What's for Dinner? Immersive Culinary Experiences Around the World
Updated: Apr 6
Experiencing local cuisine is an amazing way to explore and enjoy a new place. Here's more about the best culinary experiences around the world.
Land of Darwin and Cacao Tour - Quasar Expeditions
Taking place in the Andes, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, Quasar Expeditions offers an exclusive Land of Cacao and Darwin experience, in partnership with Pacari. Aiming to retrace the steps of the Mayo-Chinchipe-Marañon culture of 3,300 B.C., guests explore the land where the Cacao plant was first turned into the food of the Gods. Travelers venture into the hot humid environment that is essential to grow the most flavorful cocoa beans on the planet, follow chocolate's progress throughout history and discover the artful process involved to turn the cacao bean into the prized and varied delicacy enjoyed today. Following the chocolate exploration on the mainland, guests venture deep into the land of Darwin as they explore the Galapagos Islands in style. Each day of the epic journey is complimented by a series of culinary delights, specially prepared by a Quasar Expeditions chef using Ecuador’s award-winning cacao beans and its raw chocolate.
Thai Street Markets - The Ritz-Carlton, Koh Samui
Guests at The Ritz-Carlton, Koh Samui, on the site of a former coconut plantation, can enjoy an immersive cultural and food experience with the property's Fisherman's Village excursion. Lined with old wooden houses and shops dotted with decorative red Chinese lanterns, Fisherman's Village comes alive Friday nights with a festive street market featuring locally-made apparel, souvenirs, food, and more. Guests are invited to stroll through the open marketplace, enjoying the delightful waterfront eateries and authentic Thai evening.
The night after their visit to Fisherman's Village, travelers can enjoy The Ritz-Carlton, Koh Samui's unique Baan Talat outdoor dining experience, available to all guests every Saturday night. Baan Talat, which means ‘market house’ in Thai, offers an array of authentic Thai street food dishes, including Pad Thai, Gai Pad Krapow (Chicken with chilli and basil), Crispy Pork Belly served with fragrant jasmine rice, Som Tum (Papaya Salad), Massaman Curry with crispy flatbread, and Hoy Tot (oyster omelette), among others. Various market stalls are set up to recreate the lively atmosphere of a Thai street market, similar to Fisherman's Village, offering local favorites in a vibrant and stylish setting. Local island performers, artists and craftsmen are also invited to further enhance the market-style atmosphere.
On-Board Sushi - Fregate Island
Newly reopened Fregate Island is one of the most revered hideaways in the Seychelles, offering the privacy and seclusion with 17 beautifully crafted villas throughout pristine nature. Guests spend their days on Fregate’s private yachts snorkeling, diving and fishing. Guests’ catches of the day can be turned into sushi right before their eyes. Chefs from Fregate Island's kitchen board the private boats and create fresh sushi and sashimi for guests, using what they caught while at sea, guaranteeing the freshest possible meal.
Cooking the Catch of the Day - Hotel Arts Barcelona
Hotel Arts Barcelona offers guests and visitors unique, authentic experiences to dive into Barcelona’s food scene and culture. Since 2015 the hotel has offered guests the opportunity to discover Barcelona’s iconic fish market. Located in the city's main port, wholesalers gather at La Lonja, the famous market, to bid for the fresh catch of the day. Although usually inaccessible the general public, Hotel Arts Barcelona offers guests the opportunity to enjoy a guided tour of the fish market and attend the daily professional auction accompanied by Executive Chef, Antonio Saez. The group witnesses the fisherman hard at work as they arrive from sea in the late afternoon to deliver the catch before wholesalers auction the lots. The massive hauls include everything from scampi to prawns and monkfish, as well as local species including sea bass, grouper, sole and scorpion fish. In this unique local ambience, guests will be able to choose their favorite fish to be cooked by chef Antonio Saez that evening. After leaving the animated auction, the group heads back to the hotel to enjoy a delicious, unique tasting menu prepared by chef Saez. The evening consists of recounting the day and a feast of fresh seafood and local products featuring the catch of the day, inventively prepared by chef Saez and served at the chef’s table along with cocktail creations and wine.
Local Food Markets and BeefBar Experience - Hotel Lou Pinet
The Gulf of Saint-Tropez overflows with quality produce and subtle flavors that have famed the gastronomy and wine of the region. The village’s famous open air Place des Lices Provencal market, open every Tuesday and Saturday, attracts tourists and locals alike with the the wide range of colorful food and suppliers. The market is a massive square where locals gather to sell their fresh products ranging from fruits, vegetables, fish, meats, chicken, bread, pastries, cheese, sausages, spices, olives, and herbs. For the freshest produce, guests should plan on heading to the market early to secure their stock. Place des Lices also features flowers, plants, clothing, toys, and quality home accessories and decor. The market is a lovely space for visitors to enjoy an immersive culinary and cultural experience in Saint-Tropez.
Hôtel Lou Pinet, a luxury hideaway in Saint-Tropez embodying the bohemian charm of the iconic village and offers guests and visitors immersive culinary experiences onsite. Guests at Hotel Lou Pinet can indulge in the famous Beefbar, a sophisticated concept based on premium cuts of meat, it was created by Riccardo Giraudi in 2005. A successful mix of quality produce and chic, super modern simplicity, Beefbar brings a touch of excellence to one of the most beautiful places on the planet. While the Black Angus Prime, Wagyu WX and Kobe beef remain the menu’s guest stars, other less carnivorous and more Mediterranean influences bring some added flavor. For the 2020 season, the menu is being enriched with a signature dish created exclusively for Lou Pinet, the Bao Bun (steamed Korean buns, chamomile smoked Black Angus).
Foraging for Mushrooms - The Tschuggen Grand Hotel
The Tschuggen Grand Hotel, nestled in the Alpine region of Arosa at 5,900 feet, offers an exclusive Mushroom Picking and Cooking Class for summer guests. No one knows Arosa’s wild fungi like Claudio Laager, leader of the experience and the property's Food and Beverage Manager. Growing up in nearby St Moritz, Laager has been studying mycology (mushrooms) ever since his mother first took him foraging at age seven. Laager’s foraging expedition takes guests into the forests early in the morning and, after a half day of hunting, brings them back to the hotel, where they use the day’s finds to prepare Laager’s authentic, Swiss mushroom risotto recipe.
Exploring Johannesburg’s Culinary Scene - Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa
Johannesburg is a city filled with local restaurants and eateries ranging from hidden delis, bistros, cafes, steakhouses, pizza parlors, fine dining restaurants and food markets. Eating out in Johannesburg is both a culinary event and a cultural experience. For more than 100 years, people from all corners of the earth have flocked to Johannesburg to seek their fortunes in the City of Gold. This diversity of population is reflected in the eateries – whether the taste buds call for African, Asian, Italian, seafood, steaks, designer street food or anything in-between, guests will be sure to find it on a Johannesburg plate. Immersive gastronomical highlights include the Cube Tasting Kitchen, which is both a restaurant and tasting kitchen offering an intimate focused food experience; the Bryanston Organic & Natural Market, which offers the first and finest outdoor market in the city with wholesome organic food, sample global cuisines and live music performances; and DW Eleven 13 Restaurant which boasts experimental cuisine and an interesting twist on traditional dishes all with sustainable and fresh produce.
Guests should take advantage of Johannesburg’s bustling food scene by staying with the Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa, a secluded retreat in the affluent suburb of Sandhurst. The hotel features Sarapana, the hotel’s extensive organic herb and vegetable rooftop garden. The garden is a hidden treasure that serves as a constant source of fresh ingredients for the hotel restaurants and meals. Sarapana inspires the innovative culinary journey at the hotel, as the chefs set out to spoil guests daily with hand-picked ingredients and seasonal dishes. At sunrise the Chefs visit the vegetable garden to select the day’s ingredients which inspire the seasonal menus. The Saxon’s gourmet restaurants, the Terrace and Qunu, both incorporate the freshest homegrown seasonal ingredients from the garden into their culinary creations.
The Pantry - Ellerman House
Extraordinary attention to detail defines the dining experience at Ellerman House. Integral to the philosophy of sharing the best of South Africa, the Ellerman House cuisine showcases the rich South African food heritage with international flair. As guests enjoy panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean, the team of dedicated chefs, led by Executive Chef Rudolph Blaauw and Culinary Director Peter Tempelhoff, focusses on vibrant South African inspired recipes. Seasonal local flavors are infused with culinary inspiration from around the globe with only the best regionally produced and sourced ingredients being used in our dishes. The famous complimentary guest pantry, also known as the "sugar shack" or "naughty corner" is available 24 hours to satisfy in-between meal cravings. Fresh, homemade treats are prepared daily, making it perfect for a light snack between meals, or for grabbing supplies before heading out for the day. Cakes are baked fresh every morning and guests can help themselves to a range of teas, coffees and drinks throughout the day or night.
Sustainable Farm-to-Table Offerings - Singita Sabora Tented CampThe newly redesigned Singita Sabora Tented Camp, which reopens next month, is an entirely new approach to an African safari dinning under canvas, and the camp’s food experience is one of the most innovative elements of its reinvention. Building on the sustainable, farm-to-table approach that underpins Singita’s approach to cuisine, Singita Sabora offers guests total flexibility around menus and meal times. Guests can fill up wicker picnic baskets with gourmet treats from the lodge’s all-day "Guest Deli” and enjoy on private decks or at one of the secluded dinning spots around the camp. And, each tented suite features a personal pantry, perfect for in-room meals.
Additionally, the Serengeti campus of the Singita Community Culinary School, an 18-month professional cooking course for students from local villages, is also located on the 350,000-acre private reserve. The students learn the skills and experience they need to pursue a career in Tanzania’s thriving hospitality and tourism industry, and many graduates of the program are employed at Singita.