5 reasons you should take a cooking class while traveling

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
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When you travel, do you actively seek out local experiences? We do, and they enrich our lives beyond measure.

One such local experience we had, while on a recent trip to Stratford, Ontario (our favorite town!), was the opportunity to take a cooking class with the Stratford Chefs School. While chefs in training study there for several degree programs, the culinary school does offer a weekly training class for kitchen fundamentals, for both chefs and non-chefs alike. We were lucky enough to take a four-hour class on boiling (of all things! You can imagine the jokes that we made, before we went. Were we doing it wrong our entire lives?).

It was, hands down, the most informative class I’ve ever had, and one of the highlights of our 5-day visit.

At Stratford Chef School. From 5 reasons you should take a cooking class while traveling

The dining room at Stratford Chefs School

Taking this class, with the extraordinary Chef Eli Silverthorne, was the perfect activity for a multigenerational family trip. Lillie and I had the opportunity to learn how to make fresh pasta and fettuccine alfredo (!!!); my mom roasted bones for stock (with a new trick!), jointed a duck, and learned how to make puff pastry (which she had always wanted to know). As Lillie says, “Stock, collaborate and listen…”

We love the fresh pasta fettuccine alfredo WE MADE! From 5 reasons you should take a cooking class while traveling
Lillie & I loving the fresh fettuccine alfredo WE MADE!

Here are 5 reasons you should take a cooking class while traveling

5 reasons you should take a cooking class while traveling

#1 You’ll learn something new

Some cooking classes focus on recipes, while others use recipes to learn techniques (this was our class!). Either way, you will acquire knowledge (and recipes) that you didn’t even know you needed. We all learned the properties of water, how to properly cook pasta, and how to NOT overcook/overboil your ingredients. While 2 students were in charge of each section of the menu/kitchen fundamentals, we all learned from each section, both in the overview and while plating/eating. 
Stratford Chef School open kitchen menu for our class on boiling. From 5 reasons you should take a cooking class while traveling

Our class menu. YUM!

Chef Eli Silverthorne dropping knowledge. From 5 reasons you should take a cooking class while traveling

Chef Eli Silverthorne dropping knowledge

#2 You’ll taste something delicious

Our particular class had an extraordinarily diverse menu, from consommé to risotto to stock to fresh pasta (ours!). We feasted upon shrimp bisque, local mushroom risotto, chicken consommé, and fettuccine alfredo. 
THAT SHRIMP BISQUE! From 5 reasons you should take a cooking class while traveling

Delicious shrimp bisque!

Mushroom risotto. From 5 reasons you should take a cooking class while traveling

Mushroom risotto

#3 You’ll never view local cuisine the same way again

We learned so much from Chef Eli about local ingredients; we also learned how much of Stratford’s fine dining scene works for a true farm to table dining experience. This way of creating–and eating–local, is important (and truly incredible), for a plethora of reasons.
Chef Eli teaching how to plate shrimp bisque. From 5 reasons you should take a cooking class while traveling

Chef Eli teaching how to plate shrimp bisque

#4 You’ll gather trade secrets 

Did you know to stir your boiling water before adding pasta, to avoid it sticking together? Or, to smear bones with tomato paste before roasting, for an extra umami kick? These trade secrets (and more) were passed on to us by Chef Eli, and have changed the way we cook forever. We wanted to move to Stratford to finish taking the other 9 classes in this 10 week series (well, that was one of many reasons we want to move to Stratford)!
How to roast a pepper for easy peeling. From 5 reasons you should take a cooking class while traveling

How to roast a pepper for easy peeling

All that fun kitchen equipment! From 5 reasons you should take a cooking class while traveling

All that fun kitchen equipment!

#5 It’s the souvenir of a lifetime

There’s no better souvenir of a place than an experience. It is a memory that will stay with you forever. Add in learning new recipes and techniques, and our souvenir from Stratford is something that has truly enhanced the way we cook (and eat) forever. Add in learning together-grandmother, daughter, granddaughter-and it’s a bonding experience like no other. We loved every minute of it, and thank Chef and our classmates for creating this souvenir of a lifetime with us. 
Lillie making fresh pasta dough. From 5 reasons you should take a cooking class while traveling

Lillie making fresh pasta dough

Intergenerational travel at its best: a cooking class with Chef Eli Silverthorne at Stratford Chefs School. From 5 reasons you should take a cooking class while traveling

Intergenerational travel at its best: after our cooking class with Chef Eli Silverthorne at Stratford Chefs School

Have you taken a cooking class while traveling?

Please share your experiences in the comments!

 

 

 

 

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