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! Karen Herbst, founder of The International Kitchen, answers some of our most frequently asked questions. This Q&A features common questions from clients about everything from booking your trip to how we can help plan your stay overseas. Don't see your question? Contact us at (312) 467-0560 or

About The International Kitchen
Booking a Trip
Once You Get There
Before & After the Cooking Vacation
Miscellaneous: Tipping, Insurance, Etc.


Q: Why The International Kitchen?
A: In 1994, we pretty much started the field of culinary travel. While there were some individual cooking programs, we were the first to start broadly marketing different regions and countries.
We also come from a background of travel, and although these trips are focused on cooking classes, they are first and foremost a travel trip and need the experience and expertise of a staff with the necessary knowledge to provide a "seamless" trip.

Cooking with ClaudioQ: Do you have an office or are you a "home based" company?
A: Our main office is in Chicago and we also have an office in Florence, Italy. We are a fully professional company, with a full time staff, 24/7 coverage and incredible customer service. We are recognized and recommended by the Italian, French and Spanish government tourist offices and have received a number of awards and accolades. Return to top.


A Culinary Adventure in UmbriaQ: How many people do you take on any trip?
A: The size of the group is primarily dependent on the size of the lodging and the kitchen for the cooking classes, but will never exceed 12 unless it is a private group. VERY IMPORTANT: WE CAN CONFIRM AND GUARANTEE FOR AS FEW AS TWO PEOPLE WITH ALL THE SERVICES.

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 a shorter version of the program. Generally, it would be the first 3 or 4 nights of the 6 night program and the price would be adjusted.

Q: Can I book my class or program over the telephone?
A: No. You will have to access the Booking Form for either a class or a full program, fill out and submit electronically.

Q: How long do I have to wait for confirmation of my booking form?
A: With very few exceptions, we would have confirmation within 24-48 hours.

A Culinary Adventure at Le Calabash Cooking SchoolQ: I am traveling alone. Do you arrange for roommates or do I have to pay the single supplement?
A: We can always try to find a roommate, but we advise that you confirm based upon paying the single supplement.

Q: If I have a food allergy or diet restrictions can those be accommodated?
A: We would need to know specifically what your allergies and/or restrictions would be to advise if we can accommodate. Please send us an email at

Q: My traveling companion does not want to cook. What are the options?
A: Many of our programs offer a “non cook” option which means they would partake in everything (meals, excursions, etc.) except the actual cooking classes.

Q: Are your trips all inclusive, or are there hidden costs that we discover once there?
A: Our trips are totally inclusive, sometimes with the exception of a lunch or dinner. We are very explicit in exactly what is included in every trip and what is not. Please refer to the 'what's included' section of each cooking vacation.

Cooking Passport to Provence Q: Do you have programs for vegetarians?
A: We do not have any programs specifically for vegetarians, but many of them are suitable. We can tell you to which programs we would refer you.

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. Many people have been disappointed when they have waited to book and then discovered the date was sold out. Return to top.


Delectable Portugal 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 does the cooking classes?
A: Again, that will vary depending upon the program. Most times it is a professional chef, but sometimes it can be a “nonna,” a local caterer, or just a very good cook who is also good at teaching.

Q: What will we make in the classes?
A: The format of the classes also depends on the specific program. Most of the time, each class will be the preparation of a complete meal, but, sometimes, each class will focus on one course.

Seaside Cooking in Portugal Q: Do we eat what we cook?
A: You certainly do! And, don’t worry, if you didn’t do so well, there is always plenty of food. And, with few exceptions, very good quality local wine is included with all meals.

Q: Does everyone speak English?
A: Yes, everyone at our programs speaks English. Occasionally we have a chef or teacher whose English is limited in which case we will have a translator.

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 program and we can recommend one according to the type of housing you would like. EVERY option has en-suite private bathrooms!

Cook Under the Tuscan Sun 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. All excursions in an itinerary are included, as well as the transportation for the excursions. It has been our experience that one ½ 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 shoes, since you will be on your feet a good part of the time. 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. Return to top.


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 assist. We have very competitive pricing at many boutique hotels (we don’t work with the big hotel chains) and have relationships with wonderful guides in most major cities. We can also assist with car rentals.

Q: What about museum tickets? Should we buy those in advance?
A: It is always a good idea to purchase tickets in advance, particularly during the months from May to September. In many cases we can assist with the purchase of tickets. Return to top.


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.

Q: Why are your payments non refundable and non applicable?

Cooking in Andalusian Olive Country A: We offer top quality programs for as few as two (2) people and to do so we guarantee our partners payment, even if there is a cancellation. Almost all of our partners are small businesses who cannot recoup the loss if a client cancels and we do not pay them. That is why our payments are non refundable and non applicable in almost all cases.

Q: Why do I need travel insurance?
A: The cost of travel insurance is a relatively small amount to cover a sizable investment. With almost all companies, if insurance is purchased within 21 days of the initial payment, it covers any pre-existing conditions in you and/or family members. We always assist with the collection of the payment when a claim is made.

If we have not answered any question you may have, please let us know!
Call us at 800-945-8606 or write us at

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