Research shows that anywhere from 70 to 77% of Americans travel for the food experience, with preferred culinary destinations being Italy, France, Spain and Japan. In fact, the multi-billion-dollar culinary tourism market is expected to reach a value of $3.46 billion within the next five years.
This spring, the award-winning chef and owner behind Aspen’s only black-owned restaurants is offering culinary fanatics the ultimate travel experience. Chef Mawa McQueen is the owner of Mawa’s Kitchen, Mawita and The Crepe Shack. She also recently launched her first cookbook, Mawa’s Way. The cookbook is not only a collection of fan favorite recipes from Mawa’s Kitchen in Aspen, CO, but also a story of grit and perseverance to achieve one’s dreams.
Sponsored by Envoyage Travel, from May 11-18 guests can experience the world of food with Chef Mawa during an eight-day culinary experience in Bordeaux. Guests who book can enjoy luxury accommodations in their own private chateau, explore Bordeaux and the surrounding wine country, learn from Chef Mawa how to expertly shop local farmers markets and enjoy delicious meals prepared by Chef Mawa herself.
Sponsored by Modern Adventure, Chef Andrew Zimmerman of the MICHELIN-starred Sepia & Proxi, Chicago, is offering a guided tour of Vietnam, Nov. 9-19. Chef Andrew is a two-time “Chef of the Year” nominee. On top of it all, Zimmerman has been studying and falling in love with Vietnamese cuisine for the past 10 years and hopes to share learned with travelers. The 11-day journey is a perfectly crafted banh mi, packed with immersive experiences and garnished with unhurried adventure. Dive deep into Hanoi’s street markets, walk along ancient lanes in Ho Chi Minh City, cruise through the emerald waters of Halong Bay and have plenty of time to eat and shop through Hoi An’s fabled markets.
Both chefs recently discussed their upcoming culinary sojourns.
What prompted the idea for the chef-led travel experience?
I love to travel and see different parts of the world and I get asked all the time from my customers, clients, DMs on social media about my recommendations for places to eat, see, stay not to mention people asking if they can travel with me. So I figured, why not combine my love of travel, my knowledge of France and my customer service/hospitality mentality and lead a unique and inspired trip to Bordeaux. When I travel I don’t go to all the touristy places. I want to do the work to search for authenticity of place and people. Of course some of the touristy things are fun and worth seeing, but my goal is to expose my travel companions to new, local places, I want to take people for the true experience for French hospitality, which you don’t see as a traditional tourist.
Modern Adventure specializes in highly curated and experience driven travel and they typically have “Tastemakers” along to provide their insights, past experiences and enthusiasm to the trip. After I saw the level of planning and the level of the accommodations, there was no way I was going to pass it up.
What do you hope guests take away from this experience?
I want them to walk away with a different, authentic view of France. France is not just the Eiffel Tower. France has so much more culture and hidden gems to discover that I can share with people. When we’re in Bordeaux we will not only taste the legendary wine, we will discover where the people who make the wine live, what they aspire to create, their love or the land, what we call “terroir” in French.
Guests will come away from this experience with a deeper understanding of the French people, an appreciation for the culture, how people do their craft, from wine to French cuisine to local handicraft and the lengths people go to produce in Bordeaux.
I hope that the guests walk away feeling like they had a “once in a lifetime” level experience. We are going to visit four major cities, see the beauty of Ha Long Bay by boat, bicycle through rice fields and drift down the Mekong river, all the while enjoying the food and culture of an amazing country.
Will you be providing cooking lessons during the journey?
Absolutely. First of all, I will be doing a few breakfasts throughout the trip plus a dinner or two. I don’t have a specific menu yet because I want to make sure to utilize what’s in season while we will be there and one of the dinners will include a trip to the local Farmer’s Market, where I will teach them how to shop, about local produce and we will gather all the ingredients we need to prepare a fabulous French meal together. The meals we all cook together will be family style and everything will be in French fashion meaning the dinners will include plenty of wine, and last up to four hours. Nothing is fast in France. I am going to show participants how to really relax, be present, enjoy the moment and that not everything has to be fast paced. Making food, especially multi-course French dinners, is a moment that a lot of people don’t take the time to do. There is such a joy in doing that and I can’t wait to share that with people.
Absolutely. I will be cooking at least three times during the trip notably, on a beautiful boat on Ha Long Bay and after pulling some fresh river shrimp from the Mekong river.