Eat Your Way Around the World With a Virtual Cooking Class
Take live, interactive cooking classes with experienced chefs and home cooks all over the world.
Photo By: Avital Tours
Photo By: British Virgin Islands Tourist Board
Photo By: Travel Texas
Photo By: The Meritage Collection
How to Travel Through Cooking
So much can get lost in translation when American restaurants recreate traditional dishes from Turkey, Japan or Mexico. But there's a shortcut, of sorts, to discovering new meals and making them authentic: cook them yourself, with the guidance of a local expert.
As we're all spending more time at home and revising international travel plans, guides and tour companies around the world have adapted to offer personalized online cooking classes. Instead of just watching a YouTube video, you can seek advice, get a history lesson and peek into the homes of chefs all over the globe who are eager to share their culinary secrets with you.
Cook With International Chefs in Your Own Kitchen
Avital Tours, the Traveling Spoon and Airbnb are just a few of the companies now offering online classes with chefs who will answer your questions as you cook, like this Spanish tapas class from Viator. Many hotels, restaurants and tourism boards are also offering free, live demonstrations on social media. So grab your laptop, pick a class and head to the kitchen to let the delicious smells of simmering spices transport you to another world.
Book Now: Viator, From $18
Learn how to make hot chocolate soup, bunelos and a popular lime dessert with a Mexico City-based chef, Antonio, and his son, Raja. They'll guide you through the process of making each one and you'll be able to ask questions along the way. Want to "visit" more than one place around the city and make a day- or weekend-long itinerary of events? Airbnb is also offering a coffee masterclass taught by the CEO of the city's Borola Café. Ricardo will teach you how to understand flavor variations using simple ingredients you likely already have at home, like cinnamon, fruit, sparkling water and, of course, coffee.
Book Now: Airbnb, From $19
Japan is thriving as a travel destination in no small part because of its amazing food. You can learn how to make several kinds of traditional Japanese dishes and desserts from home via Airbnb's experiences and airKitchen, which is offering dozens of virtual cooking classes hosted by chefs across Japan.
This Airbnb experience will guide you through making mochi, a sweet rice-based dessert that's often filled with sweet bean paste. (In the U.S., you're more likely to find mochi in your grocery store's frozen dessert aisle; in Japan, it's often wrapped around ice cream.) Miyuki, a certified instructor for Water Confectionary Art in Tokyo, will guide you through the process. Looking for something more savory? Take an udon noodle cooking class or one focused on sushi.
Book Now: Airbnb, From $20
British Virgin Islands
If you're missing tropical ocean vibes, you can join award-winning chef Ariq Flax-Clarke from Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands, to learn how to make the classic coconut chicken palau dish. He's teaching the class live, for free, on the British Virgin Islands tourism board's Facebook at noon Eastern Time on May 31. But don't worry if you miss it; all the tourism board's weekly virtual events are still available for viewing at your leisure.
Bake these mouth-watering Swedish cinnamon and cardamom buns with Lhea, who's been a professional baker and caterer since she was a teen. From her kitchen in Stockholm, she'll guide you through a recipe she created to substitute baking powder for yeast, which is easier to find right now and also speeds up the process quite a bit.
Afterwards, enjoy fika, a delightful Swedish tradition of taking a break for a sweet treat. Bask in the thoughts of fresh air with Sweden's virtual reality videos of its great outdoors, compatible with VR goggles.
Book Now: Airbnb, From $13
In this Airbnb experience, you'll dive into the history of traditional Turkish food and learn how to make menemen: Turkish scrambled eggs. The host, Burak, will do some searching ahead of time to find a Turkish grocery store in your city so you can be sure to find the ingredients you need.
Book Now: Airbnb, From $10
Cook a traditional vegetarian Portuguese dish, peixinhos da horta, or "little fish from the garden," with a chef based in Barcarena, Portugal. After you cook together with Katija and the others on the experience, you'll all eat together to enjoy each other's company and share stories.
Book Now: Airbnb, From $14
Tackle chicken or vegetarian curry in an Airbnb Experience with Neha, who has taught cooking lessons to over 6,000 students from around the world. She'll teach you how to make a few dishes, including Indian flat bread, from either her home in New Delhi or her cabin in the Himalayas, where she has an outdoor kitchen with a view of the mountains.
Viator is also offering a vegetarian cooking class with a home chef based in Mumbai. The class is private, so you can take it by yourself or invite a few friends to join in with you on Skype.
Book Now : Airbnb, From $19
Olive oil may seem like a basic ingredient, but if you've never done a tasting of it before, you're missing out on a whole lot of complexity. Knowing more about this kitchen staple can elevate your cooking and your palate. So, learn about it from a pro, long-time Airbnb host Marin, who will take you on a tour of the Kils, Croatia, farm his family has owned since 1537, spanning 14 generations. He'll also run you through an olive oil tasting using whatever you have at home. Recent guests have raved about the experience and overwhelmingly given him five stars for his enthusiastic storytelling and the wealth of knowledge he shares.
To explore life elsewhere in Croatia, check out their tourism board's list of virtual tours, city webcams, 360-degree photo tours and online events hosted by local hotels.
Book Now: Airbnb, From $15
Recent guests of this Cape Malay curry cooking class say in reviews that they felt like they were in Cape Town, South Africa, as they made a fragrant curry paste in their own kitchens. The host of this experience, Fayruza, is a third-generation Malay cook who will teach you her grandmother's recipe from Fayruza's home in the foothills of Table Mountain.
Book Now: Airbnb, From $20
Ever wondered how the soup gets inside soup dumplings? Get a taste of Shanghai in this class hosted by Cici, who's been teaching Chinese cooking classes for over a decade. She'll also teach you how to make a dipping sauce for the dumplings. After everything is ready, you can stay to hang out with the other guests and swap tales to pique each other's wanderlust.
Book Now: Airbnb, From $29
Take a high-end Peruvian cooking class with professional chef Bruno Espejo via Chef Passport. You can choose between a one-, two- or three-hour private class and learn how to cook dishes like Aji de Gallina, a chicken dish with a creamy yellow chile sauce. Espejo offers these workshops in both English and Spanish.
Book Now: Chef Passport, From $130
Just because you can't get to Italy for fresh pasta right now doesn't mean you should keep eating the boring kind from boxes at your grocery store. Learn how to make the good stuff, from scratch, with Lucrezia, who will guide you through her family's recipe from her home outside of Florence. You're in luck if you don't have a pasta maker; you don't need one to take this class. Expect a musical surprise while you're cooking, as Lucrezia's in-person Airbnb experience is all about mixing opera with food.
Book Now: Airbnb, From $29
Make your own Argentine empanadas at home with the guidance of Gabriela, a former journalist in Buenos Aires. This private class is taught via Traveling Spoon, which offers homecooked meals and cooking experiences in the homes of people across the world. They're offering dozens of virtual cooking classes right now.
Want a glimpse of the city? The Buenos Aires tourism board has compiled a virtual travel guide with panoramic views and half a dozen documentary series about life, culture, history and food in this iconic, cosmopolitan city.
Learn how to make traditional dal bhat, a classic Nepalese lentil and rice dish, in this private cooking class you can arrange with friends. The course is offered by Viator, which offers hundreds of thousands of tours and day trips all over the world. They've launched tons of virtual experiences, including cooking classes from quite a few countries, to help you explore the world from home.
If you want to pair your cooking class with a history lesson, check out StoryCycle's upcoming Virtual Heritage Tour of Mount Everest, slated for May 29, International Everest Day. You'll learn about Sherpa traditions and the history of Everest expeditions. StoryCycle has published the videos of their previous virtual tours in Nepal so you can see other parts of the country, too.
Book Now: Viator, From $16
Taste of Casablanca, a tour operator founded by a Moroccan food writer, has launched private online cooking classes for $65 per device. You can choose from several 2- to 3-hour courses like breads and tea and chicken or seafood bastilla. Alternatively, you can take a shorter, 1.5-hour class on how to make a Moroccan tajine meal with Kawtar and her mother, Khmisa. The two women run this Airbnb cooking class from their home in Rabat. You'll learn a bit about traditional Moroccan cuisine and get lots of advice for making sure your dishes turn out as authentic as possible.
Book Now: Airbnb, From $16
If you miss walking through a hilly vineyard and sipping samples at wineries, you're lucky in that it's fairly easy to ship wine across the country. Many wineries and vineyards are taking advantage of this with virtual tasting nights you can actually participate in from home.
Becker Vineyards in Stonewall, Texas, for example, is doing live virtual tastings several nights a week that. Just plan ahead to order the tasting kit of the week in advance. Oregon's gorgeous wine country, Willamette Valley, has compiled virtual events from a long list of its wineries. Visit Napa Valley has done the same.
Learn More : Virtual Wine Tastings to Try at Home
As you travel the world through these experiences, don't forget that you can find exciting ways to explore your own country virtually, too. Check your favorite restaurants, wineries and local cooking schools to see what they're up to, as many have found creative ways to engage their communities from home. The Santa Fe School of Cooking, for example, has compiled a long list of video cooking guides and will ship difficult-to-find ingredients and cooking tools to you.
Avital Tours, which offers food tours in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles, is offering public and private "chefinars" so you can cook upscale meals at home with one of their guides. Private classes cost $65 per login and $85 to have a four-serving ingredient box shipped to your house.
Many hotels, restaurants and tourism boards have scheduled cooking and cocktail classes on Facebook and Instagram Live. So, as you dig around for travel inspiration for your next trip, be sure to check out social media pages for places you're eager to visit. Kauai, Hawaii's Ko'a Kea resort, for example, will host a live Hawaiian cooking class on June 6 on Facebook with Executive Chef Noelani Planas, pictured here.
If cooking at home doesn't scratch the itch, check out Goldbelly, which ships meal kits nationally from famous restaurants around the country including Pittsburgh institution Primanti Bros. (shown here), known for its "Almost Famous" French fry and coleslaw loaded sandwiches. Their new monthly subscription box features a meal kit from a different restaurant each month from a city of your choice: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, New Orleans or San Francisco. Net proceeds from these boxes will go toward sending food to healthcare workers and first responders in those cities.