Ten U.S. Cooking Vacations

Praise for Elizabeth Berg‘s “Amalfi Coast: A Moveable Feast” feature in our April 2010 issue has been flowing in. Our readers have been made hungry by her account of heading solo to the coastal hill town of Positano to take a week’s worth of cooking classes with Cooking Vacations Italy and sample some of the region’s fresh and lovingly prepared fare (check out the delicious photo gallery from the story).

In fact-checking the piece, I thought that my mom and aunt would love to go on a trip like this, time and money willing. Not all of us have the days off or funds stashed to make such a journey overseas. But maybe, just maybe, we could swing a cooking vacation if we stayed here stateside.

To learn more about cooking vacations closer to home, I got in touch with David Loy, president and CEO of Epitourean, a tour operator that crafts cooking vacation packages in the U.S. Mr. Loy tells me that “culinary travel is new to the U.S.” and his company is always discovering new destinations as “you just never know where the ever-growing population of foodies will want to go.” Epitourean strives to mix hands-on experiential dining and tours of farmers market or wineries with farm-to-table food that’s indigenous to the region.

For you foodies out there, I present Epitourean’s ten most popular culinary getaways in the U.S.A.:

Napa Valley, California: “No surprise there, ” Mr. Loy tells me. Trips include a winery and olive mill tour plus a stop at a farmers market.

Santa Fe, New Mexico: Spice up your Southwestern-style cooking, relax at a spa, and tour old Santa Fe.

New Orleans, Louisiana: Try your hand at Cajun and Creole cuisine and stay at a posh hotel in the French Quarter.

Charleston, South Carolina: Perfect eclectic Low Country cuisine and stay at an inn overlooking the city’s famous covered market.

Savannah, Georgia: Leave your diet at home as you cook and dine your way through the “Hostess City.”

Asheville, North Carolina: Take a hands-on cooking class with the Biltmore Estate’s executive chef.

Kennebunkport, Maine: Enjoy coastal Maine and cook a gourmet meal in your own cottage.

Camden, Maine: Sail Penobscot Bay and craft a five-course meal.

New York City: Dine at Mario Batali’s joint, tour Chelsea Market, and visit vintners on Long Island.

Washington, D.C.: Stop by Julia Child’s kitchen in the Smithsonian as inspiration for your CulinAerie cooking class.

Have you been on a cooking vacation in the U.S.? Which would you recommend?

Photo: Cooking class with Johnny Vee in Santa Fe, courtesy of Epitourean