Calling All Chefs Culinary academies in Europe are cooking up some outrageous vacation packages. On these delicious excursions, you can combine your passion for good food with luxurious digs and jaw-dropping scenery. Here are a few of the popular spots.By Robb Walsh
Spain, Catacurian Cooking School
El Masroig is a tiny mountain village in the Priorat region of Catalonia in Spain where you can spend three to six days at the charming Catacurian Cooking School. Your room will be in a restored stone building that now serves as a private hotel; your hosts are experts in the ancient cuisine of the Catalans; and your barbecues back home will never be the same, once you master the Catalan carn a la brasa style of outdoor cooking. Rates start at $1,500 for three days, including meals, wine, ground transportation, lodging, and more.
(800) 945-8606, www.catacurian.com
Italy, Academia Barilla
Parma, Italy, is the home of Parmesan cheese, the country’s best prosciutto, and a serious culinary school called Academia Barilla. Vacation packages include cooking lessons from some of Italy’s most famous chefs and private tours of the city’s famous ham, olive oil, and cheese makers. Between classes, you’ll take guided tours of the gorgeous hill country and stop by local wineries for Vini dei Colli di Parma tastings. Three-day stays start at $1,995, with sumptuous meals and luxury hotel included.
(866) 772-2233, www.academiabarilla.com
Greece, Kea Artisanal
On the Greek island of Kea, you can combine a cooking adventure and a beach vacation at Kea Artisanal, a cooking school run by award-winning Greek cookbook author Aglaia Kremezi. She’ll take you on walking tours to pick wild herbs and drop in on some of the island’s most beautiful kitchens to get a cooking lesson. When you get tired of food, check out the turquoise water, pristine beaches, and snow-capped mountains. Packages, complete with seven nights’ lodging, meals, and ground transportation, start at $1,995.
France, The French Kitchen
Gascony is the home of the Three Musketeers, duck pâté, and Armagnac. It’s also where transplanted Californian Kate Hill runs her workshops on the cooking of Southwestern France. You’ll dicker with the farmers at the local markets then haul your groceries back to the kitchen of an 18th-century farmhouse, where you’ll be taught how to cook like a local. Dinner at a three-star Michelin restaurant is also part of the package. Rates start at $3,000 for six days and include lodging, meals, and local transportation.
(978) 535-5738, www.thefrenchkitchen.com