Hubert Burda Media

Six Chefs On Their Travel Plans

Jason Atherton, Rachel Khoo, Pierre Gagnaire, David Thompson, Margarita Fores and James Cornwall tell us where they travel to feast their eyes, feed their bellies and fill their closets.

Jason Atherton and his wife, Irha

JASON ATHERTON

The affable, Michelin-starred chef is founder of Socials restaurants in London, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Sydney, with one in the Philippines
coming soon.

What’s your next holiday destination? We’re looking at Italy for our family holiday this summer, most likely Positano. It’s just stunning and the weather is always great.

What will you be eating? All the amazing local produce and seafood. It makes you realise that with quality ingredients you need to do very little to a dish to make it amazing.

Do you research a destination before you go? Not much really. I ask my chef mates for advice on food markets or recommended restaurants that I might need to book ahead of time, but usually I find the less planning you do the nicer it is to stumble upon great places and restaurants.

What else do you have planned? Relaxing with my wife and two daughters. I don’t get to spend enough time with them, so holidays are very important to us. 

Do you shop on holiday? I love fashion, so I usually end up with a couple new pairs of shoes in my suitcase. 

What dream destination would you still like to visit? My wife Irha is from the Philippines and the incredible Amanpulo private island there is on our bucket list. We’re launching a restaurant in Cebu this year, so it would be a dream to go there afterwards.

Rachel Khoo. Photo: Lara Messer

Rachel Khoo. Photo: Lara Messer

RACHEL KHOO

TV cook and founder of a new lifestyle blog, Rachel Khoo seeks homecooked treats in Japan and an insider view courtesy of the capital’s chief creative influencers.

What’s your next holiday destination? I’d love to go back to Japan. I did a whistle-stop tour of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka several years ago and had the most amazing time.

What will you be eating? So many different things – from slurping a bowl of ramen to eating melt-in-the-mouth sushi, but I’d also like to explore more of Japan’s home cooking.

What else will you see or shop? I’d like to visit some traditional ceramicists, buy plenty of cute stationery, and learn and explore more about traditional Japanese crafts. There are so many interesting creatives based in Japan who I’d love to meet and collaborate with on my new project, Khoollect.com. One of my favourite bloggers is Hello Sandwich 

Does travel impact what you create in the kitchen? Travel is hugely inspirational when it comes to creating new dishes, but you don’t need to travel far to be inspired – it could simply be taking the tube to another part of London. Parisian patisseries inspired my Lemon Cheesecake Bites but I use flavours that are more common in English and American baking, like lemon curd. The recipe has lots of clever shortcuts too – my signature “Khoo” twist.

David Thompson

DAVID THOMPSON

Documenter of Thai cuisine David Thompson – who picked up this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants – is a dedicated globetrotter and wanders off the beaten track to Iran.

What’s your next holiday destination?

As I write this I am on a break – the first in a long, long time. I am in Iran. I only just arrived and I already find it fascinating.

What dish have you most enjoyed so far? 

There was a great dumpling stew in Tabriz, made with minced lamb and dried apricots served in a sauce of tomatoes and cumin.

Why Iran? 

I wanted to be transported from the everyday, so Middle Eastern countries hold the greatest allure. I was so lucky to see parts of Syria before it was engulfed in calamity.

You built your name on cooking historic and regional Thai recipes. Do other places impact what you do in the kitchen? 

I try to maintain a culinary purity so any travels I might have are simply for pleasure with no effect on my Thai cooking.

What are you reading? 

At the moment, a solid history of Iran, its culture and religions. I like to know about the countries I visit. 

Pierre Gagnaire

Pierre Gagnaire

PIERRE GAGNAIRE

One of France’s best-known chef innovators with restaurants worldwide, Pierre Gagnaire stays close to the kitchen entertaining with friends at his holiday home in Brittany

What’s your next holiday destination? I will take my family to our house in Brittany and spend August there. 

Where will you eat? I usually eat a lot of seafood as our house is on an island, but the traditional speciality in Brittany is the crêpe. I tend to eat a lot of them.

Will you be cooking? I cook local lamb and vegetables with our friends, who love helping me in the kitchen. We enjoy inviting people back for dinner.

Do you switch off social media? Unfortunately, the only place where I can go offline is the desert, and I don’t do trekking any more. 

What will you be reading this summer? My wife Sylvie’s second novel, as I have not had the time to read it yet, even though it came out in May 2015!

What has been your most memorable summer holiday to date? A trip with my wife and her children to Vietnam about seven years ago. The kids got to discover Southeast Asia, its food, its perfumes and its smiling people.

Margarita Fores

Margarita Fores

MARGARITA FORES

The Manila-based restaurateur and culinary superstar – she’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants’ Best Female Chef – says she’s keen to get back to  her roots at home, quite literally.

What’s your next holiday destination? I’ll be going to my home province of Negros Occidental to be with my farmer friends. We’ll be celebrating Panaad Harvest Festival, the festival of festivals.

What are you most looking forward to? I look forward to seeing the farmers’ beautiful produce as well as the eating, of course.

Will you be dining or cooking? I’m planning to cook for the farmers from their harvest at our ancestral house.

What will you be reading? I’ll be catching up on all my new cookbooks, including André Chiang’s Octaphilosophy and Massimo Bottura’s Never Trust A Skinny Italian Chef.

Do you use social media or go offline? Unless the destination is a deserted beach where there is no access to social media, I never go offline.

What was your most memorable holiday? The summer of my son’s graduation from College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts, in 2014. I enjoyed my time on the East Coast savouring the local seafood. 

James Cornwall

JAMES CORNWALL

The Executive Chef at Hong Kong’s epic The Seafood Room, Cornwall only just moved to Asia from London. Next up is a further footprint into the continent with a trip to Tokyo – for which running shoes will be an obligatory part of the packing. 

What’s your next holiday destination? Japan. I’m planning to do the Osaka marathon in October. 

What do you most want to taste on this trip?
Sashimi. I really enjoy the simplicity. It’s one of the best ways to eat seafood.

What else do you have planned? Hopefully completing a marathon, and spending some quality time with my girlfriend – she’s a chef
also, so we share the same love for food.

Do you read up on the destination before you go?  Do you read up on the destination before you go?

What do you shop for? Clothes. It’s not normally until I go on holiday that I realise my wardrobe looks dated – and I actually have the time to shop.

Which destination has inspired you most in the kitchen? Copenhagen. There’s such a Nordic push now on the food scene, but the idea is simple: use what’s around you. I’m always at markets trying to source local, quality products to use.