Amelia Island Culinary Academy

Learn to cook in paradise. The Amelia Island Culinary Academy offers fun-filled cooking classes in the heart of downtown Fernandina Beach. Head Chef Bill Thompson, Chef with the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and Ritz-Carlton, Tysons-Corner for over 10 years, is a graduate of Johnson and Wales who has taught professional Culinary Arts for over 7 years. Chef Bill promotes Slow-Food and Farm to Table movements.

Recent classes have included gluten-free workshops, Tuscan inspiration (accompanied by homemade Limoncello), French Provencal and Low Country specialties. All classes include take-home recipes, so that you can re-create dishes in your own kitchen. Chef Bill also teaches knife skills.

On Saturdays, join Chef Bill for a lively walk to Fernandina’s Farmer’s Market and back to the Amelia Island Culinary Academy for a cooking class that takes you literally farm to table.  Chef Bill brings out the natural flavors of fresh, locally grown produce with light, delicious dressings and dips. Meet at the Academy: 25 South 3rd Street Saturday mornings rain or shine.  Cost: $40/person

The Academy can host special classes customized to your needs, including anniversaries and birthday parties. A children’s playroom is available adjacent to the main classroom.


  • Key Details
  • Hours of Operation:
  • SAT: 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM



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November 04, 2018

Amazing Hands On Cooking Class

This is the first cooking class I have ever taken, and the experience was nothing short of amazing. I loved the fact that the # of participants is limited so everyone gets an opportunity to prepare the dishes. Chef Bill offers great preparation and cooking tips throughout the class and is very welcoming in fielding questions even from a novice cook. The preparation experience is awesome, but then you get to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor. During this time you are provided the opportunity to engage your fellow class mates and Chef Bill in a relaxed conversation period which is the icing on the cake. With my recipes in hand, I headed out with a much higher degree of confidence and look forward to joining Chef Bill on another culinary adventure.

December 26, 2017

Fun combination of a walking tour, shopping, cooking and a great meal

This is a fun two hour experience that combines island history, tour and tips from the farmers market and tips and cooking philosophy from Chef Bill as he prepares a multi-course lunch for you. This is not a hands on cooking class but one where Chef Bill prepares lunch while instructing you on how to select better ingredients, combine foods more effectively and think about cooking differently. Fun, educational and tasty !

August 16, 2017

Great way to spend an evening!

We enjoyed our evening with Chef Bill as he prepared shrimp three different ways. He is a great chef and conversationalist. The food was amazing and he provided the recipes for us. Reservations are required. Bring your own alcoholic beverages. He only supplies water.

July 02, 2017

Fun and educational from start to finish!

We arrived at 10:30 for the Saturday Market Tour and class. My wife and I plus four delightful women. We all got along very well! Chef Bill provided a history of the town of Fernandina Beach during the short walk (about 6 blocks) to the market. He knows the vendors and their products. We had ample time to buy anything we wanted. He had very wisely been at the market earlier to get what was needed for the class (we didn't have to wait for him to make purchases). After returning to the class room, Chef Bill gave us the recipes for the three things to be prepared. Rice wine vinaigrette, Red pepper vinaigrette and amaretto zabaglione. It was a hot day (95+) so these dressings were light and favorable. The techniques that he showed us and the chemistry made the preparation very informative. Each dressing was prepared with a different salad and the zabaglione was matched with strawberries and black berries. When we were all finished with the eating, he brought out his home made lemon chella ( kept in the freezer). Nice finish to a three hour tour and class. He has a variety of classes and we will sign up for additional ones when we are back in the area. He keeps the classes small and he is easly to understand and answers all questions. Class is informal and therefore lots of fun while still being very educational.

November 15, 2016

I learned so much!

What a great experience. I cannot speak highly enough of Chef Bill! My friend and I attend Chef Bill's pasta making class and I was so pleasantly surprised. Not only did I learn how to make fresh, handmade egg pasta, I learned that it wasn't as difficult as I thought and the payoff was amazing. He showed us proper cutting technique and gave us information about the right ingredients and how to make great food with simplistic dishes. Isn't how funny how simple is often times better than anything else. Chef Bill is also so knowledgeable about Amelia Island's history and economy and it was so interesting to listen and learn not only about the culinary background of the city, but overall how it impacts the culture and the feel for the little town. There are a variety of programs for children and adults and it makes the perfect date night outing! I highly recommend the experience, and you get to taste some pretty amazing dishes!