10 Chefs on Where They Like to Travel

Always searching for new ingredients and newer techniques, chefs are natural travellers.  
France vineyard
Photo by Wjarek/Shutterstock.

Atul Kochhar

Chef and Owner at Benares, London; NRI and Lima, Mumbai

Florence

Photo by Gali Estrange/Shutterstock .

 

Most recent trip Our last family holiday was in Italy. We had seen much of Europe, but not Italy, so we decided to take a Mediterranean cruise. One of the cities that we loved was Florence. Everyone loves Rome, and it must be said that we do too, but Florence also has a charm that is all its own.

Must eat When it comes to the food, the simplicity of the cuisine in Italy really did surprise me. Everything from the cucumbers to the tomatoes was fresh and full of flavour. While in Italy, you must try the ravioli nudi (naked ravioli with a stuffing of spinach, ricotta, parmesan and nutmeg in a tomato and sage sauce) and brodo (meat broth). Another recommendation would be the calamari in zimino (stewed calamari with vegetables) while in Italy.

Next Trip I plan to go to Antarctica, for a chartered cruise, with the family.

 

Xerxes Bodhanwala

Chef and Owner at Red Fork Deli, Bengaluru

Italy restaurant

Photo by Gianluca Figliola Fantini/Shutterstock.

Most recent trip Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast, Modena, Rome, Venice, and Naples. We had never been to Italy, and I was keen to experience the cuisine and countryside. It exceeded my expectations. It’s always great to see how different regions have varied ingredients and eating habits. But regardless of where we went, from little eateries, to bars, to fine dining restaurants, it was always the same philosophy: respect for the ingredients.

Must eat Osteria Francescana in Modena for a memorable fine dining experience; Pizzeria da Michele in Naples for melt-in-the-mouth pizzas; and the Bar at Hotel de Russie in Rome for the Bloody Mary and the ambience.

Next trip I hope to visit Slovenia for its highly recommended food and wine.

 

Pooja Dhingra

Chef and Owner at Le 15, Mumbai

Peru pisco sour

Photo by Iidi Papp/Shutterstock.

Most recent trip My last holiday was in Peru, and I chose it because, one, I wanted to go to Machu Picchu, and second, Lima is now the food destination. They have some of the best restaurants, not only in South America, but in the world. Once in Peru, my to-do-list was all about wanting to meet some chefs, trying pisco and discovering the culture.

Must eat There were a lot of new flavours and textures, whether at a high-end meal or something off the streets. Even in terms of the simple ceviche, or chifa, which is their version of Chinese food. A highlight was eating at Central in Lima. I went in kind of expecting to be let down, but surprisingly it turned out to be one of the best meals I had.

Next trip I really want to go to Bangkok, to try out Gaa by Garima Arora, and all the other new restaurants that have opened up in Thailand.

 

Ashfer Biju

Executive Chef at The Pierre, New York

fish market

Photo by Matyas Rehak/Shutterstock.

Most recent trip This January I took a quick break from NYC to visit Cancun and the Yucatan Peninsula. I have always been fascinated by the flavours of Central and South America, and this was my first trip to Mexico to experience them.

Must eat Shrimp ceviche tostadas at the seafood stall in Mercado 24, a local market in Cancun. The marinated shrimps with lime, chili, avocado, red onion and cilantro on crisp corn tostadas are perfect for tropical weather and they are super healthy too.

Next trip I’m going on a road trip in California next month and looking forward to taking in the scenic beauty while enjoying Californian cuisine and fresh produce.

 

Sarah Todd

Chef and Restaurateur at Antares Restaurant and Beach Club, Goa

Assamese food thali

Photo by Bijitdutta/Shutterstock.

Most recent trip Assam. It was a culinary sensation; the tribes I encountered were extremely warm and welcoming.  People cooked for me and showed me their traditional dance and folk songs. The state has stunning scenery. It also has delicate fabrics, which inspired my new kitchenware range.

Must eat Dishes you must try are komal saul, a delicious boiled and sautéed pork dish; til pitha, a moorish tea time snack made from coconut, rice and jaggery; tender jackfruit curry; and sunga chicken.

Next trip I plan to travel to Kasauli, which is a two-hour drive from Chandigarh.

 

Alexis Gielbaum

Partner at Slink and Bardot, Mumbai

France vineyard

Photo by Wjarek/Shutterstock.

“Right now, to go back to France is the only kind of holiday I want. My wife lives in Japan, so I have been there to meet her a couple of times in the past two years, but that’s it. In France, Paris obviously is my favourite place, because it’s my city. I know all the cool things to do.

Otherwise, we have two houses. One is in Chinon, a wine production area, a little bit like Bordeaux. It is in the Vallée de la Loire. My mother lived here for more than 10 years, and vineyards surround it. Our neighbour is an amazing wine producer. It’s the kind of region where you cook a lot with the wine, where you make wine jam, and many recipes with wine, especially red wine. There’s a few cheeses also.

We have another house, which is very, very south of France in a village called Le Tignet. It’s in the mountains and takes about two hours to reach from Nice. So that’s the Mediterranean, and at the end of the Alps. The products you can have from here are very different from Chinon or Paris. They make their own olive pickles, and their own olive oil, which is a bit bitter—very different from what you find in Italy. Lots of lemons. There’s a lot of fish, obviously. It is close to Grasse, the capital of perfumes in France, so it’s full of those smells and those beautiful products.”

 

Manu Chandra

Chef Partner at Toast & Tonic, The Fatty Bao and Monkey Bar; Executive Chef at Olive Beach, Bengaluru

Italy

Photo by Rosshelen/Shutterstock.

Most recent trip Italy. I go to Italy quite often actually. This time I went to Bologna—that was one part of the country I hadn’t been to, plus they have a great food history. It’s the home of salumi and tortellinis; that’s what it’s famous for principally. But there was a lot more to explore. It’s the kind of place where aperativos exist, with loads of slices of salami.

Must eat Bologna is one of the largest centres of processed meats in Italy, and what I discovered, of course, is that they also have fantastic seafood there. You need to be there at the right season. The winter truffle season was also kicking in. We also happened to be there during a chocolate festival, in the main square. They had 350-400 different boutique chocolate makers from across the country. So, yeah, lots of food, lots of good wine and lots of good chocolate.

Next trip I will be going to Calabria, another part of the country that I haven’t visited. It has the spiciest Italian
cuisine, and one of my favourite things here is this pork sausage spread called ‘nduja. Calabrian wines are also coming to the forefront. They have very chalky soil, so there’s a very distinct characteristic.

 

Arnaldo Gonzales Ramos

Chef de Cuisine at The Stables and Rodeo Drive, Dubai

Thailand

Photo by Yulia Grigoryeva/Shutterstock.

Most recent trip Thailand. I love Thailand, purely because of its culinary graph. Being a tourist destination, it caters to a very dynamic set of palettes. What’s unique is how they still retain the authenticity of their traditional flavours.

Must eat It’s heaven for experimental and bizarre foodies. I tried things I never thought I would: insect and seafood, exotic vegetables, half-cooked crocodile meat, and a variety of seafood at its freshest.

Next trip Back to my home country, Philippines. I intend on starting my own food business there.

 

Kainaz Contractor

Co-owner at Rustom’s Parsi Bhonu, New Delhi

Spain

Photo by Anibal Trejo/Shutterstock.

“I chose my destinations in Spain based on culinary specialties as well as the sights. In the coastal city of Malaga, seafood and shellfish topped our list. In search of the famed Spanish cured meat jamon iberico de bellota we found our way to Ronda, a sleepy old town. A lovely little tapas restaurant there had perfected the art of serving paper-thin slices of cured leg of the black-hoofed Iberian pig.

The city that truly embodies the culture of tapas, however, is Granada, which lies at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Granada remains one of the few cities to continue the tradition of serving tapas on the house along with your drink. We tried mainstays like fried bacalao, patatas bravas, and croquettas, and local specialties like sherry soaked clams, green beans poached in olive oil with jamon, Sacromonte omelette with lamb brains, and my surprise favourite: berenjenas con miel or crisp-fried aubergine with wild honey. Moving north, I loved Barcelona for its non-conformist attitude to both food and culture (Gaudi’s architectural gems included).”

 

Vicky Ratnani

Culinary Consultant, World Traveller, Cookbook Author

Peru

Photo Courtesy: Vicky Ratnani

Most recent trip Peru is one of most intriguing and inspiring destinations I have been going there for a long time. Having worked on Grand Ocean liners as a chef, I went to Lima 13 years ago and I fell in love with it. I was very fortunate to go over to Lima, and I now begin my journey at The Mistura Food Festival which is the biggest food festival in South America. Artisans, farmers, chefs and restaurants from all over Peru come over to showcase their food, produce and culinary skills—it is food paradise.

Must eat Lima has great bars and restaurants. In fact three of the ‘The World’s 50 Best’ restaurants are in Lima: Central, Astrid y Gaston and Maido. Peru also has some great produce from the Andes Mountains, Amazon River and the oceans. You have to try some ceviche, which is a cured fish with citrus and chilies. Pisco is a fortified spirit made from grape alcohol, and the Pisco Sour is a world renowned cocktail now.

Next trip Tasmania, Indonesia, South Africa

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