4 Chefs and Food Writers to Host France and Spain Tour


If the idea of touring Europe with expert chefs and food writers as your hosts and travel companions sounds like a dream, well, you’re in luck. Every year, food writers and friends Ruth Reichl, Laurie Ochoa, and Alec Lobrano and chef Nancy Silverton visit culinary hot spots like Tuscany, Umbria, Paris, Marseille, and Nice, bringing some lucky travelers along with them. This year’s trip, which was just announced, will focus on the French and Spanish Basque region, including food havens Biarritz, San Sebastian, and Etxebarri, plus Bordeaux.

Called Dinner with Friends Abroad, and run by Academic Travel Abroad, an educational travel provider that partners with organizations like the New York Times and Smithsonian Institution to create trips, the trip will take place October 17–24, 2024, and has space for up to 25 travelers. Participants will spend time in Bordeaux, one of the world capitals of wine, which has recently developed into one of the liveliest food scenes in France, and the Basque Country, which spreads over France and Spain and has cooking, eating, and drinking at the heart of its culture. The Basque region is known as one of the world’s most legendary gastronomic destinations, both for its traditional and modern cuisine.

Row of glasses of red wine on white table under trees, with a few people and bottles in background

Participants will taste food and wine (of course) in Bordeaux, France.

Courtesy of Jennifer Yung/Unsplash

Highlights of the eight-day trip include visiting Cité du Vin, Bordeaux’s multimedia wine museum for a pastry class; winetasting in Bordeaux; and attending a workshop at L’ Atelier du Piment in Espelette, France, to learn about the history of the iconic red pepper that’s cultivated and grown in the French Basque region. (It’s smoky and sweet, with a hint of heat.) Travelers will dine at some of the region’s top (and hardest to get into) restaurants, including the three-Michelin-starred Arzak in San Sebastian; Asador Etxebarri, the third best restaurant in the world according to 50 Best, known for its live fire cooking; La Grand’Vigne, a two-Michelin starred restaurant in Bordeaux that focuses on farm-to-table cuisine; and Frenchie Biarritz, the coastal outpost of the popular Parisian restaurant. Accommodations are at four- and five-star boutique hotels, including the charming Hôtel de Sèze in Bordeaux and the new luxurious Hôtel Regina in Biarritz.

The four hosts will lead travelers through food and dining experiences during the week, bringing their insights and expertise to the trip. Reichl, who was the editor-in-chief of the beloved Gourmet magazine for 10 years and a former restaurant critic in New York and Los Angeles, is the author of multiple books, including My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life and the soon to be published The Paris Novel, about a young woman who goes to Paris on a whim after her mother dies; she has also written for AFAR. Ochoa is currently general manager of food at the Los Angeles Times and has won multiple James Beard Journalism Foundation Awards. Lobrano, who has also written for AFAR, has authored three books about food in France, writes for such publications as the New York Times and the Guardian, and has also won several James Beard Journalism Foundation Awards. Silverton is the chef and owner of Osteria Mozza and various other restaurants in Los Angeles and has written multiple cookbooks.

The trip, which includes all accommodations and meals as outlined in the itinerary, costs $14,675 per person based on double occupancy or $16,365 per person for a single occupancy room. Bookings are open now.


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