Some 30 percent of American travelers choose a vacation destination, at least in part, because of its culinary offerings, according to recent data by the industry publication, Travel Weekly.
This reflects a major cultural shift that has taken place over the last decade: Chefs have stepped out of the kitchen and are revered as celebrities; there are enough food lovers to support cable TV channels devoted entirely to cooking and photographs of restaurant meals posted on social media are as ubiquitous as “wish you were here” picture postcards once were.
Increasingly, travelers want to immerse themselves in the authentic culture of a destination, and one way of doing this is through food, beyond just dining at a fine restaurant. The new breed of culinary travelers wants to visit markets, see the places where food is grown or produced, learn about new ingredients and cooking techniques, hobnob with chefs, share tables with locals and sample foods that are unique or representative of the destination they are visiting.
As a result of this shift, hotels, resorts and even smaller inns are raising their game by creating new culinary adventures for food lovers.
“Hotels have come to realize that food (and beverages, for that matter, too) are a distinctive way to increase interaction with their guests,” says Patrick Bottiglieri, author of The Thirteenth Floor: Memoirs of a Hotelier and professor at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.
“Cooking classes, tours and other culinary-related activities memorialize a stay.”
In a recent article for PBS Next Avenue, I described 10 spring/summer culinary adventures bound to whet the appetite of food lovers. You can read the article in its entirety here on the PBS website.