The excitement around culinary travel has reached a fever pitch, as exhibited by Travel Weekly's recent Twitter chat (#TWchats) on the topic, which followed a cover story dedicated to food tourism, "Fueled by the plate."
All the hubbub about the exploding trend in culinary travel got me thinking about tours specifically geared toward the gourmand traveler. Indeed, there is a whole subset of tour operators whose entire product line is devoted to engaging guests' taste buds while on the road.
One of the most recent entrants into the market is also perhaps one of the most well-known food brands out there: Whole Foods Market, the organic food megamarket, recently got into the tour business with the launch of Whole Journeys, a collection of international packages with a culinary theme.
In a nod to what appears to an ever-increasing intermingling between food and travel, Whole Foods hosted its first Whole Journeys departure in April, with destinations that include Turkey, Italy, Spain, China, Switzerland, France, Peru and the U.S. (Note: Whole Journeys does not yet sell through travel agents, but a Whole Foods representative said the company is looking into establishing a commission program for the trade within the next few months.)
Whole Foods may be one of the most recent adopters of the foodie travel trend, but there are countless culinary tours on offer. And I have to give credit where credit is due; earlier this year, Departures magazine actually put out a pretty good list of them. It includes such operators as Epitourean, Trip Feast and Caribbean Culinary Tours.
Add to that list Brendan Vacations, which partnered with the sustainable food movement Slow Food last year to offer itineraries that incorporate cooking classes, vineyard visits and local market jaunts.
Additionally, Canadian tour operator Intrepid Travel this year launched a new range of food trips, which had their first departures this month. The food trips range from eight- to 14-day "Real Food Adventures" in China, Vietnam, Mexico, India, Spain and Turkey, to "Urban Food Safaris," which are two- to four-hour tours in cities like Florence, Istanbul, Tokyo, Barcelona, Budapest, Beijing, Amsterdam, Athens, Kuala Lumpur, Los Angeles, Delhi and Hanoi.
All this food talk sure can make one hungry to hit the road.
Follow Michelle Baran on Twitter @mbtravelweekly.