• 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

  • Krewe du Kanaval 2019

    After a crazy flight mishap in Denver (me realizing I forgot to buy a plane ticket upon arrival at the airport), I made it to New Orleans just in time for the start of Krewe du Kanaval’s second year. I joined the Krewe as a founding member last year during my first time spending quality time in the city during the Mardi Gras season.

    It was nice to find a group of similar people who has a deep love of music and heritage for this amazing city all decked out in Pink and Green the Krewe’s signature colors.

    Krewe du Kanaval is a joint philanthropic venture between Win Butler and Regine Chassagne of Arcade Fire and Preservation Hall that celebrates strong cultural ties and shared heritage between New Orleans and Haiti.

    The two days of activities included a fabulous parade led by Preservation Hall Jazz Band and an evening ball that benefited KANPE, Butler and Chassagne’s Haitian-focused nonprofit, that took place later that evening.

    Last year the Krewe raised over $30,000 for the Preservation Hall Foundation and KANPE.

    The opening festivities took place this year on Thursday, February 21 with a pre-party takeover of Latrobe’s restaurant on Royal Street. As I entered, the party was well underway; I could see the expansion of the Krewe compared to last year’s more intimate affair.

    Win Butler, also known as DJ Windows 98, was spinning tunes as I entered the main dance space downstairs.  Cocktails and coconut King Cake (a New Orleans staple) were free-flowing.

    I felt the festivities were going to be extra special this year. I left feeling rejuvenated and looking forward to the main event the next day.

    On Friday, the day of the parade, Krewe members gathered at One Eyed Jacks in the French Quarter to meet for drinks, apply the appropriate amount of glitter and prepare for a full day of fun with music. The forecast had threats of rain on the parade but luckily held off and a very warm spring day provided the perfect weather for the festivities.

    At about 2 PM, The Northside Skull and Bones Gang started the walking parade through the French Quarter where everyone was encouraged to join in.  Preservation Hall Jazz band, clad in hot pink jackets followed closely behind.

    Win Butler and Regine Chassagne of Arcade Fire also marched in the thick of the action with Butler shaking a giant maraca and chanting with his bull horn and smiling while and Chassagne twirled with a group of dancers in matching satin skirts.

    The free outdoor festival in Congo Square features music and a parade blending New Orleans, Haitian and African traditions.

    Unfortunately, Chef Leah Chase, who was designated to be Queen of Kanaval was unable to attend due to health reasons, so her son accepted on her behalf. DJ Jubilee was on hand and was elated to be crowned king of Kanaval.

    Performers at Congo Square included Boukman Eksperyans, members of Haiti’s RAM, Papa Titos Sompa, percussionist Sequenon Kone, members of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, New Breed Brass Band and local dance groups focused on Afro-Caribbean music and dance.

    The whole Krewe took a final march around Louis Armstrong Park stopping for some inspiring words by Papa Titos Sompa about the ties of Haiti to the crescent city at the foot of the Louis Armstrong statue. The march continued as Preservation Hall performed on the steps of the theater in the park and a march back to Congo Square.

    In the evening, a ball took place at The Civic Theater, which was headlined by Port-au-Prince’s Boukman Eksperyans. The group’s music fuses rock with Haitian rasin, incorporating drumming and folkloric music and traditions.

    There also is music by Miami-based Haitian DJ Michael Brun, Diplo, and Jillionaire as well as Butler as DJ Windows 98. The party went well into the night with Diplo taking the stage after 1:30 AM.

    It was a full day of celebrating New Orleans and Haiti and the perfect start to an amazing Mardi Gras carnival season.

  • Preview: Women’s Travel Festival

    This year’s Women’s Travel Festival is celebrating its sixth year. It will be held from March 8-10 in New York City.

    Speakers of the event include Jessica Nabongo who is on her way to be the first black woman to travel to every country, TV host and videographer Rachel Rudwall, Travel Channel host Oneika Raymond, award-winning author and travel photographer Lọlá Ákínmádé Åkerström, editor-in-chief of Travel Fashion Girl Alexandra Jimenez and a variety of influential female speakers.

    The first day of this year’s festival, March 8, includes add on workshops on travel writing, photography, art walks and it just happens to be International Women’s Day. March 8 and 9 are filled with panels about creating careers in travel, working with different brands from a variety of different speakers.

    An individual Saturday or Sunday pass is $197 each, a weekend pass is $397 each and if you can’t make it in person a virtual ticket is $97.

    Producers of the festival Kelly Lewis and Mickela Mallozzi have created a travel event for women, by women. Women’s Travel Fest encourages women to feed their curiosity and wanderlust and learn ways to monetize it.

    The Travel Addict is looking forward to exploring New York City in March as we attend the festival. So whether you want to do some networking or build up personal and professional travel skills this year’s Women’s Travel Fest is the place to be.

  • Preview: ShipRocked 2019

    ShipRocked Cruise 2019 hits the high seas, on Saturday [January 26, 2019] on the Carnival Valor for its 10th anniversary.  This year’s theme is straight out of the wild west as the cruise head out from the Port of Galveston, TX and visits the beautiful Mexican Riviera with stops in Cozumel and the Yucatan.

    Headliners on the boat include some of radio rock’s heavy hitters and returning ShipRockers Papa Roach, Sevendust, Nothing More, Nonpoint, and Wilson. It’s also the first time for Welsh rockers Bullet For My Valentine, rock, reggae act Skindred, hardcore band Suicidal Tendencies and many more.

    The Travel Addict will be onboard to enjoy non-stop rock for five days and also visit some of the world’s most beautiful sites in Mexico. Alan Koenig is the festival founder and we were able to catch up with him to preview this year’s cruise and talk about the ten-year history of the hard rock festival at sea.

    Koenig talks about his background in the music industry, what inspired the cruise, some of his favorite moments on ShipRocked over the years and much more. Check out The Travel Addict’s exclusive interview with ShipRocked music cruise founder Alan Koenig below:

    What inspired you to create ShipRocked?

    I was an artist manager for over 13 years. One of the artists I worked with was Vince Neil of Motley Crue. For over a decade I ran his charity golf tournament in California and for six years a charity poker tourney in Las Vegas. In 2006 we decided we’d do a cruise (appropriately titled Vince Neil’s Motley Cruise), which sailed in 2007 and 2008.

    Also, in 2003 I’d won a trip to England for a private Peter Gabriel concert at his recording studio. I’m a massive fan. There were 100 people from all over the world, a meet and greet before the show, etc. But honestly, the best part of the trip was just sitting and visiting with the other fans after the concert, talking about our lives, our love of Peter’s music and music in general. Working in the music industry you can sometimes become a bit jaded, but that trip really renewed my passion and joy for music and made me feel like a part of that (non-industry) community again.

    Flash forward to Vince’s cruises and I saw that same dynamic happening amongst his community of fans.  So, having realized over time that I loved producing events, and desiring to find a way to bring communities of music fans together, I took a leap of faith and started my company ASK4 Entertainment in late 2008 and launched the ShipRocked cruise.

    There are more and more music cruises each year, what sets ShipRocked apart from the others?

    I think it’s all because of the incredible ShipRocked [SR] community – really more a family – of guests we have joining us on board every year.  Rock bands and their fans have always felt a bit like “outsiders” (for a lack of a better term) in the larger popular/contemporary music world, and I think that really helps to bring them closer together. These are “core audience” fans and they invest a lot of their time and money supporting the music they love – buying and not just streaming the music, attending shows, buying the merch – which makes them one of, if not the most intensely loyal fan base of any music genre.

    What is the process to select the lineup each year?

    Booking bands is a process to be sure, especially as the live music industry changes from year to year. That said we are blessed to have an amazing talent buyer (Roger LeBlanc of Madison Entertainment) working hand in hand with us, and I truly believe we’ve assembled some of the most amazing lineups ever, by land or sea!

    SR’s lineup has never been beholden to generation or sub-genre, as I believe is evidenced in the variety of artists we’ve had on board over the last nine years. We always endeavor to thread together a mix of great live hard rock, harder alternative, metal, and punk music, and offer fans a little bit of everything.

    We always start with our guest surveys following each cruise. We work hard to bring on the bands that SR guests want to see the most, in addition to others who we think they’ll love. Headliners typically come first, though we’ve had a few years where mid-level acts and undercards locked in earlier.

    Most first time SR bands are excited about joining us, but some are understandably apprehensive given the very different and unique nature of the event. So we spend a fair amount of time doing our best to educate them (and their managers/agents) on how our little vacation works. As a former artist manager (and with other former managers on my team) we are very careful to make sure that all of our artists have a comfort level about doing the cruise, and know that we’ll take great care of them. They’re our guests too!

    Do you have a favorite ShipRocked performance moment over the 10 years?

    My most memorable is probably Broken Teeth in 2009. It was the first show of ShipRocked and the culmination of all the work I’d done to launch the cruise. Also, they kicked ass.

    Other personal standouts include Queensryche doing Mindcrime in full on 2011, Hellyeah’s first appearance in ’11, the whole top line in ’12 (how the hell did we pull that off), Richard Patrick of Filter’s seemingly endless body surf on ’12, all of Living Colour shows during 14 and 15, Wilson’s atrium show and Sevendust’s acoustic set on ’14,  Zakk Wylde doing the National Anthem to launch ’15… There are too many!

    ShipRocked turns 10 this year, how do you see it evolving in the future?

    Oh, we have some plans! Can’t reveal much, but we’re excited to keep growing, see where the music takes us, and enjoy the ride!

    What is your favorite port of call? 

    The next one! Honestly, I love anywhere that has some sun, sand and clear blue water. But I won’t turn down the chance to go to Grand Cayman ever, it’s one of my favorite places we’ve been.

    Are there any dream travel destinations on or off the ship? 

    As much as I wish we could go further south in the eastern Caribbean to places like Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, etc. it’s just not possible on a 4-5 day cruise. But there are still plenty of ports we haven’t been, and we’re doing what we can to get there soon! Off the ship I would really love to spend some time in Australia – always wanted to go, but haven’t yet.

    With each year artists collaborate on the cruise including all-star jam sessions with The Stowaways, any dream collaborations that would like to see one day onboard?

    We started the Stowaways as a way to further encourage and nurture that collaborative spirit between the artists, and I think it’s worked out very well. There is just something truly special that happens when a band brings someone to join them on stage. I could sit here and tell you who I wish would collaborate with who, but some of those that have occurred throughout the years were ones I couldn’t have dreamed up. I love the surprise!

    Which band would you like to vacation with the most off the ship?

    There are too many to make a single choice. I’ve truly enjoyed getting to know so many of the musicians in the bands we’ve had over the year, and would kick back on a beach or travel the world with any of them!

    Are there any surprises in store on this year’s addition of ShipRocked?

    Well, if I told you it wouldn’t be a surprise!

  • Scuba Santa

    Scuba Santa at Newport Aquarium in Kentucky is a holiday tradition in the Cincinnati area. The all-new Water Wonderland with Scuba Santa is a truly wondrous experience where families connect and interact with the magic of an undersea holiday celebration.

    Newport Aquarium in Kentucky, the number one aquarium in the country according to USA Today’s 10Best.com, showcases thousands of animals from around the world in a million gallons of water. In December, the aquarium turns into a winter wonderland where families are treated to seeing Scuba Santa. Scuba Santa swims hourly inside the shark tank with his elves for kids of all ages to view and enjoy the unique experience.

    While at the aquarium patrons can also check out the Albino Alligators, “Snowflake” and “Snowball” who returned to Newport in 2014 and have permanent residency. They are about six feet long and weigh between 65-85 pounds. There are less than 100 albino alligators known in the world today and this is due to poor blending in with their natural environment and their sensitivity to UV rays.

    Newport Aquarium is a leader in wildlife conservation with many community outreach programs. Mobile Shark Cart is a mobile cart that is used as an education/touch pool that is taken to schools, events, etc. and is used to bring awareness to shark protection and ocean conservation. WAVE Program is a program that promotes the importance of ocean conservation, leadership, and STEM to young children through young adults. Individuals can go behind the scenes with a staff member and gets to see how the aquarium works and learn about the conservation programs and species at the aquarium.

    Scuba Santa will be at the aquarium through December 31st so there is still plenty of time to visit this holiday season.

  • Interview: Chef Tom Colicchio

    Season 16 of Top Chef premiered on December 6 on BRAVO and this season contestants made their way down south to Kentucky to compete for the coveted title of Top Chef. The season kicked off at Churchill Downs, the iconic home of the Kentucky Derby. It is no secret among my friends that I love Top Chef and live within an hour of many of the filming locations for this show in the bluegrass state so I am extra excited to see how this season unfolds. Earlier this Fall I was able to catch up with Tom Colicchio on a trip to Kentucky and talk Top Chef, his love of bourbon, and travel.

    Tom Colicchio is known for being the head judge for the cooking show Top Chef while being a multi-award winning top chef himself. He’s also an Emmy award-winning producer, cookbook writer and involved in hunger relief foundations City Harvest and Food Bank for New York. He went from the East Coast to down South for this year’s food, drink and music festival Bourbon and Beyond which took place on September 22-23 in Louisville, Kentucky.

    Check out The Travel Addict’s exclusive interview with chef Tom Colicchio:

    You have won five James Spirit Awards, judge Bravo’s Top Chef, opened numerous restaurants, written cookbooks, is there anything left on your culinary bucket list?

    I think I have been in the game for a long time now and the challenge right now is to stay relevant. There is so much young talent and it is great to see up and coming chefs, while still figuring out how to stay relevant and continue to make great food and open new restaurants. That is it. I never set out to win awards or do TV when I started cooking. All of it is fine, and validation, I hope that I can give something back and that is all great, but like most chefs, I want to continue to work and cook.

    I heard (and we all now know) Top Chef was filmed in Kentucky for Season 16.

    We were, we shot here. I can’t give up too much. It is a lot of Kentucky, we shot in Louisville, shot in Lexington. We had a great time here, the competition, it is a special season. The chefs are all very surprising. When we first start shooting, we usually have a good idea of where it would end up, but not this season, couldn’t do it. It was a really great season.

    You often talk about stories about your family and how food brings your family together. What is your fondest food memory?

    In the summer, my grandfather used to take me fishing when I was a kid. We used to go crabbing, clamming, and occasionally we would catch fish. We would come home. I had two jobs, one, make sure I kept him awake on the way home. It was about an hour and a half drive from the Jersey Shore. I also had to clean all the fish. At a young age, my grandfather taught me to clean fish and crabs. It was a great meal. We used to take the crabs and marinara sauce and make a crab gravy, serve it with linguini. If we caught clams, some of them were steamed. Some were stuffed or steamed with pasta.

    Whatever fish we caught we’d have as well. That was one of my first food memories. Most of the year, we had to be at the dinner table every night, but in the summer that lagged a bit because we would be out swimming. But this was the one meal, everyone came home. Uncles were there. We usually cooked at my grandmother’s house. It was one of those meals that never ended because I used to pick through every crab. This year I caught some crabs and had a great time with family. I sat around the table and picked some crab this season. That was my first food memory.

    More and more music festivals are starting to host celebrity chefs and have curated food options. If you could do a cooking and music duet, who would you choose?

    There’s a lot of good choices here. One of my favorite guitar players is David Bromberg and he is a big guy so he seems like he is into food as well. That could be funny and really interesting. I respect him as a guitar player.

    Is there anybody you are interested in seeing music-wise at Bourbon & Beyond today?

    Keb Mo, I like his Blues. That could be a lot of fun. I don’t know if I can see him though because I am doing a demo at the same time. I want to see Robert Plant but I am not staying tomorrow. My first concert ever was in 1977 was Led Zeppelin in the Garden. I saw the reunion in London and that was great. I really wanted to see him but unfortunately, I have to get home tomorrow morning.

    Are there any foods you refuse to eat?

    I am not a fan of okra. Great Mountain yams for the same reason, that slimy texture.

    What’s your favorite travel destination based on location or food?

    I will tell you where I have never been that I would like to go, my dream vacation, Thailand. I have never been to Southeast Asia. I have been to Japan, been to Hong Kong, but I have never been to Southeast Asia. I haven’t been traveling as much in the last ten years, for pleasure anyway.

    What’s your favorite bourbon?

    I am a fan of a bunch. I got a bottle of Kentucky Owl when I was here, so I cracked that a couple nights ago. That’s really good. Weller, I like a lot. I drink a lot of bourbon, especially in the winter.

    Do you have a favorite bourbon food pairing?

    I’m not a big fan of pairing any booze and eating. I do, but when I think of bourbon I think of desserts as a good pairing. I think the obvious choices are things like smoked fish and smoked meats. Earthy dishes like mushrooms or beets also work really well because they stand up really well with the bourbon. Anything with brown sugar works really well. I have a sweet tooth but I don’t cook a lot of sweets.