Gourmet Cooking Classes - Six Top Picks to Fire Up Your Culinary Curiosity

Food & Spirits: Cooking, or at least watching The Food Channel, has become a national obsession. Cooking — whether your see it as an art form, a creative expression, a career, entertainment, team building or a value proposition — is hot!

One way to hop on the cooking craze is to take a class. Attending a cooking school is fun, either near home or better yet, in some exotic locale. This opportunity intrigues even individuals who shudder at the thought of "going back to school." Some classes are billed as demonstration only, meaning that you observe the chef and taste the results.

The most rewarding courses are experiential. These are a combination of lecture, demonstration and student participation, where everyone is involved in the preparation and critique of the results after they are consumed. Building on this model are courses that last from one to several days, to a week or longer.

Typically, these courses include excursions to local markets, fish mongers, bakeries, wineries, olive oil producers, chocolatiers, organic farms, local bistros and more, where first hand knowledge and experience is acquired by interacting with the folks on the front line of food production.

Their passion is palpable and their enthusiasm is contagious. Before you know it, you can't wait to get back home to delight and impress your friends with your culinary prowess. So, roll up your sleeves, put on your apron and get cooking!

Here are just a few of the options waiting to entice you. Check out their websites and turn your culinary curiosity into your latest passion:

1) The California Health and Longevity Institute at the Four Seasons Hotel, Westlake Village, California — join other individuals in cooking classes designed to promote a healthful, gourmet food filled lifestyle.

2) The Culinary Institute of America, Napa Valley, California - besides their professionals programs in the food and wine industry, they offer cooking and wine courses for the enthusiast who may have from a few hours to a few days to ignite their interest and fuel their passion.

3) The New Orleans Cooking Experience offers cooking vacations, half-day, private and special event classes in a charming 1790's Creole Plantation located right in the heart of New Orleans. The highly personalized, small classes focus on authentic Creole cooking. Renowned Chef, Frank Brigtsen, of Brigsten's Restaurant created the course curriculum and teaches many of the classes himself. The interactive nature of the classes makes learning easy and fun while the multi-course meal including wines makes for cementing newly made cooking acquaintances into fast friends.

4) Let's Get Cookin — Westlake Village, California — for 25 years, Phyllis and Vince Vaccarelli and Staff have personally and with the help of super star visiting chefs inspired both hobbyists and budding professionals to pursue their culinary interest.

5) Food and Wine Theme Cruises are offered by many of the top cruise lines such as: Silversea Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Sea Dream Yacht Club, Windstar Cruises. Check out their websites for specific voyages featuring celebrity chefs and wine makers.

6) The International Kitchen — Since 1994, Karen Herbst and her staff are industry leaders offering a gourmet selection of over 90 cooking school vacations that are sure to please every globetrotter.

Why Attend a Top Cooking School?
We’ve come a long way from the Swanson turkey TV dinners I grew up with as a child. We’ve moved on to the endless array of multi-ethnic dinners available in every supermarket frozen section. We revel at the make-and-store-your-own meals for the week, under the watchful eye of a culinary coach. Or we enlist a private chef at your beck and call.

Although our national curiosity with cooking may have been initially ignited by Julia Child and her entertaining way with French cuisine, it's our current crop of star-quality chefs and the possibility of emulating their success in the kitchen that has captured our imagination.

France has always paid homage to their culinary masters awarding them with Michelin Stars, fame and fortune. We in America have just begun to revere the talent that comes out of the kitchen. So much so, that these days learning to cook is an appealing avocation that runs the gamut from casual hobby, to gourmet obsession, to serious profession.

Yes, you can fire up your culinary curiosity by attending a cooking school. Just do it!

By Diane Sukiennik & Michael Reiss
JustLuxe Contributors

Students Learn at the famed Four Seasons's Cooking School in Bali,Indonesia.
Lecture format is another efffective teaching method for a cooking school.
Celebrity Chef Tony Mantuano from Chicago's famous Spiaggia Restaurant helps a guest cook during one of the Cellar Club at the Miami's famous Biltmore Hotel's cooking school events.
At the end of the cooking school, guest usually get to enjoy their culinary efforts.

Diane Sukiennik & Michael Reiss

Diane Sukiennik is an internationally recognized writer, coach, keynote speaker, consultant, educator and licensed therapist. She is the author of The Career Fitness Program: Exercising Your Options, 11th edition, Prentice Hall, the most widely used text in colleges and universities in the subject area. A self-proclaimed 'leisurologist,' she speaks French and Spanish, is an avid world traveler and...(Read More)

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