The best travel souvenir I’ve ever brought home is a collection of Thai recipes I learned at a cooking class in Chiang Mai. In planning my next trip, I found these cooking programs I’d love to try, some of which are highly recommended by Matador staff.
1. Zanzibar – Swahili Cooking Course
World Unite offers week-long Swahili cooking immersion courses in Stone Town and small villages around the island. The course explains the Arabian, Indian, and Persian influences on local cuisine and includes tours to vegetable, spice, fruit, and fish markets. Students travel the island and receive cooking lessons from village women. The curriculum includes lessons in how to mix spices, select fish and vegetables, and prepare Zanzibar coffee, curries, masala, and desserts.
2. Mexico – Seasons of My Heart
Susana Trilling, chef and host of a PBS cooking series, teaches beginner to advanced cooking lessons in Oaxaca. She offers instruction in pre-hispanic and traditional Mexican cuisine and local herb usage in medicinal cooking. All courses include a cultural component such as demonstrations in local homes or tastings in the market.
The school also hosts weekend courses devoted to themes like the Guelaguetza and summer vegetable and wild mushroom harvest.
3. Japan – Tokyo Sushi Academy
Sushi chefs teach students to prepare sashimi and sushi rolls at the Tokyo Sushi Academy. The school features several 2-hour introductory courses for travelers including sake tasting, improving knife skills, and creating thin rolls and hand rolls. The school also offers an intensive day course for students wanting to customize their instruction.
4. Morocco – Souk Cuisine
Souk Cuisine offers home-style cooking lessons with Moroccan women. Classes include a souk visit where participants learn about Moroccan spices, local foods, and the art of haggling. Instruction is done in the courtyard of a riad, a traditional home in Marrakesh. Courses are also available for dinner meals and vegetarian cooking. Souk Cuisine also hosts Culinary Week, a package including hotel, meals and cooking lessons.
5. Thailand – Baan Thai Cookery School
Baan Thai Cookery School in Chiang Mai hosts full day cooking courses and night classes. The rotating menu include Thai specialties such as homemade red and green curry paste, larb, phad thai, tom yum kung soup, desserts and snacks. Vegetarian options are available for all courses. Students take home a recipe book and a guide to Thai ingredients. Course instructors recommend ingredient substitutions that can be made in different countries where Thai ingredients may not be available.
6. France – La Cuisine Paris
La Cuisine Paris offers a range of French cooking classes according to a rotating schedule. Courses include how to make croissants, macarons, traditional meals based on seasonal ingredients, and a classic bistro dinner. The school also features a cooking demonstration and a guided tour of Marche Maubert, the oldest market in Paris. Classes are offered in English and French.
7. Cambodia – Le Tigre de Papier
Le Tigre de Papier teaches Khmer cooking in Siem Reap. Two classes offered daily feature a market tour and two hours of instruction and hands-on cooking. Rather than cooking the same dishes, participants individually choose what they’d like to prepare such as papaya salad, fried spring rolls or amok fish. After cooking, students dine together and share their meals.
8. Italy – Cooking Classes in Rome
Chef Andrea Consoli shares his expertise in preparing regional specialties of Rome at his school, Cooking Classes in Rome. The classes are five hours long and run Monday through Saturday. They include instruction and hands-on preparation of antipasto, homemade pasta, second courses, and a dessert. For an additional fee, students can enjoy wine pairing with the meal.
9. Vietnam – Red Bridge Restaurant and Cooking School
Red Bridge Restaurant and Cooking School in Hoi An operates several cooking classes from basic introduction to the cuisine to in-depth instruction. Chefs teach Vietnamese pho, clay pot fish, spring rolls, and regional dishes. Courses include visits to local market or the Tra Que Organic Village.
10. Argentina – Cooking with Teresita
Cooking with Teresita in Buenos Aires offers day classes in making homemade empanadas and Argentine style barbeque. In the empanada class, participants learn how to prepare spices, select meat, make the dough and pair the snack with wine. Students in the barbeque course visit a local butcher where they learn how to select choice cuts of meat. Afterward, chefs instruct how to grill different cuts of meat and prepare side salads and chimichurri sauce.
11. China – The Kitchen at Cooking Studio
Chef Allan Wong teaches Shanghainese, Cantonese, and Sichuan dishes at the Kitchen at Cooking Studio in Shanghai. The recipes change each week, featuring specialties like braised beef with bean sprouts, hot clay pot, scallion pancakes, and the classic Shanghai dumpling, xiao long bao. Classes are taught in Chinese with an English interpreter.
Have you ever taken a cooking class abroad? Share your experience in the comments.