This May I am graduating from medical school and I have always wanted to do a cooking trip somewhere abroad. Any recommendations for classes or trips?

  • Posted by: Davide
  • February 9, 2015


Nancy H. February 10, 2015
Congratulations, Davide, and what a great way to celebrate. I wish more doctors had a real interest in food. The connection between good food and good health is so strong--all docs should go to cooking school immediately after graduation (at least that's my idea)!
There are some great suggestions and recommendations below, but I'm going to recommend that you step back for a moment and ask yourself what you really want to achieve and where you want to find yourself once you've achieved it. First off, I think, is a major location decision--Europe or Asia? And then, France or Italy on the one hand, and India or Thailand on the other. Not that there aren't cooking programs in other regions but France, Italy, India, and Thailand are where you will find the most choice. Then you have to decide how long you want to take? If you can take as much as three or four weeks vacation, I'd suggest thinking about maybe spending two weeks in Italy and two in France (or India and Thailand). And then, how much do you want to spend? There are some very high-end trips that stay in Relais et Chateaux type places and then there are course more akin to home stays where the costs are kept to a minimum. And finally, is it cooking as such that you want to do, or would you be happier with a trip that puts cuisine in a cultural context and deals with local traditions, wines, cheeses, farmers, etc.? These are all questions to think about for a week or so, and then, come back to the Hotline and let us all know a little more of what you're looking for. I've got candidates in all of the above places plus a few more but I need to know more about YOU before I start making suggestions.
Sorry to go on at such length but it's an important step you're about to take and a great one, and we all want to be sure you're doing the right thing. And happy to help!
Maedl February 10, 2015
I have done many cooking trips and three stand out:

All three programs were established and are run by people from the US who went back to their families' home, thus you get a very special perspective from spending time learning about the region.

Cooking in Crete is run by Nikki Rose, who is based on the eastern end of Crete, but during the program, you will see different parts of the island, meet local, artisanal producers, visit bakeries and olive oil mills, and cook with real people in home kitchens.Nikki works with university nutrition programs, and you will learn more about nutrition on this program than on the others.

The Awaiting Table is based in Lecce, Puglia--the heel of Italy. This is very hands-on cooking, with visits to the market, fish monger, and wine shops. You will have breakfast in a bar where you will meet the nicest, kindest barista in all of Italty.

finally, Renee Restivo of Soul of Sicily will introduce you to Noto in southeastern Sicily, a region known for its Baroque architecture. You'll cook, bake bread, visit the open air market in Syracusa, and meet some fantastic, committed people from the region.

I have also done a program or two in Tuscany, but cannot recommend them--unless you plan your trip for an off-season, Tuscany is much too touristy now and you don't really feel the real Italian spirit. Another interesting region is Calabria--the toe of the Italian boot. I know there are some cooking programs there, but they were too expensive for my tastes. I have spent time in the region, though, and am still looking for a good program. Stay away from summer trips there, though, because it is a huge European beach destination. Fall is ideal.

And finally, Matera in Basilicata, (the arch of the foot in Italy's boot) is achingly beautiful. Some of the restaurants there do cooking programs, which I would like to try some day.
luvcookbooks February 10, 2015
Naomi Duguid the author of Burma and co author of Hot Sour Salty Sweet and several other books does a class called immerse through on Chiangmai Thailand that sounds wonderful. The dates don't coincide w your graduation but sheight have ideas about other programs. Also, congrats from UW Madison School of Medicine class of. 88! Enjoy, you have a busy yeR ahead!
Trena H. February 9, 2015
Southeast Asian cuisine is delicious and diverse. I've been living and travelling around this part of the world for 5 months and I'd suggest a stop in George Town, Penang where I'm currently living. The food diversity is simply amazing. There is Indian food, Nasi Kandar (Indian Muslim food), Cantonese, Hokkien, Nonya, Malay, and many others that I'm discovering. George Town was named a UNESCO world heritage site and the cultural or multi-cultural festivals and celebrations round out the food adventures to be had here.
Pegeen February 9, 2015

Mimi Thorisson (who writes the wonderful blog “Manger”) will start teaching short workshops in March, in the Médoc region of France. Go to this link and do a search on this page for “workshop” and you’ll come to a few paragraphs with details.

Best Cooking Schools Around the World, from Travel & Leisure 2013
puttakka February 9, 2015
Thailand. The ingredients and flavors are mind blowing and the people are just delightful. I'd head over to Vietnam too.
Chef L. February 9, 2015
Geez, can't seem to get this right:
Chef L. February 9, 2015
Well done! Try this website:

They offer a wide variety of culinary trips, walking tours and the like. My friend and her husband took a walking-eating tour in Italy. She still raves about it, in spite of the fact that they actually "trained" for a few months. You deserve a break & reward!
Chef L. February 9, 2015
Sorry, gave you an incorrect link. Make that backwoods, not backwoods.
HalfPint February 9, 2015
@Davide, I recommend Tuscany. On my honeymoon, we were exploring the small towns throughout the area. In Greve, we saw a bulletin board offering wine tours/tastings and cooking classes & we signed up for a cooking class at nearby B&B called Fagiolari. I believe Giulietta still offers cooking classes there. I can't recall the pricing, but it was a reasonable rate. The class size was about 6 people total and we ate the food at dinner after the instructions. Here is the website for the class,

Nancy February 10, 2015
Agree about Tuscany and tourists. Even so, as Maedl recommend s, classes w/ ameicans who have ties to region can be quite good. Look at Faith Willinger programs in Florence. She's us-born and raised, ital by marriage and adult life. Thoughy I posted this once, but note got lost. Agree w/nh Jenkins about figuring or telling more if what you want to achieve will help focus recommend Atkins & your decision.
Carol M. February 9, 2015
France or Spain. Lots of Michelin starred chefs in Spain. San Sebastian in Basque country is known for culinary arts. Very near the Rioja wine country.
AntoniaJames February 9, 2015
Congratulations, Davide. What a tremendous accomplishment! I don't have any suggestions, but am quite interested in the recommendations made by others here! ;o)
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