Choosing the Right Culinary Vacation
Culinary Tour Operators
- No Culinary Tours (http://www.noculinarytours.com, Tel. 504 427 9595)
- Tours that teach the history of New Orleans through its mix of food traditions.
- New Orleans Cooking Experience (http://www.neworleanscookingexperience.com, Tel. 504 945 9104)
- Celebrates New Orleans cuisine in half-day classes, series classes and luxury vacations.
- WokWiz (http://www.wokwiz.com, Tel. 650 355 9657)
- Eating tours through San Francisco’s Chinatown.
- Foods of New York (http://foodsofny.com, Tel. 212 209 3370)
- Unique food tasting and cultural walking tours to make you feel like a native New Yorker.
- Hawaii Food Tours (http://www.hawaiifoodtours.com, Tel. 808 926 3663)
- Bring a big appetite for these tours by a Hawaii food writer and restaurant reviewer.
- Chocolate-Lovers’ Paradise Tours (http://www.intrend.com/clpt/fs_index.html, Tel. 845 510 9630)
- A wonderful experience of Belgium for those with a sweet tooth.
- Beverly Gruber’s Everyday Gourmet Traveler (http://www.gourmetravel.com, Tel. 1 888 636 1602)
- Arranges small tours in Italy, with occasional forays into France.
- Epiculinary (http://www.epiculinary.com, Tel. 888 380 9010)
- From tapas in Spain, bouillabaisse in France and hand-made pasta in Italy these tours cast a wide net across Europe and destinations in Mexico and the USA.
- Patricia Wells (http://patriciawells.com)
- Fun cooking tours of France and Italy from the famous chef and writer.
- Gourmet Safaris (http://www.gourmetsafaris.com.au, Tel. + 61 2 9960 5675)
- Offer Australian experiences from an experienced television chef, and tours in Greece and Vietnam.
- Grape Escape (http://www.grapeescapenz.co.nz, Tel. + 64 21 2277 211)
- Specializes in half and full day wine tours of Hawke’s Bay, Martinborough, Marlborough and Central Otago in New Zealand.
- The International Kitchen (http://www.theinternationalkitchen.com, Tel. 312-467-0560)
- Bills itself as a pioneer in cooking-school vacations to France and Italy but also includes tours of Morocco, Mexico and the Caribbean.
- Culinary Tours (http://www.culinarytours.net, Tel. 409 832 4929)
- Combining a love of food and travel in Tuscany, Basque Spain, Provence, Thailand, New Zealand and even Latin America.
- Food and Wine Trails (http://www.foodandwinetrails.com, Tel. 1 800 367 5348)
- Featuring top destinations for wine tasting including Australia, New Zealand, Europe and North America.
- Imperial Tours (http://www.imperialtours.net/culinary_tour.htm, Tel. 888 888 1970)
- A chance to indulge in Chinese specialties like Peking Duck and Sichuan chicken in the great cities of Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
If you don’t want to be spoon-fed (literally) a self-guided tour is definitely more rewarding. This means you will need to arrange your own reservations and take care of travel logistics. It will help if you already have a good knowledge of the region you plan to visit or are prepared to do some research. However the advantages of setting your own agenda, having more control over what you spend and the flexibility to change the schedule whenever you wish will far outweigh the additional preparation time.
For example you could visit regions of Italy like Chianti or Tuscany during the wine harvest season to see how wine is made and go vineyard-to-vineyard sampling the local plonk. Similarly focus on coffee in Brazil or Souvlaka in the old taverns of Athens. Another really simple self-guided tour is to concentrate on visits to particular restaurant groups like Michelin Star. Or book yourself into somewhere with a kitchen so you can visit food markets and prepare your own version of local dishes.
If you speak some of the local language you’ll usually find locals, other restaurant patrons, waiters or even the chefs will enjoy talking about the food with you.