Sample the world’s greatest food markets, restaurants and culinary corners with True Travel

Ranging from Michelin-starred dining to lessons on how to cook local specialties, the luxury tour operator satisfies hearts, souls and appetites

People across the world travel for a multitude of reasons – whether that’s to escape the pressures of the working day, to see the wildest enclaves of the world, or to disconnect completely from all tech and communications and find some grounding in a week or two of wellness. In recent years, there have also been those who jump the continents to chase restaurants and eats, whether that be the impossible reservation to land at the most coveted restaurant in Europe, or a family-run chicken-rice stand in Singapore.

One luxury tour operator pioneering culinary-driven adventure is True Travel, the brand that’s been hardwired to keeping alive the time-old art of curating genuinely bespoke, one-of-a-kind journeys.

Launched in 2013, True Travel sets its stall out by eschewing the generic, algorithm-driven approach of its counterparts and, instead, hones in on putting together singular itineraries that are tailored to each client’s tastes and aspirations, from the style of holiday that is desired to the minutiae, such as how each person prefers their tea.

To take each guest through hidden doors, the venture avoids the cliché routes and, in their place, relies on a global network of local experts – from Latin America to Asia, Europe to Africa – with each person having a hinterland of experience and know-how to draw upon. Moreover, of late, True Travel has focused on ‘The Art of Travel’, a unique, six-part collection that’s put together by in-house designers and focuses on different themes, such as ‘connection’ and wellness. ‘They are designed to be hand-picked, and painted onto a blank canvas that we will bring to life at your request,’ so says the brand.

With The Art of Gastronomy, True Travel provides its clients with access to some of the world’s finest fare, which ranges from Michelin-starred dining to finding local delicacies on a street-food tour. Included in the experiences is a sushi-making masterclass in Tokyo, where you’ll head into the heart of the famed Tsukiji fish market and be lead by a fourth-generation sushi chef who’ll show you around the rows and crates of uni, tuna, scallops and various other seafood delicacies, all before you’re taught how to roll and mould several types of Japanese staples.

In Laos, a country whose cuisine has yet to find widespread renown in the western hemisphere, but is merited for its strong use of foraging, heat and fermented products, you can dive into local flavours and techniques courtesy of chef Joy, who, in the bucolic setting of Tamarind Gardens cooking school, will show you the kitchen fundamentals that you can use to produce your own dishes on the day and later recreate at home.

On the other side of the world, you can witness the vibrancy and spirited surrounds of Merida, Mexico, during a street-food tour in which you’ll navigate the winding cobblestone streets and mix of ancient and contemporary architecture, all while taking in the punchy fragrances and tastes of the country’s smash hits, from tacos to tostadas.

For an experience that requires a slower pace, consider the Champagne tour, a venture that comprises a visit to a private Champagne maison, a walk through the lush vineyard surrounds and a sampling of several iterations of the region’s namesake drink – one will also learn about the gold-hue liquid is produced and what differentiates one bottle from the next. (It’s also rounded off by a visit to Hautvillers, the home village of the renowned Dom Pérignon label.)

Then, of particular note are The Odysseys, The Art of Gastronomy’s signature journeys that are entirely bespoke and tailored to the individual. One such possibility is what True Travel bills as ‘A Crafted Italian Palate’, which consists of traversing the peninsula’s boot, top to toe. When in Piedmont, in northwest Italy, one key draw is truffle hunting through the hills, accompanied by a hunter and some trained dogs who will help you forage for the prized ingredient.

Moving towards the lush terrain of Tuscany, perhaps the finest wine-making region in the world, one can be taken on a wine tasting experience around the grounds of Castello di Vicarello, a one-time castle, erected by the Republic of Sienna nearly a millennium ago, that’s been converted into an idyllic retreat and whose seven hectares of vineyard bring about rich, complex wines (afterwards, you can experience how to create ravioli maremmani and pappa al pomodoro, two quintessential Italian dishes, using produce grown just outside the windows). In Emilia-Romagna, a small region whose exports have become stuff of legend, you can sample sweet, rich balsamic vinegars and be educated in the process that brings about Parmigiano-Reggiano. And finish things off by making a beeline to Ravello, on the Amalfi Coast, for a candlelit dinner at the chef’s table at the world-famous fine-diner Rossellini’s, where you’ll overlook the clear waters and dine on a procession of elegant, balanced courses.

Further afield, there is also the chance to head to the Galápagos, a voyage that could begin in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, where you’ll learn about the importance of corn to the country, engage in local traditions, visit a brewery, and taste sweet treats on Calle Roca Fuerte; then snake through the Andes (a stay on the grounds of a converted farm, where you’ll partake in an indigenous cooking class learning how to make locro de papa and fritada, is highly recommended); and lead to a luxury boat journey that explores the islands.

Once here, you’ll witness the likes of Santa Cruz, South Plaza, North Seymour, and Española, home to the waved albatross. Snorkelling will be a daily staple, as will swimming among sea lions and Galápagos penguins – and, when back on board, chef Cristian Puente’s vibrant courses of Ecuadorian ceviche will jolt you with further life.

So, whether it’s the experiences or The Odysseys, each True Travel offering celebrates the very best of a city or region, showcasing local heritage and traditions through flavours and cuisines, all of which will elevate your sojourn. As George Bernard Shaw, the Irish playwright, once said, ‘There is no sincerer love than the love of food.’

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