Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach wound up being destinations that made my tummy extremely happy. I spent my time on this little island eating to my heart’s content. I always typically try to explore the local food scene when I am traveling, partially because I have to pay extra attention to what goes into my mouth and partially because I truly enjoy food. It was a no-brainer decision for me when I discovered I could take a cooking class on Amelia Island.
Read more about the Amelia Island restaurants here.
The Amelia Island Culinary Academy has a wide range of offerings for those interested in exploring the culinary side of Amelia Island. Class and tour offerings include Parisian, Lowcountry cuisine, Gluten-free Asian, Dessert, Seafood and the tour/class combo that I chose, The Farmer’s Market.
Each tour and class is led by the extremely talented, Chef Bill Thompson.
Cooking Class on Amelia Island, Florida
With experience as a Professional Chef with the Ritz-Carlton, Chef Bill also has 7 years of experience teaching professional culinary arts. My theory? If he could teach Chefs to cook, he could probably teach me a thing or two.
I’ve never actually taken a cooking class in the States so I was excited to see what I could learn when language and ingredient barriers weren’t in the way.
The tour and following class took place for two hours on a beautiful, sunny and bright Saturday morning from 10 am to 12 pm.
We met at the Academy and were led through the streets of Fernandina Beach towards the Farmer’s Market. The group was small, around 8 people, which gave it a much more personal experience than I expected. This let us have the opportunity to crowd around a vendor and let the Chef explain different veggies and ingredients.
He seemed to know everyone and easily strolled around picking up ingredients for our class. He chatted to us about micro greens and spices and how to tell when certain veggies were ripe. I kept getting distracted with all of the amazing local vendors at the market and missing some valuable piece of info from Chef Bill.
Pro Tip: Pay attention to Chef Bill! Every little snippet is useful!
A little about the Fernandina Beach Farmer’s Market:
This little market is held every Saturday from 9-1pm on North 7th Street. The market is a great place for farm-to-table foodies because it features around 50 local vendors ranging from farmers to growers to local entrepreneurs. Vendors ranged from a micro greens grower to a pierogi hut to a Vietnamese egg roll stand.
I even found a gluten-free baked goods vendor at the market. Something Good Bakery only sells their products at the markets every Saturday. They offer an assortment of breads and muffins like Banana Bread, Zucchini, Pumpkin, Lemon, Blueberry or even Cranberry Orange. Since discovering them, I’ve seen on their Facebook page that they often even have some unique offerings each week like cornbread or buttermilk biscuits. If I remember right it was under $5 for a small loaf of bread that was incredibly moist and delicious and fed me easily for 2/3 breakfasts!
I hope they start a retail business soon so I can pick up some more of their delicious loaves even when I am not in Fernandina Beach.
After the farmer’s market, Chef Bill took us back to the Cooking Academy for a wonderful cooking class featuring the fruits and veggies from the market. It was clear that Chef Bill is passionate about the slow-food and farm-to-table movements.
Here was another great place where a small class was great. No one was blocked from any of the chef’s movements. We could all watch him clearly chop, mix or pour every ingredient. Only drawback? In a smaller space, the delicious cooking smells made me so hungry! ha!
One of the fun facts I learned during this class: quinoa has all of the nutrients a human needs to live. That’s wickedly interesting and needs to be capitalized on I think. There I go solving world hunger again….
Chef Bill walked us through the steps of preparing a beautiful salad with quinoa and baby kale, roasted butternut squash, braised apples with blue cheese and balsamic, and even fresh strawberries with a homemade whip cream.
He carefully broke down each step so that even a novice chef could keep up. He even had a funny anecdote every so often to break up the cooking skills lesson. His favorite topic? Complimenting the French… or not… 😉
All of the ingredients were fresh from the market or from local vendors, except for maybe the extremely high-grade olive oil; because if there’s one thing I learned from Rachel Ray, you can’t skimp on your EVOO.
I have been making the homemade dressing he taught us how to make ever since! The extremely basic ingredients including shallots, garlic, dijon and red wine vinegar make it very easy to prepare.
This class and tour was extremely informative, a good laugh at times, and even had some great food at the end. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at this cooking class on Amelia Island!
If you are looking for a unique, food-focused experience and cooking class on Amelia Island, I can’t recommend Chef Bill and the Amelia Island Culinary Academy enough.
Want to see even more from my farmers’ market tour cooking class on Amelia Island? Check out this quick video I put together!
The Amelia Island Culinary Academy
They offer a variety of tours and classes throughout the week. I went on the Farmer’s Market Tour and Class which runs for 2 hours from 10 am to 12 pm and costs $40. Book your tickets in advance on their website as tours often sell out because they are nice and small!
Thank you to Amelia Island Culinary Academy for hosting me for a tour during my time in Amelia Island . As always, all thoughts are my own.
Need a Place to Stay on Amelia Island?
Seaside Amelia Inn is a charming beach cottage-like hotel right on the beach on Amelia Island. This boutique hotel offers free breakfast, a rooftop sundeck, and an outdoor pool.
The Surf Beach Motel is a great budget option for your stay on Amelia Island. This motel is located just a two-minute walk away from the beach and offers cozy rooms and a ping pong table.
Florida House Inn and Restaurant is a charming BnB that offers 17 individually decorated rooms. Relax on the terrace and take advantage of the free cooked to order breakfast.
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