Knowing how to cook is one thing (and a great thing at that), but understanding how best to prepare a region’s local ingredients is a different ballgame. Learn the secrets to great dishes at a West Coast cooking school that emphasizes local cuisines and traditions.
Tutka Bay Lodge in Homer, Alaska, teaches cooking classes on an old crabbing boat that used to carry troops during World War II. There, you’ll learn how to turn fresh Kachemak Bay seafood into dishes like crab steamed buns and salmon fritters, plus how to highlight seasonal produce in rose panna cotta or rhubarb ricotta churros. Cooking classes are held daily through Sept. 24. Classes cost $260 per person, which includes a water taxi to the lodge. Info: Tutka Bay Lodge, Within the Wild, Homer, Alaska; (907) 274-2710
If you ever find yourself stranded in the forest, you might be thankful you took class from local forager Pascal Baudar. He teaches you how to turn even the most obscure plants into memorable meals. Learn how a walk through the woods can yield fascinating foods, like vegan cheese, made with aged nuts, or beers brewed from local plants. Tasting classes and walk on private ranch costs $60 per person. Info: Urban Outdoor Skills, 8828 Gold Creek Road, Sylmar
The Santa Fe School of Cooking is located in a culinary sweet spot, where Mexican, Native American and Southwestern flavors combine to form an exciting cuisine. The school offers a variety of hands-on and demonstration-style classes ($80 for Cuisines of Mexico), including courses dedicated to mastering one important ingredient or dish, such as tamales, salsa and rellenos ($102). Info: Santa Fe School of Cooking, 125 N. Guadalupe St., Santa Fe, N.M.; (800) 982-4688
Take a break from eating tacos by learning how to make them the right way from Cabo San Lucas local Donna Somerlott, owner of Casa de Colores School of Traditional Mexican Cooking. Depending on the class (from $50 per person), you’ll learn how to cook on a customary comal griddle or perhaps how to make mole taste much better than a funky chocolate sauce. If you’re the first to sign up, you might even get to pick the day’s menu. Info: Casa de Colores School of Traditional Mexican Cooking, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico (address available after booking)