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

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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Posted

July 8, 2022

By Peg Kern

Three Alternative Destinations to Visit on a Cooking Vacation with TIK

Filed Under  Destination Features

When most people think "cooking vacation," they think of Italy and France. And those countries have been out top destinations for the past 28 years! But we have many other amazing destinations that you can try on our tours, and some of them might be a bit unexpected. Whether you are traveling solo, as part of a couple, or with a small group of family or friends, we have many… Read
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Posted

June 23, 2022

By Peg Kern

Recipe for Moroccan Harira (Chickpea and Lentil Soup)

Filed Under  Food History, Kitchen Tips, Recipes

Harira is one of my favorite Moroccan dishes. There are many variations but they all include legumes (usually lentils and chickpeas), tomato, onion, turmeric, and herbs. It is sometimes thickened with egg or a slurry (a mixture of flour and water, called a tedouira in Moroccan cuisine), although it will thicken on its own if left overnight. Harira is a dish traditionally served during Ramadan, but can be enjoyed throughout… Read
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Posted

June 6, 2022

By Peg Kern

Highlights of the Sicilian Baroque on our Sicily Cooking Vacations

Filed Under  Destination Features, Travel Tips

The Italian Baroque was one of the most florid and proliferous art movements in what is modern-day Italy, lasting from the late 16th to the early 18th centuries. Its famous art and architecture are particularly known for their grandeur, drama, and exuberance.  The Sicilian Baroque, however, is its own movement. Although related to the wider Italian Baroque, the Sicilian baroque was developed on the island in the 17th and 18th… Read
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Posted

June 3, 2022

By Peg Kern

Best Day Trips from Florence by Train

Filed Under  Destination Features, Travel Tips

Florence is one of our most popular destinations for our cooking vacations and culinary tours. We offer a wonderful 5-night Florence for the Food Lover tour, but we also offer custom private ours in Florence for any amount of time. Frequently travelers add extra days in Florence either to our Florence tour or to any of our Tuscany cooking vacations. It's such an amazing city to explore! Small enough to… Read
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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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