Want to explore local culture in a new way on your next trip? Sign up for a cooking class.
Here are our recommendations for ten of the best culinary workshops in the world:
1. The Madrones (Philo, California)
The workshops at the Madrones pay homage to tried-and-true locals who’ve been at it for a while, like Fran Gage and her Old Chatham Ranch olive oil. Workshops include a cooking class, lunch, a takeout meal, and a field experience.
2. Sazon (San Miguel de Allende, Mexico)
Go on a market tour with Chef Paco, owner of Petit Four Pâtisserie and Confiserie, and then get back into the 18th-century casa’s kitchen, where you can learn the secrets of salsa verde, guacamole, and chilaquiles, and even perfect the art of the michelada, Mexico’s famous beer cocktail.
3. Familia Zuccardi Vineyard Olive Oil Estate & Cooking School (Mendoza, Argentina)
Start your visit with the lovely Zuccardi family with an empanada-baking class in the wood-burning barro ovens, followed by a tasting of local wines like Malbec and Bonarda, and finish with a visit to the Olive Shed, where youngest brother Miguel recently began producing fragrant oils.
4. Catacurian (El Masroig, Catalonia, Spain)
This cooking school in a fourth-generation stone house in El Priorat, a region just 100 miles (160 km) southwest of Barcelona, offers various workshops on regional specialties like charcoal-grilled meats, bomba rice and paella, Siurana olive oils, and vibrant Montsant wines.
5. L’Atelier de la Cuisine Des Fleurs (Tourrette-sur-Loup, France)
Most cooking classes focus on flavor, but scent is the favored currency at Chef Yves Terrillon’s small atelier and floral confectionery. The school’s 25-student classes uncover the secrets behind cooking with flowers in dishes like milk chocolate and violet tiramisu, duck fillet stuffed with jasmine confit, and fragrant strawberries and cottage cheese.
6. CPH Good Food (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Danish duo Mia Kristensen and Jacob Damgaard share their love of Nordic cuisine in hands-on classes that focus on Nordic food culture and its most popular dishes, Nordic baked goods (the Danes really are fond of making danish, though they call them wienerbrod), and “fruits & veggies of the north” — with a focus on black currants, gooseberries, and other in-season local crops.
7. Toscana Saporita (Massarosa, Tuscany, Italy)
At her school, founded in 1994, chef Sandra Lotti teaches you the secrets of capturing basil’s essence and helps you master your gnocchi rolling in a spacious 16th-century villa. She also peppers her instructions with humorous and gossipy tidbits about how the French ripped off Italian cooking during the Renaissance.
8. &Beyond at the Baghvan Pench Jungle Lodge (Madhya Pradesh, India)
Chef Manish Tyagi’s organic baghiya (kitchen garden) teems with custard apples, pawpaws, potatoes, peppers, and bananas. After the tour, he’ll show you how to make mint chutneys, toasty naans, and chicken in banana leaves. Finish with a shot of local mahua tree wine.
9. Conrad Hotel (Bangkok, Thailand)
The ongoing workshops and classes here attract some of Asia’s top chefs, who are collaborating with Bangkok’s hottest kitchen talent and taking traditional Thai ingredients like galangal, coconut milk, and lotus root to the next level.
10. Shermay’s Cooking School (Singapore)
Although the Culinary Institute of America opened a Singapore branch in 2011, Shermay Lee was teaching students how to cook long before that date. Her classes include everything from the art of Japanese decorative cakes to the secrets of steamed pau and are taught by Singapore’s best known chefs, including Shermay herself.
This list is featured in National Geographic’s new coffee-table-worthy book, World’s Best Travel Experiences: 400 Extraordinary Places.