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 almost 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.
When founder Irma Laghadze invited me to experience her masterclass in Tbilisi (and a second class a few weeks later in Kutaisi), I was deeply impressed. There are three things that 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 Georgian Flavors’ kitchen garden in Avchala. It’s paradise – you simply won’t find a better setting anywhere in the city.
- 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: 51 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.
Assisted by her colleagues and childhood friends, Irma offers food tours and food masterclasses for independent travellers and small groups. Her Tbilisi classes run for 3-4 hours and include transfers by private car from Freedom Square to Georgian Flavors HQ in Avchala, around 20 minutes by road from the Old Town.
Irma designs a special menu for each of her guests, usually consisting of 4-5 dishes. 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 a masterclass with Irma and her colleague, Teona, this autumn. Our home-cooked meal exceeded all my expectations, but honestly I think it’s the setting that makes this cooking class unforgettable.
Avchala is a leafy district on the northern side of Tbilisi, close to Mtskheta. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the area was known for its small guesthouses and duqans (taverns). In Soviet times it became more industrial, but even today it’s a leafy, fresh contrast to the city centre.
The kitchen is located inside Teona’s family home. Her great-grandparents grew herbs on this plot to sell at the market, and their legacy can be seen in the family’s sprawling vegetable gardens and small trout farm (the noise of cascading water is lovely!).
Teona and Irma have built a gorgeous greenhouse for winter dining plus a summer terrace, with a big wooden dining table set under an arbour – both built by Teona’s father.
The purpose-built kitchen is a light-filled building with a huge bench and plenty of room to move around.
On the menu
Knowing that I had recently moved to Kutaisi, Irma and Teona were 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.
I must admit that I didn’t do much of the cooking: I was mostly looking on and taking photos while Irma and Teona did all the heavy lifting. I loved watching them work together in the kitchen, grinding walnuts the old-fashioned way and mixing spices with a pestle and mortar.
Lunch under the arbour
When everything was ready, we sat together outside and enjoyed our meal with a bottle of Georgian wine, finished with a simple dessert of baked quince with cream.
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 individual travellers or small groups. Transfers to and from the venue by private car are included.
Irma is soon to launch the Georgian Flavors website; until then, you can contact her directly through Instagram or on WhatsApp to make a booking.
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