Food has always had a way of bringing people together. From the beginning of time, breaking bread with another has meant more than just the routine act of eating.
When it comes to the natural evolution of food coupled with travel, dining represents so many things to so many people. It’s a way to connect with old friends or new; it’s an opportunity to truly experience the unique culture of whatever destination you are visiting; and it can make all the difference in making a travel journey memorable.
The importance of dining as it relates to travel has never been more obvious than in recent years, as more tour operators put a greater emphasis on culinary options. From Michelin-star restaurants and in-home dining experiences to the freedom to roam and dine, and even enjoy cooking classes, there are a number of ways food has been weaved into today’s travel journeys.
As travelers seek out more authentic experiences, food plays a critical role in capturing the true essence of a destination.
“Some of my clients have based their entire trip around food,” said Sally McCorrison, director of travel services for AAA’s EP Region. “It used to be that, if it was Tuesday, it must be chicken, back when motor coach tours favored hotel meals over local restaurants. Today, if there are too many hotel meals, I hear complaints when my clients return home. Travelers want more – they want to experience the local culture and cuisine.”
Consider Switzerland, for instance. Imagine your clients stepping into a world of snow-capped mountains and traditional alpine villages. With fairy-tale castles, breathtaking peaks and storybook meadows to explore, it could be considered enough. But then there is the food. Along the way, your clients will encounter local experts and passionate foodies who will share local specialties like fondue and creamy chocolate with them.
On one evening, they can dine along the shores of Lake Geneva at a former farmhouse turned Michelin-starred restaurant, where the chef offers a creative menu that includes the freshest of ingredients and a large selection of local wines. On another day, they can journey through La Gruyere to see the dairy cattle that are famous for producing delicious milk and cheese; and then move onto Switzerland’s cheese manufacturing mecca, where they stop for lunch and savor a pot of bubbling fondue with a glass of chilled white wine. Sound tempting? I’d say so.
And the best part is that these experiences are not reserved for one destination. They are the fabric of hundreds of itineraries that allow for travelers to immerse themselves in the culture of the destination they are visiting.
“Culinary is driving my clients’ choices. They want options and experiences, and it’s definitely more in-depth,” said Shelli Watts, an agent with AAA Frisco, who added that today’s travelers are seeking variety.
That trend bodes well with these journeys, as today, dining is no longer limited to restaurants. Through unique partnerships, tour operators are able to offer travelers the opportunity to sit down to dinner with a local family in their home or engage with expert chefs that teach them how to prepare special dishes.
For example, in Italy, guests can savor a meal with a host who makes handmade dishes from her nonna’s precious recipe book, which pair exceptionally well with her sommelier daughter’s wine picks. Menus include dishes like tuna tartare with truffles, saffron risotto with zucchini, filet of beef braised in red wine, and Sicilian pistachio mousse. Hungry yet? This experience infuses traditional Roman cuisine with a flair of modern Italian tastes.
Now, imagine cooking some of these delicacies. Small group cooking classes are offered on many of these excursions as well, where guests not only learn to prepare classic cuisine, but uncover the secrets behind local favorites and even pick their own fresh ingredients from the host’s garden.
Whatever their desire, today’s travelers have the option of making food the focus of their journey or the special touch that enriches it even more.
FROM THE SPONSOR: We invite guests to embark on a journey unlike any other. When guests travel with Luxury Gold, we'll indulge their senses. From dining at critically acclaimed restaurants, to dine-at-home, cooking classes and much more, we offer them dining experiences they will never forget. Luxury Gold provides guests with exceptional dining at Michelin-starred restaurants, such as La Ferme de l’Hospital, in Bossey on the 10-day “Majestic Switzerland" journey. This restaurant is a 17th-century farmhouse that has been reimagined by Chef Jean Jacques Noguier to serve innovative cuisine featuring seasonal flavors and local wines. Not only will guests dine at exceptional venues, they will learn what goes into creating some of the world’s most iconic dishes through interactive cooking classes. On the 11-day “Majestic Japan" journey, guests participate in a private sushi-making class in Tokyo and discover why it takes ten years to perfect this 2000-year-old Japanese art, before sitting down to a freshly prepared Highlight Lunch. At Luxury Gold, we put our heart and soul into everything we do, taking care of every detail to ensure your Luxury Gold journey is perfectly planned, personalized, and truly unforgettable.