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

April 14, 2021

By Peg Kern

An Iftar Recipe for Ramadan: Lamb Kebabi with Watermelon, Cucumber, and Herb Salad

Filed Under  Kitchen Tips, Recipes, Special Occasions, Travel Tips

Ramadan is the holy month for Muslims around the world, a time of fasting, prayer, and charity. The dates of Ramadan change each year (moving forward by 15 days), because it follows a nine-month, lunar calendar, but the month-long rituals remain the same and are meant to commemorate the month in which the Quran was revealed to Muhammad. Each year you can find the approximate dates of Ramadan, but its… Read
Post

Posted

April 7, 2021

By Peg Kern

Beer in the Windy City

Filed Under  Destination Features, Travel Tips, Wines & Spirits

Today is National Beer Day, and in its honor we'll be talking about beer in our hometown, Chicago. The rise in the production, sales, and quality of so-called "craft" beers in the US in the past few decades, and particularly since the 1990's, has meant a corresponding increase in craft breweries and brewpubs, not to mention a plethora of amazing brews to try. When I was young and growing up… Read
Post

Posted

April 1, 2021

By Peg Kern

"When Will I Be Able to Travel to Europe?" and Other Burning Travel Questions in the Age of COVID

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

Join us with our video blog to explore the burning questions surrounding travel in the age of COVID, including "When will I be able to travel to Europe again?" When will I be able to travel to Europe again? This is a question we get asked a lot. As you can imagine, in the past year, with travel at a standstill (or nearly a standstill), we've had many travelers ask… Read
Post

Posted

March 24, 2021

By Peg Kern

Types of Cocktails & Mixed Drinks

Filed Under  Food History, Kitchen Tips, What's Up at TIK, Wines & Spirits

Happy National Cocktail Day! We don't think one really needs a reason to enjoy a nice cocktail, but we don't mind having one. So what exactly is a cocktail? A cocktail is a mixed alcoholic drink that includes one or more spirit and some type of mixer. Not very specific, is it? cocktail (noun): an alcoholic drink consisting of a spirit or several spirits mixed with other ingredients, such as… Read
Post

Posted

March 19, 2021

By Peg Kern

What We Think about Stanley Tucci's "Searching for Italy"

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

The famous Italian-American actor has a new series on CNN in which he explores Italy's regions through their gastronomy. Find out what we think about his adventures so far! Not into video? Read on for a recap. There is a lot we like about Stanley Tucci's "Searching for Italy." First, it is a series dedicated to food and travel in Italy, which is what we have been dedicated to for… Read
Post

Posted

March 12, 2021

By Peg Kern

Recipe for Tagliata di Manzo "alla Roberto"

Filed Under  Food History, Kitchen Tips, Recipes

Last week we featured our friend Richard di San Marzano's recounting of his past year during lockdown in the Umbrian countryside near Spoleto. As you might expect, it featured plenty of good food! We shared one of Richard's family recipes, for Five Leaf Pesto, earlier in the week. Now we're turning up the heat with a classic "tagliata di manzo," as made by Richard's friend Roberto. "Tagliata" means "cut," or… Read
Post

Posted

March 11, 2021

By Peg Kern

Recipe for Five Leaf Pesto from Our Cooking Vacation in Spoleto

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

If you had to spend time in lockdown, then perhaps the Umbrian countryside was an ideal place to do it. Last week our friend and partner Richard di San Marzano described his family's experience during the past year in Italy (you can read it here). It included a lot of seasonal foraging and fabulous food, as. you might expect in Italy. Try one of Richard's recipes, fruit of his foraging… Read
Post

Posted

March 5, 2021

By Peg Kern

My Experience in Italy during the Lockdown

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

Our friend Richard di San Marzano in Spoleto is contributing a guest post for us letting us know what life has been like the past year in one of our favorite Italian regions, Umbria. Italy's national lockdown began on March 8, 2020 (although there were regional quarantines before then), and it has continued, like much of the world, with varying levels of restrictions since then. If you've wondered about what… Read
Post

Posted

February 26, 2021

By Peg Kern

What Are the Saronic Islands?

Filed Under  Destination Features, Travel Tips

Greece is one of our most popular destinations for a cooking vacation, and with an amazing gastronomy and gorgeous places to visit, that should be no surprise! One of our most popular Greek cooking vacations is our Greek Cooking Odyssey, which takes place on the island of Poros, one of the Saronic islands. So what are the Saronic Islands and what makes them so popular? What Are the Saronic Islands?… Read
Post

Posted

February 22, 2021

By Peg Kern

History of the Margarita and a Recipe for a Classic Margarita Cocktail

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

Happy National Margarita Day! The margarita cocktail is a bit like the Italian dessert tiramisú. There are many different stories for how it got invented and by whom! And there is not even consensus on how the name of the cocktail came about. One thing there is consensus on? That it is one of the world's most beloved and recognizable cocktails. So what is a margarita? It always includes three… Read
Post