Learning Vacation

Kitchen confidential

For travelers who want not only to eat a fabulous meal but to cook it too, the Wheatleigh hotel in Lenox, Massachusetts, is putting guests behind the range with its year-old Culinary Experience courses, including The Secrets of Regional French Cuisine, Elegant Entertaining, and the Path of Wine. During the Cheese Lovers' Experience, we visited the award-winning Old Chatham Sheepherding Company, donning whites and hair nets to make Mutton Buttons, skimming freshly made ricotta from the vat, and touring the high-tech facilities (which our group dubbed The Science of the Lambs). Lunch was a cheese-tasting menu paired with several wines from the hotel's terrific cellar, followed by a visit to the sheep stables to watch a feeding frenzy. After a massage back at the 19th-century Italianate hotel, we spent the next day in the kitchen with executive chef J. Bryce Whittlesey, who shared some of the techniques he perfected working in Michelin-starred kitchens. With varying degrees of success, we all tried our hand at—and then feasted on—pheasant in a salt crust, Old Chatham Camembert soufflé nestled in an artichoke heart, and a triple-cream tart. Classes, $195 per day; room rates, $475-$1,550; 413-637-0610; www.wheatleigh.com.

Hotel prices show high-season rates from the least expensive double to the most expensive suite.