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Take a Culinary Adventure

When on vacation, sink your teeth into a destination’s culinary traditions – by adding cooking lessons to the itinerary.

Not everyone is a Julia Child. But a trip to France, Italy or Mexico, and a few lessons with local chefs, could transform you into a Belle de Jour of the kitchen.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Choose a cuisine. Which cuisine appeals to your taste buds? If your vacation will revolve around food and culinary lessons, pick a country or city where the food is appetizing to you. Why learn how to whip up Pad Thai in Bangkok if you don’t foresee cooking Asian cuisine in your own kitchen?
  • Time in the kitchen. Decide whether you want to spend one day, a few days or an entire week honing those culinary skills. And pay close attention to how interactive the lesson itinerary is. Will you be mainly watching the teacher, or getting your hands dirty making fresh pasta and tortillas?
  • Research options. Shop around, and talk to friends and family who rave about culinary dalliances abroad. Some packages even bundle accommodations and excursions into a cooking-themed itinerary -- taking the legwork out of piecing together an entire land-only vacation.  All you need to do is show up, and tie on your apron.
  • Contact the most intriguing choices. Don’t settle for what you see on a website or brochure. Email or call the organizers to inquire about the lessons and what separates them from their competitors -- even ask about discounts. Tip: If it’s a slow tourism season in the destination, you might be able to convince them to extend a discount.
  • Ask about hidden costs. Never assume that the itinerary includes everything -- even the cost of the ingredients. And don’t forget about factoring in tips into the budget.
  • Book in advance. Sure, you may be able to book a half-day or day-long cooking lesson once in your destination. But if you’re short on time or really keen on joining a particular lesson with that world-famous chef, why risk disappointment in not being able to squeeze it into the itinerary, or the class being full?

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Tips by

Deal Expert, Chicago
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
See more Tips from
Hilary Solan