6 Resorts Where You Can Channel Your Inner Top Chef

6 Resorts Where You Can Channel Your Inner Top Chef

Come back from vacation stuffed — and educated.

By Alison Lewis

Who among us hasn't dreamt — at least for a moment — of being a world-renowned chef? After all, they're the rockstars of the modern age. And while few of us may ever realize that dream professionally, obtaining educated cooking skills can turn us into culinary successes among family and friends.

To get us going, resorts across the world are now offering cooking classes as a part of their activity options. From honing skills with James Beard All-Star Chefs at a luxury ranch in Montana to gathering trade secrets on how to make the best ceviche in Mexico, here are six of our top picks of places to channel that inner Top Chef just waiting to come out.

1. The Resort at Paws Up, Greenough, Montana

Montana’s luxe ranch, The Resort at Paws Up, is not just for glamping and outdoor adventure. Its list of five-star culinary weekends are top-notch, with various events throughout the year. The ranch will kick off its fall menu this season with Montana Master Chefs, September 29 through October 2. James Beard Award winners work their magic all weekend long as you hobnob with world-class chefs and winemakers. Work up your appetite by exploring the breathtaking wilderness on horse, ATV or on foot, followed by a relaxing massage at the resort’s Spa Town.

Want to perfect your baking skills? Head to Upper Crust, a sophisticated cookie, pie, and baking event taking place the weekend of October 7 through 10. Gain skills from pie expert Kate McDermott, along with Portland’s Ken Forkish and Chicago’s Mindy Segal.

Also, Paws Up’s Winterfest (Winter Food and Wine Festival), January 19 through 22, 2017, is a gourmet weekend filled with guest chefs, wine pairings and coffee roasters. Paws Up Executive Chef Ben Jones will be joined by Chef Colby Garrelts and Chef Megan Garrelts from Kansas City restaurants Bluestem and Rye, along with Top Chef winner Chef Hosea Rosenberg (Boulder, Colorado’s Blackbelly restaurant), and more. 

2. Grand Bohemian, Mountain Brook, Alabama

The food scene in Birmingham, Alabama, continues to boom, especially with the addition of the swanky new Grand Bohemian Hotel and its state-of-the-art cooking class facility. The hotel not only offers an array of hands-on cooking classes with its executive chef, but it’s also one of just two hotels in the United States offering its own wine blending in a unique room for that purpose only. Here, you will learn how to taste and also create a bottle of wine complete with your very own wine label to take home.

3. Esperanza, an Auberge Resort, Los Cabos, Mexico

If you love ceviche, southwestern flavors, and vegetarian cooking, then head to  Esperanza to learn how to make incredible ceviche, expand your vegetarian cooking skills, or enjoy a private cooking class with the chef. Learn Executive Chef Guillermo Gomez’s trade secrets, including tips on choosing and marinating fish and what seasonings to use to achieve perfect ceviche results. Guests can also learn easy, healthful vegetarian dishes to replicate at home, such as jicama-wrapped guacamole sushi and vegetarian paella.

Take a private cooking class with the chef in the heart of the resort’s kitchen, where you will make everything from an appetizer to dessert (including homemade churros) while enjoying wine.

4. Lake Austin Spa Resort, Lake Austin, Texas

There’s no better place to feel healthier and learn how to cook healthier than at this intimate lake resort located in the middle of Texas Hill Country. Lake Austin Spa Resort feels like your best friend’s lake house, with one of the most amazing culinary programs focusing on good-for-you cuisine. The resort hosts culinary classes every month during its Lake Austin Culinary Experience program, taught by renowned restaurateurs, cookbook authors, James Beard Award winners, and acclaimed television personalities in an intimate setting, providing guests with unforgettable culinary activities. In August, Robin Miller and Top Chef darling Gail Simmons will be teaching, followed by New Orleans chef Susan Spicer in October and Joseph Wrede, director and creator of the Las Cosas Cooking School in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Here's the full class schedule.

5. The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina

Centered in the heart of the Queen City, The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte takes sweet to a new level with its Cocoa Lab Cooking Classes for guests looking to up their cooking games as they work alongside some of the hotel’s award-winning chefs. Students learn to create several hotel menu items using cocoa as well as the fresh produce grown in the hotel gardens. Upcoming fall classes include Southern Classics, September 10 (banana pudding, pineapple-upside down cake and pecan pie) as well a Halloween class (October 29), Thanksgiving class (November 12), Christmas baking class (December 10) and New Year’s Resolutions (January 14, 2017).

6. The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto, Kyoto, Japan

Children will get their hands sticky while learning baking skills from world-renowned French pâtissiere Pierre Hermé of Pierre Hermé Paris. The one-of-a-kind class allows children to work side by side with the property’s in-house Pierre Hermé pâtissiers to create delicious confectionary sweets and pastries.

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