Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

ASK JOURNEYS: Culinary tourism big draw to modern traveller

  • Print
Today's traveller is often looking for hands-on culinary experiences.


Today's traveller is often looking for hands-on culinary experiences. Photo Store

ALMOST from the first date I started writing this column, I have been inundated with requests for recommendations for specific restaurants I have visited in my travels.

Research reports over the years consistently report positive dining experiences are among the highest expectations travellers have when they explore different cities and countries.

While the other aspects of travel discovery are still important, they are most often also looking for local flavours in restaurants that capture the sense of the nation from that perspective.

Out of this expectation, there has emerged a trend that has taken on added dimension to the food-related experience in countries people love to visit. It is the inclusion of a culinary-focused program that involves the traveller in a more meaningful and interactive manner.

Culinary tourism, as the name suggests, is about learning how to cook with the local chefs of a country, and finding out what the secret ingredients are that create the unique tastes of a nation, as well as how to find them.

On each of the last three cruises I was on, one of the most popular 'excursions' offered were full-day cooking experiences.

In each of these, the day started with a shopping trip to the nearest market where the chef first defined the nature of herbs, spices and meats they were looking for. Then they demonstrated to the small group of participants how to delineate between the best and worst quality of the foodstuffs they were looking to take back to their kitchen.

While not a part of a cruise program, one of the more enjoyable experiences my wife and I had in Istanbul was a half-day culinary class that concluded with the group of us who were taking the course sharing in the lunch we had prepared over the previous four hours.

Tour operators, never ones to be left behind for long, have now jumped on the food wagon in a big way.

Wine-tasting tours through the vineyards of the world are common. But now the trend is to include a lunch or dinner after the tour with a sampling of a number of wines that suitably match with the delectable locally prepared meal that caps off the day perfectly.

While the interactive experience is not as complete as some would hope, the chefs are happy to explain how they achieved the taste quality that is being applauded.

Today's traveller is looking for experiential culinary travel that brings them closer to the land and the people who create the experience by being a significant part of the preparation.

They want authenticity, with the ability to go back home and prepare the same meal for friends and family.

As a result, tour operators are offering more and more culinary vacations that satisfy those desires.

For example, GoWay Travel has put together a series of what they call foodie tours.

They started these culinary experience tours in Morocco and have now expanded their offerings to include South Africa and Jordan, and will soon be introducing similar on-site experiences in Turkey as well.

A company called Travel Indochina, as well as others, has been offering small group tours of this nature to Vietnam, Cambodia and China.

Trafalgar has made space in its itineraries for cooking instruction with its Flavours of Italy programs that have been reconfigured this year to include more hands-on, behind-the-scenes culinary experiences.

As Gaven Tollman, a senior executive of Trafalgar stated recently "People are fascinated with food: chefs today are the new rock stars."

This may not be surprising given the number of 'star' chefs on The Food Channel, as well as in cooking shows that are part of the lineup on most television networks.

Similarly, there are few cities that have not seen the proliferation of ethnic grocery stores, which allow us to find those ingredients whose names we may have never heard of before.

Go to any one of these outlets and you will find an owner or clerk most willing to help you make your selection, while explaining to you the best way to go about preparing the ingredients to draw out the best flavours in the cooking process.

When we are on a foreign vacation, our taste senses are often opened to the ways of eating that are common only to the nation we are visiting. If we are satisfied with the experience, we search out more of the same.

And if individuals enjoy cooking for others, it becomes a mission to learn how to duplicate those sensations in their own kitchens. It is with all this as a backdrop that the new style of travel is often centred around the concept of culinary tourism.

It should be noted that in all of these tours, the operators have not forgotten the broader experiential desires of the traveller. They all include a balanced mix of visitations to the most popular sites of the region and country. Today's progressive tour operators and travel agencies can help facilitate specific programs that suit the needs of a culinary group that has a desire to travel together.

Forward your travel questions to Ron Pradinuk is president of Journeys Travel & Leisure SuperCentre and can be heard Sundays at noon on CJOB. Previous columns and tips can be found on or read Ron's travel blog at

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 6, 2013 D2

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


It's 4:20 in Winnipeg

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press.  Local/Weather Standup- Catching rays. Prairie Dog stretches out at Fort Whyte Centre. Fort Whyte has a Prairie Dog enclosure with aprox. 20 dogs young and old. 060607.
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos


Do you think the Jets will win Game 4 on Wednesday?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google