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

May 21, 2022

By Peg Kern

Quick and Easy Meals: Summer Steak Tacos 

Filed Under  Kitchen Tips, Recipes

One of my favorite meals in summer are tacos. You can throw anything on the grill and turn it into a delicious taco. While steak tacos usually call to mind carne asada, these steak tacos use flank steak marinated in a chipotle lime marinade and then cut thinly into strips.  This marinade can be adapted for other meats as well, or for fish or shrimp to make seafood tacos. And… Read
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Posted

April 28, 2022

By Peg Kern

How to Save for a Vacation

Filed Under  Travel Tips, What's Up at TIK

We know saving for a vacation can be difficult, and saving for an expensive vacation is even harder. And just because our culinary tours are, we believe, the best value to be found, that doesn't make them inexpensive. We have had culinary dreamers follow our social media for years with only the hope of "maybe someday" trying one of our trips. But there is no reason you can't make that… Read
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Posted

April 19, 2022

By Peg Kern

How to Fill Out the Passenger Locator Form to Visit Italy or France

Filed Under  Travel Tips

Recently several of our tour destinations required a special form be completed to enter the country. This was a new requirement that was started due to COVID. Italy removed this requirement as of May 1, 2022. France's Foreign Ministry site says that passengers "may" be required to fill out the form, which might indicate it also will soon be suspended. Here are the instructions should it once again become necessary… Read
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Posted

April 7, 2022

By Peg Kern

The Borromean Islands on Our Northern Italy Culinary Tours

Filed Under  Destination Features, Travel Tips

If you visit the Lakes District in Italy, and specifically the beautiful Lake Maggiore, a visit to the Borromean Islands is absolutely essential. The Isole Borromee, as they are called in Italian, are a group of three islands and two islets on the western arm of Lake Maggiore. They are so named because they were acquired and developed by the Borromean family, which historically was one of the most important… Read
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Posted

April 3, 2022

By Peg Kern

Five Things You Didn't Know about Champagne

Filed Under  Destination Features, Food History, Wines & Spirits

Everyone loves champagne. This exquisite sparkling wine is known the world over as the wine par excellence for celebrating. But it's much more than that! Check below for 5 things you might not have realized about this famous bubbly. But before getting to those, let's recap what makes champagne champagne, and not just another sparkling wine. What Makes Champagne Champagne A sparkling wine has 3 basic rules it needs to… Read
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Posted

March 25, 2022

By Peg Kern

The Foods of Molise: What to Eat and Drink in Molise

Filed Under  Destination Features, Food History, Travel Tips

When clients ask us where to go for an ultra-authentic cooking vacation in Italy, some place off the beaten path where they can experience authentic Italian life and flavors, one of our first answers is Molise! Molise, as we have noted elsewhere, is so little-traveled by tourist, and so unknown even by Italians from other reasons, that it is jokingly said "not to exist." But it does exist, and it… Read
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Posted

March 18, 2022

By Peg Kern

Recipe for Casunziei: Beet-Filled Ravioli from the Dolomites

Filed Under  Destination Features, Food History, Recipes

One of the more unique recipes for ravioli that you will find are Casunziei ampezzani, named for the town of Cortina d'Ampezzo in Dolomites of the Veneto region. This half-moon pasta can be filled with a variety of seasonal produce, but is most often filled with a mix of beetroot and potato, making it very colorful. It is served dressed with a butter and poppy seeds, giving it a very… Read
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Posted

March 10, 2022

By Peg Kern

On This Day in History: Reflections on Two Strange Years

Filed Under  What's Up at TIK

Some weeks I have more time and ideas for the blog than I know what to do with, while other times I'm either scratching my head for blog topics or searching frantically for the time to get it done. This week, it's a little bit of both. When I'm looking for a new blog topic, I always search to see whether there is a culinary significance to the day (hmmmm,… Read
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Posted

March 3, 2022

By Peg Kern

Top Five Foodie Finds on Our Northern Italy Culinary Tour

Filed Under  Destination Features, Travel Tips, Wines & Spirits

Northern Italy is one of Europe's most gastronomically rich and interesting places, and it is the perfect destination for a foodie tour of Italy. Bordered as it is by France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, and the Mediterranean Sea, you will find a wealth of gastronomic influences in a small geographical area. And that is not to mention the varied terrain. From the high peaks of the Alps to the fertile plains… Read
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Posted

February 18, 2022

By Peg Kern

Tours You Can Select on Our Rome Culinary Vacations

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

Rome is perhaps my very favorite city in the world. We have long organized custom itineraries in Rome for our travelers, including hotels, foodie tours, cooking classes, cultural tours, and more. And now we offer two set culinary tours in Rome, one of 3 nights and one of 5 nights, which you can select as offered or customize to your heart's delights! Part of the charm of Rome are all… Read
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