"The Vietnamese are a skinny people obsessed with food."
— Anthony Bourdain
Every traveler knows the best way to reach the heart of a place is by way of their cuisine (and is what can make or break a trip). And as as you may have already heard, anyone who has traveled to Vietnam will mention three things that stood out most: the people, the scenery... and especially Vietnam's delightful food culture. This trip emphasizes all of these with a focus on the best food in the country from street eats to fine dining. Vietnam has firmly planted itself on the stage of the world's best cuisines.
Let us leverage our 25 years of experience to organize your culinary journey through Vietnam. Neal has lead several previous Iron Chef trips, each one a own unique varation of the previous one, tweaking the route, discovering new places off the usual tourist trail, and always fine tuning the culinary activities along the way, smapling some of the world's most incredible street food, exploring buzzing markets, to spending time with the high priests of Vietnamese cooking, including master of spices—"Le Chef" Didi Corlou, in Hanoi.
On this ultimate culinary adventure trip, pedal through the scenic country roads along Vietnam's central and southern coast and into the Central Highlands for — as many of our past traveler's have said — the experience of a lifetime.
The cycling on this trip may make feel less guilty eating some of the Vietnam's finest food from north to south, but we'll be the first to tell you that you may risk putting on a few pounds anyway, despite all of the riding. Vietnam features some of the most delicious and innovative cuisine in the world, and our local culinary guides and guest chefs will reveal the hidden delights of Vietnamese food.
There are few culinary adventures on par with Vietnam and this trip will highlight the distinctive cuisines of each region with a mix of activities, including hands-on cooking, kitchen and market visits while canvasing the best of Vietnam from Hanoi to Saigon, including thousand year-old Old Quarter in Hanoi, to sublime cycling through the Imperial Capital, Hue, ancient port town, Hoi An, and south along Vietnam's scenic coastline to the country's premier beach town, Nha Trang before climbing into the Central Highlands to enjoy the high-mountain views of Dalat, a former French-colonial hillstation. After almost two weeks in the saddle and at the table, we'll take in big city Saigon for a final farewell bash and only wanting to stay longer.
Culinary Institute of America graduate who has worked with Thomas Keller at the Checker's Hotel in Los Angeles, David Burke at the Park Avenue Café in New York, and Wolfgang Puck, before founding the trend-setting Grace Restaurant serving his New American cuisine. Neal has now launched his new venture, the highly acclaimed follow up to Grace, RedBird. On the side, Neal has also been producing L.A.'s best hot dog: Fritzi Dog.
As the tour title conveys, Neal was Iron Chef Champion, defeating Cat Cora in a pork cook-off.His articles include the Wall Street Journal for his mother's day pancakes, and Neal appears on Bravo's Top Chef (vote him up!). Neal's cycling biography includes selection for the Olympic training center, California Junior Road Race Champion, and has also cycled in Vietnam and lead this trip on several occasions since 1994. Like Anthony Bourdain, Neal cites Vietnam his all-time favorite.
Patrick MorrisAn old friend of Neals from bike racing days, who actually gave Neal his first "cooking lessons" in college (mostly quesadillas). In 1993 Patrick & Willard Ford established the first U.S. tour company in a newly-opened Vietnam and has continued to organize and lead trips since then (as well as Cambodia, Turkey, Laos, and Myanmar), and most recently our Burgundy and Loire Valley culinary trip. He is also a co-founder of Indochina Travel which focuses on non-cycling trips in the region.
After two decades of leading trips around the world, Vietnam remains his favorite: "Toss the guidebook, ignore TripAdvisor, and consider your friend's advice from their trip biased— it is the limitless optimism, warmness, and incessant humor of the Vietnamese people are amazing and the real highlight of the country (the food ain't so bad either)."
A Hanoi native, culinary guide for over 20 years, and widely traveled Diep is the first to claim Vietnamese cuisine is the best in the world and enjoys introducing travelers to not only northern cuisine (her ancestors are from a famous noodle making village, To), but also wonderful regional and even city variations.
Diep has just finished here second cookbook and Vietnamese culinary primer, Flavours of Vietnam.