Give an aspiring chef a present that will last a lifetime: a gift certificate to a top culinary academy. Then reap the rewards.

—Jessica Blatt

California Sushi Academy, Venice, CA
The first U.S. vocational training school for sushi chefs, CSA also offers a three-hour session for amateur cooks ($80; 310-581-0213 or

Calphalon Culinary Center, Chicago, IL
Home cooks will improve their chopping and dicing techniques with one of CCC's Knife Skills classes ($75; 866-780-7799 or

Texas Culinary Academy, Austin, TX
TCA offers classes for nonprofessionals in Mexican cuisine, pasta making and more ($85 and up; 888-553-2433 or

The French Culinary Institute, New York, NY
The weeklong Artisanal Bread Making class covers favorites like focaccia, challah and baguettes ($1,025; 888-FCI-CHEF or