Welcome to the new year! We're off to a big start here at The International Kitchen as people start planning their travel for the year ahead. With the new year, we also have some new trips. For starters, we're extremely excited to announce our latest expansion: this time into Southeast Asia!
With our newest trip, Cooking and Culture in Southeast Asia, guests will travel to Vietnam and Cambodia, learn some iconic dishes and explore the region's amazing history. It's a comprehensive tour of the countries, and the cooking classes are so varied that you'll truly get to know the cuisine of the area. Our travel coordinator Adrian Hall has visited this part of the world, and he thinks the itinerary is the perfect way to explore all that this part of Asia has to offer.
We also haven't forgotten about some our most-popular destinations! In recent months, we've added a few vacations to Tuscany, as well as one to the Amalfi Coast. We know that these trips -- Antinori's Noble Tuscany (perfect for wine lovers), Luxury Lucca Villa Cooking (a trip ideal for groups), Tuscan Dream: Cook in a Luxury Chianti Villa (where you can truly live the Tuscan dream, complete with the stunning landscape), and Amazing Coastal Adventure of with Chef Giuseppe (and cook with a Michelin chef) -- will give you a taste, literally, of these wonderful regions of Italy.
Over in France, we've also added two new programs, Cuisine and Culture of Provence, as well as Treasures of the Ardeche. And we can't forget about Spain, where we're now offering a gastronomical tour of the country.
And this is just the beginning! We're slated to add even more programs to our already amazing array of offerings as the year unfolds. With all these options, we know the choices can seem a bit overwhelming, and we'd love to help you pick out the absolute perfect trip. Please contact us at any time so we can start planning your dream trip for 2015!
We've added quite a few new programs to our lineup already this year, but perhaps some of the most exciting are our Southeast Asia cooking vacations. They still combine our signature blend of authentic, intimate cooking experiences with thrilling excursions led by the locals, but they offer an experience quite unlike our European trips.
"That part of the world has cultural and historical monuments as old and impressive as anything you'll find in Europe," our Travel Coordinator Adrian has said. But it's also, "Awesome, and exotic, and enormously impressive."
And I have to wholeheartedly agree. Not only do the cooking classes during our Cooking and Culture in Southeast Asia cooking vacation take place in a variety of locations and kitchens in Vietnam -- to fully appreciate the enormous variety and complex flavors in this part of the world -- you'll also see firsthand temple ruins, such as those at Ta Prohm, that are unlike anything else in the world! We're thrilled to be offering this trip to Vietnam and Cambodia, and we hope you're just as excited, too.
We've also recently added Taste of Thailand, which can be booked in conjunction with our Vietnam/Cambodia vacation, or on its own. This 4-night experience includes a tour of Bankgok, boat ride on Chao Phraya River, tour of Chiang Mai, and exploring the jungle, just to name a few of the many highlights.
But we're not done yet! Keep an eye on our website for a unique Mekong River cruise! This fascinating journey meanders through Vietnam and Cambodia with some amazing and beautiful scenery all along the way. Be the first to know about this trip, and all of our new offerings, by subscribing to our email newsletter.
Ready to start planning your trip? Feel free to contact us at any time.
What are dream vacations made of? Great food, naturally! But that's only one part of a cooking vacation with us. It's about the setting and atmosphere of a place, whether you're dreaming of relaxing by the pool or on the beach, hiking through mountains or along the coast, or discovering the amazing centuries-long history of a place. Whatever dream vacations are on your bucket list, we know we've got something for you. After more than 20 years in the business, we've added more than 100 vacations to our site (and that's not including the more than 50 one-day class options), and all, in their own ways, are dream vacations of a sort.
During some you'll stay at charming B&Bs out in the country, while others offer a luxurious getaway in thriving metropolises and beyond. No matter where you go though, know this: we pride ourselves on creating trips in which you'll be meeting and interacting with the locals. You'll get to know the food and gastronomy of the area through the cooking classes and food-related tours, but you'll get to know the people too, and that's a must when you're flying overseas and experiencing a new and exciting place.
So what have we been dreaming about lately? With our U.S. office based in Chicago, warmer weather, of course! Sun-drenched Sicily is high on our list; with all the history on the island -- the island offers some of the best-preserved ancient Greek sites in the entire Mediterranean -- you'll not only discover some amazing ruins, but some beautiful sights too.
One of our newest trips, Antinori's Noble Tuscany, is also a dream, including, as it does, a stay at the lovely Fonte de Medici resort, and tours of the famous Antinori wine cellars in Tuscany. Further south, there's always the popular and stunning Amalfi Coast, with its winding roads, views of the sea, and, of course, a trip to the island of Capri!
But we're just getting started, because we also have a number of trips in France, Spain, Turkey, and even South Asia, and Africa, among many others. Visit our Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ page to discover more of our dream vacation trips.
Need help narrowing down your trip options? Contact us today and we'll be happy to help plan your bucket list vacation.
Welcome to Spring! The season also heralds the start of travel season, but that doesn't mean it's too late to plan your 2015 trip (or, if you like to plan well ahead of time, your 2016 trip too). One of the many things that differentiate us from other travel companies is that we can confirm many of our vacations for a minimum of two people. In fact, we pride ourselves on creating intimate, authentic experiences for you, our guests.
That said, did you know that we can also plan group tours as well? But throw what you think you know about group tours out the window, because we don't do big bus tours for a variety of reasons. For starters, we still want our guests to have an intimate experience, and you won't get that if you're packed into a kitchen. With smaller group sizes -- often no more than 10 or 12 people -- you'll still receive personal attention throughout your tours and in the kitchen for your hands-on cooking classes. In fact, often the maximum group size is determined by the size of the kitchen.
One great place for a group tour for you and your friends and family is our Loire cooking vacation with Le Calabash Cooking School. With their recently renovated kitchen, there's room for up to 12 people, and with a husband and wife team leading the courses, you'll still receive plenty of personal attention.
But many of our other trips lend themselves to the perfect small group getaway. See a property or place that interests you? Let us know and we'll be happy to start coordinating your trip of a lifetime!
We get many inquiries for trips to Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast in Italy, Paris and Provence in France, and the big cities of Spain. While I love all those destinations, some of my fondest travel memories are from exploring other lesser-known destinations. Perhaps a part of this appeal is that there are fewer tourists in these regions, but that's not all. Something about these parts of the world also feel even more authentic than the popular tourist destinations.
While you'll be cooking with locals during any of our trips, it's easier to meet the locals in off-the-beaten path destinations. And you can bet those locals will be happy to talk about their corner of the world, from their food traditions to the history of their area.
For starters, Puglia and Molise come to mind in Italy. Both are highly agricultural regions, and as such, they're a dream come true for gastronomes. Plus, while Puglia is one of the oldest settled parts of Italy -- with archeological sites from the Greeks and Byzantines -- Molise has an old-world charm of its own, even though it's technically the 'newest' region of Italy. (Learn more about Molise here.)
Over in France, Provence may be top of mind for some, but other southern parts of the country -- namely the Rhone Alps and Bordeaux -- offer a range of culinary delicacies, as well as an extraordinary number of world-renowned chefs and restaurants. All of that, of course, has the makings of a once-in-a-lifetime cooking vacation!
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many off-the-beaten destinations to explore, and they'll help you see countries you think you're familiar with -- like Italy and France -- in a whole new way!
Need help picking the perfect spot for your next vacation? Contact me anytime.
Traveling solo doesn't mean you're traveling alone! While many of our cooking vacations can be confirmed for a minimum of two people, we're always happy to assist solo travelers in finding the perfect trip for them. There's lots of benefits to traveling alone -- just check out Travel Coordinator Peg's blog post on the subject -- especially when it comes to a cooking vacation. After all, it's easy to make friends over a meal, but it's even easier to make new friends when you're cooking together in a kitchen!
To get you started, and dreaming about your next trip, consider our Women Only Week trips, which often take place in the Spring or the Fall.
Looking for something else? We have a handful of trips that can be confirmed for just one person, from our Chateau Culinary Adventure in the Loire Valley to our Greek Cooking Odyssey trip. But if you want to ensure you're joining a group of other like-minded culinary travelers, just pick out a trip that has a cross (†) next to the tour dates, as this means it's a week others have confirmed!
Contact us at any time to start planning your trip!
Welcome to Summer! Although, here in Chicago -- where our U.S. office is based, it still feels quite chilly! So we're dreaming of warmer locales, and although we're currently in the heart of travel season this year, there's still plenty of time to plan a trip overseas in 2015. For starters, we're pleased to announce that one of our most popular Provence cooking vacation destinations, Chateau de Berne, re-opens on July 5th!
While the property has always been a slice of heaven on earth, it's even more magical now following renovations done during this past Winter and Spring. Their cookery school got an uplift, and, with its decor, it now reflects the traditional bourgeoisie kitchens. Step just outside the hotel, and experience a new, and extensive, kitchen garden, which guests can experience on their own in addition to a visit with the chef. They also have a brand new Spa, complete with an indoor counter-current pool, sauna, steam room, jacuzzi, and more. To celebrate their grand re-opening, when you book their 5-night trip for 2015 with us, you'll receive 50% off your first spa treatment (minimum 50 minute treatment)! What a special treat in a special destination.
Whether you're dreaming of Provence, or elsewhere, for a trip this year, feel free to contact us at any time.
As Summer winds to a close, it's time to start thinking of your travels for 2016! (Although, if you're still dreaming of a trip in 2015, let us know. We still have some availability at some of our properties in late Summer and throughout the Fall). But now is also a wonderful time to start planning for next year, as many of our properties can be confirmed at 2015 pricing!
One particular trip we're excited about for 2016 is our cooking vacation/mini safari trip to South Africa. While all weeks were already previously sold out, we've arranged with the chefs to open ONE more week, exclusive to travelers with The International Kitchen. So if you've ever dreamed of experiencing game sanctuaries and going on safaris to see some beautiful -- and some endangered -- animals in their natural habitat, this is the trip for you. Available only October 10-19, 2016, your guides on this trip have a special place in their hearts for this part of Africa -- South Africa and Namibia -- as they previously lived and worked in the region. If you're looking for an unforgettable journey, this is it. The trip does require a minimum of six people to operate, but considering how popular this trip has been, we're expecting to fill the spots quickly. For more details, please see our site.
If you're dreaming of elsewhere in the world, chances are we have a culinary vacation and gastronomical journey for you. In addition to our always popular destinations of Italy and France, we offer trips to Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Argentina, Morocco, and even Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand to be specific).
Welcome to September! Not only is September a popular month for travel, it's also the start of the Fall harvest, a beautiful time of year in so many parts of the world. In many Italy regions, for one, the wine harvest is in full swing, especially since the country had such a hot Summer. The grapes are being harvested -- in some places, by hand!
Taking part in a harvest can be a real treat, and that's why we're so excited about the wine harvest at our La Cucina Romana cooking vacation. This trip is coming up soon, September 20-26, 2015, and to celebrate the week, we're offering the trip at 20% off per person! Learn more about this cooking vacation on our website, and then start packing!
Down on the Amalfi Coast too, they're gearing up for their wine harvest, and a wonderful Italian family is welcoming people onto their property to help in the harvest, complete with a hands-on cooking class featuring a 'harvest' meal. This special event takes place only on Sunday, September 20.
As this newsletter is all about September, there's a chance you may be reading it after September 20. If that's the case, keep this time of year in mind when planning your 2016 travels. From the wine harvest to the olive harvest, a lot of different properties -- including our Roman Countryside Discovery -- have events related to the season!
Fall is upon us, and with Fall comes a season of change in more ways than one. It is with great joy that I announce some exciting new changes at The International Kitchen! Richard Davis has been promoted to President and Peg Kern to Vice-President, effective October 1st, as they take over as primary shareholders of the company. I will stay on as Founder and Chairman in an active role, and will provide all the support I can as Richard and Peg usher the company into this next exciting chapter.
Richard came to the company in 2007 with an extensive background in the travel and tourism industry. Peg came to us from the academic world in 2004 with a strong background in travel and management. Both have been assets to the company since their arrival, and I could not be more pleased that they are taking over the helm of The International Kitchen.
When I founded The International Kitchen in 1994, I could not have dreamed the way culinary travel would rise in popularity to become one of the most popular forms of experiential tourism. I knew I had a great idea! The last twenty-one years have been a roller coaster of hard work, trials and tribulations, and a lot of fun, and I can't wait to see what the future holds as we move forward.
Autumn is a fun time at The International Kitchen. Although we have fewer travelers cooking their hearts out during November, December, and January, we still have our fair share of people traveling, and plenty to do getting ready for 2016.
Not to mention travel of our own! Karen is just back from her first trip to Southeast Asia, where she was wowed by Vietnam, but truly fell in love with Cambodia. This has been one of our most exciting new destinations from the last year. To quote Karen, "The food was amazing, each and every meal. It didn't matter if we were dining at posh restaurants or grabbing some street food, each dish was spectacular."
Adrian, on the other hand, was exploring our top destination, Italy. He spent several days at the BuyVeneto tradeshow, where he met with our partners from the Veneto region, explored the city of Venice, and enjoyed being ushered around the other towns and countryside of the Veneto.
From there he flew to Bari for the BuyPuglia workshop, which featured one of our favorite regions (and one of Italy's hidden gems) Puglia, or Apulia. A big thanks to Augusto of A Culinary Experience in Puglia for showing Adrian around before the trade show. It wasn't Adrian's first trip to Puglia, but it might have been his favorite! Ready to try this amazing region? Give us a call, Adrian will tell you why it is the best kept secret in Italy.
I was at the annual meeting of French Affairs, this year held in Atlanta. It was a wonderful event in which I had a chance to touch base with some of our long-standing cooking vacation vendors (hello Chateau de Berne!) and start talks to develop new products in new regions. It was a lot of fun, and I got a kick out of the fact that in a room of hundreds of French vendors I ended up at the table next to the only Italian in the room!
What else have we been up to? Pricing for 2016, for one. If you don't see 2016 pricing for one of our cooking vacations, that means we can still probably confirm at 2015 rates. We've also been developing new itineraries for 2016 (including an amazing new cooking vacation in Tuscany), so keep checking back for updates and be sure to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter.
We can't believe that 2015 is drawing to a close, and what a year it's been! We at The International Kitchen are looking forward to a wonderful year of culinary travel in 2016.
And speaking of 2016.... Have you started planning your 2016 trip? Are you looking for a wonderful and unique holiday gift for someone special? Remember that you can purchase a trip or a gift certificate. Everyone loves the gift of travel! To purchase your gift certificate, simply fill out our booking form, or see more details about purchasing The International Kitchen gift certificates on our website. And of course, if you have any questions, please contact us.
What do we recommend for 2016? We think we have something for everyone, but these are a few of our favorites for the coming year:
Cooking Under the Tuscan Sun - The lovely Baracchi family will welcome you at their beautiful estate in Tuscany. Stay at the charming small hotel (a member of the deluxe Relais & Chateaux group), explore the family-run winery, and cook with Chef Silvia, who heads up the Michelin-star restaurant.
At Home in a Tuscan Villa - Our newest itinerary in Tuscany, and one about which we are extremely excited! This property is so special, and so unique, a family-owned villa hotel perched in the hills of western Tuscany. It exudes an abundance of warmth and charm, with a strong dash of Tuscan flavor!
A Chateau Culinary Adventure in the Loire Valley - This is our best-selling cooking vacation in France, and one of our best cooking experience hands-down. Cook with a husband and wife team, both of them highly accomplished chefs, and explore this famed region of France. It's also one of our best-priced itineraries (without sacrificing a bit of the quality).
A Food Lover's Paradise in Norcia - One of our best-selling itineraries in Italy, this cooking vacation in Umbria takes place in a Medieval-walled village known for its delectable food products (lentils, cured meats, cheeses, truffles, and more). Accommodations are at a stunning hotel, another Relais & Chateaux property.
Cooking in Andalusian Olive Country - Our best-selling itinerary in Spain, this itinerary is led by a charming husband and wife duo who will lead you in exploring rural Andalusia and its many famous villages, along with the culinary secrets of Spanish cuisine.
What's on your plate for the holidays? Do you plan to travel? We'd love to have you travel with us. And wherever December takes you, safe journeys and best wishes for a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a joyous New Year.
Peg & Richard
Here is what clients are saying about their experience with The International Kitchen...
"What an incredible cultural and culinary experience: the hosts were great: fun and friendly, accommodating, and customized the itinerary based on the group. Food was amazing, classes were engaging and informative..." Read more
"It’s taken me quite a while to write about our experience ... Not because it wasn’t everything I dreamed of and more, but because it so exceeded all of my expectations..." Read more
"A lovely remote setting with wonderful hosts and great food! A perfect blend of relaxation, cultural experiences, and hands-on cooking lesson. I would recommend highly..." Read more