5 Top Cooking Classes for Culinary Travelers

Extend Your Home Exchange Experience with these Top Cooking Classes While in Paris, New York, Milano, Lisbon and Marrakech.

By: Mário de Castro

Feed your creativity and your wanderlust. For cooking courses of one or more days, be sure to book before your departure.

PARIS, ÉCOLE LENÔTRE, The ultimate French cooking school.

Founded in 1971 by Gaston Lenôtre, this prestigious French school of gastronomy is still at the top of our cooking classes list for its refresher courses, the Pâtisserie Bachelor and the renowned Lenôtre Master Class.

But beware! You may fall in love with French gastronomy and return to Paris for more. France’s best chefs will assure that you enjoy the best cooking classes on the planet–– cooking as well as sampling.


At Lenôtre you must plan your cooking classes ahead of your trip. Start by taking 2- to 5-day courses. If you are an “amateur” you will be glad to revisit your understanding of the raw materials involved as well as prep techniques. Step into the delicate and ancient art of sous vide cooking (or “under vacuum”), and cooking with the right seasonal products. Are you planning to become a caterer in the future? Lenôtre allows you to discover the art of food production in volume. Would you like to impress your guests at home? Take away some valuable professional tips on catering and reception.

Ecole-Lenotre-DessertAre you mad about desserts? The Pâtisserie classes are tailor-made for you. First, master the basics and become acquainted with the wide variety of techniques and materials you can use, then start filling, baking and making rolls. Discover the techniques behind ice cream and sorbets and learn how to pull off that “chocolate specialty” you are so fond of. Not enough? The sugar art classes will teach you how to merge art & technology into something utterly delicious. As they say in France, Bon appétit!





What better way to whet your appetite than to start with one-day cooking classes taught by the same chef-instructors who also possess the expertise to turn you into a master chef at the top of your game? These short courses are the best for amateurs passionate about home cooking and knife skills, tapas, pâtés, or baking the perfect New York bagel, and much more!

international-culinary-2 Take a day or two and just let yourself go. The New York approach and proverbial American efficiency will connect directly with your needs and desires. This is a vibrant and energetic American school, but you’ll also have the opportunity to learn about Japanese-American cuisine as well as doughnuts and fritters. Want to go Mexican and learn how to make an irresistible tortilla? You’ll find it here. Fan of Italian? Try out a one-day, hand-made pasta course.

international-culinary-1 Here you will feel that the cooking world is an amazing and accessible place. Satisfy your curiosity by learning the secret of these beloved breads––New York bagels and pretzels – in a four-hour, hands-on session. Jump to Korean or Thai cuisine, or pry loose the secrets of spices, gourmet cupcakes, macaroons, madeleines, chocolate treats and other French delicacies that you may have been too intimidated to attempt in the past.

There’s more: “Go Global” Chef, cookbook author and TV personality Aliya Leekong, takes you on an evening four-hour course in the discovery of international flavors. Yes, this quintessentially “American” school does it all, and is a must for one or two days of your schedule.




You have arrived in Milan, but you are no longer a fashion victim and a compulsive shopper. Apart from the history, the essential lifestyle of Italy revolves around food and family.

The monthly glossy Italian magazine La Cucina Italiana – present in one in three households – is the cooking bible for food lovers, amateurs or professionals.

Located in the heart of Milan, they have created these special school courses for English speakers. It’s easy to book and dates are flexible. Once there, the school supplies you with all necessary class materials including a recipe book in English, an apron and the necessary ingredients. By the time you’ve finished your daily class you will be ready to taste the dishes you’ve helped prepare and – last but not least – there is wine included!

Pasta or pizza? Soup or an Italian dessert? Every 3-hour class goes deep into each subject: Pasta & Sauces (Tomato and basil spaghetti), Meat (Milanese cutlet), Homemade Pasta Secca and Pasta Fresca – the difference between dried and fresh pasta (Piedmontesi tagliolini, tortellini, gnocchi) and Risotto – the secrets to preparing it properly and which rice to use.

Do you love pizza but can’t seem to get it right at home? At least one lesson could transform you into a pizza chef. Also, the regional cuisine of Lombardia – with its Milanese risotto – is a must. If you are eager to cook an entire meal, there are soup and creams, salads and appetizers, and then the final cut: Italian desserts and world famous tiramisu. All courses are taught by a chef from this highly prestigious school of Italian cuisine.




These cooking classes are located in a warehouse not far from the Tagus River and are the best way to get a complete and quick course on preparing Portuguese dishes. Slow down, savor a glass of Port, and begin.

As a multicultural city, Lisbon is the perfect place for food lovers. As soon as you arrive, you will feel at home and will no doubt want to return again and again. How could you not after sampling the famous salted codfish, succulent pork with clams (carne de porco à alentejana) and seafood with a purée of bread, olive oil, garlic and coriander (açorda de marisco)?

Yes, Portuguese cuisine has a lot more to offer than robust vegetable soups with their famous green broth (caldo verde) and wildly flavorful potatoes. You will also learn how to make traditional salt cod fritters, meat croquettes and exquisite fried green beans known as peixinhos da horta at home.

History is a daily matter for the Portuguese and they firmly believe that their rich historical tradition of egg-based desserts is due to their busy nuns having to deal with huge surpluses of egg yolks after using their whites as starch for their habits!

Portuguese wines – so rich and diverse – will complement the savory and sweet dishes all the way to your meal’s final climax — and perhaps a digestif?




Moroccan cuisine is considered to be among the five best cuisines in the world. In Marrakech, one feels the exotic embrace of local foods that transcend their humble origins. Fabrizio Ruspoli, an Italian prince, fell in love with this city and never returned home. As Owner of La Maison Arabe – a legendary traditional restaurant created in 1940 at the heart of the Medina (central city), he has more recently created L’Annexe, in a romantic grove just outside Marrakech.

Over the centuries, food in Moroccan society has always been a critical matter of lifestyle. Women are at center stage in the role played over the centuries by the Dada – the traditional female cook. This is why Fabrizio Ruspoli felt pushed to create traditional Moroccan cooking classes at home for small groups. Men, however, are also welcome of course.

You will benefit from round-trip transportation to La Maison Arabe, a daily cookery class, that stretches from 10 am to 2 pm. You will have your own workspace, and learn the secrets of the oldest Moroccan recipes while creating an appetizer, a main dish or a main dish and dessert. You will become familiar with such names as pastilla, couscous and tagine. All dishes are accompanied by a full description of ingredients, very important details about the proper use of spices, as well as complete instructions about the unusual cooking methods. All will be explained in English with the recipes printed out for you. Recreate Marrakech at home.



Featured Photo Credit: Taken from International Culinary Center, NY


7 Comments on “5 Top Cooking Classes for Culinary Travelers

  1. On our house exchange to Barcelona my wife and I enjoyed a fantastic cooking school in the centre of the city. What a fantastic way to entertain with paella made from the market where we had to go and purchase the freshist of items. The we took a three day diversion to Provence at a school just east of Chateauneuf de Pape. With the wine and food it was a great experience

    • Hello John,
      Would you mind sharing the name of the cooking school you went to in Barcelona please?
      Thank you., Gabriele

    • Hi there,

      Your trip sounds wonderful. Could you give me the name of the cooking school you attended in Barcelona? I’m going there in June and the idea is wonderful.


      Take care


  2. There is a fantastic cooking school in Iceland called SALT. It was chosen by Food & Travel Magazine to be in a category of top Five cooking schools in Northern Europe. Surely worth the trip. Check out http://www.salteldhus.is/en for daily classes in Icelandic cuisine.

  3. Hi! Can you give me the name of the cooking school in Barcelona? Thanks!

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