Ah, vacation. No deadlines, no responsibilities. And the perfect time to cook! While sometimes it's great to take a break from my kitchen, one of my favorite parts of traveling is experiencing food and cooking somewhere new. There's no better time to learn a new cuisine.
Read on for my favorite tips to find the best cooking classes to take while traveling.
Watching pasta made from scratch at a cooking class outside of Lake Como, Italy
1. Research, research, research.
The more you search beforehand, the better prepared you'll be. My favorite sites for research are Tripadvisor and Yelp — they provide plenty of feedback from people who have actually taken the classes and even photos of the food they cooked.
Learning how to make nyonya laksa at Food Playground in Singapore
2. Look local.
Many large cities have professional culinary schools that offer classes to travelers. However, my best experiences have been with small cooking classes at restaurants and peoples' homes. Look for native cooks if you're interested in learning home cooking and professional schools for honing techniques.
Expert spring roll preparation at Food Playground cooking class in Singapore
3. Decide how hands-on you want to be.
Are you looking for an interactive experience behind the cutting board, or do you want sit back and watch dinner being prepared as you sip a glass of wine? This distinction can make or break the experience, so be sure to ask if you'll be preparing the food or observing.
4. Book early.
Book early, especially if you're planning on trying out a small class, as peak travel time slots fill up quickly. You don't want to be left without a spot just because you put off making a call to Switzerland to get more details, for example. And don't fret if your favorite class is already filled up — try reaching out and they most likely can squeeze in another seat.
Making ricotta basil tortelloni outside of Lake Como, Italy
5. Think post-vacation.
If you're like me, my favorite part of taking a cooking class away from home is coming back to cook those dishes in my own kitchen. This can be tricky if you took a class with local ingredients that you're unable to find back home (pandan leaves, I'm looking at you!). Prepare for this by asking to take home the recipes and asking for any suggestions on where to find or how to substitute these special ingredients closer to home.
Do you take cooking classes on vacation? What tips do you have for finding a good one?
More good advice on cooking classes
(Image credits: Leela Cyd; Stephanie Barlow)