SEVEN QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUT A COOKING VACATION
What can you expect to learn?
Instruction should focus on the how's and why's of cooking, including ingredient selection, preparation techniques, equipment use, creating a nutritionally balanced menu, kitchen organization, and time management. You should gain a better understanding of cooking methods and the effects of combining various ingredients and become a more efficient and confident cook..
Will classes be demonstration or hands-on?
Hands-on classes are important for learning and practicing knife skills, sauce and gravy preparation, kneading dough for breads or pasta and other activities that involve taste, feel, and smell. Demonstrations are more suitable for experienced cooks. Most vacation programs combine both.
What are the cooking and lodging facilities like?
For hands-on classes how many students will share a work station and utensils? What appliances and equipment will you use? Is the space large enough for everyone to move about comfortably? For demonstrations, is there an overhead nmirror and is seating close enough that you'll be able to see clearly? Do rooms have private baths? What amenities are available on site and close by? If you're going with a non-cooking companion, will there be activities for him or her while you're in class.
What are the qualifications of the instructors?
If the teacher has written a cookbook, peruse a copy to determine whether the recipes appeal to you. If the instructor is a chef, will the recipes be adapted to home equipment? Request a few of the recipes to determine the level of difficulty and whether the dishes are ones you'd be like to prepare when you return home. Speek with the instructor to get a sense of his/her teaching style and communication skills.
What is scheduled during non-cooking time?
Some vacation programs emphasize cooking instruction over other activities; most devote at least part of each day to visiting food-related sites and wineries, shopping, dining, sightseeing, unscheduled leisure time. Obtain a detailed itinerary so you'll know what to expect.
What is covered by the cost?
The quoted price should cover instruction, ingredients and handouts, as well as the meals prepared during classes and excursions to food producers, wineries, cultural sites and other locations listed in the itinerary. Other meals may also be covered as well as lodging and ground transportation. Find out what any extras are likely to cost.
What has been the experience of previous students?
Request recent references and contact them. Ask them what they were seeking and whether the program met their expectations.