakland, and Watsonville. While you could take a class inspired by local cuisine, the real reason to visit is to sign up for a pickling and jam-making class (a talent the pair learned in Norway), a useful talent if you’ve ever picked more fruit or produce you can fit in your carry-on.
Pricing:$75-$95 for daylong classes; $395-$600 for weekend retreats
The Hudson Valley is a haven for city-dwellers eager to experience the beauty of fall foliage and pumpkin and apple picking for a weekend. But even non-NYC residents flock to the region to learn how to cook like the pros: The Culinary Institute of America’s main campus is located there, and offers day or weekend-long immersion classes in any type of cuisine you can imagine, as well as themed courses like Global Street Food, Healthy Cooking at Home, and Soups for All Seasons. If you travels aren’t taking you to the Northeast, they also offer classes based out of San Antonio, TX and St. Helena, CA.
Pricing: $250/class; check class calendars for detailed pricing information
You’d be smart to snag a spot at one of the classes at this Seattle-based kitchen, which is both a community hub and event space for local foodies. Since intimacy is part of the appeal, booking ahead is advised: Each class fills up quickly, since they cap each one at 24 participants. The good news: You’ll have the chance to break out of your comfort zone in a gorgeous, rustic space, while learning about fish butchering, handmade pasta, and tea-infused cuisine.
If visiting the Mayan Ruins is on your bucket list, complement your trip with a cooking class at Los Dos Culinary School in Mexico. The best part? The on-site classes are capped at 6-12 participants, so you’ll have a chance to connect with locals and other travelers while learning how to make traditional Yucatan cuisine or local street eats. If you’re traveling with a friend or two, you also have the option to take a class taught by local restaurant owners inside their own home. And if you’re maxed out on Mexican food, opt for their one-day chocolate indulgence: It includes a visit to a cacao plantation, a visit to the ruins of Uxmal—one of the most important sites in Mayan culture—and a chance to prepare chocolate from raw cocoa nibs.
While Montreal is well-known as a food-lovers destination, book lovers should make a special trip to one of chef Jonathan Cheung’s Appetite for Books classes. The Westmount-located shop hosts on-site themed classes based off of books sold at the store: Students can purchase each workshopa la carte, or with the book you’ll be cooking from. It’s the perfect opportunity to bond with like-minded home chefs, while leaving room in your bag for the tools to recreate your experience in your own kitchen.
Pricing: $85-$131; check website for most up-to-date class and pricing info.
Even if your vacation goal is learning how to cook, don’t forget to enjoy local restaurants, too! Dining out is one of the best ways to get a taste for a region’s local flavor. Have you taken a trip that taught you a new food-related skill? Share with us in the comments below.
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