Go Away With ... Cat Cora

By Jae-Ha Kim, Tribune Content Agency

Celebrity Travel by Jae-Ha Kim

5:30 AM EST, December 31, 2013


Restaurateur, cookbook author and chef Cat Cora holds the distinction of being the first female Iron Chef. The television personality ("Around the World in 80 Plates") is based out of Santa Barbara, Calif., where she lives with her wife and children. She was recently selected as the Resident Mom of the Year by Residence Inn by Marriott. "Anytime I get recognition as a mom, it makes me so happy and proud," says Cora, 46. "Family travel has always been so important to us ... and the brand has been a family favorite of ours for years." Fans may follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/catcora.

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. Greece is definitely my top vacation destination. The islands, people and food are some of my favorite in the world.

Q. To someone who was going there for the first time, what would you recommend that they do during their visit?

A. I would tell them to visit Athens first and go to the many historical sites -- Acropolis and Acropolis Museum, Olympic Stadium and the many other incredible sites spread throughout the city. Then I recommend heading out to the islands, where you can visit the beaches, swim in the sea, eat the incredible food, drink the great wines and mingle with the locals over a local ouzo, Greek coffee or frappe. Then eat some more! I have to say, the shopping is also amazing.

Q. What untapped destination should people know about?

A. I really recommend Chang Mai in Thailand. I love this city and the food and the people are the kindest. A visit there can be a very spiritual experience as well.

Q. What's the most important thing you've learned from your travels?

A. Over the years, I've learned how to pack well, stay organized and be confident in almost any place I arrive. I've also learned how to adapt quickly and keep my balance on the road.

Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?

A. Living in California, we love to camp at El Capitan, Ojai, which is close by, or go to Paso Robles to water ski. And my family loves to head down the coast to Malibu or Santa Monica for a really quick getaway.

Q. What are your five favorite cities?

A. It's hard to pick just five! Some of my favorite travel destinations are Venice, Singapore, Hong Kong, Santorini and Mumbai.

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?

A. There are so many places on my list, but Brazil, (the continent of) Africa and Australia are definitely near the top.

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?

A. I have to have my Beats (headphones) for entertainment, my cashmere wrap to keep warm on flights and my Louis Vuitton carry-on bag to hold everything. My iPad, phone and Mophie charger are also must-haves when traveling to stay connected with my family.

Q. What would be your dream/fantasy trip?

A. I would absolutely love to go on an African safari or head to Brazil for the World Cup next year with my kids!

Q. What is your guilty pleasure when you're on the road?

A. I must say, I love me some BBQ Popchips.

Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?

A. As a chef, I tend to first look into where to eat in the destination, then focus on where to sleep and then finally look into where to visit!

Q. What is your best and/or worst vacation memory?

A. I truly can't recall a bad vacation, as I like to make lemonade out of lemons.

(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at http://www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow "Go Away With..." on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)