A cooking vacation-is it really that, a vacation?

I have always dreamt about doing a culinary vacation. As I’ve gotten older and become more “entrenched” in the cooking world in my spare time, my zest for traveling to a foreign country and doing nothing but cooking local dishes and shopping at local markets for ingredients native to that country has only increased. However, as much as I adore cooking, after a couple of hours being in the kitchen on my feet, I’m often exhausted by the time it comes to eat the meal.

When I took a cooking class earlier this year on Indian cuisine, I was looking so forward to it. After the class was over, I didn’t have the fantastic time I thought I would due to the immature and arrogant antics of some of my fellow classmates, many of whom were easily 15 years older than me and had apparently never grown up, Also, I along with another woman, had been in charge of making the samosas. I love to eat them but boy, they took a lot of hard work. While others in group had two if not more cooking assignments, I only made the samosas because that’s literally how long they take to make-the preparation for the filling, the making of the dough, the assembling, the frying (of which I sustained multiple oil burns since they are deep fried). It was after that night of my Indian cooking class when I wondered to myself, would a culinary vacation really be a vacation? Would I come home  with fond memories after having spent a week in Italy or France or would I just be happy to be out of a kitchen setting, content to eat nothing but microwavable meals for the foreseeable future?

Culinary vacations are very expensive; week long ones in Western Europe easily range from the high two thousands (USD) and upward. Since D is not a cook (he has perfected his boiling water skills though), it would be entirely too much money to spend on something that only I would get enjoyment out of. However, I have looked into day long and half-day classes at locales around the world that I have either been to or would love to visit one day. I figured that attending a half-day cooking class would be a fraction of the cost it would be be for a week long culinary vacation, not to mention I hopefully wouldn’t come home wanting nothing to ever do with a kitchen again.

Here are three cooking schools I have researched and hopefully one day might attend.

1.) Cook’n with class-Paris, France
I looked into this school while researching unique things to do while in our honeymoon to Paris last September. While the idea of attending a cooking class in Paris of all places sounded like a dream come true, I ultimately decided against it due to our short time in the City of Light. The thing with cooking classes is that they are never an hour or two affair, always much longer, and I knew there were things that D really wanted to see since it was his first trip there. The school offers an assortment of classes ranging from a morning/evening market class to a French baking class (this is what I was interested in, the idea of learning how to make my own delectable French pastries seemed fantastique) to even something as neat as a macaron class. Prices are on the expensive side (185 euros for their morning market class), especially for American tourists since the euro is still beating the dollar, but I would like to think it would be a worthwhile experience.

Image courtesy of slashfood.com

2.) Seasons of My Heart-Oaxaca, Mexico
Since I was a young teenager, I have always wanted to visit the southern colonial city of Oaxaca. Its name alone fills my exotic seeking void. When I found out about chef Susana Trilling’s school there, I added it to my always increasing bucket list of places to visit. Although culinary tours are offered (they last approximately a week and are focused on a particular state or region in Mexico), I am much more interested in her cooking school. There is a half-day option along with a day class that visits a local markets. At only $50 for a half day class and $75 for the full day, Seasons of my Heart seems like a good deal.

Image courtesy of gomexico.about.com

3.) Ban Thai Cooking School-Chiang Mai, Thailand
It is a dream of mine to have unlimited time to travel throughout Southeast Asia. And in that dream it includes a cooking class in a country like Thailand or Vietnam (I’ve read that cooking schools in Laos and Cambodia are not as extensive as those in their neighboring countries). I first came across the Ban Thai Cooking School after reading a post on Frommers.com that listed the 9 top cities for culinary schools and culinary vacations, and Chiang Mai was one of them. As it’s Southeast Asia, prices for classes are extremely low (roughly $28 USD for a day course, $22 for an evening course) so all the more enticing. Each course whether morning or evening includes a market tour. Morning tour participants make six dishes while those in the evening make five.

Image courtesy of chiangmaigrapevine.com

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  • Reply
    September 17, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    I would never want to spend my whole vacation cooking–even in Italy or Mexico–but I would love to do a half day or one day class like some of the ones you mentioned above. Even at the Bedford Springs Resort they have a cooking with the chef class, I think $25 per person, but I think it’s only offered on Saturdays, and we stayed there Sunday-Tuesday.

  • Reply
    the red headed traveler
    September 17, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    That’s really cool about the BSR-will need to keep that in mind 🙂 And I’m with you, I could never do a whole week. At the cooking class I attended someone washed up everything so I had no clean up responsibilities but even just the cooking, being on your feet for hours is just too tiring.

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