A Recipe for Adventure: Culinary Holidays Around the World

Fulfil part of your “eat, pray, love” fantasies by booking some cooking into your next holiday. Here are our suggestions of the 10 best culinary holidays you should try...
Ecole de cuisine Alain Ducasse
Benjamin Schmuck
Ecole de cuisine Alain Ducasse
March 13, 2019
By Yi-Hwa Hanna

Fat Hen, WEST CORNWALL, England, UK

Foraging is an up-and-coming food trend across the world, and this place is an old hand at it. Founder Caroline Davey is actually a botanist and ecological consultant, and she’s proudly combined her love of nature and food to create this “wild” cooking school. She’s lived all over the world, picked up foodie knowledge along the way, and the school is a real labour of love. You can take courses on foraging, cooking and feasting (everything from mushrooms to seaweed), from-scratch Italian food or vegan cuisine, Cornish seafood, artisan bread, game and crab (caught by local fishermen), and more. You can also add in activities like yoga, surfing, cycling, kayaking and trail running. If you’re staying for at least a week during the summer, you can book into their cottage – off-season, you can opt for shorter stays for a minimum of 2 nights, with space for 2-12 people on-site. www.fathen.org

Ballymaloe Cookery School, COUNTY CORK, Ireland

Spinneys sources many of its top-selling ingredients from trusted providers in Ireland, and this cooking school incorporates an organic farm and gardens. They offer 12-, 5-, 6-, and 1-week courses, as well as 2½-day courses, 1-day courses, ½-day classes and afternoon cookery demonstrations. The classes cover an extremely wide range of topics, from canapés and finger food to afternoon tea and cakes, vegetarian cooking, fish, pizza, pasta, Sunday roasts, tapas: you name it, they have it. They even have a course on cooking for toddlers. There are beautiful cottages overlooking the orchards for students to stay in, but even if you’re popping by for a quick visit, don’t miss out on a peek into the gardens. They’re so beautiful that they even host garden tours! cookingisfun.ie

Salt Water Farm, Maine, USA

The USA’s East Coast is famous for its marine-based food, so what better place to learn the ins and outs? Salt Water Farm runs cooking classes and three-day workshops, from May through December each year. You’ll use veggies and herbs from their seaside garden where possible, and their hands-on classes cover the gamut of Western- and European-style cooking basics, from how to make handmade pasta or from-scratch pies and bread, meat and fish, and how to plan a menu for entertaining a large group. When you’re finished, you’ll sit down at their communal table to eat with your classmates, family-style. While you can’t stay at the school itself, they work with a wide range of adorable cottages, inns and guesthouses in the area, each with their own set of quirks and charms. saltwaterfarm.com

The Pimenta, Kerala, India

This Kerala-based homestay isn’t in the thick of a smog-filled city; rather, it’s in a lush, forest-rich plot of land, where you’ll spend two hours a day learning Indian home cooking. They take a back-to-nature approach, with plenty of healthy vegetarian and vegan food, and no food colouring or taste-enhancing synthetic additives used – they even have a bean-to-bar chocolate workshop. They’ll help you with the chopping and peeling while you keep yourself busy playing with spices, stirring dishes and handling flame control and flavour development. When you’re not cooking, you can try weaving, making terracotta pottery, taking boat rides and visiting farmers’ markets and tea plantations. Each of their four cozy, independent bungalows has a verandah and a forest view. thepimenta.com

Los Dos Cooking School, MERIDA, Mexico

There are plenty of recipes from this part of the world that are deliciously complex and require more skill than rustling up a burrito or simple guac and chips. This cooking school won’t only teach you recipes that would make any abuela (grandmother) smile, but it was also founded by a renowned chef, the late David Sterling. It’s the only cooking school in the world that focuses on Yucatán cuisine, and you can learn how to cook everything from Mayan dips and arroz royo (Mexican red rice) to empanadas, roasted meats, citrusy and spicy soups, flans and bread puddings. Class options are incredibly flexible here. There are 4- to 8-hour classes, held in the school’s kitchens or in a local family-run diner, full-day or week-long workshops, or private lessons. You can also book local market excursions, as well as tasting tours, from a Cantina Crawl to Street Eats. los-dos.com

Buddha Bellies Cooking School, Tokyo

Founder Ayuko Kokado is a JSIA-certified sushi instructor, author of cookbook Teaching Japanese Cooking in English, and is a professional kaiseki-style cook. Meanwhile, executive chef and instructor Shugo Kokado began his career as a chef at the age of 16, and spent many years working as a private chef overseas. He’s a well-respected sushi and kappou (cut and cook) chef, and also works as a sushi consultant. The classes can be customised to suit your needs – even if you’re vegetarian, vegan or prefer halal food. You can learn how to make sushi as well as a variety of other traditional Japanese cuisine, udon and bento boxes, sukiyaki, Japanese sweets, tea-brewing and more. While in the past, guests would simply find nearby accommodation, they now have a guestroom located on the premises in a simple but comfortable space in central Tokyo that can sleep up to four. buddhabelliestokyo.jimdo.com

The Little Greek Kitchen, RHODES, Greece

This cosy little cooking school can teach you about the Mediterranean’s fresh produce, olive oils, honey, and more, while teaching you how to make dishes such as dolmades (stuffed vine leaves), tzatziki, keftedes (meatballs), gigantes (giant beans), hummus, spanakopita (spinach pie), stifado (beef stew) and phyllo cheese parcels from scratch. The school is run by Bernie Dodd, a foodie with more than 30 years of experience in the industry, and classes run from Mondays to Fridays with different daily programmes to choose from. Classes begin in the morning so that you can enjoy a leisurely late lunch together after the work is done, and they’re kept small so that it remains a comfortable, intimate environment. While the school itself doesn’t offer accommodation, there are plenty of lovely places to stay nearby on the stunning island. thelittlegreekkitchen.com

Ivy’s Kitchen, Taiwan

Chinese cuisine is famed for its intricate recipes and unique techniques, but why not hop on over to Taiwan, a small island that’s part of the Republic of China, for your immersion into its cooking instead? Taiwan’s foodie culture is so immense that enjoying good food is practically considered a national sport, and it’s a foodie haven with everything from fine dining to street eats and epic night markets. This little cooking school is used to teaching English-speakers, and they’ve been featured on Ainsley Harriott’s Ainsley Eats the Streets. Chef and founder Ivy Chen has 17 years of experience, and loves opening her home up to guests keen to learn about her culture through the language of food. You can learn to make steamed whole fish, pot stickers, sweet and sour soup, kung pao chicken (stir-fried chicken), beef noodle soup, baos (steamed buns with a variety of fillings), pineapple cakes and more. She can also arrange food market shopping tours and street market eating tours. kitchenivy.com

“Foraging is an up-and-coming food trend across the world”

Riad Africa, Marrakech, Morocco

If you’ve ever dreamed of learning how to make a perfect tagine or couscous, this is the place to do it. They have two locations, with the second in Morocco’s breathtaking Atlas Mountains, but the Marrakech option is set right in the heart of the famous Medina. Only available for private hire, it’s ideal for hen breaks, birthdays, anniversaries, family reunions or small tour groups, with 9 well-furnished rooms to stay in, a large plunge pool, shaded central courtyard and a relaxing lounge. When you’re not learning to cook in their kitchen (or enjoying meals in the dining lounge or on the roof garden), they also have a massage room, log fires in the winter, an evening bar and plenty of activities to hook you up with in your spare time – from camel rides and balloon flights to rafting and mountain treks. marrakechcooking.com

École de Cuisine Alain Ducasse, France

From classic French fine dining to pastries and patisseries, this world-renowned Parisian school offers it all – it even has gluten-free and health-focused courses. The unparalleled facilities and expert instruction are all led under the umbrella of its namesake award-winning chef, who also runs a three Michelin-starred restaurant in London. Most classes are taught in French, but there is a selection taught in English. Whether you opt for a 1-day or 3-day course, it’s an unforgettable way to experience France. You can’t stay on the premises, but it’s Paris – there are plenty of wonderful hotels for every budget in the same arrondissement or those surrounding it. ecolecuisine-alainducasse.com