Travel the globe with these award-winning chefs
Meet the award-winning chefs that remind visitors why a destination’s fine dining options is one of the best reasons to travel. | By Paul Oswell | August 2, 2022 (Updated March 15, 2023)
Taking a vacation from your regular favorite restaurant can be quite the palate cleanser for gastronomes in search of new experiences. Aside from the sights and attractions, a new city offers a chance to rediscover your curiosity and sample gourmet meals that you might otherwise not have a chance to enjoy. The next time you’re planning your travel menu, consider:
Best of British: Global flavors converge in London
Fine China: Beijing’s culinary delights are out of this world
Gourmet LA: Fresh Californian produce elevates Los Angeles’ dining scene
British cuisine has come a long way in the last couple of decades, with homegrown, celebrity chefs such as Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal becoming global brands. The cultural melting pot of London is the perfect incubation chamber for haute cuisine with diverse flavors.
Around 70 restaurants in London now boast at least one Michelin star, filling London's Michelin Guide with options for every palate. Core by Clare Smyth has three of them, but Smyth rolls out an unpretentious welcome if you venture out to her Notting Hill kitchen. You can watch the skilled cooks at work through a glass partition as they prepare high-end contemporary British dishes. Isle of Harris scallop tartare, Wagyu beef and crispy veal sweetbreads are all delectable options from the à la carte menu.
There’s an exciting element of unpredictability at Ikoyi in St James’s Market, where Chef Jeremy Chan is inspired by West African spices and ingredients. Leap into the unknown with octopus, wild rice and yeasted bearnaise or plantain-smoked kelp, before savoring a dessert of poppyseed and rum cake. The menu is thrillingly unfamiliar, and you’ll be talking about it long after you return home.
Gourmet cuisine is within easy reach when staying at Conrad London St. James, where Michelin-starred Chef Sally Abé relishes traditional recipes and contemporary takes. From Cumbrian beef to Dorset lobster, the tastiest British ingredients are served with assured skill at The Pem. Cornish pollock, Scottish langoustine and even Exmoor Caviar take diners on a whistle-stop tour of the United Kingdom, all in a plush dining room decked out in rose and claret tones.
China’s rapid economical ascent is reflected in the growing number of fine dining restaurants and high-end culinary experiences available to visitors. The country is one of the most food-focused nations on Earth, and “Have you eaten?” is a common informal greeting. Little wonder, then, that the gastronomic choices range from regal menus fit for an emperor to cutting-edge dives.
Beijing’s new international credentials are apparent at The Georg, owned by chic Danish silverware brand Georg Jensen and helmed by Michelin-decorated Chef Wang Bin. The dining room resembles a tranquil courtyard, and its rustic styling is embellished by the neighboring canal. The cuisine in this design-forward ‘lifestyle space’ skews modern European, combining classic local flavors with traditional French cuisine.
There are two irresistible dining options at Waldorf Astoria Beijing. The hotel’s Chinese restaurant, Zijin Mansion, has a Michelin star of its own, won by the relentless creativity of executive chef James Wang. The sumptuous dining room boasts hand-embroidered fabrics and diners fawn over signature dishes such as goldfish shrimp dumplings and seared scallops with kale stems. The hotel’s Brasserie 1893 plays up the interaction between guest and chef, in this case celebrated chef Christophe Riou. The restaurant offers an elegant European menu featuring intriguing dishes such as duck foie gras terrine with rhubarb marmalade.
California is home to one of the most dynamic culinary scenes in the United States, and Los Angeles is no exception. This city has diversity and innovation that’s hard to resist, plus impossibly fresh produce, a wealth of global influences and some of the country’s most inventive chefs.
Fresh seafood is given the gourmet treatment at Sushi Tsujita in West Side’s Little Tokyo. Your fellow diners will include the city’s most fanatical sushi lovers, A-listers and big spenders, all here for the most impressively prepared and innovative Edomae-style sushi in LA. Sit under the ornate glass chandelier on the patio in the California sunshine, and order from the eclectic menu, which often features ingredients not found elsewhere, all painstakingly presented by master sushi chef Shigeru Kato.
Chef José Andrés is something of an international superstar and a global top chef, having been named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in both 2012 and 2018. At San Laurel, at the new Conrad Los Angeles, this renowned Spanish chef delivers a Californian twist on the most delicious Spanish flavors. Sea urchin, shrimp and of course, artisanal Iberico ham feature on his outstanding menu. Your lasting memories of eating here will also include the whimsical, pastoral decor thanks to the lush green foliage that frames the dining room.
There’s nothing like broadening your gastronomic horizons to make a vacation truly memorable. A fine meal in a striking setting or a high-end dining room will be something that you’ll talk about (and treasure) for years to come. So, be sure to pack an appetite and a sense of adventure for your next vacation destination.
Paul Oswell is an award-winning travel writer, and has been reporting from all seven continents for over twenty years. He is based in New Orleans and is the author of “The Bucket List North America: 1,000 Adventures Big and Small.”