If aprons are your thing, you’ll want to book these five insane cooking classes
When I travel, I rarely participate in cooking classes. I’m better on the dance floor than a kitchen, and I can’t dance. Also: can’t someone just make me the food? Anyway, I’ve noticed cooking classes have been getting more interesting these days, and you can thank luxury hotels for thinking outside the box. They seem to love sending their chefs outside the comfort of the kitchen for memorable and often wild interactive experiences. Even renowned, award-winning chefs like Michael Cimarusti and Enrique Olvera (my favorite Mexican chef) are getting involved. In any case, restaurants across the globe are raising the bar on cooking experiences, and I wrote about some of the most interesting, hands-on cooking classes food lovers can sign up for.
Five next-level cooking classes!
Foraging for mussels on the Western Cape, South Africa. South Africa is teeming with local markets for tours, but epicureans are finding more adventurous culinary-centric activities in the Western Cape, a province that borders both the Indian and Atlantic oceans. At the luxurious Birkenhead House, an award-winning, eleven-room cliffside hotel, guests can forage for fynbos (local herb and vegetation) with executive chef Ziyaad Browne. In this intimate fall excursion, Browne also shows guests how to scour and pick fresh mussels directly from the rocks below the hotel. Finally, with Browne's help, guests cook the fare on an open fire while learning about the history of the regional cuisine.
Fermenting kombucha in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Many athletes love kombucha thanks to its high probiotic content and help with improving digestion. At Sunrise Springs Spa Resort, guests can ferment their own this fall during a class called Kombucha to Pickles: A Fermented Feast. The culinary activity is an interactive demonstration on the basics of making fermented kombucha blends, as well as seasonal vegetables grown at the resort’s garden like pickles. “Our class is a 'tasting tour' of the fermentation process,” says instructor Brigita Lacovara, noting the class is based off templates, rather than recipes, empowering guests to experiment and tailor to their personal tastes.
Coffee- and chocolate-making in Punta Gorda, Belize. Belcampo Belize is a 16-suite jungle lodge inside a 12,000-acre nature reserve that produces high-end coffee and chocolates with sustainable practices (70 percent of food served at the resort comes from their own farms and gardens). The five-star property offers a variety of culinary-themed classes, including the popular, year-round Bean to Bar chocolate making class. “We find that most travelers today are looking for truly engaging offerings that go beyond the typical museum visit or local walking tour,” says Mary-Ann du Plessis, general manager of Belcampo Belize. As the largest organic cacao and criollo (coffee bean) plantation in Belize, Belcampo provides an inside look at bean-to-bar production. Guests make their own high-quality, organic chocolate with a chocolatier. Similarly, the Bean to Cup Workshop offers the chance to explore the process of transforming raw beans into a cup of joe.
Cooking rustic fall dishes in Oldbridge, New Jersey. Helmed by chef David Viana, who’s worked with world-class chefs like Bobby Flay and in the kitchens of acclaimed restaurants (such as Eleven Madison Park in New York City and Villa Joya in Portugal), Heirloom Kitchen offers an eclectic range of culinary classes. Immersive workshops (which sell out fast) include themes like Mexican brunch, date night tapas, sourdough country loaf, paleo, and more. This fall, Viana will partner with local forager Oliver Gubenko to create rustic, vegetarian dishes using local fall produce like apples and squash varietals such as acorn, delicata, and butternut.
Gourmet dog food-making in Greenough, Montana. Popular for cooking demonstrations and interactive culinary workshops, The Resort at Paws Up is debuting a new series this fall called Cookbook Live, where notable, James Beard Award-winning and finalist chefs will offer cooking classes. “The group setting is much more intimate than a traditional food and wine festival or even a resort cooking class,” says the resort's owner Larry Lipson. “There’s something about being on the ranch and rubbing elbows with your favorite chefs that you just don’t get by simply dining at one of their restaurants.” As part of the series, Lucy Postins of The Honest Kitchen will helm a pet-friendly cooking class. Guests will whip up delicious dishes like beef, carrot, and kale stew, and baked chicken and kale, which serve both humans and their pets.