If the kitchen is the heart and soul of a home, then the cooking school must be an important key to understanding the culture of a place. Slice and dice, and wine and dine with the best of them.
1. The Farm Cooking School, New Jersey, USA
Founded by two former Gourmet magazine editors, Ian Knauer and Shelley Wiseman, the school offers more than just cooking classes – it teaches students the fundamentals too, such as DIY butchery and knife skills. Located in a 250-year-old stone building on a working farm in New Jersey, there are fun lifestyle options too, like classes that combine yoga and healthy cooking.
2. L’Ecole de Cuisine Alain Ducasse, Paris, France
Where better to learn about French cuisine than at a school started by legendary Michelin-star chef Alain Ducasse. While beginners are welcome at the Parisian institution, classes mainly focus on creating and plating considerably ambitious dishes from Ducasse’s cookbooks – we’re talking items like lobster court bouillon and roasted langoustines with pepper and confit lemon.
3. The Gritti Epicurean School, Venice, Italy
A luxurious cooking school was added during the overhaul of the legendary Venice hotel, Gritti Palace, which took almost two years. And what a great addition it is – guests can partake in half- or three-day programmes, which typically include experiences such as a visit to the Rialto market and a cicchetto (a traditional Venetian snack) tasting at an authentic bacaro (Venetian gastropub).
4. Tokyo Sushi Academy, Tokyo, Japan
At this Tokyo culinary school, students can make like famous Michelin-starred chef Jiro and bring their sushi dreams to life. Most travellers will partake in the 90-minute make-your-own-sushi experience, held at the birthplace of the delicacy itself, Tsukiji. Those who are more serious – and who have more time – can choose between the four- or eight-week sushi course.
5. Cookistan, Istanbul, Turkey
A cooking course at Cookistan, started by sisters Aysin and Aysun, won’t feel like a class – but more like you’re entering the home of an old friend. Classes usually start with an hour’s walk around the sisters’ Istanbul neighbourhood, where former tour guide Aysin will share stories of the family-run, generations-old businesses that dot the residential area. Then, guests will be set to work creating a full meal – to be exact, six dishes, encompassing everything from starters to dessert. Of course, participants will get to enjoy the fruits of their efforts at the end of the five-hour class, with the sisters regaling them with more Turkish tales.
6. Casa Luna Cooking School, Bali, Indonesia
Hailed as one of the best cooking schools in Bali, participants taking a class at Casa Luna Cooking School in Ubud learn not only to prepare traditional Balinese dishes, they also learn about the cultural importance of food, and the herbs and spices that are used liberally in the cuisine. Classes are usually followed by a lavish meal – prepared by the participants themselves, naturally – that’s enjoyed with local rice wine or homemade hibiscus tea.
7. Sur La Table Summer Cooking Camps, Seattle, USA
Much more than a fancy kitchen store, Sur La Table opens up its premises each summer to kids aged eight to 17 for cooking camps. Held at various locations and for five days at a stretch, these courses are not the usual pizza and cake pops affairs – kids master kitchen fundamentals and even learn about science. Expect your little Masterchef to be able to churn out delicious items such as handmade pasta with fresh tomato sauce and a garden salad complete with vinaigrette made from scratch.
8. Camp Asia: Super Chef, Singapore
If you have kids with a penchant for cooking, keep them busy with a week-long kitchen adventure where they not only learn the basics of cooking but also pick up life skills such as organisation, teamwork and leadership. In the professional kitchen, head chef Tim Ong and his team will have the budding Masterchefs whipping up yummy treats such as chicken parmigiana, shepherd’s pie and sticky pudding. Parents will get to enjoy the fruits of their children’s labour when they lunch at the kids’ very own restaurant on the last day.
9. Traveling Spoon, Around the world
Traveling Spoon is a curated and vetted collection of cooking experiences and classes for travellers. The classes and experiences – that include local market visits – are hosted by locals passionate about their food and city in the home of the host. In Greece, learn how to prepare authentic Greek phyllo dough from scratch in Christina’s Athens kitchen. In Hong Kong, join local celebrity chef Grace as she teaches you how to make one of her family’s trademark dishes, soya sauce braised chicken. And with Traveling Spoon’s presence in 18 countries, there are many others waiting to be discovered.
– TEXT BY ESTHER AU YONG
PHOTOS: TRAVELLING SPOON, CAMP ASIA, SUR LA TABLE, CASA LUNA COOKING SCHOOL, COOKISTAN, THE GRITTI EPICUREAN SCHOOL, TOKYO SUSHI ACADEMY, L’ECOLE DE CUISINE ALAIN DUCASSE, THE FARM COOKING SCHOOL
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.