It seems strange to think that some folks leave the day to day humdrum of everyday life to vacation in far off exotic lands where they will be spending most of their time in the kitchen! Cooking vacations, or what’s known in the travel business as “Culinary Tourism” is becoming more and more popular with a wide variety of exciting and adventurous locales being offered to food enthusiasts today. This type of trip gives the gourmet cook a chance to learn how to prepare food in the region of their choice, from professional local chefs, using native ingredients, tools and techniques.
These vacations usually offer the best of all worlds, combining sightseeing, deluxe accommodations, fabulous dining experiences, and guided tours as well as cooking classes. One can truly immerse themselves in the culinary culture of their destination, as they are taken through local markets, taught about the traditional fare and in some cases taken to local seaports to pick out their catch that they will learn to prepare later in the day. In most cases, there will also be wine tasting and advice on pairing up the correct wines with each dish as well as a trip to favorite dining establishments of the region.
In some cases you will find yourself in a group with strangers who have come from other places but have the same desire to experience and learn as you do. If you prefer, you can plan ahead with friends and enjoy the experience as a group, which may help when recreating the dishes once you are back home. Either way, it is sure to be a memorable experience especially for the foodie who craves new adventures and exotic locales. Below are some of the most exclusive and exciting culinary vacations available today. Prices are based on a per person rate.
10. Athens Culinary Excursion by Epitourean: $1,289
This four day three night vacation will take you on a culinary tour of Athens. Upon your arrival at the Athens airport you will be greeted by a Greek and English speaking escort and transported to your hotel. Over the next few days you will explore small fishing villages, along with a guided culinary tour through the Acropolis. Later, your hands on cooking course will include four starters and a main course. You will learn about Mediterranean cuisine and experience the herbs, fresh vegetables and meats that make this cuisine so delicious. The above price includes accommodations, guided tours and cooking class.
9. New York City, Taste of the Big Apple by Sur La Table: $1,900
No list of exotic culinary vacations would be complete without an offering from the most exciting city in the world, New York, where flavors are both plentiful and diverse. Enjoy three nights in the Carlton Hotel, located near the Madison Square Park district and many five star restaurants. Enjoy bagels and smoked salmon in the lower East side and pastrami sandwiches from iconic Katz’s Deli. You will also go on a tour through Eataly the new food emporium dedicated to Italian cuisine. You will have a cooking class at Mas La Grillade with James Beard Award-winning chef Galen Zamarra. A $250 deposit is required for this trip.
8. Exotic Thailand Culinary & Cultural Adventure by Epitourean: $2,890
Travel to exotic Bangkok for this seven night culinary trip of a lifetime. Your host is the owner of a renowned Thai Cooking Academy just a few blocks from your hotel. You will learn culinary techniques and proper use of Thai utensils as you create over twenty dishes and three different curry pastes. This over the top trip includes a Thai breakfast buffet each morning, private airport transfers, a variety of tours including the vegetable and seafood market as well as a tour of Bangkok City and Temples. Your five full immersion Thai culinary classes are included as well. Epitourean is quick to point out, ” There is no fusion here, just authentic Thai cooking.”
7. Camp Napa Culinary by Hugh Carpenter: $2,970
Limited to just fourteen attendees this trip will take you to some elite Napa wineries as well as great kitchens and even homes. Hugh Carpenter, is the author of sixteen cookbooks and was voted “Cooking School Teacher of the Year,” by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Hugh will be both your teacher and your host throughout the entire five day trip beginning with an opening dinner reception at his private home. Highlights include cooking classes at Cakebread Cellars, a trip to Tim Mondavi’s “Continuum Estate” and a visit to the Silverado Winery. Between classes you will also have time to visit the spa, visit local artist’s studios and explore the scenic town of Yountville which is bursting with Michelin chef owned eating establishments. Truly the trip of a lifetime.
6. Culinary Adventure In Umbria by The International Kitchen: $3,000
Spend six spectacular nights in the city of Norcia, most famous for it’s black truffles. Located in the center of Umbria, this old and historic city is completely enclosed by walls built in the fourteenth century. Your hotel will be the Palazzo Seneca, a hotel in an Umbrian Palace. Your first cooking class is on day two where you will learn the secrets to the unique Umbrian cuisine using black truffles, local beef and lentils, and aged cheeses from local producers. Be forewarned! Your lunch depends on what you learn in class! Included in this fabulous once in a lifetime experience are: all dinners with local wines, four cooking classes with meals to follow, accommodations and trips per itinerary.
5. Slow Cooking Positano by Cooking Vacations: $3,300
Without a doubt one of the most breathtaking places in the world, Positano is a city for romance and great food. The Slow Cooking Positano (TM) course, is created from the Mediterranean Diet and uses only local ingredients. You will begin your seven night stay in the city of Naples where you will be picked up and transported to your bed and breakfast inn located in the center of Positano. You will enjoy five hands on cooking courses where you will learn the craft of Positano cooking with appetizers, main dishes and decadent desserts, discover a wide variety of olive oils and sample home made cheeses from local artisans. Other highlights include a trip down the Amalfi coast, a stop in Ravello, a town famous for their ceramics and a full day visit to the gorgeous Isle of Capri.
4. Yucatan One Week Culinary Workshop by Los Dos: $3,375.
Los Dos is the first cooking school devoted totally to the cuisine of Yucatan, and has been featured in Conde’ Nast Traveler and Travel and Leisure magazines. This six night, five day package includes instruction from renowned chef David Sterling. This trip includes guided tours through local markets as well as three hands on cooking classes. You will learn the fine art of shaping tortillas from local Mayan women as well as crafting a delicious meal of the day. Price also includes accommodations, two-day tours, continental breakfast each morning and three dinners.
3. Cooking in Barcelona by Epiculinary: $3,495
Barcelona is a city steeped with amazing cuisine and extraordinary art. The capital of Catalonia, Barcelona is the center of Catalonian cuisine and full of artistic history with artists such as Dali and Picasso having walked those very same streets. This six night course includes accommodations as well as three hands on cooking lessons followed by lunch. You will stay in a charming hotel in the heart of Barcelona. Cooking classes take place at the city’s top cooking school. You will also visit local food markets and enjoy a private guided tour through this amazing city.
2. Exotic Morocco by Epitourean: $3,500
Explore the infamous and mysterious city of Casablanca while learning the secrets of sweet and savory Moroccan cuisine. This is a seven night trip which includes cooking instruction in the cities of Rabat, Fes and Marrakech. Prior to your cooking classes you will visit the local markets where you will purchase items needed for your instruction. This trip gives you a lot of bang for your buck with the inclusion of deluxe accommodations, guided tours of the cities, tea with a Moroccan cultural expert, first class train ride from Rabat to Fes and a Market Foodie Tour. You will also have time for exploring on your own this fascinating area of the world.
1. Bordeaux Grand Cru Cooking and Wine Tour by The Bordeaux Wine Experience: $5,500
This tour promises that “Whether you’re cooking a simple everyday supper or a big gourmet dinner, you’ll learn the secrets of preparing good food.” This course will teach you to prepare old style French home cooking in a modern and easily accessible way. For this five night culinary experience you will stay at Château Coulon Laurensac, the private home of company owners Margaret and Ronald Rens, nestled among the Bordeaux Vineyards. This is the perfect launching spot for touring this famous wine region of France. The price above includes three cooking classes and three full days of wine touring. On your final night you will dine at Bordeaux’s most elegant Michelin starred restaurant.