If you spend the majority of your quality time in the kitchen, consider this the ultimate guide on deciding where to vacation next: From knife skills to bread-making courses and even lessons in Mediterranean grub and cheesemaking, you can figure out how to perfect the food you fancy by doing a little extra vacation planning before your next trip.
The Seasoned Farmhouse Classes
The lovely city of Columbus, Ohio is full of exciting and diverse architecture and activities—including great artisanal and boutique shopping in the Short North—but the city’s true gem is found in Clintonville at The Seasoned Farmhouse, which bills itself as a recreational cooking school.
This Columbus favorite is dedicated to highlighting the produce of local farmers and artisans in a warm and inviting space. Multi-course classes taught here are designed for all ability levels to help you hone your skills in French cuisine or pastry making, while one-off classes get specific into the world of fresh pastas, Middle Eastern cuisine, or even mastering the modern pressure cooker.
Find more information on courses and pricing, visit theseasonedfarmhouse.com
Culinary Experience at Lake Austin Spa Resort
You may think a place like Lake Austin Spa Resort is all about health and wellness and incredible services—and you’d be right—but what really sets this destination spa apart is its culinary program. Beginning on the second Monday of every month, you can join restaurateurs, cookbook authors, James Beard Award winners, and acclaimed television personalities for a week of great eating.
Merging health and gourmet, you should come hungry and get ready to experience fresh food, daily cooking demonstrations, and other enticing food-focused activities. To name a few: Adventures in Cocktail Gardening, The World of Wine, All About Olive Oil, Guided Organic Garden Tour, Hands on Lunch and Learn, Smoothie Express, and Seasonal Superfoods.
Tip: Arrange the water taxi service with the resort and a luxe speed boat will pick you up in downtown Austin for a scenic ride on Lake Austin where you might spot a blue heron along the way and will definitely receive champagne upon arrival.
$595 per night, per person (all-inclusive of all meals, classes and activities), more information at lakeaustin.com
Cheesemaking Class at Stowe Mountain Lodge
It’s pretty impossible to visit Vermont and not indulge in a bit of fromage, but when you want to go beyond just sampling and actually partake in the cheesemaking process, you can do so at Stowe Mountain Lodge.
Not only does their restaurant Solstice feature an all-cheese menu, but their chefs and local cheese makers will walk you through a demo and educate you on the best wine pairings for each kind.
$25-75 per person depending on wines and cheeses, more information at stowemountainlodge.com
The Global Cuisine Series at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay
The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay is a breathtaking Northern California property in the relaxing and full-of-charm town of Half Moon Bay, which is close to the wineries of Santa Cruz and a bounty of adorable farms—like Harley Farms, which specializes in goat cheeses—that are worth a visit all of their own.
But the real highlight of visiting Half Moon Bay is by far the Ritz-Carlton’s epicurean retreat exclusive to Rewards members where you’ll get to cook alongside some pretty impressive culinary names from around the world. These intimate, 16-seat packages will feature weekends with notable chefs like Dominique Crenn—one of the nation’s hottest chefs of Atelier Crenn and Petit Crenn—and sushi master Jackson Yu of Michelin Star Omakase, as well as Gonzalo Guzman of famed Nopalito that specializes in regional Mexican cuisine.
Series packages include a one-night stay, cooking class, luncheon, a $100 resort credit, valet parking and resort fee and are exclusive to Ritz-Carlton Rewards, Marriott Rewards, and SPG Rewards members invited to bid points to win the packages on Marriott Rewards Moments and SPG Moments websites.
Los Tamarindos Farm Experience at One&Only Palmilla
Cabo is known for its beaches, margaritas, and their organic farms (Flora Farm and Huerta Los Tamarindos), so if you’re into any—or all—of those things, you’re going to want to experience the One&Only Palmilla culinary partnership with the latter.
First, you’ll tour Los Tamarindos farm and gather your own ingredients for the day’s recipes, before cooking alongside the resort’s famed chefs and preparing (and enjoying) a four-course meal. You’ll also get the opportunity to learn about indigenous chilies—spicy habanero and serrano peppers to name a few—and the four elements of Chi (water, fire, earth, and wind) incorporated in the garden. Everything from pizzas to traditional Mexican dishes are made with the local herbs and all demos end with a tasting and pairing of Mexican wine, tequila, or mezcal, selected by the resort’s head sommelier and tequila master.
Tip: If you’re staying at One&Only Palmilla, you will not want to miss Suviche, the handsome sushi-meets-ceviche restaurant with an impressive list of teas.
Visit oneandonlyresorts.com for pricing
Little Chefs at Naples Grande Beach Resort
If taking a trip means schlepping the little ones along, there’s no better way to entertain and educate your family than to cook as one (Bonus: Your kids can now cook for you.) Naples Grande Beach Resort is located on Florida’s relaxing Paradise Coast and has a celebrated “Little Chefs” program, offering a pizza-making class for young culinary talent in the making. And let’s face it, what kid (and adult) won’t get excited by pizza?
$29, more info at naplesgrande.com
The Biltmore Culinary Academy at The Biltmore Hotel
The Biltmore is an iconic landmark hotel that’s worth visiting just to see the lobby alone, but as the only hotel with a recreational cooking school operating in North America, it’s also where you go when you are serious about your chef aspirations (or Instagram food photos).
Their fully-equipped professional kitchen offers a variety of classes centered around culinary techniques and cuisines (Offerings at press time include the yummy-sounding Italian Cooking, Asian Street Food, and Latin Favorites). There are also team-building events for both adults and children—letting you get involved in every aspect of preparation—and each is concluded with a meal made by the students.
For more information, call 305-913-3131 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Classes start at $114, biltmorehotel.com
Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School
Stonewall Kitchen’s Cooking School is a 15-minute drive from the charming coastal town of Ogunquit, Maine, and Cliff House Maine, a stylish New England resort, making this a must-visit when you find yourself in the land of lobster.
At Stonewall’s cooking school, you can discover new recipes and practice them with the pros, with courses designed based on seasonality. Everything from brunch favorites to innovative appetizers and celeb chef lunches and dinners can be booked, so make sure to save some room in your weekend itinerary to taste the flavors of Maine.
Macaron Making Class at Condado Vanderbilt
If you and your friends have a sweet tooth (or an obsession with all things French macarons), then head to class with Pastry Chef Nasha Fondeur at the Condado Vanderbilt where you can learn to perfect the notoriously labor-intensive treat.
You’ll leave class with a Condado Vanderbilt Apron, along with a wine and canape hour with Nasha Fondeur, who is responsible for creating the exquisite desserts for 1919 Restaurant, Ola Oceanfront Bistro, and the hotel’s banquet events spaces. Classes are available upon request and reservations are suggested to be made at least one week in advance.
Cook Alongside a Relais and Chateaux Chef at Twin Farms
If you’ve ever stayed at a Relais and Chateaux property, you know that the hospitality and service—along with an extraordinary focus on giving guests a personalized culinary experience—is what makes these properties stand out and worthy of such a distinction. At Twin Farms, located in rural Vermont, the hotel recently opened a Cooking Suite, which includes four new spaces right inside the kitchen where guests can learn (and dine) alongside the property’s executive chef, Nathan Rich. The intimate space will give you and your guests a front row seat as chef teaches you how to work with seasonal ingredients to prepare the multi-course meal you’re enjoying—expertly paired with wine, of course.
Call for pricing and details, (802) 234-9999
Bread-Making Classes at Flowers & Bread
Located down the street from The Seasoned Farmhouse—which also made this list—is Flowers & Bread, a bakery and cafe meets floral studio concept. It’s here that you’ll get to celebrate all things bread, from learning how to shape and stuff it to perfecting your French baguette and handmade flatbread doughs—best topped as pizzas and cooked right in Flowers & Bread’s on-site wood fire oven.
You should also probably stop by: Stump, a beautifully designed local plant shop with a bright and airy feel that hosts coffee and brunch pop ups from time to time. It’s a great two-for, because guests who visit are encouraged to ask questions and learn about all the different types of plants they sell—which include house plants, succulents, cacti and air plants.
Related video: French Chocolate Macarons with Chocolate Ganache