Get us in your inbox

Talk to the Chef Travel
Image: Shutterstock / Time Out

Where you should travel in 2021, according to 15 top chefs

After a year of lockdown, we can picture ourselves in any of these dreamy destinations.

Morgan Olsen
Written by
Morgan Olsen
Advertising

As the world slowly emerges from lockdown and more countries open to tourists, 50 percent of our headspace is devoted to imagining where we'll travel first. Typically, it's a toss-up between a white-sand beach and a lively city centre somewhere far, far away. (We could go on for hours.) If you need some travel inspiration to kickstart your wanderlust, we've got just the thing. We tapped some of the world's best chefs to share the top destinations on their 2021 travel bucket lists. Unsurprisingly, many of their plans involve food – including devouring beignets in New Orleans, visiting izakayas in Japan and noshing on crepes in Paris. Ready to build your travel wish list? Take a look at where chefs are heading to first.

Craving more insider insight from the world's best chefs? You're in the right place. Talk to the Chef! is a weekly food series that will tap into the minds of culinary leaders around the globe. The conversation changes just as often, and we'll chat with chefs about everything from podcasts and kitchen equipment to travel and trends.

Chef-approved travel destinations for 2021

Mexico
Photograph: Shutterstock

Mexico

“I actually just did it! I had gone two years without seeing my mother and without eating her incredible food. I recently had the opportunity to get vaccinated, so I booked my trip to Mexico and went to go spend time with her at home. It was wonderful.”—Carlos Gaytan, chef-owner of Tzuco in Chicago

New Orleans
Photograph: Shutterstock

New Orleans

“I am dying to go to New Orleans. After being in lockdown, I want to be somewhere that is just full of life, loud music, great food and welcoming people. I am dreaming of drinking coffee and eating beignets with a mountain of powdered sugar at Cafe du Monde and going to a friend’s backyard eating a spicy crawfish boil.”Emily Yuen, executive chef of Bessou and Bessou at Time Out Market in New York City

Advertising
Cambodia
Photograph: Shutterstock

Cambodia

“The No. 1 travel destination on my post-lockdown bucket list is Cambodia because I am currently writing Canada’s first Cambodian cookbook and believe that it is an absolute priority to have these recipes validated by local chefs and the people who know their food best.”—Chanthy Yen, founder of Touk and chef of Parliament Pub & Parlour in Montreal

Istanbul
Photograph: Shutterstock

Istanbul

“Istanbul is one of those cities that just transports you so far away from the day to day of your normal life. I can’t wait to get back there, to go on a river boat ride, sipping a Turkish tea; to smell the smoke on the streets from the Mangals; to feast on all the delicious food. I love the simplicity of the food, like honest home cooking, and [it's] just so tasty. My favourite restaurant was Asmali Cavit, and I will eat as many grilled hamsi as I can.”Erchen Chang, owner of Bao in London

Advertising
Tanzania
Photograph: Shutterstock

Tanzania

“There's a long story around what would have been an incredible trip there 12 years ago, exploring Dar es Salaam, trekking to Kilimanjaro base camp, a camping safari and going over to Zanzibar. I’d paid for it all, then couldn’t go. After visiting the Gambia in 2019 – my first visit to Africa in years, having only visited Morocco briefly in my early 20s – I vowed to explore more of the African continent. Being cooped up for what feels like decades during lockdown, the lost-money wound from my missed trip has healed. it’s time I scratch that Tanzania-shaped itch.”—Anthea Stephenson, co-founder of Wild Radish in the UK

Rome
Photograph: Shutterstock

Rome

“Rome is on the top. Another travel destination – actually a tour – would be Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok. I'd like to go back to Chicago and New York to realize how American cities changed during this strange period, but also visiting Lima, Perù, would be interesting.”—Luciano Monosilio, chef-owner of Luciano Cucina Italiana in Rome

Advertising
French Polynesia
Photograph: Shutterstock

French Polynesia

“I feel like it’s a part of the world that is still a little less travelled. I was drawn in by the beaches – it looks like paradise. There is a really interesting food scene out there I’d love to sample on a beautiful stretch of sand, cocktail in hand.”James Cochran, chef-owner of 12:51 by Chef James Cochran in London

Japan
Photograph: Shutterstock

Japan

“The respect and recognition of local ingredients and food traditions, something that Japanese share with Iranians, is simply something that I highly admire. From Michelin-starred chefs to streetside vendors, there is something to adore and be inspired by wherever you go. And, of course it’s a chance to eat some of the best and freshest ingredients you can possibly indulge in.”—Marwa Alkhalaf, chef-director of Nutshell in London

“I have been planning a trip for a while, but it hasn’t happened yet. I really admire Japanese philosophy of how day-to-day things are approached through perfection, symmetry and simplicity. Japan is a fascinating place for me where the most famous Kaiseki restaurants exist between simple izakayas and rock ‘n’ roll bars, and yet they all seem to coexist in perfect harmony.”—Prashant Chipkar, executive chef and culinary director at Masti and chef at Time Out Market in Dubai

Advertising
Jamaica
Photograph: Shutterstock

Jamaica

“My No. 1 post-lockdown travel destination would be Jamaica. Why? First and foremost, my family is there. We’re a super tight-knit family, and being apart from them this past year or so has been hard. I’m so looking forward to being reunited with them post-pandemic. Plus, the food is pretty good there, too.” —Dadrian Coke, chef de cuisine at Chubby's Jamaican Kitchen in Toronto

Scotland
Photograph: Shutterstock

Scotland

“The first destination when we can travel again will be sunny Scotland. Our second child, Beatrix, was born in April in full lockdown. [She’s] almost 1 now and has only met a couple of members of our family. If we decided to go anywhere other than the UK on our first opportunity to fly, the family would disown me!”—Scott Price, chef and co-founder of Nick & Scott restaurant group and folly by Nick & Scott at Time Out Market in Dubai

Advertising
Tour du America
Photograph: Shutterstock

Tour du America

“Our No. 1 travel destination post-lockdown is visiting [my wife] Cathy’s 87-year-young mother in Wisconsin. We haven’t seen her since Christmas 2019! We’ll combine that with a visit to our friend chef Joe Flamm’s new restaurant, Rose Mary in Chicago. Shortly after that, we’ll be heading to New York to visit our son Carlo. So it’s really about visiting friends and family first and foremost. Oh, and of course, we’ve already booked our return to Italy in September.”—Tony Mantuano, chef-owner of Yolan in Nashville

Paris
Photograph: Shutterstock

Paris

“I miss Paris terribly. Crepes and coffee, bouquets everywhere, beautiful side streets and walks along the river… it’s first on my list.”—Samantha Fore, chef-owner of Tuk Tuk Sri Lankan Bites in Lexington, Kentucky

“The No. 1 travel destination for me post-lockdown is Paris. I need to get back there and have some brie on a baguette – I miss it!”—Richard Zaro, owner of Cutlets Sandwich Co. in New York City

Recommended

    More on Talk to the Chef

      You may also like
        Advertising