“Here’s a tip for you Xavier told us in a cooking class in Spain. “The right way to crack an egg is to hit two eggs together and then pour the yolk and egg into a bowl.”
Learning tips like these is one of the many reasons we take a cooking class on our travels.
Taking a cooking class is one of our favorite activities on our trips. Each time we visit a new country, we take a cooking class to learn more about the local specialties.
In these cooking classes, we learn about the local ingredients, emblematic dishes as well as pick up new cooking skills.
If you haven’t taken a cooking class on your travels, you want to consider taking one.
Here are 10 fabulous reasons to take a cooking class on your next trip.
What to Consider When You Take A Cooking Class on Your Travels
Cooking Class Structure
While all cooking classes will teach you about the local food, the experiences offered vary greatly.
Some cooking classes take place in a cooking school and everything is methodical and structured.
Other cooking classes are in small cooking studios or even in the instructor’s home. In these smaller settings, the structure is much more fluid.
Depending on the experience you want, you may be more comfortable with something more or less structured.
Cooking Class with Optional Market Visits
Some cooking classes will offer a market visit before the class to pick up and learn about the local ingredients.
In these cases, the cooking classes take more time because they include an extra hour or so for the market visit.
Cooking classes that do not offer market visits will have the ingredients chopped up and ready for the cooking experience.
Not surprisingly, these classes are shorter than the ones that include a market visit.
In some cases, you might not see the raw ingredients in their natural state.
If you have the possibility, we recommend to take cooking classes with market visits.
We love visiting the markets, meeting the vendors and then learning to cook the local ingredients.
Cooking Classes Can be Tailored To Meet Your Needs
If you have any special requests, most cooking classes can accommodate your needs with advance notice.
Vegan and Vegetarian Options
If you have any dietary considerations you can still enjoy taking a cooking class.
Some cooking classes offer special menus for vegetarians or vegans. If not, most are willing to adapt the local recipes to meet your needs.
Please let the cooking school know in advance so they can prepare ahead of time and ensure a great cooking experience.
Couples Cooking Classes
For a unique experience rather than going to a restaurant, consider taking a cooking class instead.
Many cooking schools, particularly the smaller ones can create a private and romantic experience for your special occasion.
With advanced notice you may even be able to choose your menu as well.
Taking a couples cooking class is a fun alternative to a typical date night.
Why You Should Take A Cooking Class on Your Travels
There are many great reasons for taking a cooking class while traveling. Here are some of the main reasons why we believe taking a cooking class should be part of your travel adventures.
1 – Learn Tips to Improve Your Cooking Skills
In our cooking class in Hoi An, Vietnam, Claire got the best tips on how to use a knife and chop safely.
Chef Danny, a master with knives patiently taught Claire how to work with a large knife.
The trick is in correctly gripping the knife at the top and bottom and making small precision cuts.
In cooking classes, you learn simple techniques that can make cooking at home so much easier.
Our cooking class in Hoi An has made Claire much more confident when chopping vegetables.
If you want to have more confidence and fun in your kitchen at home, take a cooking class and you’ll be surprised at what new skills you’ll pick up.
READ MORE: about our Hoi An Cooking Class in Vietnam
2 – Immerse Yourself in the Local Culture
Peru, the “Gastronomy Capital of South America” is one of the most fascinating countries we’ve visited for food.
After exploring the authentic dishes of the country, we wrote our second book Authentic Food Quest Peru.
Immersing ourselves in the local culture through cooking remains a highlight of the trip.
Criollo dishes are the everyday foods locals in Peru eat at home. These are the comfort foods visitors to Peru should experience.
With a Peruvian chef in a cooking class, you get to make classic dishes like Causa, Ají de Gallina, Lomo Saltado and more.
Even more than the cooking, you’ll learn the stories about the dishes and the delightful fusion of flavors from Peru’s immigrant history.
Taking a cooking class on your travels is an immersive way to experience the local culture.
READ MORE: about the 6 Criollo Dishes You Should Eat in Peru
3- Learn about the Stories Behind the Food
In a cooking class in Chiang Mai, we were surprised to learn about the non-Thai origins of Pad Thai.
Considered Thailand’s national dish, Pad Thai is one of the local dishes we were excited to learn to make.
Cooking classes provide insights into food that visitors would often miss. At an Aroy Aroy cooking class in Chiang Mai, we learned that Pad Thai was created by the government.
Apparently, in the 1930s and 40s, when Thailand was going through political turmoil, the Prime Minister held a public competition to find a national noodle dish to build Thai nationalism.
Pad Thai emerged as the winner, even though the noodles are of Chinese origin. Today, Pad Thai the celebrated national dish of the country.
Food stories like this can be gained from cooking classes. Learning the stories behind the dishes and how to make them is another great reason to take a cooking class while traveling.
READ MORE: about our experience at Most Spectacular Cooking Class in Chiang Mai
4 – Connect With Other Food Travelers
One of the exciting aspects of travel is meeting other travelers. When you take a cooking class, the people you’ll meet are open and friendly.
With a shared passion for cooking, the conversation flows naturally around food and local food related activities.
We’ve met fascinating travelers in Laos and Cambodia and some we are still in touch with.
While taking a cooking class in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, we met Sheila, a passionate foodie from India.
Sheila had not planned on taking a cooking class in Vietnam, but after her schedule opened up, she joined our class at the last minute.
Listening to Sheila was interesting because she gave us a new perspective about the food in India.
As we were learning how to make Cơm Tấm, a popular Vietnamese dish made from broken rice, Sheila talked about the similarities with Indian cuisine.
The discussions with Sheila and the other travelers as we enjoyed our meal was stimulating.
While we haven’t been to India yet, we appreciated the local insights into the similarities between the two cuisines.
You never know who you’ll meet in a cooking class, but you can be assured of interesting conversations centered around food
READ MORE: about our Vietnamese cooking class in Ho Chi Minh City
5 – Connect With Locals and Get the Inside Scoop
Taking a cooking class is a great way to meet locals and get to know their culinary traditions at home.
Some of the best experiences we’ve had with our cooking instructors have been around the table, eating and building connections.
Passionate about food and cooking, the instructors are a wealth of information. You can pick their brains about their favorite local markets, restaurants and food stores.
Based on recommendations from cooking classes in Chiang Mai and Spain, we enjoyed delightful meals at local restaurants.
In a cooking class in Paris, we connected with our instructors in a personal manner. We learned about their daily activities and favorite things to do.
Connecting with local cooking instructors is a wonderful way to get honest answers to local food questions you may have.
6 – Get a Deeper Eating Experience
One of our key learnings from taking cooking classes, has been a deeper appreciation for the meals we’ve prepared.
In Thailand, we were amazed how heavy the cooking wok was. To make Pad Thai, we had to lift the wok and turn it around using only one hand.
The weight surprised us and put a different light on the women cooking with their woks everyday on the streets. We recognized the strength and labor needed to make one pad thai at a time.
In Hoi An, Vietnam, we had a taste of the labor needed to plant the delicious herbs we enjoyed everyday.
Most strikingly was our cooking class in Laos. To prepare every single ingredient of our meal required a lot of time and patience.
From making the flavorful sticky rice, to grinding the coconut, each step meant hours of effort dedicated to cooking.
We have a particular appreciation for Laotian women and our gracious cooking instructor Keo, who took on the time consuming work with a smile.
When it was time to eat our meal, we knew the effort that went into making each dish.
This strongly deepened our awareness and appreciation for our food.
READ MORE: about our Luang Prabang Cooking Class
7 – Explore the Wonders at the Local Markets
Local markets are often the beating heart of the community. Rows of vegetables stands stacked high are next to seasonal fruits of all shapes and sizes. The bright colors immediately capture your attention.
Spice merchants tend to their mountains of spices like jewels. While displays of meats, poultry and fish are oozing in freshness.
Many cooking classes offer market visits with a guide. Visiting the local markets with a guide in Thailand and Vietnam introduced us to unique and unusual ingredients.
Bridging the language barrier with a local made the experience much richer.
In Portugal, bacalhau or codfish is a national treasure. Visiting local markets with the insights from our guide gave us a deeper appreciation for this national dish.
8- Cooking Classes Support the Local Community and Culture
One of the benefits when you take a cooking class on your travels is supporting the local community.
Many of the classes we have taken are run by a family or local community. By taking a cooking class with them, it is the best way to support their work and their culture.
In Laos, the cooking class we took was run by the Heuan Chan Heritage House. Their goal with the cooking class is to preserve the culinary tradition and support the local community.
In Hoi An, we learned to make authentic Vietnamese dishes in the home of a family.
In Phnom Penh, we learned to make Fish Amok, one of the most iconic dishes of Cambodia, at a local restaurant.
Supporting the local community and culture might be the most underrated benefit of taking a cooking class abroad.
9- Eat a Delicious Meal
While eating at restaurants and local eateries is an experience, sometimes making your own food is even better. In a cooking class with a passionate chef you get to create meals you typically don’t make.
There is learning, laughter, sharing and always something new to try. You’ll be proud of what you made and surprised by how tasty it can be.
In a cooking class in Spain, we learned to make traditional Catalan dishes, which was a first for both Claire and I.
The atmosphere was convivial and the experience a lot of fun. As much as we enjoyed cooking, we couldn’t wait to eat and savor our meals.
In the Catalan cooking class, we were so proud of what we made. Our effort paid off in a delicious way. Accompanied by local Empordà wines and the fascinating stories of our instructor, this was an incredible feast.
10 – Relieve Your Travel Memories at Home
When we got back from exploring the local food in Argentina, we started making chimichurri, a condiment that accompanies meat dishes.
Also, from Argentina, faina, a gluten-free flatbread made from chickpeas became part of our regular staple.
From Vietnam, we discovered wide uses of Nước mắm, Vietnamese fermented fish sauce and started using it regularly at home.
Since our trip to Bulgaria, we now cook regularly with a local spice called tsubritsa or Summer Savory, similar to thyme.
Taking cooking classes is a great way to discover local recipes, new ingredients and then recreate them at home.
Every time we cook a meal with ingredients from our travels, we relieve our cooking class experiences and taste the country again.
Taking a cooking class may inspire you to learn more. In addition to the recipes you learned, you might even want to buy a cookbook or take another class back home.
Your travel experience doesn’t have to end when you get home. Sign up for a local cooking class at home and keep broadening your knowledge of the food in a particular country or region.
See more cooking classes in your local area or on the Cookly platform.
Have you taken a cooking class on your travels? Tell us in the comments below the favorite thing you learned to make?
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Rosemary, ex-marketing and advertising strategist, is a digital nomad and content creator at Authentic Food Quest. Since 2015, with her partner, Claire, they travel the world in search of the best local food experiences. Their mission is to help you enjoy the best local specialties on your travels or via recipes in your home kitchen. Favorite country for food: Peru. Favorite local dish: Bacalhau. Favorite way to keep fit: Running. Rosemary is the chief content writer and strategist on Authentic Food Quest. She is also co-author of Authentic Food Quest Argentina and Authentic Food Quest Peru, available on Amazon.