More than any historic home tour, the School of Artisan Food provides a true taste of Downton Abbey through classes in traditional English cookery: cider making, wild game butchery, and fruit preserves.
It’s one example of the greater world of epicurean experiences that has opened up for travelers eager to pack their aprons and join immersion classes with local guides or expert cooks—whatever your time commitment, budget, and skill level.
We’ve done the dirty work to identify the best cooking programs around the globe, from a half-day course on chicken gumbo in New Orleans to a farm in the scenic backwaters of Kerala, India, where classes center on family recipes for chutney and curries. They share the ability to help travelers understand a local culture and to revisit a favorite destination with a fresh perspective. After all, it’s exhilarating to start the day at a local market then sit down to a meal of pasta with truffles, tom yum goong, or coquilles St. Jacques of your very own making.
Students are typically teamed up with multilingual instructors versed in the cuisine of the region. You can expect to pick up new kitchen skills and recipes, and lessons are often augmented by exclusive encounters with purveyors and artisanal growers, wine pourings at vineyards, and dinners set in private homes or at top chef tables tucked in a corner of their kitchen domain, so that you can observe pros in the heat of the action.
Some programs are suited to a weeklong vacation: kneading dough with a master pizzaiolo in Naples or cooking spice-infused tagines at a villa in the Palmeraie outside Marrakesh. Other daylong sessions cater to those who simply want to whet their appetites. Hotels and resorts are increasingly offering classes as well. Before booking, ask about class size, type of equipment (knives, stovetops) provided, and what meals and accommodation are included.
Here are the latest programs for seasoned cooks as well as beginners ripe for discovery.