3 Cooking Retreats Across America

3 Cooking Retreats Across America

Have you ever wanted to take a cooking class?  I have.  And although hardly an expert, I am a good cook.  Yet I yearn to up my game with instruction from a professional instructor.  While many good cooking schools exist, the idea of taking one at a B&B, Ranch, or Farm piqued my interest enough to find some of the unique classes available with-in the United States.

cooking retreats

Each location listed below brings something unique to the table.  Whether it is occasional classes held on a resort island or regular offerings dependent on the changing seasons, there is something for every interest (and skill) level.

Haley Farm Bed and Breakfast & Spa and Retreat Center – Deep Creek, MD

Haley Farm House

Haley Farm is owned by Kam Gillespie.  Situated in the the beauty of Western Maryland, this 65 acre farm is close to recreational activities, but far enough away for a relaxing escape.  The environment is very important to Kam and she is  working to make green changes to Haley Farm including buying local and organic food when possible, and refusing to use pesticides in their orchards or gardens.

Besides offering a wonderful rotation of cooking classes, Haley Farms offers a relaxing spa, nature packages and yoga retreats.  It is no wonder they were awarded Best In the Mid-Atlantic in 2009/10 by Bed and Breakfast.

Kam is the cooking instructor at Haley Farms.  She is dedicated to offering eclectic learning opportunities including removing the mystery of cooking ethnic cuisine and learning how to make nutritious food that tastes great.  Her daughter is earning a M.S. in Nutrition and Haley Farms plans to offer nutrition boot camps in the future, complete with Kam’s already popular healthy cooking classes.

In Kam’s own words, “We started with ethnic food and things we make at B&B. But now I am more into nutrition and vegetarian food, with an emphasis on delicious. My motto is life is too short to eat bad food but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. I am so disappointed when I go to a good restaurant and have to contend with mediocre food at hefty prices. I love food and want everyone to be able to enjoy delicious food at affordable prices.”  Special seasonal classes are also offered such as cookie baking during the holidays or making jams and pickles in the summer.

Classes can easily accommodate up to 10 students, with a cap at 20.  They are provided strictly for on-site guests and are not available for children.

For further information about staying at Haley Farms and all they have to offer, visit them on the web.

Magnolia Springs Bed & Breakfast – Magnolia Springs, AL


Built in 1897, Magnolia Springs is an Alabama State Landmark that offers the true historic southern experience.  Whether you choose to venture to the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, head into town to shop, or if golf is your passion, there is no lack of nearby activities.

Owners David Worthington and Eric Bigelow are passionate about the guest experience.  They provide a romance package for that special occasion, set up hot air balloon rides or just let you rock on the wrap-around porch and enjoy what they have to offer including:

  • Three-course Southern breakfast (think eggs, fried potatoes and biscuits and gravy)
  • Well-stocked refrigerator in the dining room
  • Afternoon teas
  • Evening desserts
  • Nightly turn-down service

The foodie at heart will take special delight in one of their Culinary Class Weekend Packages.  Offered on specific weekends during each calendar year, Chefs and instructors Gannon Leary, David Worthington and Ed Douglas will tempt you with wine tastings and parings hosted at Jesse’s or Gulf Coast Seafood classes and Healthy Brunch classes, both held at the Gulf Coast Culinary Institute.  The beauty of these classes are they are open to the public, so if Magnolia House is booked, you can stay elsewhere and still participate.

Each class will provide food, fun, and unforgettable experiences for 25-30 adults.  An example of one of these culinary weekends might include a Friday night wine and food tasting, a coastal seafood class on Saturday ending with learning to make brunch on Sunday.

For further information about staying at Magnolia Springs, visit them on the web.

Knolle Farm and Ranch Bed, Barn and Breakfast – Sandia, TX


Is there anything Knolle Farm doesn’t do?  Let’s see:  Country inn, working ranch, event center, cooking school…sounds like everything you need for a wonderful weekend.

Situate yourself in the rolling hills of green just a few miles from Corpus Christi and enjoy the hospitality of owner Beth Knolle.  The inn is situated on a historic cattle ranch that has belonged to Beth’s family for more than 5 generations.

After a lazy day of fishing in the river or relaxing by the pool if the thought of driving to a restaurant sounds like a chore, no worries!  Knolle Farms chef, Lawrence Vera, offers full dinner service.

Knolle Farms offers a full rotating menu of cooking classes, held regularly.  Classes are seasonal, where cooking with herbs from their garden might be taught in the spring, and a fall class might be on cooking wild game.  As owner Beth Knolle said, “Classes will vary, ranging from a full weekend of feasting, relaxing accommodations and camaraderie, with “hands on” training, to shorter, “social hour” culinary demonstrations or Sunday brunch classes. We will even prepare chuck wagon breakfasts or camp-cooking, gourmet-style for those who want to include Mother Nature in their culinary experience. All classes include food tasting, and most culminate in a fine dining experience, fully enjoying the “fruits of the labor”” Anywhere from 4-20 students can learn in the outdoor kitchen while a smaller number can be accommodated in the main kitchen.

An example of a perfect gastronome weekend might include a Friday night cocktail hour, Saturday afternoon with Chef Vera learning how to cook a gourmet dinner followed by a Sunday brunch class.  Classes can be custom designed for your group or you can join a scheduled class pre-planned by Beth and Chef Vera.  Whichever you choose, they will do their best to meet your needs and help you expand your culinary horizons.

Classes are also available to those not staying on the grounds.  Whether a ladies-only Saturday afternoon cooking session, a Friday night corporate team building exercise or the local cooking club wanting to sharpen their skills, a one session cooking class will exceed your expectations.

For further information about staying at Knolle Farm and all they have to offer, visit them on the web.

3 Cooking Retreats Across America

A Guest Writer

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