1. Gourmet food in the Loire
A plus point of the five-day cookery course at the Walnut Grove Cookery School, in the small village of Livre-la-Touche in north-west France, is that group sizes are limited to five participants. A comprehensive programme includes soups, bread, fish-filleting, pasta and a French patissier masterclass for croissants and macaroons. Walnut Grove (walnutgrove cookery.com).
2. Fine-dining in the Highlands
Keen cooks can spend a weekend alongside Chris Stanley, head chef at Airds hotel and restaurant near Oban on Scotland’s west coast. Ingredients are provided for a three-course meal with a master class in preparation and presentation. He then prepares the same dishes to gourmet standard in the evening.
Come Cook with Me from about Dh1,285 for a two-day course. Room from Dh1,180 per person, for two nights, half-board. Airds Hotel (airds-hotel.com).
3. Hotel break in Lancashire
Northcote hotel near Blackburn in Lancashire has a good recipe for foodies wanting to combine a gourmet hotel stay with a day’s course at the chef’s table. Themes include bread-baking, meat and fish-based recipes, modern desserts, sous-vide techniques, and Lancashire hotpots. Dinner in the Michelin-starred restaurant is an optional extra. Northcote hotel (northcote.com).
4. Hands-on in Sicily
Italy specialist Flavours Holidays offers a seven-night stay in Sicily, which includes outings to Syracuse and Ragusa. Based in the Villa Aragonese near Modica, learn hands-on cookery lessons from a local chef. Cooking Holiday in Sicily from Dh7,480 for seven nights, including all meals and transfers. Flights excluded. Flavours Holidays (flavoursholidays.co.uk).
5. Tapas in Andalucia
Expandable waistbands are recommended for a week of Spanish gastronomy with culinary specialist Tasting Places. Included are three cookery classes, and an evening cookery class with supper. Vejer Cookery Course from about Dh5,225 for four nights or Dh8,300 for seven nights, including most meals. Flights and transfers excluded. Tasting Places (tastingplaces.com).
6. Stately breaks in the Veneto
The 15th-century Palazzo Casagrande, home of the Conti Brandolini d’Adda family, is the venue offered by Stirred, the luxury cookery operator, for its Veneto programme. Hands-on cookery lessons with top chefs and in-depth insights on local produce, including oil and cheeses. Stirred Luxury Cookery Holiday from about Dh13,900 for six nights at Palazzo Casagrande, including all meals and transfers. Flights excluded. Stirred Travel (stirredtravel.com).
7. Local food in Marrakech
Combine sightseeing with a morning or afternoon spent learning about the local cuisine in Marrakech. Tailor-made specialist Naturally Morocco offers this opportunity in three and four-star riads. In-house cooks can take guests shopping for ingredients before demonstrating traditional methods of preparing Moroccan meals. Marrakech City Break from about Dh1,520. B&B, for four nights including transfers and cookery lesson. Flights excluded. Naturally Morocco (naturallymorocco.co.uk).
8. Family cookery in Cumbria
Children and parents are encouraged to eat and cook together at the 17-bedroom Augill Castle hotel near Kirkby Stephen. Italian-style dinners (pizza, pasta and big salads) are served on long, communal oak tables. Children’s cookery classes, too. Bespoke family cookery day for about Dh1,640 (two adults and two kids). Augill Castle (stayinacastle.com).
9. Baking in Ireland
Ballymaloe near Cork on Ireland’s south coast is a long-established cookery school offering 12-week courses to career chefs. A wide variety of cooking techniques is on offer, and course length varies from a half-day to a full week. Pies, pastries and pots from Dh3,000 for a three-day course. Twin rooms from Dh175 B&B per person, per night. Ballymaloe (cookingisfun.ie).
The Sunday Telegraph