Ten U.S. Cooking Vacations

Santa Fe.jpgPraise for Elizabeth Berg‘s “Amalfi Coast: A Moveable Feast” feature in our April 2010 issue has been flowing in. Our readers have been made hungry by her account of heading solo to the coastal hill town of Positano to take a week’s worth of cooking classes with Cooking Vacations Italy and sample some of the region’s fresh and lovingly prepared fare (check out the delicious photo gallery from the story).

In fact-checking the piece, I thought that my mom and aunt would love to go on a trip like this, time and money willing. Not all of us have the days off or funds stashed to make such a journey overseas. But maybe, just maybe, we could swing a cooking vacation if we stayed here stateside.

To learn more about cooking vacations closer to home, I got in touch with David Loy, president and CEO of Epitourean, a tour operator that crafts cooking vacation packages in the U.S. Mr. Loy tells me that “culinary travel is new to the U.S.” and his company is always discovering new destinations as “you just never know where the ever-growing population of foodies will want to go.” Epitourean strives to mix hands-on experiential dining and tours of farmers market or wineries with farm-to-table food that’s indigenous to the region.

For you foodies out there, I present Epitourean’s ten most popular culinary getaways in the U.S.A.:

Napa Valley, California: “No surprise there, ” Mr. Loy tells me. Trips include a winery and olive mill tour plus a stop at a farmers market.

Santa Fe, New Mexico: Spice up your Southwestern-style cooking, relax at a spa, and tour old Santa Fe.

New Orleans, Louisiana: Try your hand at Cajun and Creole cuisine and stay at a posh hotel in the French Quarter.

Charleston, South Carolina: Perfect eclectic Low Country cuisine and stay at an inn overlooking the city’s famous covered market.

Savannah, Georgia: Leave your diet at home as you cook and dine your way through the “Hostess City.”

Asheville, North Carolina: Take a hands-on cooking class with the Biltmore Estate’s executive chef.

Kennebunkport, Maine: Enjoy coastal Maine and cook a gourmet meal in your own cottage.

Camden, Maine: Sail Penobscot Bay and craft a five-course meal.

New York City: Dine at Mario Batali’s joint, tour Chelsea Market, and visit vintners on Long Island.

Washington, D.C.: Stop by Julia Child’s kitchen in the Smithsonian as inspiration for your CulinAerie cooking class.

Have you been on a cooking vacation in the U.S.? Which would you recommend?

Photo: Cooking class with Johnny Vee in Santa Fe, courtesy of Epitourean


  1. zaidh
    February 18, 2013, 1:33 pm

    I really enjoy traveling and eating various types of good food. I liked this article very well written. i am also a blogger covering different types of topics related to foods , travel, health and beauty.

  2. B
    December 14, 2011, 6:01 pm

    Joy – thanks for writing your review. I am considering booking one of these vacations for my mom, and I am nervous at the dearth of reviews. Is anybody even taking these vacations? Do you know where else to find information (other than on epitourean’s website)?

  3. International Kitchen
    December 2, 2010, 4:06 pm

    I love the idea of being able to have an exciting vacation, meet new people all the while leaning about a personal passion of mine, cooking. When I return home after a long vacation I have more than relaxation an an empty wallet to show for my weeks vacation.

  4. Joy
    October 7, 2010, 10:51 am

    You must have been a friend, or the owner knew who you were and went out of her way. I took this vacation based on your article and all I can say is Buyer BEWARE! READ CONTRACT! This company will not address complaints in person while in Italy. You must carry around a pencil and paper to leave your complaint in writing. For the amount of money that was paid, company did not go above and beyond. They would not fix the air conditioning, a walking tour of the marketplace turned out to be a walk to the local deli’s, and they will leave you stranded at such tour because they will not answer or return phone calls. They have the right to change your itinerary! They wanted to postpone a tour until the evening when you definitly needed to spend all day there. A garden tour is a path to a home. Drivers will leave you finding your own way home. Your article tells a different romantic story. That is not what I experienced.

  5. Lauren
    August 12, 2010, 11:41 am

    Food lovers should check out The King and Prince Resort on St Simons Island, Georgia. In September they are offering a package that includes cooking lessons at several local restaurants, wine tasting, and beach front accommodations

  6. Kevin Evans
    June 11, 2010, 7:50 am

    I read about Julia Child’s kitchen in Vanity Fair recently. I am just old enough to remember her wonderful shows and the Smithsonian will be the first place I head next time I’m in DC.
    Thought your readers might enjoy reading about 5 great cooking school holidays in France, ranging from snooty haute cuisine to traditional country cooking http://www.thetraveleditor.com/article/2323/Things_to_do_Lifestyle_Cookery_School_Five_Fabulous_Cooking_Schools_in_France.html

  7. Lou
    May 24, 2010, 10:24 pm

    It’s wonderful to be able to travel to destinations near-by and do something useful and rewarding – as a nice break from sitting on a beach getting sunburned.
    Great idea.