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 21, 2023

By Peg Kern

Recipe for Picarones from Peru

Filed Under  Destination Features, Food History, Recipes

To whet your appetite for our newest tour, Exploring Andean Cuisine in Peru & Bolivia, we are featuring a classic Peruvian dessert: picarones. These fried treats may look like a donut (or an onion ring!) but they have a unique flavor this is all their own due to the inclusion of pumpkin, squash, or sweet potato (or all three). Picarones have an obvious relationship with the classic Spanish buñuelos, but… Read
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Posted

December 7, 2022

By Peg Kern

5 Best Museums in Rome

Filed Under  Destination Features, Travel Tips

Whether you're planning a winter getaway to Rome or a summer vacation, you undoubtedly know that there are a plethora of monuments, archeological sites, and museums in the Eternal City. How do you prioritize if you have a limited amount of time? We're highlighting our top five museums in Rome to help you out. Whether you are able to hit them all or only make the highlights, you'll be glad… Read
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Posted

November 11, 2022

By Peg Kern

Recipe for Chocolate Soufflé from our French Foodie Getaway in Tours

Filed Under  Food History, Kitchen Tips, Recipes

Our French Foodie Getaway culinary vacation in Tours, France, is fast becoming a favorite. This short stay in one of Europe's most charming and picturesque cities includes a market visit with cooking class, a guided wine and cheese tasting, a walking tour of the city center, and an optional day touring the famous Loire Valley chateaux. Our culinary travelers who recently returned from their stay in Tours raved about the… Read
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Posted

November 4, 2022

By Peg Kern

Reviewing a Vacation in Bellagio on Lake Como

Filed Under  Destination Features, Interviews, Travel Tips

One of the benefits of having a culinary traveler who is also a journalist is getting wonderful feedback when they return from our culinary vacations. Writer David Sharos shared his experiences of our cooking vacation at Don Alfonso 1890 some years ago, and now he is back with his take on a tour of Bellagio and Lake Como. My last trip to Italy was back in 2019 when my wife… Read
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Posted

October 21, 2022

By Peg Kern

Recipe for Creamy Curried Carrot Soup

Filed Under  Kitchen Tips, Recipes

What to do when you find yourself with several pounds of carrots? One great thing about getting a CSA (community supported agriculture) box of produce every week is the element of surprise. it's fun to be forced to try new things, and a CSA box can mean a new array of vegetables and therefore a new mix of recipes. But sometimes, it just means so much of one good thing.… Read
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Posted

September 30, 2022

By Peg Kern

Greek Recipe for Fried Feta in Filo

Filed Under  Destination Features, Food History, Recipes

We have a ton of clients visiting Chefs Katerina and Dora during our Greek Cooking Odyssey this month. Poros Island is a beautiful destination, and home to our best-selling Greek cooking vacation. And of course, being in Greece it is also home to amazing Greek dishes! From the fresh fish to the savory stews, the plethora of fresh produce to the tangy cheeses and yogurts, Greek food is one of… Read
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Posted

September 7, 2022

By Peg Kern

Recipe for Sicilian Sardines "a Beccafico"

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

Sicily is one of our most popular destinations, and it's no wonder when you consider the amazing and diverse gastronomy that you will find on the island. The coastal areas obviously will give you more fish and seafood dishes, including a lot of different preparations of one of the Mediterranean's prized fish: the sardine. In the US sardines are found in tins, and not exactly considered a gourmet food. But… Read
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Posted

August 25, 2022

By Peg Kern

Travel Trends for 2023

Filed Under  Travel Tips, What's Up at TIK

We don't have a crystal ball, but we do keep our finger on the pulse of travel nation, and we've been noticing some expected travel trends for 2023 that we'd like to share. Some of these are based on our decades of experience in travel, including following rough travel periods like post-9/11 and during the 2006 recession. Others are based on what we're hearing from travel colleagues: other tour operators,… Read
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Posted

August 1, 2022

By Peg Kern

What to See in Naples: Top Three Sites to See

Filed Under  Destination Features, Travel Tips

Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast are among our top destinations, and frequently our travelers ask if they should also take time to visit Naples. Our answer is always a resounding yes. The sprawling southern metropolis is unlike other parts of Italy. Whether you visit it for a day or a week, you will see a completely unique Italy full of culture, history, food, and friendly people. I'm not saying there… Read
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Posted

July 13, 2022

By Peg Kern

10 Tips for a Hassle Free Trip

Filed Under  Travel Tips, What's Up at TIK

You may be hearing about flight cancelations, long lines for tourist attractions, understaffing at hotels, and a host of other hassles that might affect your trip. We have a lot of culinary travelers on the ground these days in Europe and beyond, and so far (knock on wood!) the reports of travel catastrophes has been hugely exaggerated. There is always the chance of flight schedule changes, delays, cancelations, and other… Read
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