I WANT A VACATION FIRST, COOKING SCHOOL SECOND
At Catacurian, two hours southwest of Barcelona, guests gather in a fourth-generation stone home turned boutique hotel to learn Catalan cooking and explore nearby vineyards and monasteries. catacurian.net, three-night package with food, lodging, and classes from $1,359 per person.
The typical weekend at the Trout Point Lodge involves a visit to an oyster farm and a lobster wholesaler, several hours of cooking instruction, wine tasting, and plenty of time in front of the fireplace. troutpoint.com, two-night package with lodging, all meals, and classes $781 per person.
I COULD EAT ITALIAN FOREVER
Why go to Italy to learn from two Americans? Because Ashley and Jason Bartner, the latter a former New York chef and devotee of the Slow Food movement, host their school, La Tavola Marche, on a 250-acre farm near Urbino in central Italy. latavolamarche.com, half-day class $149, double rooms from $102.
I HAVE A NEED TO KNEAD
During the three-day Wood Fired Oven Baking course at the San Francisco Baking Institute, students will create homemade pizzas, breads, and rustic tarts in the school's open-flame oven. sfbi.com, three-day course $598 per person.
I'M OBSESSED WITH DIM SUM
At Martha Sherpa's Cooking School, students wash, chop, pound, and marinate just like sous-chefs in a professional kitchen. The payoff? You'll cook restaurant-quality Chinese with equipment that's already in your kitchen. marthasherpa.com, full-day class with lunch from $200.
I'M NO NOVICE, BUT I'M NOT EXACTLY READY FOR LE CORDON BLEU
While New York City's International Culinary Center caters mostly to pros, visitors can sign up for a one-, two-, or three-day course. You'll create tapas, handmade pasta, bagels, or French classics like moules frites or croissants. internationalculinarycenter.com, one-day classes from $150.
I'D LIKE THAI FROM MY KITCHEN, NOT A DELIVERY GUY
Sompon Nabnian introduced the world to Thai cooking schools 17 years ago, and today backpackers and foodies alike still gather at his Thai Cookery School in Chiang Mai to learn to make delicacies like tom yam soup and Penang curry. thaicookeryschool.com, beginner classes from $31.
FORGET ENTRÉES, I'M ALL ABOUT DESSERT
At Valrhona, France's famed chocolatier, aspiring pastry chefs can choose from one of two campuses (one near Versailles and the other outside Lyon) where they'll join a two-day program on luxury chocolates and pastries. ecole.valrhona.com, two-day course from $379 per person.