Food-oriented vacations can include cooking schools and classes or a simple tasting tour. Whatever your skill level you will find plenty of options to choose from. Most culinary courses last about a week and can be integrated into longer vacations. However when you are selecting the course consider your skill level first. Some schools cater for everyone, others focus on beginners and some are only for advanced amateurs or professionals. You should also select a school that teaches what you are interested in cooking and eating. If it’s wine that interests you consider a course in Tuscany, California, Stellenbosch or another wine growing region. If you want to learn to cook with chilies and spices consider a location in South America or Asia.
Culinary - Beginners
If you’re not actually that proficient with a knife or still unsure how far into the culinary skills you want to delve, you could consider a look-and-see class rather than the hands-on cooking type. This way you can watch a master chef or celebrity go through their paces and still enjoy the benefits of eating it afterwards.
Similarly you could consider a food tour rather than one that focuses on your involvement. This way you usually get to visit more than one locale and the tours focus on visiting markets and preparing meals in restaurants or private homes.
Take a look at local options first before you invest your time and money in a major commitment overseas. Many restaurants offer cooking classes on a one-time basis. This may help you decide if a food vacation is really for you.
Culinary - Advanced
There are plenty of schools and courses that cater for the whiz of the kitchen. In order to get the best out of the school or tour you are considering, try to find out everything about it in advance. Read up on the tour leader, get their books if they have them and find out how they or their restaurant are regarded. Usually websites will contain reviews and you maybe able to contact some of the former students personally.
If you’re in this category you’ll definitely want a hands on cooking class and can handle intensive weeklong courses that might not involve a lot of sightseeing or time off. Or alternatively you might not need such a hands-on approach if you’re more interested in learning the theory about the how’s and why’s than on following a recipe.
Most schools offer a package that includes lodging and visits to food markets or producers of local specialties, before they return to prepare the food and eat it. In order to get the most hands-on opportunities select classes that are limited to eight to twelve students.