Cooking Vacations and Classes: Q&A With The International Kitchen
The leading provider of cooking vacations since 1994

Q&A With The International Kitchen

You ask, and we answer! Here are answers to some common questions about everything from finding a trip to knowing what to expect while you are there. Don't see your question? Contact us at (312) 467-0560 or info@theinternationalkitchen.com.

Why a cooking vacation?
Why TIK?
How do I decide on a trip and book it?
What can I expect on my trip when I am there?
What if I have to cancel?

Why a cooking vacation?
Q. What’s a cooking vacation? A: It’s a vacation for people who think food is one of the key components of a trip, and who want to learn more about the local culture, people, and gastronomy through sharing intimate and fun cooking experiences and foodie and cultural tours.

Q. What do your trips include? A: Our itineraries generally last between 3 and 7 nights and include accommodations, hands-on cooking classes, gastronomic excursions, cultural tours, wonderful food and drink, and more. We also offer custom trips, “short stops,” one-day classes a la carte, and longer stays. You can see what is included for each of our itineraries by consulting the “What's Included” section. Don’t see anything that suits you? Just give us a call or send us an email.

Why TIK?

Q: Why The International Kitchen?
A: We’re the experts! We have been doing nothing but culinary travel since 1994. So whether you want a private tour or to be part of a group, whether the city or the countryside, whether Europe or Southeast Asia, whether intensive cooking or a casual approach, we have the contacts and experience to plan the trip of your dreams.

Plus, we’re foodies and travel nerds. Just like you, we sit around talking about food and travel all the time – because we love it! We care about your trip and obsess over the details, and we think it shows – we like to think we offer the best customer service around.

Q: Where are you located? 
A: Our main office is in Chicago, right on Michigan Avenue, but we also have an affiliate office in Florence, Italy. Additionally, we have partners around the world who help us provide services for our clients. We are a fully professional company, with a full-time staff and incredible customer service.

Q: How do I know you’re legit? A: We’ve been in business since 1994, and are recognized and recommended by the Italian, French and Spanish government tourist offices and have received a number of awards and accolades. If you’d like to speak with any references, including former travelers, just let us know, we can put you in touch with some.

How do I decide on a trip and book it?

 

Q: You have so many trips, how do I decide? 
A: You can always call or email us and we’d be happy to make suggestions.

Q: How many people do you take on any trip?
A: The minimum is usually 2 (sometimes even 1) – our trips are small and intimate! The maximum depends on the size of the kitchen. A large, specially designed teaching kitchen might be able to handle 12-14 people, but not more (unless we’ve arranged a special itinerary for a self-formed group). If you know you want to be part of a larger group, give us a call and we’ll point you in the right direction. Want something for just the two of you? We can cover that too.

Q: Can I book my class or program over the telephone?
A: Sorry, no. We need you to submit the booking online. If you have any trouble, though, give us a call and we’ll talk you through it. For custom itineraries we’ll send you the link for the form to fill out.

Q: When do I have to pay? A: A deposit is due at time of booking (see the individual trip page for the specific amount) – the charge will not be processed when you check out on line, but once we have confirmation of the services for your trip (usually within 24-48 hours). Final payment is usually due 60 days prior to the trip start date, although there are a few itineraries that require payment earlier (please see the Trip page for your itinerary for details).

Q: Why do I have to pay more to have my own room?
A: Our prices are based on 2 people sharing a room, so most of our itineraries do require a surcharge for you to have your own room. If you want your own room and are traveling on a budget, we can point you to itineraries with low (or no) surcharge.

Q: I am traveling alone. Do you arrange for a roommate, and how to I pick a cooking vacation?
A: As a rule we do not pair up our travelers, so if you are traveling alone you should expect to have your own room (and pay the single occupancy rate). We have some itineraries that are more suitable for solos, and some that do not charge extra for single occupancy – just give us a call and we’ll steer you toward the right trips for you.

Q: If I have a food allergy or diet restrictions can those be accommodated?
A: We can usually accommodate restrictions if we know about them well in advance. This is true for vegetarians, vegans, people who are gluten-free, and for people with food allergies and intolerances. Please send us an email at info@theinternationalkitchen.com to inquire if you have specific restrictions, we will likely steer you toward the trip or trips most able to suit your needs.

We do not recommend people with life-threatening food allergies take our trips, as even with our best efforts we cannot guarantee you will not come into contact with certain allergens.

Q: My traveling companion does not want to cook. What are the options?
A: We encourage everyone to sign up as a cook - it's fun even for those who don't normally like to cook! But some of our itineraries do offer a “non cook” option, which means your companion(s) would partake in everything (meals, excursions, etc.) except the actual cooking classes. Inquire for which trip have this option.

Q: How much in advance should we book our trip?
A: If you have definitely decided on your dates and your trip, you should confirm as soon as you know. Some of our itineraries sell out well in advance.

Q: The program in which I am most interested is offered for 6 nights, but I have only 3 or 4 nights. Can I take a shorter version?
A: In almost all cases we can offer customized versions of our itineraries. We can also combine itineraries, or design one from scratch just for you! Give us a call or send us an email to get started.

Q: Can you plan an entire itinerary if we are doing travel before and/or after our cooking vacation?
A: Yes, we would be most happy to plan your whole trip. We work with many hotels, guides, transportation providers, and more. We can sometimes even help with the airfare. Again, contact us to get started.

What can I expect when I am there?

Q: Are your trips all inclusive? 
A: Some are, some aren’t - it depends on the trip. Most of our trips include everything except perhaps a lunch or dinner. We are very explicit about exactly what is included in every trip and what is not. Please refer to the What's Included section of each cooking vacation.

Q: Are the cooking classes “hands on?” 
A: Absolutely! In the very few instances where they may be demonstration, we explain that very clearly.

Q: Who leads the cooking classes? 
A: Again, that will vary depending upon the itinerary. It might be a professional chef, or a “nonna” (grandmother), a local caterer, or just a very good cook who is also good at teaching. Check the specific trip page for more about the classes for each itinerary.

Q: Does everyone speak English? 
A: Most of our chefs speak English. Occasionally we have a chef or teacher whose English is limited in which case we will have a translator. Our guides and drivers, unless otherwise noted, speak English.

Q: In what kind of places will we stay? Do they have private bathrooms? A: Accommodations can vary from a B&B or a working farm, to a private guesthouse or a very deluxe hotel. It depends on the specific itinerary and we can recommend one according to the type of housing you would like. EVERY option has private bathrooms!

Q: How much time will we spend in the kitchen? Is there free time? Are the excursions included? 
A: Generally, in a week long program there will be 3-4 classes lasting from 2 to 3 1/2 hours each. The vast majority of our itineraries include the excursions and transportation – where they do not that is clearly stated in the What's Included. It has been our experience that 1/2 day to 1 full day of free time is about right.

Q: Do I need to wear anything special for the classes? Do I have to bring an apron? 
A: You don’t need anything special. We suggest comfortable clothes and comfortable, closed-toe shoes. Aprons will be provided for the classes.

Q: If there are any problems during the trip, what would I do? 
A: We give you complete local contact information in case of any problems, and of course you can always contact us while you are traveling.

Q: Should I tip? 
A: Gratuities are not included in our pricing. It is never mandatory, but if you have been pleased with the services, it is always welcome. We are glad to give you some tipping guidelines before your departure.

What if I have to cancel?

Q: Are your deposits non-refundable? A: Yes, you should consider all deposit payments as non-refundable and protect yourself with trip insurance. We offer top quality programs for as few as two (2) people and our partners do need to pay deposits to secure accommodations and services. 

Q: Why do I need travel protection? 
A: The cost of travel protection is a relatively small amount to cover a sizable investment. It can save you thousands of dollars if the unexpected happens. A lot can happen between the time the deposit is made and the trip date that could cause you to have to cancel. Plus, travel protection isn’t just for cancelation – it protects you while you’re traveling as well.

We do NOT recommend you wait to purchase a travel protection plan, as you will only have full coverage if it is purchased within 21 days of your deposit date (for the TravelSelect policy).

Q: Do I need to purchase my travel insurance through you? 
A: Not at all. We’ve worked with TravelEx for many, many years, and we think they offer a great policy at a good price, and we’ve never had problems filing claims with them. But that being said, any reputable travel insurance company can help you protect your investment as well as protect you during your trip.

If we have not answered any question you may have, please let us know!

Call us at 800-945-8606 or write us at info@theinternationalkitchen.com.