Top 6 Cooking Vacations. The art of cooking has evolved from a hobby into a passion for many of today’s travelers. These vacation destinations offer interactive cooking classes that will inspire you to take your kitchen skills to new heights and return home with an enhanced culinary confidence.
The Farmhouse at Ojai Valley Inn
Tucked within the mystical Ojai Valley, the Ojai Valley Inn has recently unveiled The Farmhouse – an epicurean events center with an array of interactive cooking experiences. Chef and author Nancy Silverton serves as The Farmhouse’s premier Culinary Ambassador, curating a series of experiential, culinary events. Highlights include “A Study in Olive Oil” (July 26). Philip Asquith from Ojai Olive Oil will describe the best techniques for cooking with olive oil and explain creative ways to blend your own oils. “The Art of Macarons” (August 17) teaches you to make the perfect French macaron from start to finish. Topics covered include proper mixing methods, piping techniques and assembly of the elegant and colorful treats.
The Inns of Aurora
Finger Lakes, New York
At the Inns of Aurora, a lakeside boutique resort in the Finger Lakes, guests can learn and expand upon culinary skills at Aurora Cooks!, an intimate, fully-equipped demonstration kitchen, which feels as though you are in the chef’s home. The engaging and informal tasting experiences are led by Patrick Higgins, Executive Chef at Aurora Cooks!, and Grace Mattingly, Taste Curator, who offer educational yet relaxed sessions exploring approachable culinary techniques. Demonstrations include fresh pasta making, braising and poaching, while to skill-based classes in knife skills and fruit carvings are available, as well as tasting experiences around chocolate and butter.
Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain
The “Mi Casa, Mi Chef” package takes the relationship between diner and chef to new dimensions. Guests work hand-in-hand with a Sanctuary chef (like Food Network star Beau MacMillan) to plan and execute their customized dining experience, letting the day’s freshest fruits, vegetables, fish and meat dictate the menu. They join the chef in the kitchen of their private rental home, working side-by-side to prepare the feast. Chef MacMillan’s ingenuity in the kitchen is stimulated by his belief that food should not be overworked, but rather appreciated for its simplicity and natural perfection.
Gullah-Geechee Cooking Experience, French Quarter Inn
Charleston, South Carolina
The Gullah-Geechee are descendants of West Africans brought to South Carolina as slaves in the 1700s, and for a long time their culinary traditions were a large part of South Carolina’s identity. To help preserve those traditions French Quarter Inn launched an Immersive Culinary Experience package. Gullah Chef Benjamin Dennis leads guests on a private, hands-on culinary journey through local farmer markets and fishing docks to select fresh ingredients before heading to a beautiful Charleston home to lead a private Gullah cooking lesson, preparing traditional Gullah delicacies such as one-pot rice with sausage and seafood, Okra soup, brown oyster stew and deviled crab.
This “adults only” property is the first Relais & Chateaux property in the state of Hawaii. Under the direction of Chef Krista Garcia (formerly of French Laundry fame), guests are invited to don a chef’s coat and partake in an educational feast for the senses, creating their own signature poke recipe, learning how to fillet a freshly caught Hawaiian Kanpachi, and can even up their venison game with Chef Garcia’s special preparation and searing demonstration. All guests are provided with a take-home recipe booklet so they can recreate these dishes when they return. The chef’s charisma shines through to guests who participate in her engaging culinary classes or book her private, seven-course custom curated dinners at the property’s Treehouse.
Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita
Sea Foraging involves a culinary ocean adventure experience guests sea-forage in the Bay of Banderas for kelp and mollusks, followed by a hands-on cooking class where they learn to prepare their sea fare. The Catch and Cook experience teaches guests the proper freediving and octopus fishing techniques. Once you secure your fresh catch, it is transported back to the resort and presented to the chef, who guides you through the preparation of signature octopus dishes. Culinary Roots celebrates the flavors of pre-Hispanic cooking. Create a traditional meal outdoors in the Iku Garden. You’ll use indigenous ingredients and equipment inspired by ancient times, including an underground oven and a molcajete (mortar).