Worth the Trip
“Top Chef.” “The Great British Bake Off.” “The Chew.” “Parts Unknown.” “Bizarre Foods.” “Chef’s Table.” Judging by the sheer volume of food television that exists, it’s safe to say people are (ahem) hungrier for culinary knowledge than ever before.
No wonder people are happily traveling down cobblestone corridors in Italy, up sleek high-rises in Moscow and through secret gardens in Napa to experience world-famous restaurants; no trek is too far to enjoy the meal of a lifetime.
If you’re a traveler looking to plan your next great foodie adventure, you came to the right place.
Arguably the most famous chef in the United States, Keller is the only American to have been awarded three Michelin stars for two different restaurants. Today, he oversees a total of nine eateries: The French Laundry, Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery and Ad Hoc + Addendum in Yountville, Calif.; Per Se, Bouchon Bakery & Cafe and Bouchon Bakery in New York; and Bouchon Bistro and Bouchon Bakery in Las Vegas.
To taste Keller’s signature dish — crisp bite-sized cones filled with smoked salmon and topped with creme fraiche — you’ll have to book a reservation at his flagship restaurant, The French Laundry. The heralded wine country eatery recently underwent a renovation, and with a new garden and kitchen, it’s better than ever. But it’s also even harder to get in; despite serving meals that will set you back $325 to $450+, it’s currently booked through June 30, 2018.
An easier way to get a taste of Keller’s cuisine is to hit up one of his other restaurants in Yountville.
Bouchon is open all day every day and with its lively atmosphere and indulgent menu of caviar, foie gras and French favorites like escargot, it’s the ideal place for a celebratory meal. Ad Hoc is open five nights a week for dinner and serves a simple four-course family-style meal that changes daily. Finally, the Bakery is open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Pop in and pick up sensational breakfast pastries, fresh-baked bread, cookies, brownies and savories like quiche...no reservations needed.
Redzepi exploded onto the international culinary scene in 2010 when his restaurant in Copenhagen — Noma — was named number one on The 50 Best Restaurants in the world list. Redzepi is known for his reinvention of Nordic cuisine, with a focus on local fish, game and produce. He relishes foraging and scours nearby forests and fjords for the finest ingredients.
His creativity was on full display with his signature dish at Noma, “the hen and the egg.” After a sizzling cast iron skillet was placed on top of a bed of fresh hay, diners were invited to squirt hay-infused oil into the skillet and to crack a hen egg on top of the sizzling oil. When the egg was finished frying, a waiter appeared with a wild ramp sauce poured over the egg. Guests then garnished it with baby wild plants and crumbled potato chips.
Today, food lovers can experience Redzepi’s cuisine at the new Noma, an ambitious project that opened in late February 2018. Noma 2.0 offers three distinct menus throughout the year, each highlighting a specific season’s bounty: seafood in winter, vegetables in summer and game in fall.
Since it just reopened, getting a reservation takes patience; the restaurant is currently booked through September 2018.
If you’re visiting Italy any time soon, why not make a pit stop in Modena to dine at Osteria Francescana? Famed Italian chef Massimo Bottura’s restaurant contains just 28 seats, but there are 25 cooks in the kitchen.
At the restaurant, Bottura serves traditional Italian cuisine reinvented for the modern age, with ingredients sourced from farmers, artisans and fisherman. Recipes are based on dishes that his nonna would make, and come paired with childhood tales of the Emilia-Romagna region he grew up in.
Bottura’s signature dish is called “five ages of Parmigiano Reggiano in different textures and temperatures” and features just that: parmesan cheese, aged 24 to 40 months of age, prepared in five different ways, as cream, foam, mousse, gelato and wafer, all at various temperatures.
It’s difficult to get a reservation at Osteria Francescana, but since it’s in a somewhat remote region, cancellations occur often. If you can’t snag a seat, experience Bottura’s cuisine at Francescana’s sister restaurant, Franceschetta 58. Here, Bottura serves more casual fare, including a burger, various types of pasta and main courses like branzino with lentils.
Although she is French, Dominique Crenn calls San Francisco home. She owns three restaurants: Atelier Crenn, a fine dining establishment; Petit Crenn, a more casual eatery inspired by her childhood in Brittany; and Bar Crenn, a wine bar with small plates next door to the atelier.
In 2011, Crenn was the first female chef in the United States to be awarded two Michelin stars for her romantic cuisine at Atelier Crenn. The menu there is a poem (written by Crenn), with each line describing a different dish. Surprisingly, a reservation at her flagship eatery is easy to get, but the 18-course tasting experience is $325 per person.
At Petit Crenn, diners enjoy a six-course seafood-heavy menu, which changes daily and features super seasonal ingredients, for $90.
At her newest eatery, Bar Crenn, 50 percent of the restaurant is reserved for walk-ins, so you may be able to snag a seat at the 1930s-inspired French lounge on any given night. The cuisine is traditional French, with recipes given to Crenn from master chefs like Alain Ducasse. Favorites include tarte flambée with fromage blanc and lardons, pâté en croûte and tarte tatin.
Spaniard Roca was practically born a chef. His parents own a traditional Catalonian restaurant, Can Roca, and from a small age, he was interested in the scents and sounds that came from the kitchen. He studied under Spanish greats, Ferran Adriá and Santi Santamaría, before traveling to France to cook for Georges Blanc.
When he was 22, Roca opened El Cellar de Can Roca, next door to his parent’s eatery in Girona, Spain. A family affair, Roca operates the restaurant with his brothers Josep (the sommelier) and Jordi (the pastry chef).
Roca’s cuisine can also be found in Barcelona at the Hotel Omm, where the brothers operate two restaurants, Roca Moo and Roca Bar.
The bar is the most informal and affordable, and features plenty of sharable tapas like Iberian ham croquettes, Spanish cheese and spicy potato “churros.”
Giada De Laurentiis
Among myriad Food Network mega-stars, Italian chef De Laurentiis is one of the best. After honing her chops at Paris' Le Cordon Bleu and in the kitchen of Wolfgang Puck's acclaimed Spago, De Laurentiis became a sensation with her show "Everyday Italian," which made high-quality, authentic Italian cooking accessible to the masses. Currently, she hosts "Giada at Home," a program that features her putting her indelible touch on game-day snacks, late-night treats and more.
De Laurentiis has retained her popularity without ever losing sight of the skills that made her famous to begin with. She is both an Emmy award winner and an inductee into the Culinary Hall of Fame.
De Laurentiis opened her first restaurant, the aptly named Giada, inside Vegas's hip Cromwell Hotel in 2014. The restaurant serves Italian cuisine with a California twist in a high-design space showcasing views of Bellagio's fountain show. Family-style options are available for a true Italian experience, and the wine list is first-rate.
At nearby Ceasars Palace, De Laurentiis opened the more casual Pronto by Giada in February 2018, featuring affordable breakfast, lunch and dinner options. Morning-risers will love the house-made pastries; late-night revelers will surely enjoy De Laurentiis' famous lemon-ricotta cookies.
Argentine chef Mallmann is known for his unique style of primal open-fire cooking. He was featured on the first season of Netflix’s “Chef’s Table” and owns nine restaurants in various locations across the globe, from Mendoza, Argentina to Aix-en-Provence, France.
He also has an option in the U.S.: Los Fuegos at Fuena Hotel Miami Beach. On Sundays, the restaurant serves up an asado barbecue menu that elevates surf (like Madagascar prawns), turf (slow-cooked short ribs) and sides (pink grapefruit salad).
For the ultimate Mallmann experience, though, you can’t beat his eatery in Uruguay, Restaurante Garzón. The restaurant is part of a stylish and rustic boutique resort, Hotel Garzón, in a small town near the popular coastal city of Jose Ignacio. Garzón feels like an extension of Mallmann’s very own home, with a kitchen that’s visible from the dining room and a welcoming brick patio to dine on al fresco.
While he is known for grilling massive portions of beef, Garzón’s zucchini salad is one of his most memorable dishes. Thick zucchini ribbons are tossed with shards of nutty parmesan cheese, mint, lemon zest and locally grown almonds. It’s simple, but absolutely sensational, and a must order for anyone dining at the restaurant.
Darroze has two Michelin stars and two restaurants — one in London, Hélène Darroze at The Connaught, and another in Paris, Restaurant Hélène Darroze.
A fourth-generation French chef who studied under legend Alain Ducasse, she took over her family restaurant in London before opening her own Parisian eatery. She appears as a judge on the French version of “Top Chef,” inspired the character of Colette in Pixar’s food-centric animated 2007 film “Ratatouille,” and was the basis for a doll in the Barbie Celebrates Role Models campaign.
At both of her high-end eateries, diners select five or seven items from a list of ingredients like green asparagus, lobster, clams, pigeon, lemon and rhubarb.
In Paris, Darroze offers a more affordable menu at the Salon d’Hélène, a lounge area in the Restaurant Hélène Darroze that offers tapas, a plate of the day and sweets. The food comes paired with the ambience of soft lights and lounge music.
In Moscow, Mukhin runs a small empire of restaurants. His most well-known is White Rabbit, an eatery that is rated number 23 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Located on the top story of a high rise, White Rabbit has an “Alice in Wonderland” theme, with stunning 360-degree views of Moscow and whimsical decor.
Mukhin, who was featured on the third season of “Chef’s Table,” is celebrated for his creative use of traditional Russian ingredients. During the Soviet era, chefs were forced to cook all of the same dishes using the same recipes. For inspiration, Mukhin looks to the time before this era, when chefs were allowed to experiment and innovative. He’s scoured the Russian countryside meeting with the older generation to learn the original recipes of his country’s past.
Besides White Rabbit, Mukhin oversees several other restaurants in Moscow. At Mushrooms, the eponymous ingredient features prominently in Italian dishes. At Chicha, Peruvian favorites like ceviche, tostaditos and churros take center stage. And at Selfie, Russian classics are presented with an Asian twist: think tomato and eggplant salad, with ingredients sourced from the southwestern Russia border, seasoned in a sweet chile and oyster sauce.
You won’t be disappointed at any of Muhkin’s restaurants, so when in Moscow, why not visit a few of them? (Or head to Sochi, where he has a few more options, including Red Fox and "Che? Harcho!”)
Andrés is a Spanish chef who’s built a restaurant kingdom in the United States. He is credited with bringing the tapas/small plates trend to the country, launching the craze with his critically acclaimed Washington, D.C. restaurant, Jaleo.
Being based in the nation’s capital, Andrés is a politically minded and passionate philanthropist. His nonprofit, World Central Kitchen, has provided food to the tragedy-stricken people of Haiti and Puerto Rico.
Today, Andrés owns 27 restaurants and a couple of food trucks. Fans of the charismatic television personality can try his food in Beverly Hills, Las Vegas, Miami, Mexico City and of course, Washington D.C.
While Andrés makes Mexican at Oyamel and noodles at China Poblano, to truly experience him at his finest, dine at Jaleo. Enjoy Spanish bread (he actually imports it from his homeland) soaked in tomato pulp and drizzled with olive oil, his signature liquid olives that explode with juice in your mouth, and patatas bravas, fried potato cylinders filled with a spicy tomato sauce.
At his namesake restaurant in Tokyo, Japanese chef Narisawa has created his own style of cuisine: “innovative satoyama.” Satoyama is Japanese for the area between mountains and villages, and the approach involves a “soil to hand” approach, cultivating ingredients like leaves, herbs, flowers and wild vegetables from surrounding forest, often served within 24 hours of being foraged.
Narisawa’s dedication to the style extends beyond his restaurant. He also runs a cultural center in Kaga where he teaches cooking classes and shows rural people how to farm.
Narisawa is a popular restaurant, and booking advance reservations at least a month before you plan on traveling to Tokyo is advisable. But it’s worth your patience: Expect the omakase-style meal to be exquisite.
Don’t miss one of Narisawa’s signature dishes, “soil soup,” featuring a broth made from burdock root fried with earth. It’s simmered and strained, creating a liquid that is reflective of terrior.
Waters is the grandmother of the California cuisine movement. In the early 1970s, when most chefs were emphasizing fussy French techniques and precise presentation, she opened Chez Panisse, a revolutionary new restaurant in Berkeley, Calif., where local, seasonal ingredients were the focal point. While commonplace today, the move was considered radical at the time.
Today, Chez Panisse continues to serve the highest quality food, often with minimal adornment. The restaurant offers a set menu that changes daily and reflects the bounty of nearby farmers. Nearly half a century later, it's as influential as ever.
Countless chefs got their start at the restaurant, which is meant to feel like an intimate dinner party. The two-story eatery has a downstairs restaurant that’s open for dinner, by reservation only, Monday through Saturday night. Upstairs is the Café at Chez Pannise, which serves an a la carte menu for lunch and dinner. Reservations are made exactly one month in advance and it’s best to call first thing in the morning, so if you want to dine on May 30, call at 9 a.m. on April 30 to ensure you score a table.
Although the menu is constantly changing, Waters is famous for her baked goat cheese salad. Discs of French goat cheese are coated in seasoned bread crumbs and roasted until warm, then placed on a bed of tender greens lightly dressed with red wine vinaigrette. It’s a simple dish that’s wildly elegant and delicious.