Fancy perfecting your pasta-making in Italy, or nailing your croquetas in Spain? Brush up your skills in situ on a cookery holiday.

When you shut your eyes and dream of holidays past, what comes to mind first? For us, the gentle lap of waves and the heat of the sun beating down are followed swiftly by reveries of lunchtimes spent in trattorias and tavernas, and of those morsels of simple perfection made by people who have spent a lifetime honing their culinary skills until they are just so.

Why not, then, learn from the best of them and take a soupcon of their expertise home with you, along with your washing and half the sand from the beach? Sure, you can’t transport the setting, but you can still recreate some of the flavours to keep you going – until your next trip. These are the cookery schools we’re dreaming of enrolling at. Culinary adventures ahoy!

Main image: Anna Tasca Lanza

Annie B’s Spanish Kitchen




Annie B is a travel agent, ‘sherry educator’ and host of cookery classes around Spain and sometimes beyond. A Scottish expat, she lives in Andalucia and leads tours to foodie destinations around the country to teach guests how to perfect the most flavoursome dishes of the region, all while organising trips to local vineyards and introducing them to interesting chefs. If you’re tempted for this year, why not book onto her ‘Salt, Fish And Sherry’ culinary tour of Cadiz in the autumn? Or travel with her to Menorca at the end of September to shop its markets, make and taste gin cocktails, and go on boat tours of Mahon’s harbour – all while learning to make the island’s most delicious food. Book a tour here.

Organic Tuscany




Do you dream of idling the days away in a Tuscan villa, with views of rolling hills studded with Cypress trees for miles? Organic Tuscany is the one for you – plus, in addition to the idling, you’ll also learn culinary skills that will remain in your repertoire forever. Situated between Siena and Florence, the farmhouse is situated in beautiful Certaldo, which is easily accessible by train (though do note that car rental is vital thereafter). Between visits to Florence, San Gimignano, vineyard excursions and olive oil tastings, guests will learn to knock up the likes of pollo alla cacciatora, braised artichokes, crostini with salsa verde and papa al pomodoro. Each night there will be memorably delicious dinners served in the loggia or on the patio overlooking the extraordinary view – plus there’s a gorgeous pool to lounge by too. Heaven on earth. Book it here.

Walnut Grove




For proficient home cooks who want to add a gourmet dimension to their repertoire, Walnut Grove Cookery School in Loire is ideal. Over the five-day course, guests will learn butchery and knife skills, as well as the art of French cuisine; starting with the basics, such as stocks and sauces, they will then build up to the likes of steak tartar with poached quail egg and apricot and pistachio stuffed pork roulade. It is all set within a beautiful four-bedroom farmhouse, with views – as its name suggests – over a stunning walnut grove. For any gastronome searching for a change of pace post the pandemic, note that Walnut Grove is currently available for lease. Book it here.

Riad Africa




Moroccan food is fascinating for foodies, not simply on account of how tasty it is, but because of the sheer range of influences, which extend across Arab, Berber, Jewish, African and French traditions. If you’d like to learn some of its secrets, head for Riad Africa, a B&B in Marrakech where you can sign up for its daily classes. Guests are first guided around the souk to buy ingredients and then back to its rooftop kitchen to cook with the bounty and, at the end, you will tuck into the three-course lunch of your own creation. There are also seven-night courses available, which include trips to the pretty seaside town of Essaouira as well as into the Atlas mountains. Book it here.

Ballymaloe Cookery School




A little closer to home, this legend of a cookery school is well worth forgoing guaranteed good weather for. With many of its courses taught by founders Darina Allen and Rory O’Connell, plenty of household name chefs have kick-started their careers with a twelve-week stint here. But for those who don’t have an eye on a professional career, there are many wonderful shorter courses to explore too. Housed within an organic farm in Cork, you can choose anything from simple entertaining skills to a ‘how to start your own café or teashop’ course. Invaluable. Book it here.

Anna Tasca Lanza




Back to Italy – and specifically this to Sicily, this time – because who can ever get enough of Italian cuisine? When you open legendary chef Anna Tasca Lanza’s website, the first thing you are greeted with is an invitation to spend a week in October doing some experimental cooking in the astonishing Aeolian islands. How can we possibly resist? Founded in 1989, Anna’s name is legend when it comes to Sicilian food and culture. Book in with her if you want to learn to make the best pasta with seasonal ingredients – and much more besides. Operating from the beautiful and characterful Case Vecchie (Old Houses), complete with spectacular pool, this would make the most enchanting of holidays, whether you book in for one night or the maximum of five. Book it here.

By Nancy Alsop
July 2021

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Nancy Alsop

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