Some people consider cooking to be a sport. With all the footwork, hand-eye coordination and strategy, it may very well be one. Like with any other athlete, culinary skills need to be consistently honed, and there’s no better way to do that than at a luxury cooking camp. These foodie schools are packed with renowned chefs and artisans and are designed to teach you about flavors and to help you win in the kitchen. Our editors have whipped up a list of five places that cater to your competitive spirit and taste for epicurean adventure.
New York Culinary Experience
Any trip to New York could include stops in world-renowned restaurants. But with New York magazine and the International Culinary Center’s weekend of master classes, you’ll rub elbows with the city’s top toques as you dine on their dishes. Held in the culinary center’s state-of-the-art kitchens, the classes are packed with training and talent. This year’s chef lineup includes Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern, Marc Forgione of Restaurant Marc Forgione, Marcus Samuelsson of Red Rooster Harlem and Jean-Georges Vongerichten of the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Jean Georges. Despite the intimidating roster, these classes are designed for both amateurs and experts and feature tips on everything from shopping for ingredients to sautéing vegetables. May 4-5.
Top Chef: The Cruise
Hit the high seas with Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons and more than a dozen contestants from Bravo’s Top Chef on the Celebrity Constellation when it sets sail from Miami. Between stops in Key West and Cozumel, this part-cruise, part-cuisine experience offers cooking challenges, culinary demos and Q&As with top talent such as D.C.’s Michael Isabella, Atlanta’s Richard Blais and Dallas’ Casey Thompson, to name a few. When you’re not learning from big names like San Francisco’s Hubert Keller or Texas’ Tim Love, there’s always the ship’s pool and casino vying for your attention. But space is limited, so get on board fast for this one. April 11-15.
Food University at Caesars Palace
Ever find yourself envying the contestants on cooking shows? Aspiring Food Network stars should sign up for this three-day, nine-class culinary adventure to get Sin City’s decadent version of training to be a competition-ready chef. Hosted by Robin Leach, the weekend includes time under the tutelage of Hell’s Kitchen season 10 winner Christina Wilson and Café Martorano restaurateur Steve Martorano, plus field trips for behind-the-scenes looks at some of Las Vegas’ best restaurants. And, in true television-worthy form, the final afternoon includes a competitive cook-off in which local celebrities will judge your newly learned culinary feats. March 27-29.
Blackberry Farm Food & Wine Weekends
Tucked in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains outside of Knoxville, this Tennessee farm’s gardens, chefs and two restaurants make it a top travel destination year-round for foodies. In addition to its luxurious accommodations and picturesque setting, the Four-Star Blackberry Farm features a renovated 1800s barn housing a Viking demo kitchen and bakery. Throughout the year, food fans will find a variety of one-of-a-kind events such as Wine on the Fly (April 7-10), a weekend hosted by Napa winemakers and a local fisherman. But for the ultimate farm experience, check out the Smoky Mountain Table (July 21-24), which includes three days of classes about the region’s fare taught by local culinary artisans, including Blackberry Farm’s gardeners and cheesemakers.
Southern Chefs Series
Less than an hour outside of Atlanta, the rural community of Serenbe offers charming shops and public art interspersed among natural woods and working farms. This creative background sets the scene for The Inn at Serenbe’s two-day intimate chefs series, featuring just 10 students and some of the best chefs south of the Mason-Dixon. Each class is held on Sunday afternoons and Mondays in the home kitchen of Marie Nygren, founder of The Farmhouse at Serenbe restaurant. This year’s lineup includes chefs such as James Beard Award winner Sean Brock of Charleston, S.C.’s Husk (April 14-15), Steven Satterfield of Atlanta’s Miller Union (June 23-24) and Top Chef alum Kevin Gillespie of Atlanta’s Gunshow restaurant opening in April (October 27-28). If you are tempted to try your hand at Southern fare, reserve a space now—these small gatherings will likely sell out soon.
Photos Courtesy of Blackberry Farm, Neilson Barnard and Food University