To put it simply, food is culture. And a meaningful way to immerse yourself in a destination is through what’s on the plate. Whether it’s Pappa al Pomodoro in Tuscany or Doro Wot in Ethiopia, food that has been soulfully crafted with local ingredients is among the best ways to get a strong sense of what that region of the world is all about. Tacking onto this concept, one approach to making your getaway feel more memorable is with a cooking class led by a local chef.
Not a master in the kitchen? Not a problem. Culinary lessons found around the world tailor to cooks from all backgrounds and with varying degrees of skillsets (or lack thereof). What’s most important here is that you come away from the experience with a deeper understanding of the food traditions and flavors that place is beloved for. Whether you’re in the midst of planning your next getaway or need some inspiration to do so, for now, lean into some armchair travel with a roundup of the best cooking lessons found around the world. From the shores of Fiji to the mountaintops of Peru, there’s a class — and dish — for every food-focused traveler.
Pizza-Making In Napa Valley
It’s hard to resist the siren call of pizza and wine, and Solage, Auberge Resorts Collection in Calistoga, California amps up the temptation with the hotel’s pizza experience. If you book a room with a private patio (like the Garden Terrace Studio) you can add on a three-hour class held in the privacy of your own backyard. Chef Gustavo Rios will curate the fresh ingredients and toppings and you’ll learn how to perfect your pizza-making skills in an outdoor Breville pizza oven (with instruction from one of the property’s chefs, of course). The package includes four bottles of wine from a local vintner member and vinyls with a record player to solidify the alfresco dining experience.
‘Grandma’s Garden’ In Vietnam
At Six Senses Ninh Van Bay in Vietnam, the culinary team took inspiration from a family figure who is all-knowing — the grandmother. Their kitchen recreates traditional cuisines that have been handed down from generation to generation, hoping to spark comforting childhood memories in guests. The property’s organic garden (called ‘Grandma’s Garden’) invites guests to pick their own seasonal veggies and fruits before heading to he prep stations to enjoy a chef-led cooking class. Prepare popular Vietnamese dishes while relaxing in this picturesque region.
Plant-Based Dining In La Quinta
Located in the Coachella Valley, La Quinta in California is a desert resort city surrounded by high mountain ranges. This November, La Quinta Resort & Club is debuting a cooking class series that will be taught by Executive Chef Andrew Cooper and located in the resort’s restaurant, Morgan’s in the Desert. The options are a mix — Turkey 101, Holiday Baking, and even a Plant-Based Dining class. Escape the cold and soak in the sun rays beside colorful flowerbeds and desert cacti while preparing fresh, healthy fare.
Pretzel Making In Utah
In Deer Valley, Utah there’s a European-inspired retreat — Goldener Hirsch, Auberge Resorts Collection — that’s situated mid-mountain in the famed ski destination. It’s designed to capture the spirit of an Austrian ski chalet and the property’s Bavarian and European style cooking classes extend this feeling of immersion. Here, guests can make their own pretzels using just four ingredients. Learn how to twist and turn your pretzel to perfection, while making sure it’s fluffy and crunchy where it counts. Once it’s baked, enjoy your pretzel with homemade sweet and savory mustard and a beer.
Beetroot Momos In Bhutan
Did you get the memo? Bhutan has, at long last, once again opened its borders to international guests. If this serene destination has been on your bucket list, consider a visit to Six Senses Bhutan for a culinary immersion of epic proportions. Alongside the chef, guests walk the lodge’s organic garden to discover an array of edible flowers, roots, and herbs grown at high elevation. Pluck artichokes, baby potatoes, kale, eggplant, and more to fill up your basket and return to the kitchen for a hands-on cooking class learning how to make dishes like Beetroot Momos or Buckwheat Pancakes served with fiery ezzay (Bhutan’s chili condiment).
Ricotta From Scratch In Puglia
Housed in a 159-year-old family palazzo in Puglia, Palazzo Daniele is a ten-suite luxury hotel that’s minimalist design concept finds its footing by way of original frescoes, vaulted ceilings, and mosaic flooring. The property recently introduced a refreshed food and beverage program echoing the spirit of ancient Salento and Apulian tradition and one experience guests can partake in is with one of the four female chefs. Learn to create homemade pasta or ricotta from scratch in a two-hour cooking class that uses time-honored Italian techniques in a breathtaking setting. Once the class is over, guests can sit down and enjoy their meal with complimentary aperitifs.
Colombian-Caribbean Pastry Making In Cartagena
Combining history, design, and cuisine, Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena should be at the top of your travel list. It’s housed in a 1621-era building that was once a convent and charity hospital. Nowadays, it’s identifiable by its orange exterior hue and towering palm trees and guests can relax in their recently-renovated rooms. The hotel invites guests to discover local Colombian flavors with the pastry chef by crafting coconut or mandarin lemon pie in the classic Colombian Caribbean style (or, you can make French-style macarons with local flavors as a nod to Sofitel’s French heritage).
Traditional Cuisine In The Yucatan
Surrounded by the ruins of Uxmal and situated within the Yucatan peninsula, Hacienda Temozon, a Luxury Collection Hotel is nothing short of picturesque. It was once a sisal estate and farm and now welcomes guests with its residential, comfortable ambience. The property offers a traditional Yucatan cooking class preparing Cochinita Pibil, a pork dish that’s flavored with sour orange and achiote and covered with banana and oat leaves. It’s cooked in an underground oven called the Pib, and once it’s completed guests can enjoy their flavorful creation.
Pie Masterclass In London
Inextricably linked with British culture, the pie (both sweet and savory) is a time-honored pastry in the United Kingdom. At Rosewood London this tradition is savored through an immersive Pie Masterclass that teaches guests the art of pie-making. It’s led by the hotel’s lead pie maker Nokx Majozi and the experience is held in the scenic Pie Room at the property’s Holborn Dining Room.
Jam and Jelly Making On Fogo Island
Resting on stilts and presiding over a floor of jagged rock, Fogo Island Inn is a bucket list destination for just about every traveler, and the hotel’s food programming is kicking into high gear this season. In addition to a four-day ‘cheese feast’ held from November 24 to 28, the Canadian property is also hosting a culinary adventure with Chef Hugh Acheson November 18 to 21. During this event, guests can experience a traditional open fire boil-up, take a nature hike to a wild tea tasting, and make jam and jelly with locally harvested berries.
Tortilla Journey In Austin
Die-hard taco fans take note, at Miraval Austin you can learn to make your very own tortillas from scratch. Justly dubbed the Transformative Tortilla Journey, the property highlights this traditional, essential element of Mexican cuisine with a dedicated class where guests have a hands-on experience reshaping simple and local ingredients into a fresh tortilla. You’ll assemble and press the dough into your round masterpiece before enjoying a taste of authentic Texas.
Break Down A Fish In Alaska
Boasting take-your-breath-away views, Salmon Falls Resort in Ketchikan, Alaska is the best place to put your fishing skills to the test. But beyond the boat, the property gives guests the opportunity to continue the experience with a salmon cooking demo. Here, learn the basics of breaking down a fish with minimal wastage, then partake in the chef’s private cooking demonstration who will prepare dishes to be paired with local microbrews.
Farmers Market Ingredients In Ibiza
Escape to the Balearic Islands for a culinary adventure beside the sparkling blue Mediterranean sea. At Ibiza Gran Hotel’s newly-appointed Michelin star restaurant, La Gaia by Óscar Molina guests can book a Journey of Taste package where they’ll spend the day with Chef Molina and learn about the local cuisine. Begin the day with an in-room breakfast and mimosas followed by a trip to the local market to pick up fresh ingredients and to taste local wine, olive oil, and vinegar. Back at the property, partake in the private cooking class using the market produce. And top things off, enjoy your dinner with wine pairings curated by the sommelier.
Tri Tri Cake In The Grenadines
Ditch the chilly temps and head for Mandarin Oriental, Canouan, a 26 suite, 13 villa luxury escape in St. Vincent and The Grenadines. The property has several themed cooking classes where guests can learn about the island’s unique culinary traditions. For example, Tri Tri Cake (pronounced “Chi Chi”) is made with a very tiny fish (Tri Tri) that’s known to some as The West Indian Whitebait. Or you can make Callaloo Soup, Jerk Chicken, Curry Goat, and even Dark Rum Cake, all with the assistance of Executive Chef Tijn Bremmers and his talented team.
Poke Class In Oahu
Located in one of Hawaii’s most vibrant surf towns, The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach invites guests to partake in The Art of Poke. The experience is led by Executive Chef Eric Oto of G. Lion Hawaii who begins with an oral historical journey about the significance and origin of poke. He is a trained lawai’a (fisherman) and guests get to learn how to cut and prepare poke and top it with a smattering of tasty accoutrements to enhance the final dish.
Oyster Shucking In Virginia
It’s tough to beat a waterfront hotel, especially one like Tides Inn that’s situated on the iconic Chesapeake Bay in the historic town of Irvington, Virginia. The hotel is regarded as a culinary destination and its bountiful dishes are made possible by surrounding valleys, farms, orchards, and waterways. Guests can book classes in the Chef’s Kitchen, including learning a beloved pastime of the region: oyster shucking. Learn how to clean and shuck freshly-caught oysters, enjoyed as an assortment of prepared oyster recipes.
Vegan Masterclass In Oxfordshire
If taking a few days off to escape to the English countryside to learn how to cook with freshly-foraged plants sounds up your alley, head for Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, A Belmond Hotel, Oxfordshire. The property was created by celebrated Michelin-star chef Raymond Blanc OBE and has 32 rooms and suites that are individually decorated drawing inspiration from Raymond’s travels. The namesake restaurant has held its two Michelin stars since it earned them during the property’s first year and the on-property school offers half and full-day cooking classes. Guests can now participate in Vegan Masterclasses, a new series focused on sustainability, zero-waste, and seasonal produce.
Global Cuisine In Puerto Rico
Less than an hour’s drive away from Old San Juan, Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Puerto Rico is a 50-acre luxury beach resort located beside the Atlantic Ocean. The hotel has a culinary center that offers hands-on cooking lessons that teach creative recipes alongside professional techniques. Their focus is global cuisine, which means you’ll have the opportunity to whip up dishes such as Argentinian Empanadas, Tuscan Branzino Alla Livornese, or French Duck Confit. Each class includes a five-course meal paired with wine from the onsite La Cava, one of the largest wine cellars in the Caribbean that holds 690 labels and 3,200 bottles.
Sushi Making In Miami
If you’ve ever dabbled with the idea of making your own sushi, head to W South Beach for their Art of Sushi Making class taught by Chef Ramon Arocha. The lesson is held for a max of six people every Wednesday and here, the craft and basic techniques of sushi are brought to life.
Homemade Pasta On The Amalfi Coast
The first new luxury hotel to open on the famed Amalfi Coast in 15 years, Borgo Santandrea is a cliffside property suspended 90 meters above the sea. The property’s cooking classes are led by Michelin-starred Chef Crescenzo Scotti who shares Campanian and Mediterranean traditions in a kitchen overlooking the sea. Guests will learn how to make homemade pastas, Neapolitan pizza, and even Italian pastries all using locally-sourced produce. The end result? A picturesque three-course lunch menu.
Mussels Master Class In South Africa
For those with a penchant for whale watching (or simply breathtaking sea views), Birkenhead House in Hermanus, South Africa deserves a spot on your bucket list. The all-inclusive beach property is perched atop the cliffs of Cape Winelands region and peers out over Walker Bay, a haven for spotting Southern Right and Humpback Whales. While here, guests can forage with the executive chef for edible species along the shoreline or book a mussel-picking experience with Chefs Oliver and Pinkie followed by an immersive tutorial on how to cook them over open fire.
Moussaka & Tzatziki In Santorini
As if you need another excuse to book a holiday to the Greek islands, the cooking class at Andronis Concept Wellness Resort is worth traveling for. Located on Santorini, the family-run boutique property uses fresh ingredients from the hotel’s gardens and guests can learn to prepare a traditional Greek meal (moussaka or tzatziki, for example). After you’ve put the final touches on your dish, enjoy your creation on the restaurant’s dining terrace with an arresting sunset view.
Traditional Fish Dishes In Fiji
Family-owned and on a private island, Turtle Island Fiji is a secluded eco-resort in the Yasawa Islands of Fiji. The property doesn’t have a traditional restaurant, rather, guests are treated like family and dine at a long communal table (the islands can host 14 couples at a time). Every Wednesday Head Chef Beni creates an outdoor kitchen space on the edge of the island where he teaches guests to create traditional Fijian dishes, like Kokoda (fresh fish marinated in lime juice, chopped vegetables, and fresh coconut milk), Ika Tavu (fresh fish cooked on charcoals), Tuba Vakasoso (crab cooked in coconut milk), and Ika Suruwa (fish with fresh curried coconut milk).
Spice Education In Grenada
Island of Spice, Grenada is a haven for rich flavors. At Silversands Grenada, a new roster of cooking classes have been introduced to teach guests the flavor profiles that are signature to the island. Options range from the do’s and don’ts of baking with chocolate to preparing Indian, Halal, Grenadian, or even Thai food — all with the help of the resort’s chefs and local talents like Chef Joachim. Every experience is curated to the individual guest’s preferences, meaning there’s plenty of room to explore and enjoy.
Holistic Flavors In The Maldives
With its crystal clear turquoise waters, lush jungles, and immersive properties, there are few places on earth as scenic as the Maldives. At JOALI BEING, three signature kitchens in open-air dining spaces set the tone for the food programming, which includes ocean-to-table pescatarian fare. The island’s learning center offers educational workshops and nutritional cooking classes where guests can learn how to prepare food that nourishes, heals, and delights.
Ceviche Class In Peru
Many journey to Peru to witness Machu Picchu, but while there you should also check in at Las Qolqas, a newly-opened eco-resort located in the heart of the Sacred Valley. The property has an immersive ceviche cooking class (with the option to add on a Pisco cocktail lesson) that’s held within a beautiful greenhouse surrounded by scenic views. Work with handpicked organic ingredients to craft the perfect ceviche to nibble on with the signature drink of Peru: the Pisco Sour.
Pizza Making In Rome
Is there anything more iconic than learning how to make pizza in Italy? At Hotel Eden in Rome, guests can join the top chefs in the kitchen to discover their secrets to making the property’s famous pizza dough. Test your rolling pin skills and add a slew of tasty toppings before firing it up in the oven.
Hand-Rolled Truffles In Arizona
Scottsdale brings a lot to the table — Sonoran desert views, distinct art and architecture, wellness getaways, and world-class dining — so it should come as no surprise that cultural activities like cooking classes abound in this corner of the southwest. At Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows the hotel’s restaurant Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen offers a seasonal hand-rolled truffles class led by pastry chef Morgan Malzahn that uses indigenous ingredients, as well as a pasta-making lesson with Chef Dushyant Singh.
Wild Foraged Plants In Loire Valley
France’s Loire Valley is beloved for its lush gardens and orchards and at La Grange aux Savoir-Faire near the city of Tours, guests can make the best of the region’s bounty with a nutritional cooking class. Forage for plants and flowers from the garden and forest in their Wild Picking & Cooking Edible Plants workshop that teaches how to cook with things like ground ivy, lugwort, plantain, hogweed, and bentonite.
Paella Preparation In Spain
Set on the Mediterranean Sea in southern Spain, Marbella is a destination for beach-dwellers and foodies alike. Puente Romano Beach Resort has crafted a special experience that introduces guests to the ins and outs of Paella. The property’s local chefs teach the origins of the traditional dish using locally-sourced ingredients, like olive oil sourced from Malaga and herbs and garnishes provided fresh from the resort’s garden. Finish the class by sampling the paella alongside a glass of local Spanish wine.