By Kacey Bradley
Food travel, also called gastro-tourism, is the pursuit of authentic culinary experiences across the globe. Everybody has to eat. But a gastro-tourist is looking for a unique adventure with local fare.
Some popular food travel trends across the globe include:
- Farm-to-Table: directly sourced and locally grown food.
- Cooking Classes: an immerse, hands-on experience.
- Chef’s Table: a chance for guests to interact with the chef.
According to research, 93 percent of travelers create fond, long-lasting memories based on experiences with an area’s distinct cuisine. Hotels can offer an immersive experience by providing culinary delights like regional foods, wines and desserts.
The Open Kitchen Concept
The five-star Hôtel Metropole Monte-Carlo, which first opened in 1886, is a destination on many food travel bucket lists. Dine in the two-Michelin-starred restaurant with a menu inspired by Joël Robuchon, a French chef and restauranteur.
With the open concept design, guests can watch in fascination as Executive Chef Christophe Cussac and his team flawlessly prepare an enticing and authentic meal. The Mediterranean-inspired menu features dishes like green beans in a mimosa salad with Sologne Imperial caviar and quail stuffed with foie gras.
Yoshi is another on-site restaurant flaunting a Michelin star. The menu showcases healthy cuisine prepared by Takeo Yamazaki, a Japanese chef under the direction of Christophe Cussac.
Foodies flock the open kitchen concept where they can be part of the action. Dining is an experience, and guests want to be fully immersed.
A Chocolate-Filled Delight
Located in the Bahamas in the heart of Nassau is the Graycliffe Hotel and Restaurant. The hotel doesn’t initially seem like one of the island’s leading attractions. But guests who walk through the front doors never want to leave.
Guests can join the Graycliffe Culinary Academy, an immersive cooking experience with the restaurant’s executive chef. Aspiring chefs can cook a meal while also learning how to pair a menu with specially-selected wine. The event is immersive, with all ingredients and supplies provided. The small class size, up to 10 students, allow guests to get one-on-one help.
For those with a sweet tooth, the master chocolatier makes delectable treats like gourmet chocolates and truffles on-site. Take a tour of the factory and complete the experience by making your own chocolate bar. Adults can also go on a culinary journey with a combination of rich chocolates and premium spirits.
Competitors should take note of the all-inclusive experiences that can be tailored to adults and children alike. As the food travel trend grows, so is the variety of travelers stepping through the front door.
An Adults-Only Class
Among the Swiss Alps is The Chedi Andermatt, a luxury hotel offering culinary exploration for travelers around the globe. It’s here that guests can check in and take a 1.5-hour course and cocktail session with the hotel’s bartender of the year.
The annual classes, taught in 2018 by Jason Knüsel, show guests how to recreate signature cocktail recipes. The experience allows for maximum interaction between teacher and students, with guests able to ask questions, make substitutions and have fun. It’s also a great way to warm up after a long day outside on the slopes.
Aspiring bartenders can mix up new concoctions or try out the Chedi’s signature drink, the Tarte Tatin — hot, sweet and perfect for a winter night. This immersive experience pulls guests into all the destination has to offer without having to leave the hotel grounds.
A Cultural Experience
Kata Rocks is a luxury villa in Phuket, Thailand. The award-winning resort is known for its oceanfront location and deluxe dining where guests are invited to help prepare a meal.
This hotel hosts a Thai Cooking School, where guests can learn the techniques and methods used to make authentic Thai cuisine. The two-hour course is hands-on, allowing guests to prepare food and gain insight into the country’s culture and traditions. Participants will grind pasts, chop vegetables, step meet and taste delicious new dishes.
The luxe hotel also offers a wine cellar featuring more than 300 stocked bottles. Guests can grab a bottle for their villa or partake in educational classes. Learn what to look for when tasting wine. Learn the process behind making your own concoction. And learn which type of cheese makes the perfect pair.
The food travel trend shows no signs of slowing down. Tourists are discovering that there’s more to a destination than sights and attractions. The food can be an experience itself, an adventure that teaches you about the local people and culture. For hotels who want to jump on the food tourism bandwagon, the key is to craft an immersive experience that can’t be found anywhere else. Let guests watch, cook and get involved. The result is a culturally-rich lesson filled with tasty food.