Margaret (Peg) Kern has been fulfilling her clients’ travel dreams since 2004 when she joined The International Kitchen as a tour coordinator after leaving academia. She and her business partner bought The International Kitchen in 2015 and have expanded the company to include more trips, new destinations, custom itineraries, and a robust food and travel blog.

Raised in a small town in Ohio, Peg always wanted to see the world. She started doing so by heading to New York City for college, where she graduated cum laude from Columbia University. One of the highlights of college for her was a junior year spent in Rome, Italy, studying Italian literature and art at the University of Rome la Sapienza. Her interest in travel blossomed into an intense and enduring love for Italy.

After returning to Rome for a year (and enjoying work in a couple of Roman
eateries), she headed to Chicago for graduate school. Peg received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Italian literature from the University of Chicago, graduating with honors, where she then taught for two years as part of the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities.

By 2004 Peg was ready to leave academia behind to pursue other interests, and when she saw an ad for a boutique tour company that specialized in food-themed tours, she jumped at the chance to the join the team. That company was The International Kitchen, one of the premier providers of culinary vacations and food-themed travel since 1994.

Having lived for several years in Italy during the preceding decade, Peg was particularly keen to introduce travelers to the authentic Italy she knew and loved, but she quickly expanded her areas of expertise to include the rest of Europe, most notably France and Spain. She stepped back from the company for a few years to start a family but came back full force in 2015 when she assumed co-ownership of the business. She has instilled the travel bug in her sons and enjoys traveling with the whole family to check out cooking classes and food tours in destinations around the world.

Peg’s experience in traveling and living in Europe has made her well suited to plan trips for her culinary travelers, and she couples that with years of experience in restaurants and the food service industry. Although her work in the food industry began inauspiciously in high school at the local McDonald’s, she has worked at restaurants and bars in the US and Rome, and worked as a private chef on Long Island.

A consummate foodie, Peg enjoys cooking for her family, entertaining friends at lavish dinner parties, and judging her sons’ home-cooking competitions. Some of her favorite food activities include perfecting her bone broth, making bread from her 30-year old Italian Mother yeast, and exploring the many ethnic cuisines so wonderfully available in Chicago.

Peg’s favorite destination remains Italy, including the regions of Lazio, Sardinia, Campania, Tuscany, Umbria, Sicily, Abruzzo, Lombardy, the Veneto, and Piedmont – to name a few.

Her philosophy when it comes to writing about food and travel is to share what she knows and to explore what she loves.


Posted

January 22, 2021

By Peg Kern

How to Make Gougères, or Savory Choux Pastry

Filed Under  Food History, Kitchen Tips, Recipes, What's Up at TIK

Anyone who bakes has probably at least heard of pâte à choux, or choux pastry, that airy, delicious pastry that is the base for such French treats as eclairs and cream puffs. But you might not have heard of gougères, which is a savory, cheese-infused version of the same type of dough. Learn to make choux pastry on a cooking vacation in France. Choux pastry is one of those baking… Read
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Posted

January 13, 2021

By Peg Kern

Why Molise "Doesn't Exist" and Other Fun Facts about Our Authentic Italy Culinary Tour

Filed Under  Destination Features, Food History, Travel Tips

There's a saying in Italy. "Molise non esiste." Molise doesn't exist. It's a running joke among Italians to pretend Molise doesn't exists due to its small size and relative obscurity, even among Italians. If you ask your average Italian to tell you something about Molise, you shouldn't expect much (if any) information! But it's also a running joke among Molisani, the quirky inhabitants of Molise, who seem to enjoy the… Read
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Posted

January 7, 2021

By Peg Kern

"Thursday, Gnocchi!": All About Our Favorite Italian Dumpling

Filed Under  Destination Features, Food History, Kitchen Tips, Travel Tips

"Giovedì gnocchi, venerdì pesce, sabato trippa." So the saying goes in Rome, that Thursday is gnocchi day, Friday is fish day, and Saturday it's tripe! It's not hard to understand the "venerdì pesce" – this is a Catholic country after all. But why gnocchi on Thursday? I've always heard that it was to load up with a heavier meal the day before the Friday fast, and that it worked well… Read
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Posted

December 30, 2020

By Peg Kern

Things We Learned in 2020

Filed Under  Special Occasions, What's Up at TIK

Well, we are almost there. If you had told us 10 months ago, when the Coronavirus first hit Italy and the rumblings of trouble sounded as shrilly as our phone lines ringing with calls from worried clients, that we would still be working from home, that restaurants would only be open for take-out, that the borders of almost every country would be closed to US travelers... we'd have thought you… Read
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Posted

December 23, 2020

By Peg Kern

10 Holiday Recipes You'll Love

Filed Under  Special Occasions, What's Up at TIK

We just finished our 10 Days of Holiday Recipes on social media and thought we'd recap them here for easy reference! We hope they help make your holidays brighter, or at least more delicious. We also hope you caught our special holiday thank you to all our travelers: Whether you're looking for something savory or sweet, we've complied some of our favorites for you to enjoy! 10 Holiday Recipes 1.… Read
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Posted

December 17, 2020

By Peg Kern

All About Butter & How to Make Hollandaise Sauce

Filed Under  Food History, Kitchen Tips, Recipes

Butter. Yes, butter. Today we're all about butter, and it's not because it's national butter day (evidently that is October 25th–who knew?), nor because we've accidentally over-whipped the cream and ended up with it by accident (yes, that has happened). So why butter? Butter is one of the most versatile of ingredients. It is part of the magic that goes into such dissimilar things as flaky puff pastry and creamy… Read
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Posted

December 10, 2020

By Peg Kern

Holiday Appetizers: Antipasti, Tapas, and Hors d'Oeuvres, Plus a Recipe

Filed Under  Food History, Recipes, Special Occasions, What's Up at TIK

As we approach the holidays, one thing everyone seems to be looking for are appetizer recipes. Whether for a sit-down meal or as a spread of munchies to sustain you through the day, there is no doubt that appetizers are a big part of holiday meal planning. And certainly at The International Kitchen when we get together for holiday parties, potlucks, or birthday celebrations, appetizers are always a key part… Read
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Posted

December 4, 2020

By Peg Kern

Béchamel, The Mother Sauce

Filed Under  Food History, Kitchen Tips, Recipes

I first encountered béchamel sauce, or besciamella in Italian, when I lived in Italy during my university days and was taught by my Italian boyfriend's mother to make lasagna, or "pasta al forno" as it is called there. Yes, lasagna! In Italy lasagna (or lasagne, adopting the plural form), is not piled with ricotta and mozzarella, it is, rather, a delightful concoction of thinly rolled, flat egg noodles sandwiched between… Read
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Posted

November 23, 2020

By Peg Kern

Celebrating Thanksgiving with Three Sisters...Even If Your Family Is Far Away

Filed Under  Destination Features, Food History, Special Occasions

This Thanksgiving is likely to be one of the least traditional for many U.S. families. Instead of gathering in large groups for a traditional turkey dinner, most of us will be celebrating in small family units. Many people will be missing from our family table this year, but there are still three sisters I can celebrate with! And their names are.... corn, beans, and squash? Our family, like many others,… Read
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Posted

November 19, 2020

By Peg Kern

Decadent Brownie Sundaes with Hot Fudge Sauce

Filed Under  Kitchen Tips, Recipes

A good brownie sundae has been one of my favorite desserts since childhood. I remember going to Friendly's with my father and ordering it every time. This version uses homemade ice cream, but you could use store bought as well. That being said, it's perhaps the simplest ice cream you can imagine – it doesn't even require any cooking! The fudge sauce recipe makes 3 cups. I usually divide it… Read
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