The joys of traveling often revolve around sampling and learning about the cuisine of a particular region. Resorts around the world recognize that guests enjoy being treated to an interactive cooking lesson from a chef whose creativity knows no boundaries, and the resorts have responded by providing group sessions where guests can mingle with one another while asking the chef questions about various culinary techniques. These guests return home with a renewed confidence in the kitchen. From learning how to expertly prepare freshly caught local seafood to discovering how to make authentic chocolate tea, here are some of the world’s most educational cooking vacations.
Chef’s Table Dining Experience
Royal Hideaway Playacar, Mexico
The Chef’s Table is an exclusive concept created by the resort’s Gastronomic Director and Executive Chef Alejandro Sanchez. Held in Las Ventanas Restaurant, the experience offers a multi-course gourmet tasting menu and wine pairing. The mouth-watering plates and delectable wine pairings are inspired by the chef’s Andalusian origins and are served in a stylish private dining room, where participants interact with the chef and his kitchen team as they provide insight into their entire process. Attendees will also be able to watch their dishes being prepared, either through the large kitchen window or by TV monitors that give you a privileged view of the chef at work.
Hyatt Ziva/Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall, Montego Bay, Jamaica
For those interested in learning a unique culinary skill on their tropical vacation, the joint family friendly and adults-only Hyatt Ziva/Zilara Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica has on-site chocologists that are experts in chocolate making and artistry that lead chocolate workshops on Mondays and Thursdays. Visitors can book classes for four or more, making the workshop perfect for families and small adult groups alike who want to learn how to create decadent white, milk or dark chocolate creations.
Beach Ceviche Classes
Malliouhana, Auberge Resorts Collection, Meads Bay, Anguilla
Beach Ceviche Classes are a new experience for the 2019/2020 season where guests learn how to transform fresh-caught local seafood, including conch, crayfish and sea urchin, into vibrant ceviches infused with Anguilla’s Pyrat rum. The ceviche is paired alongside the unusual, but delectable, crispy curried goat jerky – a staple in Caribbean cuisine. After feasting on the fruits of their labor with a delicious picnic spread right on the beach, guests can trade stories of the day’s adventures.
Timbers Kauai, Hokuala, Hawai
Dedicated to kuleana, or stewardship of the native land, Timbers Kauai on the southeast coast of the lush Garden Isle offers resort guests and owners an opportunity to cook first-hand with a chef from the resort’s farm-to-table restaurant, Hualani’s. With a private cooking class, resort guests and owners can learn how to BBQ a feast on their lanai with the chef or concoct fresh poke and ceviche in the spacious kitchen of their residence-style villa. For a full seed or served experience, kids and adults alike can partake in an education class where they can pick fresh produce at the organic community farm which supplies the freshest ingredients for dishes at Hualani’s Restaurant or for a private in-residence dinner.
Underground Cooking Pit
The Fijian Food Safari consists of a guided tour with the guest’s itokani “buddy” as they lead guests to a local Fijian market where they will source spiny rambutan, juicy coconuts, fresh taro and more before heading to a local farm to learn about the growing and harvesting process of these crucial ingredients. Once back on property, guests will help prepare the dish Fijian style by weaving coconut fronds around meat, fish and vegetables or grinding spices with a mortar and pestle. To celebrate, guests will get to cook their bounty in true warrior fashion in an underground cooking pit for a private unforgettable feast enjoyed by a bonfire.
Dominican Chocolate Class
Hilton La Romana, Dominican Republic
Foodies can stay at the newly relaunched, adult all-inclusive Hilton La Romana and enjoy the resort’s excursion to a traditional Dominican chocolate and coffee family house only 20 minutes away where guests learn how to harvest and prepare the plants. A truly immersive and personal experience, an individual can request a class on how to de-shell chocolate beans, how to use the shell to make chocolate tea (a zero-waste approach) and how to use the rest of the bean to make edible chocolate. Coffee, chocolate, vanilla and cinnamon grown at the family’s property are available for purchase.
Culture of Spain Experience
Barcelona Wine Bar, National locations
For those who cannot get to Spain, Barcelona Wine Bar is an experience that allows guests to experience the culture of Spain while enjoying quality food and beverage in a neighborhood locale that feels like home. Barcelona Wine Bar offers paella cooking classes to immerse guests in Spanish culture and teach them a dish that brings a taste of Spain home. Attendees are shown how to make authentic sofrito, the aromatic base of peppers, tomatoes, garlic and onions. Students are shown how to prep, cook and serve the paella. The events range from hands-on cooking classes to block parties, late-night hangouts and sit-down dinners.
Culinary Techniques Classes
The Inns of Aurora, Finger Lakes, New York
“Aurora Cooks” is an engaging and informal tasting experiences led by Patrick Higgins, Executive Chef, and Grace Mattingly, Taste Curator, who offer educational yet relaxed sessions exploring approachable culinary techniques. Demonstrations include fresh pasta making, braising and poaching, while skill-based classes in knife skills and fruit carvings are available, as well as tasting experiences around chocolate and butter.
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