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

October 20, 2020

By Peg Kern

Changing the Lives of Women One Box of Aprons at a Time

Filed Under  Interviews, What's Up at TIK

Today we're featuring an interview not with one of our fabulous chefs or tour guides, but with Theresa VanderMeer, the founder of the company that makes our aprons, totes, and document holders. If you've traveled with us on one of our multi-day cooking vacations, you've received one of these textile goods with your documents package, and we hope you noticed the tag on it that explains that your item was… Read
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Posted

October 14, 2020

By Peg Kern

Delicious Berry Clafoutis for National Dessert Day

Filed Under  Recipes, Special Occasions

Today is evidently National Dessert Day, and we'll take any excuse to do a little baking! We have featured tons of desserts in our blog in many different categories, from tarts to cookies, from cakes to custards, from doughnuts to ice cream. But one dessert we have not yet featured is the classic French clafoutis! You sometimes hear it pronounced cla-FOO-dee, but the accent should be (as always in French!)… Read
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Posted

October 6, 2020

By Peg Kern

Autumn in Italy: Creamy Mushroom Soup Recipe

Filed Under  Recipes

We eat soup year round, but there is something about soup in the fall and winter that is particularly appealing. And if you pair that with autumnal produce – in this case mushrooms – it is a match made in heaven! Our favorite fall soups feature what you would expect from the fall harvest. Mushrooms of course, but also plenty of squash, root vegetables, and even apples! This soup is… Read
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Posted

September 29, 2020

By Peg Kern

A History of Coffee for International Coffee Day

Filed Under  Food History, Special Occasions

It's international coffee day! And although I drink it every day and love it in many forms, I realized I didn't know very much about it. What is coffee? Where did it originate? Where is it grown today? How is it drunk around the world? What Is Coffee? We all know coffee comes from beans, and that they are roasted. The beans actually come from trees - if coffee trees… Read
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Posted

September 22, 2020

By Peg Kern

Indulge Yourself! Food & Wellness Tour in Spain

Filed Under  Destination Features, What's Up at TIK

If you're like most of the world these days, you're more in need of self care than ever. Treat yourself to something to look forward to, like our fabulous food and wellness tour in Spain! The dictionary defines "wellness" as "the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal." But we think it's more than that, it is, in our opinion, being of sound body and… Read
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Posted

September 18, 2020

By Peg Kern

The History of Baba Ganoush, and a Recipe

Filed Under  Food History, Recipes

We've talked before about eggplant and what an amazing vegetable we think it is, and one of my favorite preparations is in baba ganoush. Also spelled baba ghanoush or baba ghanouj/ganouj/gannuj, this eggplant spread is ridiculously easy to make and exceedingly tasty. Originally a dish of Levantine cuisine (more on that here), its etymology is a bit opaque. "Baba" is an endearment and also the Arabic word for father, while… Read
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