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

August 3, 2021

By Peg Kern

5 Great Things to Do with Watermelon: The Ultimate Summer Food

Filed Under  Food History, Kitchen Tips, Recipes, Special Occasions

Today is National Watermelon Day, and in honor of one of our favorite summer foods we're featuring five amazing ways to use this summer staple. Of course, the best way to enjoy watermelon might just be the old fashioned way - slice by slice - but we've found a number of ways to jazz it up on a hot summer day. #1 Watermelon Salsa Ingredients: 2 cups watermelon, cut into… Read
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Posted

July 16, 2021

By Peg Kern

Tips for Teaching Children to Cook

Filed Under  Kitchen Tips, What's Up at TIK

It should come as no surprise that food and time in the kitchen are a big part of not only my work life, but my family life as well. I was raised with the whole family around the table at dinner time, TV off, no exceptions. I learned to cook first from my mom and grandma, then from friends, chefs, and experimentation. And while I have worked in restaurants and… Read
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Posted

July 9, 2021

By Peg Kern

Piña Colada Recipe for National Piña Colada Day

Filed Under  Destination Features, Food History, Kitchen Tips, Recipes, Wines & Spirits

Tomorrow, July 10, is national piña colada day, and in honor of it we're all about piña coladas, including an authentic recipe straight from Puerto Rico. Did you know that the piña colada was invented in Puerto Rico? That much is certain, although there is still a lot of debate over who specifically invented it. Most people think it was invented at the Caribe Hilton Hotel in the 1950's, but… Read
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Posted

July 1, 2021

By Peg Kern

Fourth of July Dessert: "Red, White, & Blue" Ricotta with Lavender Syrup and Berries

Filed Under  Kitchen Tips, Recipes, Special Occasions

Fourth of July is one of our favorite holidays. For us, it's the kickoff to deep summer, to pool days, barbecues, and get togethers at the lake. We've written before about amazing recipes and ideas for this classic American holiday, but today we have a new recipe especially for the Fourth of July. Growing up, we had a lot of flag cakes on July 4th. This was because it's my… Read
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Posted

June 16, 2021

By Peg Kern

How to Make Homemade Ricotta & Making Cheese on a Cooking Vacation in Italy

Filed Under  Food History, Kitchen Tips, Recipes

One of our culinary travelers' favorite activities when they participate in our Italy cooking vacations is making cheese. This is not part of every itinerary: it depends on the region and the specific cooking vacation. But many of our culinary tours in Italy include cheese making, or at least a visit to see how cheese is produced. But did you know you can easily replicate the thrill of cheesemaking in… Read
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Posted

June 9, 2021

By Peg Kern

5 Best Things about Our New Flavors of Puerto Rico Culinary Vacation

Filed Under  Destination Features, Travel Tips, What's Up at TIK, Wines & Spirits

We always love expanding our culinary tours into new destinations, and we could not be more thrilled with our newest culinary tours in Puerto Rico! What could be better than a top culinary destination with a European feel, a ton of history and culture, miles of coastline, and part of the US? US travelers don't even need a passport, and it's a quick plane ride away. Yes, you do currently… Read
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Posted

May 26, 2021

By Peg Kern

Tlacoyos Recipe

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

When trying to describe tlacoyos to my kids, I said they were a cross between a tamale and an empanada. They have the thick, corn-masa breading on the outside, like a tamale. But unlike a tamale, they aren't steamed in corn husks, they are cooked on a hot griddle (with our without oil) or, sometimes, deep fried. Their shape is also unique, like a football that has been flattened by… Read
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Posted

May 21, 2021

By Peg Kern

Culinary Vacations in Spain with The International Kitchen: Status Update

Filed Under  Destination Features, Travel Tips, What's Up at TIK

Updated June 10, 2021. We have breaking news! Spain is once again open for travel to U.S. tourists! What does this mean for our culinary travelers who have been wondering, "When can I travel to Spain again?" It means that now is the time to start planning! See all our culinary tours in Spain. Who Can Travel to Spain? U.S. travelers to Spain will have to show proof of vaccination… Read
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Posted

May 19, 2021

By Peg Kern

Introducing Two New Culinary Vacations in Mexico

Filed Under  Destination Features, Travel Tips, What's Up at TIK

Mexico is one of the most fascinating destinations for our culinary vacations. The cuisine is incredible mix of fresh, indigenous ingredients and methods going back thousands of years, and new ingredients and methods brought from Europe, Africa, and Asia during Mexico's centuries of colonization. Add to that the culinary identity that has been informed by the two hundred and some years since Mexico gained independence, and you have one of… Read
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Posted

May 6, 2021

By Peg Kern

Traveling to France on Our French Culinary Vacations: Status Update

Filed Under  Destination Features, Travel Tips, What's Up at TIK

Updated June 10, 2021. French President Emmanuel Macron announced in May the reopening plans for France, and June 9th was pinpointed as the date international travel to France would officially resume. We are happy to say that the plan held, and France is officially open again to U.S. travelers! What does this mean for travelers who have been asking, "When can I travel to France?"  It means that now is… Read
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