For those for whom the culinary components of a vacation are more than just a garnish, there has never been a better time to take off on a tasty trip. There's a bounty of cookery schools offering every type of cuisine, from aristocratic to street eats, plus a smorgasbord of culinary tours for those who prefer fork-on to hands-on holidays. The classic holy grails of haute cuisine — Paris, San Francisco, New York, Tokyo and Tuscany — have been joined by a delicious drove of bright new contenders, from Berlin to Bogota, and if you forage ever further, you'll find some fine food vacations hidden away in unexpected destinations, from Nova Scotia to Tasmania.
If you want to really get to grips with a particular cuisine, there are plenty of cooking schools with impressive chops, from the 40 campuses of Le Cordon Bleu to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, but for those who prefer their learning or lunching to have an LGBT flavour, tuck into these 10 tasty options.
1 Trout Point Lodge Cooking & Wine School, East Kemptville, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia, Canada
Trout Point Lodge is a luxurious sanctuary in the wilderness far beyond the reach of cellphone signals, but it’s right up to the moment when it comes to culinary trends and techniques. It’s a luxury eco-resort with a renowned cooking school attached that focuses on Cajun, Creole and Acadian flavours and includes cheese appreciation, hot and cold smoking, wine pairing and seafood cookery. The dynamic gay trio responsible for bringing Cajun spice back to Acadia is made up of two Louisianans and an Oregonian, authors of the book The Trout Point Lodge Cookbook: Creole Cuisine from New Orleans to Nova Scotia.
2 Los Dos Cooking School, Mérida, Yucatan, Mexico
In gorgeous colonial Mérida, American expat David Sterling offers a tempting array of courses and classes, from tastings to one-day workshops to all-inclusive, week-long culinary packages at Los Dos. The atmospheric workshops start with a shopping trip to the local Lucas de Gálvez market for ingredients such as achiote and epazote before returning to Chef Sterling's cheerful kitchen to make Yucatecan classics such as cochinita pibil and pescado en tikin-xik. Longer workshops include side trips to area artisans to stock up on local rum, honey and fried pork rinds.
3 Flavours of Siam and Tastes of Thailand, Laos, Thailand and China
Pioneering LGBT Asian tour operators Purple Dragon run half a dozen food-focused tours, from half-day dumpling demonstrations with lunch in Beijing's Hutong districts to hands-on, three-day workshops in Thailand's Chiang Mai or at a beach school in Phuket. You can also cook up a storm in Luang Prabang, Laos and Guilin, China. For those who have an insatiable appetite for gourmet goings-on but are happy to let other hands do the julienning, sauteeing and fricasseeing, Purple Dragon offers a broad range of gastro safaris
4 Over the Rainbow Cape Culinary Tour, Cape Town, South Africa
Specializing in gay day trips from Cape Town, Friends of Dorothy Tours offers an edible introduction to South Africa's sexiest city, with a customized food tour that includes Afrikaner eats in a private home in historic Bo-Kaap, a local-style meal on the Cape Flats and a traditional African meal as finale.
5 Food and Wine Tour of Tasmania, Australia
Rainbow Tourism's tour of up-and-coming gastro-destination Tasmania offers a combination of outdoor activities with a food-and-wine tour of the east coast of this rugged Australian island. The company also offers a popular Gourmet Trail hiking tour along Tasmania's Cradle Mountain and west coast.
6 Mendoza Culinary Experience, Argentina
Buenos Aires Gay Travel organizes a four-day, three-night tour based out of Chacras de Coria in the heart of Mendoza wine country, with visits to vineyards and an itinerary that includes the area's top eateries.
7 Culinary Cruise in Italy, France and Spain
Lesbian travel company Olivia offers a duo of delectable culinary cruises: the Culinary Cruise in Italy, France and Spain (July 20–27, 2014) and the mouthwatering Mayan Caribbean Culinary Cruise (Nov 23–30, 2014). Celebrity lesbian chefs helm the grills in on-board demonstrations and evening tasting menus tickle the taste buds.
8 Pink Iceland
The LGBT-owned and operated Pink Iceland has put together customized culinary day tours of their unique island, whether for a couple or a whole crew. They can arrange for you to sample the best restaurants, try such local delicacies as pickled herring or, for the very adventurous, rotting shark, and even cook your own breakfast in a hot spring at Hveragerði.
9 Three Perfect Days in Wine Country, Sonoma, California, USA
A long weekend in wine country, Out in the Vineyard's three-day tour of Sonoma and Napa has tastings, meetings with winemakers, winery visits and dinners at gay couples' private estates. They also offer a six-day Insider Wine Country tour that visits Sonoma, Carneros and Healdsbur.
10 Gay Heritage Tour of the West Village, New York City, USA
And, finally, for those who want to combine their intake of enticing edibles with a slice of LGBT history, Manhattan Walking Tour offers a Gay Heritage tour of Chelsea and the West Village that's as much about food as it is about famous events and sights. From hidden teashops to the best taco stops, this is heritage at its most palatable.