Searching for the best Georgian cooking class in Tbilisi? Here’s everything you need to know before you sign up for a Tbilisi cooking class with my favourite boutique culinary school, Georgian Flavors.
Like so many visitors to Georgia, I was only part-way through my first lunch when I gave a piece of my soul to the country’s cuisine.
Even now, having lived in Georgia for more than two years, I’m constantly surprised by the unexpected flavour combinations, regional contrasts and seasonal twists.
Georgian food and wine is so intertwined with history and identity, it’s the best gateway I know of for first-timers to gain a deeper understanding of the culture. While eating at Tbilisi’s best restaurants and experiencing regional cuisine when you travel around the country are both terrific, nothing beats a hands-on experience.
Founder Irma Laghadze partners with other women food-entrepreneurs around Georgia to offer three experiences: Masterclasses at her Kitchen Corner in the centre of Tbilisi; organic farm-to-table cooking classes at a farm in Kakheti; and Khachapuri masterclasses outside Kutaisi in Imereti.
Irma invited me to experience her classes in Tbilisi and Kutaisi, and I was deeply impressed. There are three things that I think make Georgian Flavors special…
- The host: Irma is a true food guru and extremely passionate about her country’s cuisine. She’s the perfect chaperone for a Georgian food odyssey.
- The venue: In Tbilisi, cooking classes take place in Irma’s home kitchen in Vake district. It’s intimate and very authentic. In Kutaisi and Kakheti, Irma hosts classes in rural houses so you get a true ‘village’ experience.
- The menu: Irma focuses on seasonal produce and regional dishes to open your mind beyond Khachapuri and Khinkali (although you can cook the classics if you want!). The menu is 100% customisable and can be tailored to any food preference or dietary requirement.
In this post, I’ll share my personal experience cooking with Georgian Flavors and tell you why I think you should include a Tbilisi cooking class in your travel itinerary.
Please note: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you). Learn more.
Transparency: I was hosted by Georgian Flavors in Tbilisi and Kutaisi. As always, all recommendations, opinions and criticisms are 100% my own.
Also read: 52 unforgettable things to do in Tbilisi.
About Georgian Flavors
Georgian Flavors founder, Irma Laghadze, is an avid home cook who learned by osmosis from her mother, grandmothers and aunts when she was growing up in Kutaisi. Later, she worked as a guide and photographer, devoting six years of her career to developing culinary and wine tourism in Georgia.
When the pandemic hit, Irma enrolled in a cooking school in Tbilisi and completed a 10-month intensive course. Combining her life-long passion for food, experience from guiding and technical know-how from training, she decided to set up her own small culinary tourism company in 2021.
Irma offers food tours and food masterclasses for independent travellers and small groups. Her Tbilisi classes run for 3-4 hours and are hosted at her cosy home kitchen in Vake district.
Irma designs a special three-course menu for each of her guests. She caters to vegetarians and vegans, and can tweak the menu to accommodate just about any special request.
You can cook whatever you want, including the classics Khinkali, Khachapuri and eggplant with walnut – or you can leave it up to Irma to come up with something special.
During the class, you’ll learn new skills and Georgian recipes. But it’s as much about the history and stories behind the dishes as anything. More than that, Irma is such a warm and good humoured person, it’s a lot of fun and a privilege to just spend time with her.
My Tbilisi cooking class experience
I was invited to join two masterclasses with Irma last fall and again this spring. Our home-cooked meals exceeded all my expectations, but honestly I think it’s Irma’s hospitality that makes this an unforgettable experience.
First time around, knowing that I had recently moved to Kutaisi, Irma was keen for me to try a couple of typical Imeretian dishes. During my class, we made a sweet and sour beetroot starter, a warm green tomato dish, and several sides including mchadi cornbread.
Our main meal, an autumn beef and pork stew, is a Kutaisi tradition that originated with the city’s Jewish community. Usually made with duck or goose, it’s a rich stew with slow-cooked onions, spices and pomegranate molasses. This is not a meal you’ll find on any restaurant menu: It’s a recipe Irma remembers from her childhood. I have never eaten anything like it before.
When we met for another cooking class in spring, Irma made one of my favourite dishes, chicken Shkmeruli. I’ve eaten this dish (too) many times before, but Irma’s homemade rendition was next level delicious. She pre-roasted the garlic for the sauce to make it sweet and sticky, and blended in some of her homemade spicy Adjika.
We also prepared a fresh salad of strawberries and zucchini croquettes with matsoni yogurt sauce.
I must admit that I didn’t do much of the cooking: I was mostly looking on and taking photos while Irma did all the heavy lifting. I loved watching her work in the kitchen, grinding walnuts the old-fashioned way and mixing spices with a pestle and mortar.
When everything was ready, we sat together at Irma’s dining table and enjoyed our meal with a bottle of Georgian wine, followed by simple dessert.
Village cooking classes in Kutaisi & Kakheti
Irma travels frequently and can also organise regional masterclasses in Kakheti and in Imereti. Cooking in the village is a totally different experience again.
For my second class, we drove together to Baghdati, south of Kutaisi. Our venue this time was a typical village house and our host was Daji Bebo (‘Grandma Daji’), the mother of Irma’s childhood friend.
Daji is an absolute force of nature and blew me away with her skills and her strength, pulling red-hot ketsi clay pans from the fireplace and using them as miniature ovens to cook individual servings of cornbread, Khachapuri Imeruli and village chicken. I’d never seen this technique before; it was quite something.
At the end of the day we enjoyed a huge Supra feast along with two jugs of homemade wine and a lot of toasting.
Watch my Georgian cooking class video
Here are some highlights from our afternoon cooking with Daji Bebo in Imereti.
How to book a cooking class with Georgian Flavors
Cooking classes in Tbilisi and the regions can be organised on request for solo travellers or small groups. Irma’s Kitchen Corner in Vake comfortably accommodates up to 4-5 people, while the village classes are suitable for larger groups. Families are welcome, and remember that Irma is more than happy to cater to vegetarians or accommodate other special dietary requirements.
For the Khachapuri Masterclass, transport to the village from Kutaisi is included. If you opt for the farm-to-table class in Kakheti, transport to and from Tbilisi is included. The Vake kitchen is very central and easy to reach by bus or foot from the centre of the city.
Prices start from 100 EUR and bookings can be made directly through Irma’s website: Georgian Flavors.
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