Imagine a classroom where the instructor is topping up your wine glass or spooning sweet and savoury samples onto your plate. It might involve sitting back and watching a pro at work, or it could mean tying on an apron and getting your hands into some dough. Learning about food—from demonstration courses to intensive boot camps to food festivals—can add a little spice to a new destination. Bookmark some of these culinary experiences and see what’s cooking!
In San Antonio, a restored and expanded riverside warehouse houses a state-of-the-art facility at the Culinary Institute of America (ciachef.edu), where visitors can register for culinary boot camps, cooking classes and demonstrations on strategies, techniques, flavour insights and food trends.
At Kitchen Chick in historic Galveston, themed classes ranging from Sushi 101 to Mardi Gras Cuisine are taught by professional chefs (thekitchenchick.com). While in town, check out the annual Galveston Island Shrimp Festival (September 29–30, 2017) and taste some of the Gulf coast’s best shrimp gumbo or watch a seafood cook-off (galvestonislandshrimpfestival.com).
In Fredericksburg, deep in the heart of Texas Hill Country, visitors can taste and cook as part of the new Fischer & Wieser Culinary Adventure Cooking School at the historic Das Peach Haus. Each class includes notes on local history and culture, techniques from chefs and grandmothers and tips on local wineries and restaurants (jelly.com).
At Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen in Houston, chef, cookbook author and restaurateur, “The Enchilada Queen” Sylvia Casares teaches hands-on classes on everything from preparing tamales and enchiladas to backyard grilling and making Mexican breakfasts (sylviasenchiladas.com).
Mangos are the star attraction at the MangoMania Tropical Fruit Fair near Cape Coral, a family-friendly celebration of all the tropical fruit grown on Pine Island, including lychee, starfruit, longan, papaya and “chocolate pudding fruit” (mangomaniafl.net).
Near Orlando, SeaWorld’s Seven Seas Food Festival brings local craft beer, international cuisine and top music artists together every Saturday through May 13, 2017. Eleven different marketplaces show off more than 60 Asian, Latin, European, Polynesian and North Atlantic dishes, along with local and international craft brews. Take advantage of special Canadian resident pricing at SeaWorld Orlando through April 30, 2017 (SeaWorld.ca).
Walt Disney World’s annual EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival (August 31–November 13) includes global cuisine kiosks with food and beverage samples, culinary demonstrations, beverage seminars and appearances by celebrity chefs. Admission is included in a regular EPCOT park ticket (disneyworld.disney.go.com).
Orlando is also home to Truffles & Trifles, named a top five cooking school by the Food Network. With three different kitchens, Truffles & Trifles offers a variety of cooking classes like Date Nights, Thai for the Soul and a Chocolate Workshop (trufflesandtrifles.com).
The Kitchen at Middleground Farms is a recreational cooking school located on a family hobby farm just south of Portland. Classes teach fundamental skills and traditional methods of cooking, from making the perfect pie to basic knife techniques and gluten-free baking (middlegroundfarms.com).
In September, Feast Portland showcases more than 30 local and out-of-town chefs for four days of all-out culinary bliss at events like Brunch Village, Night Market and Sandwich Invitational, as well as dinners, tastings and hands-on classes (feastportland.com).