• Interview: Pamela Des Barres

    Legendary groupie, published author and self-proclaimed James Dean fanatic, Pamela Des Barres has been attending the James Dean Festival for two decades. This year’s event took place from Thursday, September 26 to Sunday, September 29 will take place on in Fairmount, Indiana.

    The James Dean Festival & Car Show draws crowds of up to 20,000 people throughout the weekend with a huge car show, grand parade, street vendors, carnival rides. It ends with a memorial service commemorating the actor’s life. Des Barres will also be teaching a writing workshop on October 3 in Fairmount.

    I attended one of Des Barres workshops in Fairmont and it was an amazing experience to have focused writing sessions with her and share in an open environment with no judgement. She has upcoming workshops in Las Vegas, Nevada, Seattle, Washington and Nashville, Tennessee.

    The Travel Addict got the chance to catch up with Des Barres who spoke about her love of James Dean and this annual event, her writing, favorite travel destinations, her connection with musicians and she spills the tea about bedding one of the most famous rockstars.

    What does the James Dean Gallery, in Indiana, mean to you?

    Like I said we have been coming here for 20 years next Spring and I am a James Dean fanatic. I have been a crazy Dean fanatic my entire life. He died when I was not quite eight years old. I have just been really obsessed with him and spiritually connected with him all my life. So I came here and met Dave and Lenny who run this place, and they are like brothers to me now. I even performed their marriage ceremony.

    Are you a minister as well?

    Yes, I actually married them. One of the best days of my whole life.

    You do some tours in Los Angeles, your old stomping grounds, can you tell us a little bit about those?

    I’m with The Band Rock n Roll Tours. I take people to my old hang out spots in LA and we have a blast. I take them to places where these wild and crazy things happened with these various Rock stars in places I used to live, where Zappa lived, where Jim Morrison lived, where I did crazy things with Keith Moon, so it is very personalized. It is very different than other Hollywood tours. I rent a big van and my dear driver Kip Brown takes us on the adventure. He drives and he has his own stories too. It is really fun. We usually have about a dozen people all day.

    Do you have any new books on the way?

    Yes I do. I am writing my sixth book. It is called Blinded By The Light: Sex, God, and Rock n Roll. It is about my spiritual journey which went right along with my Rock N Roll journey. I also have another set of guide books coming out.

    Has the groupie culture has changed? As a music photographer, I don’t notice groupies to be found as much anymore.

    There are groupies everywhere.

    It is much harder to get access today.

    Well it is much harder to get access. They are nervous. It is a weirder world there now than it used to be. You have to be careful. There are always groupies, there always will be, there always have been. They are not going anywhere. I hear from them.

    How are super fans different than groupies?

    Super fans are not groupies. Groupies always want to take it to the next level, not necessarily sexual, but they want to meet them and be part of the reality, which is such a heavy experience for people when they are around people who inspire them and change their life for the better.

    A lot has changed in the past few years with the #MeToo movement. I think there is a big difference for me as a female between wanting to be there and then being in an uncomfortable position and not wanting to be there.

    I have personally never had any of those experiences with musicians. People expect me to say something horrible about Jimmy Page, but it is not going to happen. It didn’t happen. There is nothing to report. But of course I have had my share of #MeToo, people I worked for in my regular world. I worked for a photographer and he chased me around a desk and expected various things. And I have almost been raped- almost- I escaped but it was never with a musician or actor. It was often behind the scenes people.

    I have had a few producers hit on me really hardcore. It is uncomfortable and then you leave. I have never had that experience where I wasn’t allowed to leave except that one time hitchhiking where I was almost raped. I screamed really loud and all the people turned their lights on in the neighborhood and he threw me out of the car. Other than that I haven’t had any close calls.

    Almost every person I know has had one of these uncomfortable experiences, and we write about it in class a lot. This is very cathartic, this class, it’s not frivolous.

    Do you still have any contact with the Zappas?

    All the living ones. Dale and Frank are gone. Of course I am very close with all of those children.

    I know they weren’t getting along at times.

    I know and I stay right down the middle. I have to because I love all four of them. It is really sad.

    What’s some new music you listen to?

    I really like a band called The Struts. They are a British band. They are my favorite new-ish band, they aren’t that new. I like it, so many of these bands even the good ones like Arcade Fire, there are good bands but they don’t dress up.

    Any thoughts on Greta Van Fleet?

    Yes I saw them at The Troubador and they are good but they don’t dress up. I want to dress that singer so much. I want to style the singer. I want to dress him from head to toe, do his hair and makeup to his boots, I want to dress him because he has an amazing voice.

    Do you travel to see bands?

    Absolutely. I just got back three weeks ago from seeing Dion DiMucci. That’s my next tattoo,  his signature. He probably wouldn’t like it. He is such a humble guy, but I am going to do it. I have Elvis and James Dean signature tattoos. I went to New Jersey from LA to see Dion. I have gone to New York twice to see him. He doesn’t play much but he is brilliant. His voice sounds the same. We danced to “Runaround Sue,” came in second this year at the festival.

    What is your favorite travel destination?

    I have a few. I love Israel. I am a real Jesus nut. It started with him really – he was the first Rock star. Mary Magdalene was the first groupie. I had an amazing experience in Jerusalem. That whole experience blew my mind. I need to go back before I die. I just turned 70 and I have to fit it into my life somehow. London is my other favorite. I love it. I go any chance I get. My book just came out there in the Spring so I spent a lot of time there this year. I am going to Australia for the first time this year.

    You have often time called yourself a muse who took care of musicians. I am sure you became a sounding board for them over the years. Why do you think that was an important role?

    Every guy, all of us, but especially men like to be appreciated for what they do. I think if you appreciate what they do, love and understand what they do, they want you around. I made sure to listen to the words. Words are very important to them. They just love to know what they are being appreciated for. Any guy, no matter what he does.

    And you have talked about before that is what attracted them to you?

    A lot of that. Appreciate, admire, respect, I feel connected there. I feel a connection too because of my appreciation and admiration of what they do.

    Do you stay in touch with the other groupies from the day?

    Yes, a lot of people think I should hate Lori Maddux. She was 14 when Jimmy Page ran off with her. I don’t [hate her]. We are really good friends. Have you seen my documentary? It is from a night together; she is in it. We have a laugh. Now we laugh. We are now close in age. It seemed so far apart back then.

    The Rolling Stones are still going; I love Mick Jagger as well. What was your favorite Mick Jagger story?

     I can’t really.

    Sure you can.

    Well, he was amazing in the sack. Let’s face it. He was very attentive and funny. It was a joyous romp, not a serious romp but a spectacular connection in the sack.

  • New Orleans: Ode to Food

    Everyone always talks about the food and flavor and vibe of New Orleans and there are a variety of reasons why. Going on an adventure to New Orleans with my sister, who has never been, was quite an experience, especially since she has a sweet tooth.

    In cheesy fashion, we began our food adventure at the Court of Two Sisters which has a fantastic brunch buffet with live jazz. From Nola classics like jambalaya and gumbo to large chilled shrimp and Cajun pasta, the choices were endless. Bourbon bread pudding and other desserts warmed the soul.

    After walking around the French Quarter for hours we went back to Hotel Monteleone where we were staying to experience the rotating carousel bar and lounge where we enjoyed some tasty amaretto sours.

    We burned the midnight oil by checking out an incredible performance by legendary NOLA act Preservation Hall. We strolled down Bourbon Street with giant slushy Hurricanes and to round out the first day, of course, we got some fried chicken at Willy’s Chicken Shack to go with it.

    With no hangover in sight, we walked over to the famous Brennan’s and enjoyed a lighter breakfast with crab and avocado toast and drank their delicious chicory coffee by the carafe. If only we had room for the amazing banana’s foster made tableside for two.

    We headed on the swamp and bayou tour for the next few hours, led by Pearl River Eco Tours, our guide had 30 years experience with alligators and his love for the animals and environment really shined through. Even though we didn’t have the guts to try any alligator dishes we saw a number of alligators (even one names Elvis) in their natural habitat in the swamp.

    Back in town, we wandered over to Frenchman street where we had dinner at an intimate Italian spot at Adolfo’s. Known for their ocean cream sauce which has shrimp and crawfish in it, ladled over a big steak. Not to mention they have some of the best garlic bread we might have ever have.

    On the morning of the third day in NOLA, we had a day of food, fun and lots of walking ahead of us.

    You can take girls out of New York but you can’t take NYC out of the girls, so we had a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich from Café Beignet down the street on of course with a side of fluffy beignets.

    But the battle of the beignets didn’t stop there. How could we not have beignets at the famous Café DuMonde? Where the powdered sugar is piled as high as could be.

    The verdict on the better beignet? They’re both damn good and delectable.

    On our last day, we scrambled to do some last-minute souvenir shopping and went over to the French Market and walked around the Riverwalk. Our day ended with dinner at Mr. B’s Bistro. My sister had the juicy sautéed pork chop with roasted veggies and I had the very scrumptious shrimp and grits. We shared some fluffy bread pudding for our last dessert of the trip.

    Even at the airport, before our flight back to New York, flavorsome food is unmatched in New Orleans. The Ye Olde College Inn Restaurant and Bar had not only the sweetest waitress and but incredibly tasty food. I devoured a crawfish omelet served with crispy potatoes.

    The people are incredible, the food and flavor are unparalleled and the atmosphere is unlike any other place you’ll ever go. There is an endless amount of reasons why people gush over New Orleans.

    “When you come to New Orleans you better come to eat,” our cab driver, a Nola native said.   That would be worlds to live by when you visit this incredible town.

    Photo provided by Josh Brasted and article written by Liz Ramanand.

  • Interview: Editor Nikki Vargas

    Nikki Vargas is the editor for Unearth Women, a multi-media travel company for women, run by women. This includes Unearth Magazine which is the first female travel magazine with global distribution in an international market.

    Unearth Women was founded in 2018 and at its foundation it is a network of adventure and exploration which also includes, travel journalism featuring the stories of women all over the globe.

    The Travel Addict got the chance to catch up with Vargas who talks about her role as editor of a travel magazine, her most memorable travels and how her culture and family influence her spirit for adventure. Check out the Travel Addict’s interview with Nikki Vargas below:

    What does the title of the magazine Unearth Women mean to you?

    The name Unearth Women is a nod to our mission to both unearth women’s stories that have been largely overlooked, as well as unearth women’s incredible contributions to industries and cities around-the-globe. 

    What is the most challenging and the most gratifying part of being an editor of a magazine?

    By far the most challenging part of both being an editor for a magazine and launching a media start-up is to create a print publication in the digital age. We live in a time where publications are vying for the reader’s attention, struggling to meet their bottom lines, and where instant access to information is valued over long-form print journalism.

    Regardless of these challenges, our team perseveres as we truly believe a publication like Unearth Women needs to exist and, what’s more, that a travel magazine that speaks to women is long overdue.

    As an editor, my job is to identify stories that not only represent the Unearth Women brand, but that also encourage people to want to go out and buy the issue. I am constantly on the lookout for incredible stories, women to profile, travel trends to address, and destinations to feature in the magazine.

    How do you decide on topics for story ideas for the magazine? 

    Each issue of Unearth Women centers around a unifying theme. Our first issue focused on resilience, our second issue focused on consent, our third issue focused on power, our fourth issue will be dedicated to inclusivity. These themes give each issue a focus and allow us to select stories and women to feature that ultimately tap into that theme.

    For example, in our first issue, we featured VICE correspondent Isobel Yeung for her resilience in reporting on women’s stories in places like Afghanistan and Syria. In our second issue, we explored the topic of consent and how countries like Thailand are defining it. In our upcoming issue—the Inclusivity issue—we feature Nomadness Travel Tribe founder, Evita Robinson, and her work to diversify the travel industry and champion travelers of color. 

    Why is it important for Unearth Women to be called a feminist magazine? What sets

    Unearth Women apart from other magazines targeted for women?

    Women makeup 70% of the travel consumer base and yet most travel media—particularly in print—is founded by men. We wanted Unearth Women to be the go-to travel magazine for female travelers and minorities who feel largely overlooked and unaddressed by the travel industry. Our next issue, for example, is entirely dedicated to diversity in the travel space and features stories from travelers of color, travelers with disabilities, trans travelers, senior travelers, and more. 

    Many travel magazines take on this ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach when it comes to travel content. We see the same travel guides, listicles, destination features all blanketed to travelers. What Unearth Women does is acknowledge that the travelers of today are all unique and have unique needs and travel concerns they want addressed in their content. This is ultimately what sets us apart: our push to address the travel industry as it is today and travelers as they actually are.

    What do you think the future of the editorial landscape looks like for women?

    It is very inspiring to see women creating print and digital platforms to lift each other’s voices. I think the editorial landscape will continue to evolve and diversify so that women have a stronger voice as do communities of people who have historically been marginalized. We are shifting from people telling other people’s stories to now people telling their own stories, and that is a very powerful thing. 

    As a Colombian woman, were there any other Latinas you were inspired by growing up (famous or familial)?

    My two grandmothers—Clarita and Amparo—have always inspired me. Amparo, who has unfortunately passed on, was the image of grace. She had impeccable manners and class that, from a young age, she always worked to instill in me. My grandmother, Clarita, is a firecracker. Loud, funny, unapologetically herself, and vivacious—Clarita has such a palpable thirst for life that I have always admired. 

    What is your favorite travel destination in Colombia?

    I absolutely adore Cartagena. This colorful seaside gem is what one imagines when they think of Colombia. The colors! The food! The music! Everything about Cartagena is enchanting to me and although my extended family is in Bogota, I always make a point to head to Cartagena when visiting the country. 

    What was the first trip (first place) you went to that sparked your love of travel?

    It was Cartagena! My family moved from Colombia when I was fairly young and had no interest in returning to Colombia. It wasn’t until my twenties, after college, that I gathered some friends and we planned a five-day trip to Cartagena. This was my first time traveling abroad on my own dime, without family. Up until then, travel felt like this unattainable luxury for me. That trip really showed me that not only travel could be affordable—a revelation for an entry-level, post-grad in NYC—but it also set me on this path to becoming a travel writer and editor. 

    Where would you like to go that you haven’t been to yet?

    So many places! Tanzania, Greece, Sri Lanka, Jordan, Egypt, Brazil—the list goes on! 

    What are your top essentials to pack when you travel? 

    I always bring compressions socks and Bayer for long haul international flights. No matter what trip, I always bring a journal and a pen with me as I’m bound to either derive inspiration or introspection from my travels. I always bring a book with me and, as of late, I always bring a copy of Unearth Women magazine in case I meet someone who may find it interesting! 

    What is one piece of travel advice you can offer to other women?

    Travel on your own terms. However, you like to travel, you go do that. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty or judged. People have this tendency to project their idealized version of traveling onto others. We cut each other down for being ‘tourists versus travelers,’ for making someone feel like their style of travel is somehow inferior to our own, less authentic, less worldly. In the end, all that actually matters is if you’re traveling mindfully (which is to say you’re not leaving a wake of litter in your path and are being conscious of the destination and culture you’re visiting) and you’re enjoying your trip.

    Our thanks to Nikki Vargas for the interview and featured image above.

  • Five Days in Montreal

    Day 1

    Like a red hooded Handmaid, I was leaving my hometown of New York to run off to Montreal, Canada. Unlike The Handmaid’s Tale, this was for vacation, not a permanent escape. The idea of the trip seemed perfect, less than an hour flight, to another country when I was feeling doubts about my own at the time.

    When I went to the American Airlines kiosk at John F Kennedy airport, the woman who was supposed to help me with getting my boarding pass instead sparked panic after she looked at my passport. “I don’t think you’ll be able to go; your passport expires in two months.” With a sense of frustration, fear, anxiety and heartbreak, I waited for the boarding pass to print, which it thankfully did. My passport actually expired in two months and 20 days.

    The unease didn’t leave until I landed in Montreal-Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport. The flight was 58-minutes. It takes me a longer time to get to work in Manhattan from Queens in the morning.

    Day 2

    Waking up late on the 4th of July in the Le Centre Sheraton Montreal Hotel in downtown Montreal was the epitome of peace. Any worries of the previous day were dreamt away as I had a view of beautiful downtown Montreal and the St. Lawrence River.

    It was time to stop daydreaming and hit the streets. I walked around Saint Catharine which had many shops and restaurants. I went into a quaint eatery called Chicha, an Asian-fusion restaurant and bakery. On this hot summer day, I needed their refreshing peach Jasmine ice tea, which I still think about weeks later. Their lunch special was affordable and delicious; two veggie spring rolls with chicken teriyaki over rice with broccoli. It was just the right amount of food for a full day ahead.

    Walking down Saint Catharine Street, I came across a couple selling beautiful gemstone jewelry. After asking recommendations on where to go and what to eat close by they pointed me in the direction where a massive jazz festival was taking place, which happened to be a 15-minute walk from my hotel.

    The Montreal International Jazz Festival was free and had music going from noon until the wee hours of the morning. The festival took place from June 26 to July 6 so I made it just in time to catch the last couple of days of the event. There were multiple stages were set up surrounding a major performing arts center Place des Arts which served as a nucleus landmark for the festival location.

    Day 3

    With a Tim Hortons latte in my hand, I was ready to do more exploring. I walked over to the Basilique, a notable cathedral with a lot of rich history and absolutely stunning architecture.

    I also came across Complexe Desjardins which was a mixed use space for offices, hotel and a shopping mall all in one. Walking around the shops they even had a stage for kids to enjoy music aptly called La Petite école du jazz.

    Like any good food court, there was a wide variety of cuisine with no frills, there was Korean barbecue, Lebanese food and so much more. I went for Mucho Burrito. I got a half chicken, half pork rice and salad bowl with the spiciest salsa. “It’s very hot,” the server warned. “Good, put extra,” I said, proudly aware of my pepper loving Caribbean roots. The salsa certainly had a kick to it which flavored the bland chicken but the pork tasted like it had been stewed for hours and was flavorful.

    I continued my walk and ended up in charming Old Montreal with restaurants and musicians lining cobblestone streets. It is mostly visited by tourists and it’s easy to see why, with heavy French influence, the area is nothing short of enchanting.

    After receiving wrong directions to my hotel, I ended up in Montreal’s Chinatown where I wish I got there earlier to explore more. I stumbled upon Patisserie Harmonie where I bought some almond cookies to take back to New York as well as a piece of walnut cake to take back to the hotel.

    Day 4

    I did in fact have that delicious, buttery walnut cake for breakfast with some coffee which was already a positive start to the day. By chance, there happened to be a Caribbean parade right outside the Sheraton hotel I was staying at.

    Carifiesta Parade is a vibrant celebration of Caribbean people from all over, Jamaica, Trinidad, Guyana, Haiti, Grenada, Brazil and so many other cultures brought together during this event. Complete with floats, colorful feathered costumes and lots of dancing it was a giant party along René Lévesque Boulevard.

    What a great event for the last full day in Montreal. And then I remembered, I have to get souvenirs! So I hit the shops along Saint Catharine once more where I got the best maple cream cookies, maple fudges and Desir Noir French chocolates to take home for friends and family.

    For dinner on the last day, I had some of the best-fried chicken from Korean restaurant Monami. With incredible seasoning, crunchy outside quality and soft, fall-apart texture, it was some of the best-fried chicken I’ve had…ever.

    Day 5

    On my last day in Montreal, I decided to enjoy the hotel room, opted for late checkout, since I had a later flight. I watched the Women’s US soccer team win the world cup as I enjoyed room service breakfast. Co-workers kept talking about Canada’s bagels and telling me to try it. So I did.

    As a lifelong New Yorker, it’s difficult for me to admit when bagels are superior to NYC’s carb-filled delights. Montreal’s bagel was far better than many bagels I’ve had in my home city. I ordered a toasted sesame seed bagel with cream cheese and it was perfection. It was thinner and less doughy than bagels at home, the crisp to soft ratio of the bread was impeccable. The US may have won the World Cup but Canada won the bagel battle against New York.

    Montreal is a city filled with polite people, incredible history and architecture, tasty food and unlimited cultural events. And since it’s such a short trip, I know I’ll be visiting many more times in the near future.

    Article and photo by Liz Ramanand.

  • Bonnaroo 2019

    Since I spend almost every weekend in the summer photographing music festivals, people always ask me which one is my favorite. It is hard because there are things that I love about each one, but I usually say Bonnaroo. Maybe it is because it is in my native home state of Tennessee or because it’s a reunion with photographer friends that I only see once a year. It also could be the famous warm Amish Donuts that are a perfect midnight snack.

    The biggest standout reason for the festival being one of my favorite weekends of summer is the crowd. I mean what other festival has a code of ethics. “Radiate Positivity” is the theme of the festival with all fans smiling and living up to the chill attitude all throughout the weekend.  I literally have a better attitude for a week after I leave.  I am still enjoying all of the Reddit threads that show how supportive and cool this crowd is all weekend. My favorite thread is Bonnaroo Missed Connections.

    Over a hundred bands spanning all genres of music takeover two main stages (What and Which) and three tents (This, That and the Other) during the four-day event each June near Manchester, TN.  The 2019 installment of the festival went back to its JamBand roots with Phish performing two headlining sets along with Childish Gambino, Post Malone and Cardi B rounding out the diverse lineup with a sell out crowd for the first time in many years.

    If you love to camp or want an authentic festival experience that you won’t want to miss out Bonnaroo 2020.

  • Interview: Mickela Mallozzi

    Mickela Mallozzi is a four-time Emmy-award winning host and executive of Bare Feet with Mickela Mallozzi, a show that takes viewers all over the world through the lens of dance.

    Season 3 of the show which takes her to destinations that she has personal and cultural connections to, a road trip of her own DNA. The new season premiered on June 6 on NYC Life and will air nationwide in October on PBS. It has about 11 episodes as Mallozzi goes from Italy and Ireland to Spain, Morocco and Uzbekistan.

    The Travel Addict got the chance to catch up with Mallozzi who talks about her favorite travels, her passion for dance, combining the two, her love of plov and more. Check out the Travel Addict’s Interview with Mickela Mallozzi below:

    What can viewers expect on this new season of Bare Feet?

    Some tears, all for joy, but there are parts of this season where I get pretty emotional.  This entire new season has me dancing my way through my own DNA map, so there are some incredible moments where I feel especially connected to a place, whether that’s because someone looks like me or someone in my family or the people are just so incredibly kind to me that I am overwhelmed with emotion. 

    It’s also such a beautiful new season, to be honest – Seasons 1 and 2 were shot with just 1 camera – now I’m traveling with a crew of 2 camera people, which makes such a difference.  We’re still telling the touching stories that our fans love so much, it’s just even more visually appealing – I’m so proud of these new episodes!

    What has been one of your favorite places to film/visit either in this new season or in previous seasons?

    I know this sounds cliché, but I feel so lucky in every, single place I go when I’m able to film for the show.  I really see it as a privilege to have this opportunity – I mean, really – I think traveling through dance and music is the best way to see the world!  But If I had to pick from this new season, I would have to say The Republic of Georgia because I got to live out my dream of dancing with the Sukhishvili Georgian National Ballet!  That is something I will never forget!  Also, dancing with Dar Gnawa in Tangier, Morocco – talk about tears, I was dancing and definitely had an out of body experience.

    Describe one of the best dishes you have ever had on your travels and what country were you in?

    Plov in Uzbekistan!  Plov is this amazing dish made of rice, meat, and yellow carrots and it’s almost like a pilaf – it is so delicious, and the most beautiful part is that you eat it communally with everyone at your table, all sharing the same dish together.  It’s just so wonderful!  Bekruz, my guide in Tashkent, said it best – “Plov is love!”

    When did you know you wanted to combine your love of dance and travel?

    I’ve been using dance to communicate and connect with strangers since I can remember – it’s how I travel normally, which is why I started the project in the first place.  But the very first time I was conscious that I could make new friends by dancing with strangers was when I was 18-years old in Edinburgh, Scotland dancing a Scottish Ceilidh at my friend’s father’s wedding.  I had a smile across my face the entire time, and that’s when I fell completely in love with the feeling of using dance to break down barriers when traveling.

    What is a piece of advice would you give to young women who want to turn their love of travel into a career?

    I would say be very clear with your intention and figure out from the beginning what it is that you love about travel.  For me, even when I worked corporate jobs, I had to travel a lot, which I loved!  And even when I traveled for fun, I was never just relaxing at a beach – I always kept myself busy and filled my schedule with dance classes, events, things to do.  So transitioning to making travel my career wasn’t too far off from what I loved about traveling in the first place.

     I know a lot of people who love to travel, but their definition of travel may mean something very different from what they picture building a career through travel would be – coming to terms with those definitions early on is very important.  For me, travel is work, which I love.  When I want to be on vacation, I actually like to stay put and be a homebody (probably because I never get vacation time!).

    What is something you wish you knew before you started on this journey of dancing around the world?

    They say ignorance is bliss – I’m actually really glad I had no idea how long it would take for me to get to this point, with our third season of the show on PBS (9 ½ years, by the way!).  But what I did wish I knew earlier on was to enjoy the moments as they happen – just because something isn’t captured on camera doesn’t mean it never happened.  I’ve really embraced that mantra now – I don’t overshare on social media, and I try to be in the moment as much as possible now that I’m working harder than I ever have before.  And it’s been quite liberating, plus I’m enjoying my travels more than I had been.

    What is one place you would recommend people travel to?

    Travel to the place you have always wanted to visit!  Just go there, make that trip!  I think a lot of people always want to know where is the next place to go, what the hot new spot.  We hit so many great destinations in this new season – Uzbekistan, Romania, Cyprus, Morocco, Puglia, and more.  But if there is a place that has been on your mind to visit – whether that is 50 miles away or on the other side of the world, take the steps now to make that trip a reality.

    What is one place you would like to visit (that you haven’t been to yet)?

    I would really love to dance with the Maori people in New Zealand to learn the Haka, and also dance the Haya in Tanzania.  I would also really love to step with a sorority at HBCU in the US – that has been a dream of mine forever!  I’m hoping to do all of these and more in our next season of the show and beyond!

    Bare Feet with Mickela Mallozzi Season 3 will start airing nationally on PBS stations across the country later this fall!

    Interview by Liz Ramanand.

  • New Orleans Jazz Fest 2019

    New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival turned 50-years-old this year with a massive line-up spanning eight days, over two weekends.  The festival presented by Shell drew approximately 475,000 festival attendees during the event’s two weekends making it one of the largest music and cultural events in the United States. The music, food and cultural extravaganza took place from April 25-28 for the first round and May 2-5 for the second part at New Orleans Fairgrounds.

    Even though legendary act The Rolling Stones and their replacement Fleetwood Mac had to cancel due to ailments of both vocalists, the festival was filled with both mainstream and local heavy hitting acts. This is my 11th year attending the festival in one of my favorite cities.

    Despite a soggy start with some thunderstorms, Alanis Morisette and Earth, Wind & Fire and R&B sensation Ciara performed for fans who held out and stuck around on the first day Thursday, April 25. Guitar icon Carlos Santana and brass royalty Trombone Shorty took the stage for day two. Hometown band The Revivalists, who never disappoint, also performed a high energy set on Friday, April 26. I have photographed this band for eight years and I am so happy to see their huge success over the past few years.

    New Orleans is known for its music and food. At the festival, there was everything for patrons to dive into from gumbo, po’boys, softshell crab and other treats to feed the soul. Flavored snowballs also provide the perfect way to cool off in the warm New Orleans afternoons. My personal favorite food is the crawfish enchiladas that I was introduced to last year and now have to eat everyday during the festival. Please understand this is not the place to count calories. Even Katy Perry got in on the food action attending the festival the days leading up to her performance in disguise and posting on IG about all her food indulgences.

    Rapper Curren$y performed earlier on the third day Saturday, April 27. A variety of headliners graced the stages including pop singer Katy Perry, crooner Leon Bridges and rapper Logic. There’s no better way to round out the first weekend of Jazz Fest than with music legends Bonnie Raitt, Al Green and Van Morrison. Colombian, Reggaeton artist J Balvin also took the stage and rounded out the culturally diverse lineup.

    Jazz Fest continued to pair big names and local acts for the second weekend. On Thursday, May 2, included various names such as Ziggy Marley, Tom Jones and Mavis Staples. The second Friday, May 3 included songstress Gladys Knight, guitar guru Gary Clark Jr. and country singer Chris Stapleton.

    Saturday, May 4 did not disappoint with a musically diverse set of headliners such as Dave Matthews Band, party starter Pitbull and the Queen of Motown Diana Ross. Tank & the Bangas and Big Freedia also brought the house down.

    Jazz Fest 2019 came to a close with more iconic performances by Chaka Khan, John Fogerty, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Buffet and Herbie Hancock.

    New Orleans is a cultural, artistic, educational smorgasbord and Jazz Fest is a perfect representation of it. The fest has already announced dates for 2020 keeping the extended eight day schedule, it will take place from April 23-26 for the first weekend and April 30-May 3 for the second weekend. For the most up-to-date Jazz Fest info, visit www.nojazzfest.com.

  • Interview: Chef Edward Lee

    Top Chef season 16 came to a close last week with the crowning of the new winner of the coveted title as Kelsey Bernard Clark who took the win after an almost too close to call finale battle with her longtime friend and Kentucky native Sara Bradley.

    The Travel Addict was able to catch up with James Beard award-winning chef and Top Chef’s Kentucky native Edward Lee at this year’s music, drink and food event Bourbon & Beyond in Louisville Kentucky.

    Bourbon and Beyond just announced the 2019 dates and lineup taking place September 20-22 taking place at the newly created Highland Festival Grounds at KY Expo Center. Ed Lee will be one of the participating chefs again this year on the culinary stage at the festival headlined by Foo Fighters, Robert Plant and the Zac Brown Band.

    Lee talked to us about his adoration for Kentucky, some famous musicians he would like to cook with and vital mission to mentor and empower young female chefs. Check out the Travel Addict’s interview with chef Edward Lee below:

    What are you looking forward to most about the Bourbon & Beyond Festival?

    The music, it is a great lineup. Louisville typically is not the kind of place you get this first-class stellar lineup. We are looking forward to that. The way it is set up, outdoors, it is crazy. I think, a second year, we have a great variety of musicians, not just the top billing, the second and third billing people are great.

    You had a whole episode on Mind of a Chef dedicated to Kentucky and bourbon. Bourbon is a big part of this festival. What is your favorite bourbon? What can people look forward to with the chef experience at the festival?

    I don’t have a favorite bourbon. Being from Kentucky, that is like asking someone to pick their favorite child. They are all great. My thing is about age expressions, to me, good bourbon is about ten years old. That is what I look for when I am drinking bourbon. “Any bourbon that is about ten years old is going to be fantastic,” is what I tell people. Wheated bourbons are nice.

    One of the things that is so unique about this [festival] is, you don’t usually have a music festival of this size with this kind of talent in addition to this kind of chef talent. The level of food we bring to this festival is unlike anything you will see at any other festival. It is seriously curated food.

    You will see burgers, but it is not just a burger. Everything is done by chefs. You have that really specific care chefs bring to food that they will bring to this festival. The experience of really nice bourbon, really chef-ism food, and this music, that triangle of curation is amazing.

    I know you love Kentucky, you moved there years ago. Some people are coming for the first time, what would you recommend for visitors?

    So many things, go and see a distillery. Check out a museum, we have great art museums. Check out the waterfront, there are really cool things to do out there. Eat at the restaurants we have, they are fantastic.

    We are getting so much press nationally and internationally for our restaurants, it’s insane. Go explore the city, we have great parks. There are great places to drink bourbon, there are great places to shop for bourbon. They call it the Bluegrass State for a reason, there is a lot of outdoor space. There are a lot of parks, it is great to explore and go hiking or wander through some parks. Louisville is a really wonderful city.

    What would you define as a perfect trip? Do you have any travel coming up, what would you say is your ideal vacation?

    To me, there is no such thing as a perfect vacation because a lot of times vacations are about those unpredictable things that happen that are so amazing. To me, it is about food, I vacation for the sole purpose of eating.

    The way the cool memories of that vacation are the people you accidentally run into, whether it is locals or other travelers. One of the great things about Louisville is that people that live here are so proud of Louisville and they are so kind that they always go out of their way to make travelers feel welcome or at home.

    I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people from Louisville are so nice, and it is not just a gimmick. They are truly proud of their place.

    When I go on vacation, I try to immerse myself in the local culture and try to meet as many locals as possible.

    Do you have a top food city outside of Louisville that is your favorite place to get meals?

    There are so many. You know New Orleans is one of my favorite cities to eat in and continues to have amazing restaurants. Seoul, Korea, I travel there once every three or four years. The food is insane there, it is so good. I love Toronto too, it is so international, it has so much variety of stuff.

    What dish would you consider your guilty pleasure?

    To me, it is cold fried chicken. I get a bucket of fried chicken and eat the leftovers for breakfast the next morning. Eating cold fried chicken is the best.

    Is there an item in your house that you always have in your refrigerator?

    I am obsessed with pickles, so there is always a huge variety of pickles in my fridge at any given time.

    You have so many successful restaurants in Louisville, with 610 Magnolia being one. What is the most popular dish on the menu there?

    So we change the menu all the time so it is hard to say. We literally change the menu every few weeks. We never let a dish stay on there more than a few weeks.

    We go against the philosophy of having favorite dishes. At my other restaurants, I would say we have had collards and kimchi–that is one dish that has been on the menu at my other restaurants since day one and people go nuts for it.

    With Bourbon & Beyond being a music, food and drink festival, is there is anyone you would like to do a music-cooking collaboration with? Who would be your dream collaboration in music to cook with?

    That is a hard one to say. So I would say I would love to cook with Bob Dylan because I want to meet him. I know he would be horrible at it so it wouldn’t be the best, I think it would be hilarious because he would be so uninterested.

    I think so many, in this odd way, I know Yo-Yo Ma is really into food and I have met him once and I think he would be really cool. It wouldn’t be the hottest bill at a music festival but I think it would be cool to cook with him.

    My last question is about The Lee Initiative you have. Can you describe what the Lee Initiative is and how it works?

    In response to the #MeToo movement, we wanted to be something that was positive and long-lasting. We didn’t want to do something that was a knee-jerk statement, especially in the restaurant industry, what we needed was a positive take or positive spin that wasn’t negative or finger-pointing.

    We wanted to create an initiative where we pick five young chefs who are women and in the early stages of their career and give them mentorship opportunities.

    They go to a city and train with a very successful female chef and then they come back and we do a dinner at the Beer House together and we eat their food. It is a 40-week program and it is very intense. They get to see everything from culinary training to media training to financial training to sort of life coaching.

    It is a way to give them a window of what it is like to be a leader in this industry. We want to show them the path that is possible and the steps to take. After the program is over, they go back to their lives, back to their jobs, and we ask that they take a leadership role and get to a place they can be a head chef or owner or partner.

    At that point, they call us again and they have a network of support that will help them succeed. It shows young women that leadership is not only attainable but we expect this from you. We want to see you take on this challenge and become the next generation of leaders in the restaurant industry.

    Are most of the young women local or did they apply from all over the country?

    The first year we limited it to only Kentucky. It is only local to Kentucky, but three cities in Kentucky. Next year we are going to expand to regionally and who knows from there. The response has been great, people have been so willing to help.

    Some of these talented young female chefs will also be attending this year’s Bourbon & Beyond Festival.

  • Women’s Travel Fest 2019 – Day 2

    The second day of the Women’s Travel Fest in New York City was jam-packed with even more informational and motivating speakers and panels.

    Deidre Mathis had an informational session, “Perfecting your pitch: How to Win Money for Your Big Idea.” Mathis shared how she raised $28,000 in pitch competitions to fund her dream of opening Wanderstay Hotels in Houston, Texas. She became the first black woman in the United States to own her own hostel.

    Then there were breakout sessions, attendees could choose whether to attend “Etiquette of Influence: Working with Brands to Maximize Travel” on the main stage. Speakers included Sierra Brown who is the account manager of Turner PR, Passport2Pretty creator Kenecia Lashae and Danny Rivers-Mitchell founder of Black Girls Travel Too who all spoke about connecting with brands and the best way to build your own.

    Meanwhile downstairs was another panel at the same time with Uyen Luong who has worked in the financial services industry for over 15 years and spoke about saving up more to ensure the best and safest travel experience. Luong’s session was aptly titled “Financial Independence: How to Stretch Your Money to Travel.”

    For all the heavy packers the next panel was a necessary one. Editor-in-Chief and founder of Travel Fashion Girl, Alexandra Jimenez led the next panel on the main stage “The Carryon Challenge: How to Pack Light for 1 week or 1 Year” which was all about packing efficiently. One of the more impressive travel accessories by Jimenez is the sleek packing cubes.

    During the same time slot, downstairs accomplished scribes Jessica Colley Clarke and Rachel Friedman gave an informative chat about the art and business of travel writing, sharing resources, tips, and advice on pitching and publishing.

    With all of this brain food, it was time to take a break for lunch and feed our stomachs. Appropriately, after lunch, downstairs Kae Lani also known as the “Ms. Frizzle of food,” was teaching female travelers to tap into their senses through food writing.

    One of the most inspirational speakers of the weekend (and may be of any of the Women’s Travel Fest prior) was proficient writer and Editor-in-Chief of Panorama Journal, Amy Gigi Alexander. To attempt to put Alexander’s strength and inspiration into words would be an understatement, she has been through hardships, challenges, and despair time and time again.

    She spoke of suicide, health issues, being a survivor of sexual violence and so much more. Like many women over the weekend who strived to figure out and follow their dreams, she wanted to give up. But she didn’t. The common thread between the women speaking onstage is perseverance. Alexander is the epitome of strength so it’s no wonder why she was the perfect person to talk to women about “How to Fear Less.”

    Speaking of fearless, Jessica Nabongo took the stage afterward to talk about her mission to be the first black woman to travel to every country in the world. She has been to 159 countries out of 193 countries, so far and she’s not done yet. Her personable style, wit and humor made for the perfect way to end the conference. She expects to complete her trip around the world, to every country, in October.

    Article by Liz Ramanand

  • Women’s Travel Fest 2019 – Day 1

    Women’s Travel Festival is a celebration of females who want to explore, who are curious and who create. This year marked the sixth year of the event which aptly kicked off with a pre-party the day before which happened to be International Women’s Day.

    The first day the panels and speakers was led by founder Kelly Lewis in the beautiful space that is the Angel Orensanz Center, a synagogue with gothic revival architecture, in New York City.

    The first panel “The Future of Travel Is Women” was curated by Lewis and had speakers such as traveler, TV Host and producer Rachel Rudwall, travel editor of Unearth Women Magazine Nikki Vargas, Girls LOVE Travel founder Haley Woods founder and Uber’s Tracey Breeden.

    Unearth Women Magazine is the first feminist travel magazine on the international market with global distribution and is edited by Lewis and Vargas. The publication focuses on women’s travel, feminist city guides, food and culture and women who are making an impact internationally.

    Girls Love Travel, founded by Woods, is an online community and Facebook group where women can connect and socialize about their travels. There are currently 737,000 members of the empowering resource that is Girls Love Travel.

    All of these women had an open conversation on sharing their personal story as female travelers, empowering others to share their own stories of travel.

    “Fear is the greatest barrier to freedom,” this was a statement by Breeden. Those words bounced off of the stained glass and fastened on the minds of hearts of women in attendance.

    Breeden is the epitome of badassery; she was a former sex crimes detective and is now the senior program manager of safety and insurance at Uber. She is a champion for women’s safety and spoke about initiatives that Uber was implementing for women worldwide for female customers and drivers.

    The next panel “How Travel Actually Enhances Your Career” featured journalist, Travel Channel host and media personality Oneika Raymond, travel blogger Sherry Ott, and Erica Virvo who is the director of global operations at Nomadic Matt.

    Traveling isn’t cheap, so the women on this panel shared tips on working abroad, balancing travel and work and ways of making money to travel or while traveling.

     One of the best panels of the weekend included an inspirational speaker, Nigerian photographer Lola Akinmade Åkerström. Her work has been featured in National Geographic, CNN, BBC, and many other publications. “What was denied to me, I decided to give to others,” she said.

    She spoke freely about discovering, amplifying and maturing one’s voice. Her moving words resonated throughout our curiosity, wonderment, and need for exploration as we held on to her every word, every pixel of her photographs as they showed only a segment of her many experiences.

    Her story of immigrating from Nigeria to the United States and then to Sweden and how that influenced her photography, her work, and her voice was nothing short of encouraging.

    After lunch, there were many fascinating panels for the second half of the day.  “How I Became a TV Host” featuring Mickela Mallozzi of the PBS series Bare Feet with Mickela Mallozzi. She shared her story of dreaming big, hard work, frustration and resilience.

    Other panels included Tenny Ostrem and Claire Wernstedt-Lynch who decided to walk the thru-length of the United States and Mexico border and last year they became the first ever people to complete the task.

    The last panel of the day featured Annette Raymond, Amanda McCullough, Samantha O’Brochta, Chantel Loura and Bianca Karina Vaccarini. These women spoke about representation in the travel industry how we “view” travel and “who” travel is for in the mainstream.

    The after party of drinking and networking took place at Jia, a speakeasy, at the Hotel on Rivington. Stay tuned for our recap of the second day of this year’s sixth annual Women’s Travel Fest.

    Article by Liz Ramanand