Food talk was on the menu at the Ensemble Travel Group International Conference in Orlando on Monday, kicked off by keynote speaker and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain.
Bourdain gave a funny and even touching talk about the importance of the human connections that food can forge.
“If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Shanghai, don’t stand in front of Starbucks; if you’re in Tokyo and you’re eating at the Hard Rock Café, there’s something wrong,” he chided.
Instead, consider the culture in which you find yourself, and go with the food for which they are famous. Sure there are five-star restaurants in New York—but there are five-star restaurants everywhere. If you’re in the Big Apple for one day, go to a deli for a great pastrami sandwich and some chopped liver instead.
Never turn down local food that is offered to you—“when people offer a stranger food they are telling you the story of what they love,” Bourdain said. “And the story often is the struggle to make a lot out of very little.”
And remember to be grateful for that passport in your pocket and the safe life and abundant food that it brings, he said.
“Be grateful that if the militia comes on the bus, they’re not coming for you.” So be polite and eat what is offered.
As for Bourdain, he carries a bottle of Mylanta.
Other foody tidbits at the conference included:
- Norwegian has doubled the size of its sales team in the past year and is booking close to 40% ahead of this year for 2016, said vice president of sales Nathan Hickman. And while acknowledging that “we may not have the best cuisine, we will,” he promised, now that the Oceania team is overseeing the menus, and hiring and training the chefs.
- In the audience, Lisa Goldman, co-founder and vice president of Tour de Forks in New York, said her culinary customers are headed to Italy, Spain, France, but also to Turkey, Australia, South Africa, and South America. In the United States, Sonoma, Charleston, New Orleans, and the Hudson Valley in New York are hot with the culinary crowd. For 2016 she will be adding culinary tours to Nashville, and cheddar-cheese-making at Shelburne Farms, on Lake Champlain in Vermont.
- And at the Hotel Louvre in Paris, the dining room has changed its menu from international fare back to classic French. The change came at the behest of new owner Hyatt, which suggested that when customers travel to a historic property in a historic location, they are looking for an authentic experience. And they were right, said associate director of sales Alice Boulez.
Meanwhile, Ensemble Travel Group co-president Lindsay Pearlman announced the group has developed a global air ticketing platform, dubbed Aviate. Already in beta testing, the system began as a way to streamline Australia and New Zealand bookings, but then was expanded to make it a global offering with “firewalls between every IATA, so you can load a fare for 50 people only, that no one else can see it,” said senior vice president and general manager Trish Shepherd.
Pic: Lwp Kommunikáció