In this blog post, TIK founder Karen reminisces about her favorite culinary vacations and some of her memories associated with them! To start, Karen looks back at the beginning of the The International Kitchen.
“One of my first partnerships when I began The International Kitchen in 1994,” Karen “was with Chef Claudio. At that time, he didn’t speak a word of English and had never ventured outside of his hometown of Figline Valdarno (population approx. 17,000).
“But I knew I had found a great chef! In the years we worked together, Claudio not only learned English, but ventured into the world far and wide. He has been to the U.S. numerous times and has competed in many international competitions in Europe.”
Back when she started The International Kitchen, people thought Karen was crazy to imagine that travelers would want to do cooking classes during their vacation. Even the chefs were doubtful that it was an idea that would take hold. Of course, culinary tourism and cooking vacations continued to gain popularity in the decades since.
Although Chef Claudio no longer teaches our clients during our cooking vacations, he still runs his restaurant outside of Figline Valdarno, where he has his orchards and kitchen gardens.
We still offer a cooking vacation in Figline Valdarno at the lovely Hotel Villa Casagrande, which was part of our very first tour with Claudio all those years ago. During the week-long culinary vacation you take cooking classes with local chefs, explore the local market, and experience tons of great Tuscan food and wine.
By Peg Kern
Sign up to receive our newsletter, which includes travel tips, recipes, promotions, and information on our best cooking vacations.
Originally published June 30, 2012.