Cooking School Vacations: Six Destinations
Braise Wild Boar in Tuscany
La Canonica Cooking School holds sessions in a former priest’s home in the mountain town of Montalcino in Tuscany. Each two-hour class focuses on regional recipes—pasta, pizza, soups, and cakes—in a hands-on manner for no more than six students ($275 per class, including lunch or dinner). The 4,000-acre estate, owned by Massimo Ferragamo of the Italian fashion family, was built in the 12th century and encompasses a castle, a church, ruins of an ancient village, a winery, and a private golf course.
MAKE THIS Scottiglia, a stew made with wild boar and lamb chops, served over toasted bread.
GET THERE Fly into Rome, Pisa, or Florence, and arrange a drive with the hotel. Or touch down on its helipad, if that’s how you roll.
STAY HERE The on-site Castiglion del Bosco, repurposed into luxury villas from the town’s former residences.
castigliondelbosco.com; from $624 per night
Create Truffles in Belize
The one-day Bar to Bean Chocolate Making Class ($160) at chic jungle lodge Belcampo Belize in Punta Gorda starts with a visit to the property’s small cacao nursery. With a dozen other attendees, crack open a pod to taste its pulpy fruit, and grind dried beans into a paste the old-school way—with a mortar and pestle called a metate. Then temper and mold chocolate bars to take home. As treats cool, enjoy a tropical farm-to-table lunch, then indulge in class-made Mayan chocolate pudding.
MAKE THIS Dark chocolate truffles filled with rich chocolate ganache.
GET THERE Fly into the international airport in Belize City, then take a one-hour puddle jumper to Punta Gorda.
STAY HERE The lodge has 16 suites, tropical foliage, and world-class birding.
belcampobz.com; from $340 per night
Spice Up Corn Bread in New Orleans
Louisiana cookbook author Amy Cyrex-Sins’s Langlois Culinary Crossroads offers Cajun and Creole courses in a converted 1850s-era grocery store in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood. Classes are capped at 16 and highlight the history of the area’s cuisine, techniques such as roux making, the importance of “the trinity”—onions, celery, and bell pepper—and more. Whether you’re taking a brunch, lunch, or dinner class (brunch, $89; lunch, $99; dinner, $120), the chefs prep ingredients beforehand so you can dive into the cooking.
MAKE THIS A four-course meal with andouille corn bread, biscuits, and white country gravy, pork grillades, and smoked Gouda grits.
GET THERE Take a 20-minute cab ride from Louis Armstrong airport.
STAY HERE Cyrex-Sins also owns New Orleans Jazz Quarters in the French Quarter, an antique-filled B&B hideaway.
jazzquarters.com; from $95 per night (two-night minimum)
Master Dim Sum in Beijing
Down an alley in the historic Dongcheng district, you’ll find HutongCuisine Cooking School, held in an open-air courtyard in warmer months. Sign up for four-hour classes ($43) on dim sum, noodles, Cantonese cuisine, Sichuan cuisine, dumplings, and Peking duck. The school will introduce a monthly, 10-day intensive program ($650) in April that covers most major Chinese regions and specialties. All classes have 12 or fewer students.
MAKE THIS A dim sum menu of sui mai, mapo tofu, barbecue pork buns, soup dumplings, and braised duck.
GET THERE Take a 20-minute cab ride from Beijing Capital International Airport.
STAY HERE The Double Happiness Courtyard Hotel, featuring a friendly staff and traditional Chinese décor.
hotel37.com/EN; from $138 per night
Try Hot Cross Buns in England
Fulfill your Downton Abbey fantasies at the School of Artisan Food in Robin Hood’s Sherwood Forest. The curriculum is based on fermentation—pickling, cheesemaking, cider brewing, and baking without additives—with an emphasis on handmade, centuries-old techniques. The not-for-profit school welcomes 14 newbies and professionals for events ranging from two-hour beer and cheese tastings ($52) to six-day summer intensives ($1,490), where you’ll bake bread and butcher mutton. All are held in a converted Victorian fire station, and the estate includes an art gallery, farm shop, and bakery.
MAKE THIS Depends on the class, but you can choose from hot cross buns, venison pasty, British sausage, cheddar cheese, or steak and kidney pie.
GET THERE Fly to London, then take a two-hour train ride.
STAY HERE Clumber Park Hotel and Spa, a two-story mansion with a meticulous garden at the edge of the forest.
clumberparkhotel.com; from $426 per night
Forage Veggies in Mexico
The Rosewood San Miguel de Allende resort, high up in the mountains of central Mexico, offers a full-day local food foraging journey ($150). It starts with a morning trip to an organic farm, where you’ll walk the fields and pick produce, followed by a lesson by the hotel’s executive chef on what to do with the bounty. The day ends with a celebratory supper at the hotel’s fine-dining 1826 restaurant. Classes are limited to a dozen guests, and separate wine tasting courses focus on giallo, tempranillo, and other varietals.
MAKE THIS Fresh versions of classics such as guacamole with confit garlic, aguachile ceviche with shrimp, and stone-ground tortillas.
GET THERE The property is an hour’s drive from Del Bajío International Airport and three hours from Mexico City’s Benito Juárez International Airport.
STAY HERE The Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, finished in the style of a colonial-era hacienda.
rosewoodhotels.com/en/san-miguel-de-allende; from $450 per night