For visitors looking beyond beignets, the following cooking classes offer opportunities for hands-on insights into New Orleans' rich culinary history.
New Orleans Cooking Experience
Small class sizes and acclaimed instructors help make the New Orleans Cooking Experience a memorable experience. With a maximum class size of 12, four-course meals unfold under the deft hands of big personalities like James Beard Award-winning chef Frank Brigtsen and Poppy Tooker, host of the weekly "Louisiana Eats!" radio program.
Signature dishes include oysters Rockefeller, Madame Begue's stuffed eggs and rum raisin bread pudding. Guests can also enjoy a guided tour of the 19th century, Queen Anne-style home nestled in New Orleans' Lower Garden District that houses the cooking school.
Inclusive rates for classes start at $165 per person, $155 per person for three or more and $150 per person for groups of seven or more. See www.thenoce.com.
Langlois Culinary Crossroads
Participants looking for a more sophisticated approach to Creole and Cajun cooking can consider an evening at this culinary institution named after Madame Langlois, who was the cook for French Louisiana Gov. Bienville in the 18th century and was assigned the daunting task of appeasing the "Petticoat Rebellion," a group of French women who had grown tired of their New World diet.
Small classes encourage hands-on participation where guests help create sophisticated dishes such as New Orleans-style chicken Creole with creamed collard green-stuffed crepes and a ricotta fig tart.
Classes start at $79 per person. Group rates range from $99 to $250 per person (10-person minimum). See www.langloisnola.com.
New Orleans School of Cooking
For those who want to immerse themselves in the heart of the French Quarter, this 34-year-old school housed in an 1830s molasses warehouse is geared toward entertaining and the city's history; in fact, all of the chefs are licensed tour guides.
"The best way to learn the real culture of a region is through its food," said chef instructor Michael DeVidts. Workshops not only explore signature dishes but how they have evolved through the influence of French, Spanish and African cultures.
Menus embrace classics like crawfish etouffee and pralines, and visitors can bring home a taste of the South by visiting the Louisiana General Store, which features products such as spice blends, roux mixes and Cafe du Monde coffee with chicory.
Demonstration classes start at $24 per person; hands-on classes start at $125 per person. Private group classes are available for a minimum of eight students. See www.neworleansschoolofcooking.com.