Tasty Best Destination Cooking Classes: Paris, Rio, Istanbul, More (PHOTOS)
Want to recreate that perfect feijoada you had in Rio? Why not take a class during the vacation—and take home some Brazilian cooking skills? From Paris to Singapore, Chadner Navarro rounds up seven worthy lessons.
For many, trying out local cuisines is a major highlight of any trip. But why stop at just eating the food? Make a pit stop at these recreational cooking schools in some of the world’s most exciting food destinations so you can continue to chow down on foreign fare in the comfort of your own kitchen whenever you want.
Cook’n With Class
Eric Fraudeau, who’s cooked at the Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton, heads a team of international chefs at this
Montmartre cooking school, where guests are invited to learn everything about French cuisine, including making super-trendy macarons, identifying local wines, and baking the country’s most celebrated carbohydrate, the baguette. The daily market classes—there’s one in the morning and in the evening—offer an opportunity to tour the Paris neighborhood’s many outdoor markets, which can include visits to famed cheese stores, fresh produce dealers, and even horse-meat butchers. And for the adventurous: sign up for Molecular Gastronomy, where you’ll get a lesson in emulsification. New York, USA
This four-month-old, two-floor Chelsea cooking spot was founded by
Alison Schneider, who along with in-house chef and kitchen director Julia Sullivan, a Per Se veteran, head some of the rotating schedule of classes, which focus on sustainable and local approaches to cooking. For the rest, Haven’s Kitchen looks to The Wren’s Dave Mawhinney to administer a rosé and grilling course and, on May 26, to Craig Thompson of Shandaken Bake for a thorough look at pies. In addition to doling out technical knowledge on how to make the perfect pasta or just how long it should take to prep that risotto, the school also has classes on how to put together the city’s most sought-after meal, the weekend brunch. Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul Culinary Institute
Turkish chef and cookbook author Hande Bozdogan launched the
Istanbul Culinary Institute a few years ago not only so she could groom future generations of kitchen superstars but also so casual travelers keen on taking on the challenges and rewards of the country’s incredibly diverse culinary makeup would have a resource to do just that. The ICI offers a calendar of classes that touch on everything from traditional Ottoman cooking to contemporary Turkish techniques. In July and August, the institute provides a weekly itinerary, with each day focusing on a different gastronomic topic, from mezzes and local meats to Turkish sweets. And when in season, the produce used here comes from its very own garden in Saros, a seaside town on the Aegean coast. Like Haven’s Kitchen, the ICI relies on in-house talent and the men and women behind some of Istanbul’s top eateries, including Laledan Restaurant’s Uğur Alpaslan and Ekin Doğrusöz from Mimolette, who will manage a class on seafood later this month. Aqaba, Jordan
Radisson Blu Tala Bay Resort
Middle Eastern shoreside retreat, executive chef Didier Gusching guides locals and travelers through healthy ingredients used in Jordanian and regional cooking. Each of these sessions begins with a trip to the property’s 500-square-meter bio garden. Seasonal herbs and produce will determine the day’s menu, but among the most popular are moutabai, Jordan’s spicier take on baba ghanoush, and mansaff, a roasted lamb dish made more savory with fresh-from-the-garden oregano, basil, rosemary, and mint. Singapore
Self-taught cook Ruqxana Vasanwala hosts daily classes on Singapore’s varied food landscape right in her own kitchen. There is a
schedule available, but if you’re jonesing for private lessons, those can be negotiated, too, as well as market trips before class. At Ruqxana’s, each session is built around a menu of dishes that changes frequently. One day could be about Thai-influenced cooking, while the next could be on food prepared in clay pots. Every now and then, Ruqxana will also organize trips to the offshore island of Pulau Ubin, where you’ll harvest jungle herbs that will be used in the traditional Malay rice dish nasi ulam. Fes, Morocco
Lahcen’s Moroccan Cooking
Chef Lahcen Beqqi gained renown for leading the kitchens of several restaurants in Fes, including Palais Jamai and Dar Cordoba. These days he’s leading Moroccan food enthusiasts through his home country’s most delicious dishes.
Classes with Lahcen are all prearranged and start with a tour of the souk where participants can get in on the ingredient-buying action and discover some of Lahcen’s tricks of the trade. One of his signature spices, for example, can contain no less than 20 different elements. And learning how to cook the moistest of tajines or the crispiest of pastillas doesn’t have to take place just in the kitchens of Fes; Lahcen can organize cooking excursions to countryside parks, the Sahara, and more. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Cook in Rio
Held Mondays through Saturdays in a tapas bar in
Rio’s Copacabana neighborhood and hosted by chef Simone de Almeida, every lesson at Cook in Rio is rightly celebrated with refreshingly fruity caipirinhas. From there, it’s schooling time on some of Brazil’s most traditional dishes, such as moqueca, battia de coco, and feijoada, a pork and bean stew packed with kale, pork rinds, and oranges. What Simone adds to these DIY food feasts might be more valuable still: she engages her students with stories of why these dishes are so culturally and historically relevant in Brazil. Moqueca, a seafood stew, for example, translates to “hide it” in old Angolan, which is what slave cooks would do to the food if their masters were nearby.