Learning the techniques of cooking at the International Culinary Center. Photo: Arielle, International Culinary Center

25 Apr 10 Ideas for the Ultimate Foodie Vacation

By Abigail Hague

Although we all love a nice, relaxing luxury vacation, sometimes, you need to spice things up—literally. Like with a hands-on, out-of-the-box culinary experience.

Active and hobby-based retreats and vacations are becoming more and more popular. And none are making as big of a ripple as the culinary retreat.

Stay for three days or three weeks; these schools and agencies have options for all levels and ages.

Whether you’re a foodie at heart, an advanced culinary master, or just a weekend warrior, these vacations could be perfect for you.

So, grab your trusty “Kiss the Cook” apron and check out this list curated for food connoisseurs and gourmands everywhere.

Good Tastes of Tuscany

No matter your palate preference, Italian dishes are some of the most deliciously prominent in foodie culture. Here’s a school that blends tradition with “nuovo.”

Established in 1999 and located near the heart of Tuscany, right outside of Florence, Italy, the Good Tastes of Tuscany School doesn’t just offer up to three days in advanced Italian cooking classes. It also educates students in food produced from different regions of Tuscany and allows you to visit an authentic Italian market with the chef.

If that’s not enough to excite you, the classes are taught each day in the kitchens of the Renaissance Villa Pandolfini, an Italian mansion built almost 560 years ago. Have any dietary restrictions? Explore the school’s inclusive options, like vegetarian or gluten-free classes. Get a good taste of Italian culture and cuisine through Good Tastes of Tuscany.

Via Livornese 334 Lastra a Signa, Florence, Italy 50055 Email: Info@Tuscany-Cooking-Class.com Phone: 39-335-689-8344

 Two Bordelais

Two Bordelais was founded by a food-loving family of three—Jean Pierre, Denise, and their daughter, Elsa—and is located in their home lo in Bordeaux, France. With the Two Bordelais Culinary Tour, you are not just a visitor learning about foreign cuisine. The Moullé family makes sure you feel right at home among the locals, giving you the chance to tour the French countryside, visit nearby wineries, shop in village markets, and even have lunch with surrounding neighbors.

The four-day classes offer much more than just traditional French recipes. Jean Pierre believes that it is just as important to understand the structure of a menu and what it takes to execute a meal. Learn the techniques behind building a menu, and finish each day by feasting on what you’ve made.

P.O. Box 1800 Windsor, California 95492 Email: Info@TwoBordelais.com

Ballymaloe Cookery School

Meet Darina Allen, often called by those in the culinary community as “Ireland’s own Julia Child.” In 1983, Darina founded the Ballymaloe Cookery School with the mission to teach students the importance of the slow-food practice.

A response to the overwhelming popularity of fast-food institutions, the idea of slow food is to enjoy not only eating a meal but also the act of creating the dish, savoring the tastes, and all the activities that come with dining. Spend days on end wandering the beautiful array of gardens, tended and nurtured since the opening of the school itself, and use its produce in your own dishes.

The Ballymaloe Cookery School has a large variety of class lengths, from a half-day session to an entire week of slow-food lessons based heavily in the importance of organic, seasonal, and ethically produced food. Decide you need more from Darina? Sign up for the school’s five- and six-weekslong program or its internationally recognized 12-week certificate program and start your journey to culinary prowess.

Shanagarry County Cork, Ireland P25 R274 Phone: 353-21-464-6785 Email: Info@CookingIsFun.ie

The International Kitchen

The International Kitchen, often just referred to as TIK, is a culinary travel agency that specializes in helping the vacation-bound foodie find their dream destination. TIK’s locations span all over the globe, with itineraries tailored to fit the country and culture you choose. Managed by a knowledgeable and passionate team, TIK prides itself in supplying travel consultants who specialize in specific regions and cultures.

Spend seven days exploring the cultures of the Mediterranean with four cooking classes along the islands of Greece when you sign up for the “Greek Cooking Odyssey” vacation. Stay at the Odyssey center, owned and operated by Poros local Katerina Sakelliou, and bask in that famous Mediterranean sun while learning all you need to know about traditional Greek dishes.

Not a beach bum? How about something a little more exotic, like the “Cooking and Culture in Vietnam and Cambodia” vacation, including eight nights and three cooking classes spread all throughout both countries. Visit Southeast Asian markets and hand choose your own ingredients to use in class, where you will learn how to make popular cultural dishes. Whichever location you choose to explore, you are guaranteed an amazing experience.

307 North Michigan Ave. Suite #818 Chicago, IL 60601 Phone: 312-467-0560 Email: Info@TheInternationalKitchen.com

World Expeditions

Another travel agency-based company, World Expeditions has been offering all types of active vacations for nearly 40 years. With offices in New Zealand, Australia, North America, and the United Kingdom, the team prides itself in its unique and groundbreaking itineraries and puts a big emphasis on sustainable and eco-friendly travel. Its culinary tours focus not only on the traditional food and drink typically found in your designated vacation’s region but also in respectful education surrounding a culture. Travel to Africa on World Expeditions’ “Food Lovers Morocco” tour, discover Spain with its “Food Lovers Spanish Camino” trip, and more.

Looking for more than a culinary retreat? World Expeditions also offers vacations based around cycling, wildlife safaris, self-guided walking tours, and so much more.

North American Office: 47 William St. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 6Z9 Phone: 613-241-2700 Email: Info@WorldExpeditions.com

Culinary Institute of America

Culinary Institute of America

If you want to stay stateside, the Culinary Institute of America has offered culinary retreats located on several campuses throughout the U.S, including New York, California, and Texas.

Recognizing that not all who love to cook have the time for a full education, CIA established a multitude of single- or several-day classes. Master the basics of cooking and baking or take specific lessons on a CIA campus near you.

1946 Campus Drive Hyde Park, New York 12538-1499 Phone: 845-452-9600

Arielle Photos, courtesy of International Culinary Center

International Culinary Center

The International Culinary Center, located in New York and California, is another great option for a U.S.-based culinary retreat. With a wide selection of multiday classes, the International Culinary Center serves as a few-day session for those who want to further their culinary knowledge.

The center provides classes for all levels of talent, from three-day amateur courses and pastry lessons to wine tastings, “Food Media” courses, and technique classes on presentation and etiquette. Want to learn how to create culturally specific dishes? Enroll in the “Essentials of Japanese Cuisine” or “Essentials of Italian Cooking” courses, available to amateurs and masters alike.

New York Address: 462 Broadway New York, New York 10013 Phone: 888-324 2433

California Address: 700 West Hamilton Ave. Campbell, California 95099 Phone: 866-318-2433

The Farm Cooking School

With the tidal wave that is the sustainable food movement sweeping through the U.S., more and more people are turning toward organic, locally sourced, farm-to-table produce.

The Farm Cooking School is not only conscious of these trends, but it also takes its practice one step further. The school’s system is made up of “soil and seed to plate and table, and then to compost and feed” routines that teach its students not only the most sustainable way to obtain produce and cook healthy meals but also how to continue the sustainability by reducing waste and reusing products.

Classes are typically five days, run by former Gourmet magazine editors Ian Knauer and Shelley Wiseman. The school is relatively exclusive with limited spots and only two or three retreats a year, guaranteeing personal time with instructors and heightened experience with classes. This summer, the Farm Cooking School is offering the “Foundations of Cooking” retreat in the Delaware River Valley. And in August, students can sign up for the “East Coast Foodways Experience.” Spots fill up quickly. So, if the Farm Cooking School’s practices speak to you, act now.

67 Pleasant Valley Road Titusville, New Jersey 08560 Phone: 610-299-4806 Email: TheFarmCookingSchool@Gmail.com

California Culinary Retreats

Run by two native Californians, the California Culinary Retreat supplies a variety of cooking vacations, such as classic Italian and French cuisine. Not only does the retreat offer cooking courses, but it also has options for writers and corporate retreats, birthdays, and small weddings.

Carol Cotner Thompson and Jill Chesse founded California Culinary Retreats after meeting as instructor and student in a local cooking course. Together, they created a culinary business that combines all the things they love most: food, family, friends, and the Californian countryside. Join them in doing what they adore, and learn culinary secrets from two true cuisine experts.

Phone: 323-222-5929 Email: Info@CaliforniaCulinaryRetreats.com

Mimo Food

Mimo Food, with locations throughout Spain, Portugal, and one opening shortly in London, prides itself on authenticity. Authentic cuisine is not just in its mission statement, but it’s also embedded in everything it does.

Mimo San Sebastián, founded in 2009, is Mimo Food’s original campus. It offers multiday classes that stretch anywhere from two to seven days long, all while immersing you in the Spanish culture. You might not know how to pronounce txakoli now, but by the end of your trip, you’ll know how to make it.

Book your own trip to Spain and fill the days with classes in San Sebastián, or sign up for a private tour tailored specifically to your interests. Take a break from the kitchen to tour the Bilbao Guggenheim, or keep food first and foremost with a pintxo tasting tour. The options for an authentic cultural experience truly are endless.

San Sebastián Campus: Calle Okendo 1 San Sebastián, Spain 20004 Phone (USA): 917-675-4894 Email: SanSebastian@MimoFood.com

Happy travels; happy cooking!



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