What do a couple of Montego Bay home master chefs, an instructor at the Tokyo Sushi Academy and the heir to a New Delhi restaurant dynasty have in common? They all run Airbnb virtual cooking classes and can teach you how to create exciting new dishes from the comfort of your own kitchen.
As travelers eager for local experiences, we would frequently book cooking classes through Airbnb in any country we visited. So when the world effectively shut down in 2020 due to the pandemic, putting our globetrotter on hold, we were thrilled to find that the platform had brought all those dining experiences we loved online. And just like their IRL offerings, each class is designed and led by selected hosts who are intimately familiar with their local cuisines and cultures; easily bookable on the site platform, which allows you to filter by location, time, language, price and number of people; and fairly affordable, starting at around $18 per person.
Since the discovery of virtual classrooms, we have taken a handful. And whether they were taught by an Italian nonna with decades of experience or an off-duty restaurateur, each was immersive, interactive and well-organized. Before classes started, each instructor emailed us a list of equipment, ingredients, and prep tasks, which ensured flawless lessons every time. And at the end of class, we would have the perfect nighttime feast to enjoy in the comfort of our living room.
Believe us: deciding which class to take is the only tricky part. So, from Poland’s signature cheese and potato stuffed pierogies to fluffy Kenyan chapatis, we’ve combed through Airbnb’s more than 3,000 virtual cooking classes to bring you nine that are all guaranteed to take you on a trip. your taste buds – no passport needed.
In this nearly two-hour class—which takes a 15-minute “noodle-dancing” break halfway through—you’ll learn how to make hand-pulled Chinese noodles from a few bona fide chefs in Shanghai. Brenda and Lee will teach you how to make the wheat dough from scratch, then prepare the noodles in two ways – BiangBiang (wide, belt-shaped noodles) and Xinjiang Lamian (thin, strand-shaped noodles) – before dressing them in a hot and sour sauce. The flavors are bold in this class, as are the vibes. Take it from this reviewer: “6 stars out of 5!!!”
In this 75-minute class, Bruna, a proud Italian nonna, will teach you how to make ravioli and tiramisu. As well as having spent decades cooking for her family, she also happens to be an alumnus of the Paul Bocuse Institute, a culinary school in France. There, Bruna refined her family recipes, which you will find in her classroom. We took Bruna’s in-person course a few years ago, and the online iteration was just as great. She practically welcomed us into her home in Milan, breaking the ice with some hilarious stories and a round of Aperol spritzes. Bruna then led the class with clockwork efficiency. A reservoir of tips and techniques, she taught us the proper way to seal ravioli without trapping air, and how to make pasta sheets as thin as humanly possible. And at the end, we had plenty of fluffy ravioli and decadently rich tiramisu to enjoy. Five five!
Cooking tamales from scratch is a tall order, even for a seasoned home cook. But having Chef Arturo by your side makes the task much less daunting. When he’s not the chef of a group of restaurants in Mexico City, he hosts his two-hour tamale tutorial on Airbnb. He will first guide you through the process of making the masa dough, then the different filling options like chicken, pork or vegetables. You’ll also learn how to make fresh salsa to serve with these steaming delights covered in corn husks. Class is popping, and so is food. “These are without a doubt the best tamales I have ever eaten,” wrote one reviewer.
Every Sunday, Montego Bay home cooks Latoya and Delroy teach a one-hour cooking class on the Jamaican Patty. They’ll walk you through the basics of making classic puff pastry as well as the deeply flavorful beef filling it contains, interweaving history and cultural storytelling along the way. And, compared to an in-person class, we had full control over ingredient substitutions based on our vegan dietary preferences. (We used a few impossible burgers instead of beef.) But it’s Latoya and Delroy’s personal touches that set their class apart. Even though we had just met them, our hour together was like hanging out in the kitchen with old friends. We cooked, we ate, and at the end of the class, they sent us a playlist of reggae jams, accompanied by 50 Jamaican recipes. If patties aren’t your thing, choose from 11 other Jamaican dishes, like ackee and saltfish or banana porridge, which Latoya and Delroy teach throughout the week.
In this 90 minute course, you will learn how to make not one but Three Kenyan dishes. Josephine, a talented home cook from Nairobi, teaches various menus throughout the week. The one that really caught our attention was his course on fluffy chapatis; aromatic beef, chicken or vegetable curry; and ugali with steamed cabbage. A firm believer that the best meals are the ones you cook yourself, Josephine has shared her treasured family recipes with 7,000 students and counting. “We had the most amazing evening with Josephine,” wrote a recent reviewer. “Our chapatis were absolutely delicious. We were so inspired by Josephine’s course that we are still talking about our experience a few days later.
It used to be that team-building exercises involved gathering in brightly lit fluorescent rooms, sipping Folgers, and “falling in confidence” into the arms of your co-workers. Now, thanks to the miracle of online conferencing, you can learn how to stuff samosas with your colleagues instead. Host Jd’s 75-minute course, which he teaches from his home in New Delhi, has been attended by teams from Google, Tesla, Apple and Facebook, according to reviews. His family has been in the restaurant business for three generations and he has taught over 6,000 Airbnbers how to make his potato samosas with vibrant cilantro chutney. We also loved that it has various substitutions – like air frying instead of deep frying – to suit all kinds of cuisines.
Kazari maki, which translates to “decorative roll”, is where art meets sushi. In this one-hour class, Aya, a teacher at Tokyo Sushi Academy, will teach you how to make Instagrammable sushi that looks like Renaissance stained glass. The rolls are incredibly gorgeous and delicious, with the tamago and pickled vegetable fillings forming flowers and stars. Awarded the 2020 Certificate of Excellence on TripAdvisor, Aya has trained more than 4,000 students to create these edible webs. We love any kind of art you eat next.
Istanbul is a street food lover’s paradise, and lahmacun – a thin flatbread like a cracker topped with a layer of spiced ground meat – is one of the most typical bites of the ancient city. From her home in Turkey, chef Fatma shares her family’s cooking secrets with her virtual students. It was an experience that we personally found authentic and rewarding despite the screen separating us, mainly due to Chef Fatma’s warm and engaging personality and patience. In 90 minutes, Fatma walked us through the steps of making the crispy crust, the meat filling and the herb filling. According to the course description, his lahmacun recipe is also easily adaptable to a vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free diet. (For a vegan variation, we used a spicy sumac herb filling to top our flatbread instead of the meat.) In the end, the food was delicious and the conversation delicious, and every bite took us back to Turkey. , where we spent our honeymoon.
Live from their home in Krakow and dressed in traditional clothing, Monika and Tomasz will introduce you to their grandmother’s recipe for Poland’s favorite stuffed dumpling: pierogi. In addition to making and rolling the stretchy dough, in this 90-minute class you’ll learn how to make the classic potato, white farmer’s cheese, and fried onion filling. But it’s more than just a cooking class; it is also an invitation to relax. Like the great hosts that they are, Monika and Tomasz encourage you to have a drink, preferably Polish vodka, while you cook. The whole class is a deep digital dive into culture with a dash of folk tradition, a dash of food history, and a dash of Polish idioms.