This is the best way to learn about food while travelling

I remember having my first overseas cooking class in Hoi An, Vietnam when I wasn’t cooking much. I’ve learned that if you wrap rice paper rolls correctly, you’ll apparently ‘make a good mate’.


There were so many things I learned and loved about the class that sparked the mission of doing a cooking class on every overseas trip I planned. The classes are truly experiences in themselves, but they also inspire me to take the recipes home and make them for my family and friends.

If you’ve never signed up for an overseas cooking class, that’s why I recommend it.

Learn about the origin of a dish

We often cook without knowing the inside and outside of a dish. How did it come about? Was it created during the war or reserved for the rich? Does the dish symbolize anything?

The internet has many answers, but for lesser-known dishes it’s best to learn directly from a local source; locals know stories that aren’t necessarily (or well-documented) online. Cooking courses allow travelers to experience hyperlocal and learn things they cannot do elsewhere.

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Talking to the locals is a privilege. If possible, ask the cookery teacher questions, including in-depth questions such as the history of the area and travel advice.


Understand different materials and techniques

Taking a cooking class is as practical as can be. You have the opportunity to learn about seasonal foods, ingredients preparation and cooking techniques that may be rare in Australia.

Jonathan Chiri is a restaurateur, private chef and tour guide based in Avignon, in the south of France. He teaches cooking classes at Les Halles, the city’s historic market hall. His lessons include a market tour. Access to fresh, local ingredients is a big draw.

“Similarly, it’s always tastier when you have a personal story or memory to associate with wine, learning about different techniques, ingredients, local culinary traditions and recipes on vacation gives a much more personal perspective and is easier to share once you’re back home,” says Chiri.

Chiri likes to learn about lesser-known tips people get outside of a commercial kitchen, including techniques that maximize flavor without adding ingredients.

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“People walk away with recipes that are uncomplicated, simple, and utterly delicious,” he says.

“Having great ingredients on hand throughout the class also allows me to add to our daily preparations and/or make changes on the fly as I see fit. I also provide a tremendous amount of information on how some local products are made: cheeses, olives, olive oil etc.”

“People walk away with uncomplicated, simple, and utterly delicious recipes.”

Lanka Saman Vijitha Wimalasooriya has been teaching cooking classes in Ella, Sri Lanka for nine years. The location itself provides an unforgettable experience; An open-air kitchen in the verdant hills of Ella.

“We teach people how to make different types of Sri Lankan curries and coconut roti,” Wimalasooriya says.

In the class I attended, we cooked four pots of curry: chicken, beets, green beans, and pumpkin. A highlight of the class is learning how to make coconut milk from scratch with a traditional grater. This is used for curries and coconut roti.

“You can learn about pottery, special stoves. [we use]We provide information about curry leaves and Sri Lankan spices.”

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Contributing to the local economy

If you can, book a cooking class with the school or the person who runs it. This means the money goes directly to that local business, with no commission from third parties. It allows them to protect their livelihoods, especially in areas where jobs are more difficult to secure. It also helps preserve and share culture in the most delicious way possible.

“If the lessons are done right, I would expect people to be more interested in exploring the area and delving deeper into its culinary traditions.”

It also helps preserve and share culture in the most delicious way possible.

A great way to meet other travelers

Trying to make friends abroad can be difficult (and sometimes awkward). A shared meal can really break the ice.

The pleasure of sharing a meal with strangers leads to great conversations, cultural exchanges, and inevitable conversations about different people’s travel experiences. It can also guide you to your next travel destination and a friendly visitor to guide you.

Did you like the story? Follow the author here: Instagram @caterinaryso.


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