If you want to learn more about a place, try the food; to get acquainted with its soul, get cooking.
Food is a direct line to the roots of wherever you are – figuratively, through recipes, traditions and community, and literally pulled from the soil beneath your feet. While you can always go to a museum or take a walking tour, cooking is a personal way to absorb the local culture of any place you are visiting.
Discover our Northeast corner of the country in a tasty new way with a culinary vacation or daytrip at local cooking schools and hotels.
Starting With the Man in the Mirror
In the hill country of Peru, New York, chef Curtiss Hemm teaches on the grounds of his 350-acre farm at the Carriage House Cooking School and leads regular cooking demos for both hotel guests and the public at the AAA Four Diamond Rated Mirror Lake Inn in Lake Placid.
The former Dean of Culinary Arts at the New England Culinary Institute taught thousands of professional chefs in his career but has shifted his focus to a different crowd. “I want to make someone a better cook at home. That is my sole goal in doing this,” Hemm said. “The things that excite me aren’t what you find in restaurants but what you find in people’s homes and what people celebrate.”
Whether it’s showcasing homestyle Indian cuisine, steakhouse classics, artisan pizza or holiday cooking, Hemm stays true to his mantra that everything should be accessible, actionable and relevant to the home cook, while celebrating the edible landscape of the region whenever possible.
Inviting you into its quaint cottage with the smell of freshly baking bread, Brot Bakehouse School and Kitchen in Fairfax, Vermont, could persuade anyone into a life surrounded by croissants and pumpernickel. Luckily, baker and owner Heike Meyer is happy to share a slice of that life and lots of good bread with you.
Originally from Germany (“brot” is German for bread), Meyer traveled and baked around the world to hone her craft before landing in the Green Mountain State. Her bread and pastry classes are “tremendously” influenced by the landscape, she said, and highlight flavor through organic and local grains and natural starter cultures.
“Products we can source locally – and that make sense to source locally – are being used. I feel a much greater connection to the land that’s around us than I ever did growing up in northern Germany or living in New York City,” Meyer emphasizes.
Hotel Vermont partners with Brot Bakehouse for culinary vacations throughout the year, including a package that gets you a spot in the annual Brotfest workshop, a “sensory tasting experience” held every August that showcases sourdough and community food purveyors.
Vermont is also home to the King Arthur Flour Baking School, where Meyer picked up some of her skills and you can, too.
For Those About to Cook (We Salute You)
You don’t have to be professionally trained to play sous chef beside the culinary team at AAA Five Diamond Rated Ocean House. The Rhode Island resort’s Center for Wine & Culinary Arts has regular classes, events and activities inspired by “New England’s rich cultural history, Rhode Island’s premier seafaring history and [the resort’s] unique geographic location,” chef Timothy Meyers said.
Vino fans love the twice-yearly Wine Camp Weekend where participants tour Jonathan Edwards Winery, meet and dine with a winemaker, and custom blend and label a case of wine to take home.
Farther up north in Maine, the Make Me a Chef! package at Meadowmere Resort is for bourgeoning gourmands who also enjoy a bit of R&R. Popular with couples and multi-generational groups of families and friends, guests enjoy an interactive dinner with the resort’s chef, a cooking class at nearby Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School and a massage at the spa. Available every weekend outside of July and August.
Go Your Own Way
Build a personalized culinary itinerary with a visit to one of the world-class cooking schools in our area. The Culinary Institute of America provides a variety of public cooking classes in New York’s Hudson Valley region. And Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Cooking School in Boston – at the home of Milk Street magazine, TV and radio show – will have you feeling like a true test-kitchen cook.
As any food lover will tell you, to make a meal is to create a memory, and recipes are the best souvenirs. Whether you are serious about cooking or just want to try something different, a cooking class will leave you with new skills, new memories and newfound appreciation for your destination.
More Nearby Culinary Vacations and Experiences
The Essex – Cook Academy
With two on-site restaurants, cooking classes and an organic garden for fresh ingredients, good food is at the core of every stay at The Essex. At the Cook Academy, classes are kept small for personalized, hands-on instruction with the talented and supportive staff of chefs. Themes range from cooking with Vermont beer to a New Orleans-inspired feast.
Four Seasons Boston – Kid’s Cookie Making Class
Every Saturday afternoon, kids of in-house guests are invited to the pastry kitchen for a complimentary cookie making class. The cookies are delivered to the child’s guest room later in the evening for a sweet snack the whole family can share – that’s AAA Five Diamond Rated service at its best! Private cooking classes can be arranged for groups through the hotel’s events department.
White Barn Inn – Private Cooking Classes
Take a private class with the AAA Four Diamond Rated hotel’s acclaimed executive chef and kitchen brigade. A range of themed culinary activities are also available; get the full Maine lobstering experience from boat-to-table, learn how to make a proper cocktail with the hotel’s head mixologist or get your hands dirty with a cooking class preceded by a visit to nearby Finklepod Farm.
The Manor at Golden Pond – Epicurean Escapade
Spend a full weekend cooking with the pros at the Manor at Golden Pond. Included with lodging, you get breakfast, dinner, afternoon tea and cooking school for every day of your stay. Hope you’re hungry!
Cook Around the World
Explore markets, prepare traditional dishes and share a meal with the locals on a tour abroad with AAA Club Adventures. Allison Villasenor, AAA Northeast’s managing director of travel products, recommends a few of her favorite food experiences available through the small group tour company, which focuses on adventure travel and culturally immersive itineraries.
Vietnam Food & Culture | Hanoi Street Food Tour – Sit at rickety metal tables on a busy street with the locals and taste authentic flavors with the guidance of a local tour leader.
Thailand Explorer | Chiang Mai Cooking Class – Buy local ingredients at the market before learning the intricacies of Thai cooking and mixing sweet, spicy and sour from the expertise of insider experts. Return home with recipes to recreate your memories.
Timeless Japan –| Sushi Class – Watch the markets come alive with fish vendors before learning the fine art of sushi-making in Tokyo
Moving Morocco | Home-Hosted Dinner in Fes –Connect with locals over food by being treated to a home-cooked meal. It doesn’t get more authentic than this.
Flavors of Croatia | Truffle Hunting and Lunch – Roll up your sleeves and go ‘hunting’ for truffles with an Insider Expert and dogs in the Motovun Forest. After seeing the foraging process, enjoy a lunch that features, of course, truffles!
Have you ever taken a cooking class, been on a culinary vacation or went somewhere just for the food? Tell us about it in the comments.