Staff

How was your experience with us?

I am so thankful to now know about your company and will not only recommend it to many of our friends and family, but will surely be using you again. My husband had such a great time that he is already planning our next ‘cooking vacation!’”
Vicky J., from Colorado
The Chicago staff was wonderful, professional and helpful. They are the reason I chose to book my vacation through The International Kitchen.”
Becky B., from California
I have to say, they are one of the most professional companies I’ve had the pleasure to do business, with from start to finish.”
Karen M., from New Jersey
We are experienced travelers and this trip was one of the best. We look forward to booking another vacation with your Company. Rest assured we have and will continue to tell all of our friends about this wonderful vacation and how first rate the entire experience was.”
Theodore S., from Pennsylvania
The International Kitchen staff was very knowledgeable and courteous. All of my emails were answered quickly. We can’t wait to attend another International Kitchen class in another place. Thank you for making our first cooking class a wonderful experience...”
Robin, from Texas
Thank-you for putting all your talents and passions together to give us such lasting memories, and warm-fuzzy thoughts to dreamily tuck in our hearts forever. applause!!! I’m terribly jealous of your jobs!!!”
Linda F., from California
This was my first ever trip as a solo traveler. I was so scared at first. It was so nice to know that you and your staff at the International Kitchen were there to help me with anything I might have needed. As for being scared of solo travel…never will I be afraid of anything again! Thank you, thank you, thank you again for the best trip ever and I can’t wait to book another trip with you. ”
Isa M., from New Jersey
I was totally pleased with the experience, it certainly exceeded my expectations. The International Kitchen staff was friendly, knowledgeable, and very accommodating….do not change a thing.”
Allen R., from Virginia

Meet The International Kitchen Team

TIK owner Peg Kern enjoying a coffee after a cooking class in Florence

Peg Kern

President, Owner

Favorite Trip

Amalfi Coast Culinary Vacations: Mediterranean Cooking Experience

Favorite Travel Memory

Diving for sea urchin in the sea off the Sardinian coast, and eating them there on the rocks accompanied by some white wine, bread, and the salt spray of the waves.

Contact Peg

Margaret (Peg) Kern is a native of Ohio who received her BA in Italian from Columbia University and her MA and Ph.D. in Italian Literature from the University of Chicago. She joined TIK in 2004, took some time off to raise her two sons, and took on co-ownership of the company in 2015. She enjoys an obvious love for Italy, especially Rome, but enjoys traveling pretty much anywhere and has loved infecting her children with the travel bug. She is a passionate foodie and bread baker as well, and would be happy to help you plan your trip!

“When I decided to leave academia I knew my ideal job would be something combining my love for Italy, food, and travel. I didn't know culinary travel existed back then, but it has been my job and my passion for some 20 years!”

Alexandra Tzougros

Tour Coordinator

Favorite Trip

Authentic Athens

Favorite Travel Memory

Having spent 7 months in Italy, she’s walked away with a motto "Never say no to gelato!"

Contact Alexandra

Wisconsin grown, Alexandra Tzougros, is the latest addition to The International Kitchen team. With a degree in Communication Studies from Loyola University Chicago, she is a seasoned service provider motivated by a profound love of the arts & culture and a zest for assisting others. She was taught by her Greek family to cook Mediterranean cuisine at a young age. Alexandra whole heartily believes the best travel memories are always centered around food. Learning authentic recipes with her Italian host families, enjoying the late night buzz of a Platia surrounded by empty plates and glasses, and catching the sunset on a beach with a picnic.

“I believe cuisine transcends the plate, acting as a universal language that fosters connections beyond cultural boundaries and language barriers. ”

Chloe Dubisch

Tour Coordinator

Favorite Trip

Undiscovered Scotland

Favorite Travel Memory

My mother’s love for travel has always been my inspiration to go any distance that I can. Likewise, her hatred for the act of cooking was often the impetus for my most inspired dishes.

Contact Chloe

Chloe Dubisch grew up on the road, and has been traveling regularly since she was very young. She earned her BA in English from Stephens College in 2020, and is in the process of completing her MA in English at The University of Chicago. She spent a portion of her childhood in Argentina, where she became enamored with the local cuisine. The streets were lined with chocolate shops and bakeries that emitted delectable scents, luring her family of sweet-tooths inside on a near-daily basis. Cooking with local ingredients and recipes often comprised large portions of her time abroad, and she spends much of her time state-side attempting to replicate the myriad flavors of the world.

Richard Davis, Owner of TIK

Richard Davis

Special Projects Coordinator

Favorite Trip

A Food Lover's Paradise in Norcia Cooking Vacations

Favorite Travel Memory

Driving through the Loire with my parents & stopping in a small town on market day. My mother picked up a celery that was 2-3 feet long – almost half as tall as she was!

Contact Richard

Richard started at The International Kitchen as our Group and Incentive Travel Specialist, and took on the role of President and co-owner in October of 2015. He officially retired at the end of 2023, but still pitches in part time with The International Kitchen on special projects. He brings many years of experience, in sales for Alitalia Airlines, with a large Midwest tour operator specializing in Italy and Europe, and working for The International Kitchen. He discovered his love for Europe and travel with his first French class in high school. This blossomed into a love of French and Italian history, about which he is very knowledgeable, along with an associate degree in the liberal arts. Over the years, Richard has also developed an interest in cooking, and particularly baking which he claims to be extremely therapeutic! He has an easy and open manner, a quick sense of humor and is always on hand to give any assistance.

“I love everything about my job. I have a product I am proud to sell supported by stellar customer service unrivaled – in my opinion – in the travel industry. I’m one of those lucky people who enjoy coming to work every day!”
Karen Herbst at a market in Provence

Karen Herbst

Founder

Favorite Trip

Discover Provence Culinary Vacation

Karen Herbst was for many years a research editor for Playboy Magazine, followed by a stint as a producer and director for five talk shows at CBS radio. She then left the full-time work force to raise her family of three sons. Upon her return in 1983, she chose to enter the travel industry, where she specialized in small group travel to Italy and France. In 1994 she decided to combine her travel experience with her lifelong passion for food and wine to create the The International Kitchen. She is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Italian Travel Promotional Council, a non-profit organization working in conjunction with the Italian Government Tourist Office, as well as a member of the Slow Food Organization and the James Beard Foundation. In 2004 Karen was the honored recipient of the La Medaille d'Argent du Tourisme, the French Silver Medal of Tourism awarded by the French government. In 2008 The International Kitchen was given the coveted award of "Best Special Interest Product" by the French Government Tourist Office. Karen retired in 2015, but still leads the occasional group for TIK!

Sharon, part of the team at TIK

Sharon Kurth

Financial Manager

Favorite Trip

Discover a Parisian Rendezvous with Our Best Food Tours in Paris, France

Favorite Travel Memory

A perfect day in Florence: David! The Uffizi (with salumi, formaggi, and vino on the roof)! The Ponte Vecchio! Topped off with a pizza napoletana and an evening stroll with my TIK family.

Sharon brings extensive financial expertise that she has gathered through over 30 years of her accounting career. She is delighted to be a part of The International Kitchen, as it reflects her love of travel, art, multi-cultural interests, and did we mention the wonderful food? Sharon's upbeat spirit and contagious laughter is greatly appreciated by the rest of the office. Currently her favorite cities are Florence and Sant' Agata sui Due Golfi, where she toured with The International Kitchen staff. But what does Sharon love more than art, travel and food? Her beautiful granddaughter, with whom she spends as much time as possible! And if being a grandmother didn't keep her busy enough, Sharon is also the Oak Park/Near West Suburbs Chapter Coordinator for Project Linus, a non-profit organization that provides blankets and afghans to comfort children in need.