10 great international cooking classes
Some say the best way to get to know a culture is through sampling its food, but even better is learning how to cook it.
These cooking classes give you a hands-on introduction to the cuisines of 10 countries around the world.
Hutong Cuisine: Beijing, China
Located in one of the tangled neighborhoods of tiny alleys and traditional courtyard family homes that make up Beijing's historic hutongs, Hutong Cuisine offers Chinese cooking classes in the heart of the city.
The instructor, Chunyi Zhou, is well qualified to teach on China's most popular cooking styles: she's originally from Luo Yang, a small town in the area of southern China known for its delicate Cantonese cuisine, then went to culinary school in Chengdu, the heart of spicy Sichuan country, and now resides in Beijing, famous for its aristocratic Mandarin dishes.
In her class, students will learn the most important techniques for Chinese cooking, from stir-frying to steaming to braising.
One class costs RMB 240 (US$38) plus RMB 100 (US$16) for a market tour and optional condiments class.
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The Awaiting Table: Lecce, Italy
There's no better place to learn to make fresh pasta than the Italian countryside, where in addition to learning to cook, you'll get to live like a local for a day.
Silvestro Silvestori's classes at The Awaiting Table in Lecce start off with a cup of Italian espresso underneath the statue of Sant’ Oronzo, followed by a market tour that includes meeting local greengrocers and butchers and learning at least a smidge of Italian.
Students then learn to make hand-crafted pastas like cavatelli and orecchiette, which are served for lunch and dinner with a leisurely nap in between.
Dinner, which is accompanied by local Salento wines and can go as late as midnight, features the day's dishes, such as braised rabbit with green olives and fresh herbs from the school's garden.
A one-day class at The Awaiting Table costs €295 (US$377) and a week-long program costs €1695 (US$2164).
Royal Korea Cuisine: Seoul, South Korea
If you've ever wanted to eat like a queen -- or cook like one of her chefs -- the Institute for Royal Korea Cuisine next to Changdeokgung Palace offers classes for foreigners in the opulent cuisine served to the court in the Joseon Dynasty.
The classes are taught by a no-nonsense instructor dressed in traditional Korean hanbok, assisted by her English translator.
Each class includes a demonstration of three to five dishes and then students work together to make the dishes themselves -- from kimchi to the Korean braised short ribs called galbi, as well as lesser-known dishes such as deodeo-kui, or grilled deodeok root.
One class costs ₩40,000 (US$35). A certificate program of nine consecutive weekly sessions cost ₩320,000 (US$277).
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Kitchen in the Castle: Dublin, Ireland
Has watching "Downton Abbey" made you long to spend more time in stately homes?
Head to The Kitchen in the Castle, which offers cooking classes in Howth Castle.
Located in a lovely fishing village not far from Dublin, Howth Castle is filled with history, having been in the same family for over 800 years.
Students can learn to cook a variety of cuisines, from Italian to Asian, but traditional Irish fare is also featured -- there are day-long courses on how to prepare a Sunday roast with all the trimmings, and others that feature locally caught seafood and classic Irish dishes like beef-and-Guinness casserole, cottage pie and Irish stew.
Evening classes start at €60 (US$77) and include a sit-down dinner. Day-long classes cost €150 ($US192) and include lunch.
Taste of Culture: Tokyo, Japan
For foreigners looking to understand Japanese food, Elizabeth Andoh -- an American who took culinary training in Japan and has lived there for more than four decades -- is nothing short of a godsend.
Her cookbooks, including "Washuko" and the vegetarian collection, "Kansha," have brought the pleasure of Japanese home cooking to an international audience.
Andoh occasionally runs cooking classes at her home in Tokyo (and also occasionally in Osaka), meticulously teaching students how to make the sort of meals you'll find in homes around Japan, such as gingami mushi (steamed snapper with miso and mushrooms).
Andoh's newest cookbook benefited the survivors of the Japanese tsunami in the Tohoku region of Japan, and she also teaches classes about the area's unique cuisine.
Half-day classes include lunch and cost ¥7,000 or US$85.
A Taste of Culture, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo; +81 (0) 3 5716 5751; tasteofculture.com
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James St Cooking School: Brisbane, Australia
Australian cuisine is known for its high-quality fresh ingredients and worldwide influences, resulting in unparalleled fusion dishes that have put Australia on the map for serious foodies.
At James St Cooking School -- which is part of James St. Market, an upscale grocery that sources gourmet foods from around the country -- students learn how to take advantage of the bounty of Australia's fresh produce.
For example, the class "Modern Australian," features dishes such as truffled green beans with flaked almonds, char-grilled eye fillet with roasted shallots and Cabernet jus and a creamy mash with garlic and pine nuts.
Hands-on classes cost between AU$135-AU$160 (US$139-US$165) and conclude with a meal that includes two glasses of paired wine.
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Barbecue Society: North Carolina, United States
Would-be chefs who want to go whole hog should look no further than the two-day boot camps offered by the North Carolina Barbecue Society.
Indeed, the courses teach students how to cook an entire pig, in addition to beef brisket, prime rib and Alaska salmon.
Poultry lovers need not worry--chicken, pheasant and guinea fowl all get 'cued as well, and participants learn what the best rubs, spices and sauces are to compliment each meat.
It's not all meat -- there's coleslaw, of course, baked beans and banana-and-Nilla-wafer pudding. Over the course of the weekend participants learn to perfect their own barbecue techniques as well as get certified to judge barbecuing competitions.
The two-day boot camp costs US$395 per person and includes a hat, shirt and apron but excludes lodging. Spouses can attend the Saturday night party for an additional US$25.
The North Carolina Barbecue Society, 144 Sterling Point Court, Winston-Salem, North Carolina; +1 336 765 6227; www.ncbbqsociety.com
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Hanoi Cooking Centre: Hanoi, Vietnam
Started by the couple that wrote "KOTO, a culinary journey through Vietnam," as part of the organization that helps Hanoi street kids find jobs in the restaurant industry, the Hanoi Cooking Centre offers classes for kids and adults interested in learning to cook Vietnamese food.
The masterminds behind the school are about to release a new cookbook, "Vietnamese Street Food," and they have a class entirely on the subject, where students can learn to make pho bo, green pawpaw salad, pho cuon and prawn cakes like the ones you'll find served at restaurants around Hanoi's West Lake.
Other classes features the cuisine of Hanoi and the Northern Highlands and there's an entire class devoted to different types of Vietnamese spring rolls.
Each three-to-four hour class costs 1,160,000 VND or US$55 and concludes with sharing the meals the class prepares.
Hanoi Cooking Centre, 44 Chau Long St., Ba Dinh District, Hanoi; +84 4 3715 0088; hanoicookingcentre.com
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Cook'n With Class: Paris, France
Paris is the historic epicenter of high-end gastronomy, allowing visitors to enjoy acclaimed French cuisine and the opportunity to learn to prepare it.
Nestled in the historic artistic enclave of Montmatre, Cook'n with Class teaches students how to make gourmet French dishes in a relaxed, friendly environment.
In their popular market classes, students visit the local green grocer and butcher and decide on a menu based on what's freshest, creating dishes from scratch like crispy-skin duck breast with stewed cherries and blanquette de veau with fingerling potatoes.
Aspiring bakers and pastry chefs will be able to get their hands doughy in the bread-making class or learn to make macarons, crême brulée, chocolate mousse or soufflé glacé au Grand-Marnier in one of the school’s numerous desserts classes.
Market classes cost €185 (US$237), bread-making and dessert classes cost €125 (US$160).
Cook'n with Class, 21 Rue Custine, Paris; +33 (0) 1 42 55 70 59; cooknwithclass.com
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LaZat: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Malaysia is a melting pot of different cuisines.
Malay, Chinese, Indian and Nyonya dishes make up the nation's culinary landscape, and you can learn to cook all of them in the country's capital city.
Lazat means "delicious" in Malay, and at LaZat Malaysian Home Cooking Classes in leafy Petaling Jaya, a suburb of Kuala Lumpur, students learn to cook the meals that are regularly eaten in homes across Malaysia.
The spunky Malay instructors share their culinary knowledge about dishes from spicy sambals and fragrant curries to sweets like sago pudding with palm sugar.
A one-day class costs between 200-230 ringgit (US$63.50-US$74). Classes on Wednesdays and Fridays include a market tour.
LaZat Malaysian Home Cooking Classes, 584 Jalan 17/17, Section 17, 46400 Petaling Jaya; +60 19 238 1198; www.malaysia-klcookingclass.com
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