The company has also launched a contest to find the world’s best home cooks—and the winners get a free trip to Italy with David Chang and his mom. 

By Bridget Hallinan
November 25, 2019
Courtesy of Airbnb

As its food and drink-themed experiences grow evermore popular—up 160 percent since 2018—Airbnb is launching “Cooking,” a new category that allows users to book cooking classes taught by locals around the world.

It’s not the first time Airbnb has offered cooking classes. Back in 2016, Airbnb went beyond lodging and launched Airbnb Experiences for travelers, including everything from an architecture tour through Manhattan to “Lisbon’s Best Flavors.” But this dedicated new "Cooking" category will focus on family-style spaces and settings, according to the company. You can make Soba noodles in a Tokyo home; or, perfect the art of cream puffs in a bakery in Montmartre.

The experiences are hosted by farmers, families, cooks, and more, with a few limited-time-only offers with “local celebrities,” too. You can cook lunch with Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith the U.K., and take a four-hour Maize Workshop in Mexico City with chef Enrique Olvera. In total, there are 3,000 recipes from 75-plus countries. Each was vetted against guidelines set by Slow Food.

To celebrate "Cooking", Airbnb just launched a contest that searches for the best home cooks around the world. The top 100 applicants will be whisked away on a free trip to Slow Food’s University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy, where they’ll study alongside culinary experts and chefs including David Chang and his mom, Sherri.

There will be workshops, tastings, field visits, and lessons from on-site professors—plus, four courses, limited to 25 spots each, with dates starting on June 15, June 22, June 29, and July 6. One of those courses will be taught by Chang and his mother, while Airbnb confirmed another will be taught by Nonna Nerina (shown below), one of the most-booked hosts on the platform. The applicants will work to refine their family recipes, which will be included in an Airbnb cookbook scheduled to launch in 2020.

Courtesy of Airbnb

Chang told Food & Wine he’s really looking forward to cooking with his mom in Italy—and getting some of her recipes, since she’s never shared them with him and he’s had to reverse-engineer some of his favorites as a result. He plans on exploring with the students how Italian and Korean food might not appear to have many similarities on paper, but, given a closer look, have a lot of overlap. 

“What travel and cooking allows us to do is to break down barriers and to see how very similar we all are around the world,” Chang says. 

He’s also excited to learn from the home cooks. “I think in the culinary world, professionally speaking, we’re all working off the same template,” he says. “I get inspiration now from the most unlikely of places, and I think that’s home-cooking. It’s something that I’ve been doing a lot more of since I’m a new father. Very simply, it’s made me think about food in a different way. It’s not just about nourishing, it’s about looking at things in a fresh perspective.” 

To enter yourself or nominate a home cook you think is deserving, you can submit a personal essay to Airbnb.com/cooking on your nominee’s love for cooking and their best family recipe. Entry closes on at 11:59 p.m. EST on December 23, and the 100 winners will be announced one month later on January 23.

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