A table covered in food in Abruzzo

Nine of the best creative courses for foodies

Whether you want to improve your food styling or photography skills or take a food tour of Ukraine, here are nine of the top trips every foodie should take

Looking for creative courses? Read our guide to the best creative courses for foodies, from food tours of Ukraine, to food photography in Ireland and cookery courses in France

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Ukraine

Award-winning cookbook author, stylist and chef, Olia Hercules, returns to her home country in 2018, taking participants on a food tour of Ukraine’s lesser-known food spots. A chance to meet locals, learn from traditional producers, cook over campfires and watch Olia making some of the favourite dishes she grew up on – from Ukrainian dumplings to her grandma’s ferments – as well as recipes from her award-winning cookbook, Mamushka – the trips will also cover cooking, writing and photography tips along the way. Organised by Experience Ukraine, which runs small, socially responsible tours, you’ll have a truly local experience, with accommodation at local guesthouses, trips to local producers, and all food and travel within the country included in the price.

5 – 12 June 2018; experienceukraine.co.uk

A tabletop covered in dumpling with a hand holding a dumpling closer to the camera and a tea towel in the background
Credit: Joe Woodhouse

Abruzzo

Learn the art of visual storytelling at this food photography and styling retreat, based in a medieval village in the Italian region of Abruzzo. You’ll learn how to style food scenes, work on image composition and post-editing and how to use social media, all while exploring local food and hunting for prized truffles. There’s plenty of time for cooking, eating, group discussions, and even cocktail-making using local botanicals, with lots of room for developing new skills and advice on how to make a living from food and photography.

7 – 11 May 2018; mmforsberg.bigcartel.com

Credit: Marte Marie Forsberg
Credit: Marte Marie Forsberg

Sardinia

Photography specialists Frui have introduced a one-week photography holiday in Sardinia that includes a dedicated food photography workshop. During excursions to the olive groves of S’Ortu Mannu national park, the ancient town of Iglesias with its cobbled alleys and Calasetta, peppered with traditional blue and white fishermen’s houses, food is very much a focus. Sardinian specialities are savoured along the way and there’s time to enjoy lunch at a famous fish restaurant as well as a masterclass in Sardinian ravioli and a visit to a farm to see local cheese being made. For many guests the highlight will be that food photography workshop, however. That and the chance to tuck into the dishes you’ve photographed after the shoot.

23 –29 May 2018; frui.co.uk


Scotland

Food and travel expert Carolyn Caldicott and her husband Chris, a photographer, are hosting a Food Forage Foto retreat in the wilds of the Scottish Highlands this summer. Based at Alladale, a 23,000-acre estate 90 minutes’ drive north of Inverness, participants will spend seven days enjoying moonlit walks, seafood picnics, fishing for trout, learning how to butcher venison and heading out on dawn photo safaris. Food and accommodation are included and, as you might expect, there’s plenty of the former; highlights include a gin- and whisky-pairing with Scottish tapas, and a feast around the firepit on midsummer’s evening with hot toddies to end.

17 – 23 June 2018; alladale.com

Aladale Scotland

Sicily

Hone your food- and wine-writing skills at this five-day workshop in Sicily, led by acclaimed food writers Erica Berry and Rachel Roddy. Set on a remote 19th-century wine estate (home to the farm-to-table cooking school, Anna Tasca Lanza) the course will immerse students in Sicilian cooking, wine and culture – perfect inspiration for a week of writing workshops, guided reading, ‘tasting’ exercises and group discussions. Students will get to explore the local vineyards, visit local shepherd and cheese makers and forage for wild ingredients, all while learning new kitchen techniques and perfecting your prose.

2 – 7 July 2018; annatascalanza.com

Lavender bushes in Sicily
Credit: Rachel Roddy

Burgundy

One for wine-lovers, this five-day retreat at The Cook’s Atelier in east-central France covers both wine-tasting and cooking. You’ll visit local French markets and wine cellars, meet artisan producers, take part in hands-on workshops and learn the basics of proper French cooking, from butchery to classic sauces to pastry-making, and the essentials of a true French larder. Led by mother-daughter duo, Marjorie Taylor and Kendall Smith Franchini, this garden-to-table cooking school also houses a wine shop and small-production vintages are carefully paired with every meal (as are lessons on how to demystify terroir and understand flavour).

Multiple dates in 2018; thecooksatelier.com

A table covered in bowls filled with honey and spices in France
Credit: Anson Smart

Ireland

Imen McDonnell, of the popular Farmette food blog, and Cliodhna Prendergast, a chef, writer and producer, launched Lens & Larder retreats in Ireland in 2014. The idea was to combine their joint passions – food, film and storytelling – and past events have included a one-day seminar on magazine food styling at Ballynahinch Castle in Connemara with Susan Spungen who styled the food for the film Julia & Julia, and New York photographers Gentl & Hyers. Earlier this year Lens & Larder ran a three-day Forest to Sea Odyssey, a foraging and photography retreat with food blogger Mimi Thorisson and her Icelandic photographer husband Oddur. Their next retreat will take place in February, also in the wilds of Connemara with US photographer Bill Phelps.

25 – 28 February 2018; lensandlarder.com


Portugal

At this five-day creative retreat in Portugal’s Alentejo region you’ll visit the studios of local makers, take part in cooking classes, head out on market visits with local chefs, visit olive oil producers, local vineyards and farms, and get creative with hands-on workshops that range from bread-making to ceramics. There’s also the chance to sharpen your food photography skills. The retreats are organised by Olaiya Land, from acclaimed food and travel blog Millie’s Kitchen; if you can’t make her longer Portuguese trip, she also runs regular food photography and food styling weekends in Paris and Lisbon.

Autumn 2018; millys-kitchen.com

A white house in Portugal with blue doors, blue windows and greenery growing up the house
Credit: Olaiya Land

Japan

Slow down and unwind with L | M Retreats whose food, photography and travel experiences are aimed at inspiring and rejuvenating creatives and foodies. Hosted by Beth Kirby, author of award-winning lifestyle blog, Local Milk, and writer Matt Ludwikowski, this husband-and-wife duo steer the focus away from social media and blogging towards a slower approach to travelling. An experience-based rather than class-based retreat, guests are immersed in local cultures, aided by a team of chefs, makers, visual storytellers and writers who each share their passions for living creatively. Their 2018 retreats will include a five-day retreat to Japan (dates still to be confirmed).

Dates TBC in 2018; localmilkretreats.com

A road in Japan lined with trees and tea lights on the road
Credit: Beth Kirby

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Written by Lucy Gillmore and Malou Herkes