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.