• 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 such as 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 and 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.

  • Interview: Chef Aarón Sánchez

    Chef Aarón Sánchez has always represented his Mexican heritage to the fullest. He is a current judge on Master Chef and has built his food empire with restaurants, television shows and cookbooks over two decades. The Travel Addict caught up with him at the Bourbon & Beyond music, food and drink festival in Louisville, Kentucky, which took place from September 22-23. Sanchez could be seen all day having a blast all around the festival enjoying the music and interacting with fans. Before taking the stage for his cooking demo with his good friend Ed Lee on the culinary stage, Sanchez talked about his Mexican roots, his love of Lenny Kravitz and life in New Orleans.

    This week Sanchez hosted a Feast Under the Stars at Voodoo Festival in New Orleans for VIP patrons to experience a five-course meal expertly prepared by Sanchez and four other culinary powerhouses including, Justin Devillier, Kelly Fields, Nina Compton, and Todd Pulsinelli. Each course was paired with the perfect wine and fans got to preview the site of the Voodoo Festival in New Orleans.

    Check out The Travel Addict’s interview with chef Aarón Sánchez:

    What are your favorite New Orleans places to eat?

    We love all the restaurants in our group obviously. That goes without saying. The ones that my lovely girlfriend and I like to go to are 1000 Figs and Echo’s Pizza, which has some really great stuff. We go to Lilette. We like Napoleon House for some traditional stuff. We go there quite a bit. We take people from out of town to Napoleon House if they want great jam or a Muffuletta. We are also fans of Turkey and the Wolf.

    When people I know visit New Orleans, I tell them to go to your restaurant Johnny Sanchez.

    What is interesting, when you think of coming to New Orleans you don’t think of Mexican food, but the similarities and parallels are that people come to New Orleans to get great seasoned food, well-prepared deliciousness. Not the subtle stuff. They want something in their face and delicious. That is why we have been so successful. We like to have a good time provide wonderful food for guests.

    When tourists visit what activities do you recommend in NOLA?

    I tell everyone to take a walk and go have lunch at St. Roch Market. I tell people to take a moment and go to the Audubon Park Sculpture garden for sure. Jackson Square is also an obvious choice. I think the more exciting stuff if you want the more real experience, go to the Marigny, up at the Bywater and check out those restaurants. That’s where I tell people to go. I think there will be more interesting stuff is happening in Mid-City. I think Lakeview will get a lot more attention in the coming days.

    I wanted to talk to you about your Cocina website. What inspired you to create that? The food images just pop.

    What we are doing is introducing that taste made love with a Latin medium. We are celebrating all things Latin culture and bringing those recipes to life, showing the full breadth and diversity of Latin cuisine. We are trying to shake the misconception of just being Mexican. We wanted to bring recipes from all over, from the Caribbean, Central and South America, obviously Mexico, and making those recipes present, giving people access to those in a very user-friendly way. We do everything with a cinematic lens. It is food porn. We wanted everyone to have access, inspired by the Taste Mates of the world, inspired by Chef’s Table. It is really about that.

    What is your version of the perfect taco?

    I am a sucker for the traditional stuff. I love a good Carne Asada, a little bit of avocado and guacamole, beautiful salsa.

    You always talk about your mother’s cooking, on Chopped and other shows. Aside from your mother’s cooking, what travel locations have inspired you the most?

    So many. Peru, for sure. You think of 300 ways to make potatoes, the Japanese influence in the food, the indigenous influence. I think it is the birthplace of ceviche’. There is so much food. It is so rich and diverse. We just got back from Italy. We were in the South in Calabria, loved the food down there. It is one of the few regions of Italy that uses a lot of chilies and spice. We were stoked about there and we love Italy.

    What is your funniest Chopped moment?

    I have had a lot. Chopped is so fun. When people see stuff like chicken in a can and duck testicles, I am marveled at how quick thinking people are. It is very telling about a cook. Chopped is not an exercise into what kind of chef you are, but how resourceful you are, how you can mix things together.

    We are at Bourbon and Beyond. What is your favorite bourbon?

    I have so many it is hard to choose. We just had Copper and Rye (Look it Up). It’s one of my favorites. For me, being from the South and loving bourbon, yes there is Buffalo Trace and Pappy Van Winkle, but I like the more utilitarian kind of bourbons, the single batch, that are compatible with putting it on ice. I love how much fun the distillers are having using wine barrels to age their stuff.

    Any favorite bourbon and food pairing?

    Oh my God, there are so many. If you think of bourbon and food, you obviously think Bar-B-Que. I think there is other stuff like duck, I think mole would be interesting.

    What is one dish nobody would expect you to love?

    Tofu, a really beautifully cooked tofu, I love mapo tofu which is kind of like an Asian style ground pork mixed with tons of chilies and tomato mixed with pieces of tofu.

    Who are you most excited to see here?

    Lenny Kravitz, he is just amazing. He brings a sexuality to the music that only he can do. His music is constantly evolving. He is on like his 12th album or something crazy like that. He’s been doing it 30 years.

    Robert Plant is here. We saw him in L.A. He is still sexy and still into it, and still loves it. Where do you think Lenny got it from? His idols are Prince and Bowie, and if you throw Robert Plant in there, it is Lenny Kravitz. This festival has so much great music.

    I saw you at Bottle Rock as well. It is becoming more popular to combine these food and music festivals and events. What would be your dream cooking music collaboration?

    I want to cook with musicians who love food. I think musicians are always so svelte, in skinny jeans, cute little fingers, I am always wondering if they really eat. I am good friends with Kings of Leon. I just did a fun cooking demo in Nashville with Caleb, the lead singer is a buddy of mine. Somebody I have never done one with who I truly love, I would love to cook with Rihanna.

    If you had a dream vacation destination, where would it be? Where have you not gone yet?

    I want to say something unattainable. I haven’t been to Copenhagen; I really want to go there. I am fascinated with Vikings. I want to go up in the mountains in Norway and meet the indigenous Sami people.

    What has been your response to your Aaron Sanchez scholarship? Do you think it is increasing aspiring chefs in the Latin community?

    Absolutely. The whole purpose of my scholarship is to create Latino leaders in the kitchen. A lot of times there has been issues with advancement and executive positions. I think everything starts with education. I think everything starts with foundation. We get kids with Latin descent, preferably bi-lingual, and then be able to get that bi-cultural narrative and support that with great education and mentoring.

    We are creating leaders single-handedly by doing that. That is the motivation behind the scholarship. This year we have given two scholarships, one to a young kid from New Orleans named Alejandro, and given one to a woman, a young lady from Puerto Rico named Jan, because I wanted to give love to the one-year anniversary of the hurricane there, so I chose a young lady from Puerto Rico, and she’s going to be awesome.

  • SkyStar Wheel

    The SkyStar wheel is the nation’s largest portable observation wheel and it is in Cincinnati September 1- December 2, 2018. I finally was able to head downtown this weekend to see the wheel light up the Cincinnati skyline on Saturday night. It was a super windy fall evening but we were able to capture some photos of the Ferris wheel by the world famous Roebling Bridge that connects Cincinnati to Northern Kentucky.

    The SkyStar has become a local highlight for photographers across the area as it provides a unique view of the beautiful skyline from the Newport, KY side of the river. When we arrived Saturday evening there were several local photo groups out capturing the sunset. It comes to Cincinnati after successful visits to Louisville, KY and Norfolk, VA.

    The SkyStar wheel is equipped with 36 climate-controlled gondolas. Each gondola can hold up to six people. Guests are treated to fantastic views of the city as the ride takes you 15-stories above the banks of the Ohio River at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Park. The wheel is open daily and costs $12.50 and all ages are welcome to ride.

  • Interview: Chef Damaris Phillips

    Bourbon & Beyond Festival takes place in Louisville, Kentucky and is a celebration of food, music and really good alcohol. Unfortunately, the second day of the festival may have been canceled due to heavy rain and flooding at Champion’s Park. But chef Damaris Phillips was gracious enough to re-schedule our interview and photos so that we could chat and discuss her hometown of Louisville, bourbon, cats and Dolly Parton.

    Since I have a natural aversion to cooking at home even though I binge watch Food Network, we discussed some easy go-to meals to cook at home which you can find on here on her official site. We also discussed some favorite travel destinations, which include India and an interest in hitting the high seas, on a Carnival cruise. All around she is just as nice as she is on TV and I understand why America has fallen in love with this Food Network Star.

    You live in Louisville and have always represented Kentucky so well on all of your television appearances. What do you tell people to do around town when they come to visit you?

    I definitely tell people to try to get to at least one distillery, either in the downtown area or drive a little bit and hit one of the rural distilleries. Ideally, people should go to two so they can see the difference between the ones in town and what places like Woodford looks like. It is different but very, very fun.

    What is your favorite bourbon?

    That is like asking somebody who their favorite child is for different reasons. I can never pick one. Honestly, any bourbon someone gives me is a good bourbon. I try not to discriminate against a bourbon.

    Do you have any favorite bourbon food pairings?

    I use bourbon in all of my cooking. The truth is it goes great with any of the things you think of as Southern comfort food. It even goes great with casseroles. I think of drinking it like more of a cocktail, or think of it as you would think of wine. It goes great with literally everything. A little glass of bourbon with soup, unbelievable.

    I just watched you last night Beat Bobby Flay at midnight last night with tuna casserole.

    Well, I love tuna casserole. It tastes great with bourbon.

    How does your work as a culinary instructor prepare you to judge for the top Food Network shows?

    I learned to understand food a lot more, what was happening, why things were crispy, why some sauces were smoother than others, why one cake had a crumbly crumb compared to too chewy. I learned all that through teaching.

    When you are judging, you want to point out what is going on, “You’re crisp is too soft”, and you also want people at home to get takeaways, to understand why the crust is too soft. You say, “You put it on the pan, and it was warm, and condensation happened, so now it is a little soggy.” That will happen, the science and fundamentals of cooking, you learn it in schools and in restaurants, but I really understood it and it became second nature because of teaching.

    So you can give tips and critiques?

    Yes, you can critique but “it’s not just soggy” here is how you can do it better next time.

    What dish is your guilty pleasure?

    I cannot resist macaroni and cheese. I cannot resist banana bread. It is impossible not to eat. Any kind of potato. I never feel guilty about them. I only feel happy. You know what I really love, cinnamon toast. I would eat cinnamon toast every single day if it was a diet food.

    More and more festivals are starting to combine food and music, and it is awesome. If you could have a dream music cooking duet who would it be?

    Got it, Dolly Parton. Done. As a woman from Kentucky, I can tell you she is the goal. She is just so elegant and a real entertainer, a true class act and kind. She is also still kicking ass with the music.

    Are there any international destinations that have been an influence on your cooking?

    I love international cooking and I love bringing all the spices to Southern food. It is one of my favorite things to take my Grandmother’s Mashed Potato recipe and then throw in harissa or berbere because I am obsessed with Ethiopian food. That is my go-to for updating what we consider a traditional Southern food. But my biggest influence is India. My husband and I just got back, and we are getting ready to go again. I spend time when I am there cooking with a group of women. We make everything literally from scratch, if we want paneer cheese, they go milk the cow. If you want a vegetable you go pick it from the garden. Learning that you can make a unleavened bread and Tirupati and do it every day, it changes how I cook at home. Now, I am never like, “Oh, I have to make biscuits. That seems hard.” It helps you get it together a little bit. There is a real joy to scratch cooking.

    I have traveled extensively in India as well. It puts things in perspective here a little bit too, things aren’t really a big deal.

    It really isn’t. People need to calm down about life. I think that we get so used to things being so convenient based here. Put us up against non-convenience and we see it as a bad thing instead of a very natural thing.

    What is your favorite Food Network show to judge or participate in?

    The one that makes me feel something special and takes me back a little is when I get to do Food Network Star. It’s when I get to come on and be a judge and offer advice and I am seen as successful at this seems full circle to me. The one moment that shows how much I’ve grown and changed. That is the one that gives the moments that you can feel the success.

    I am obsessed with, not Bobby Flay, but Nacho Flay, his cat.

    That cat gives you every reason to be obsessed with it. He is a cat but he is a superstar cat. He is beautiful. I follow him on Instagram. The sweetest thing about that is Bobby how much he loves that cat. My husband and I were visiting him in the Hamptons recently just hanging out and we asked Bobby if he was ever going to get another cat. He said he was his best friend. His cat is his best friend. It is his most endearing quality to Bobby. He loves that cat so much.

    I can relate. My cat Tiger is 19 and I love him. If anything happens to him, I am not sure if I could get another one either.

    We have three cats. With every cat, I thought I could only love that one. With every single one, you love them. Their personalities are so different. There is something so sweet and special about each one of them. That is how people feel about their kids.

    Let’s talk Bourbon and Beyond, did you get to attend at all this year? You were scheduled to present on Sunday, which was rained out, unfortunately.

    I only got to go for it a little bit this time on Saturday, for a short visit, we had friends in from out of town so we went over with them.

    What was your favorite part about Saturday?

    They do a wonderful job of making it feel cool. There are lots of places to discover, all the different bars, the way they set it up so you congregate in the big center and have all these places to discover. I think it just feels cool. I think they do a great job of having things to do. I think the different courses they do for you to learn about bourbon, for me, was the most exciting.

    Did you see any music that was good?

    Damaris: Of course. I wanted to see my best friend John Mayer, but I didn’t get a chance to. (If anyone follows @chefdphillips on IG you know about her feelings for John Mayer songs.)

    Your show Southern and Hungry takes you all across the South. Are there any standout destinations for travelers?

    I think everybody should take a road trip through the South. Every location is different based on whatever you are into. I love New Orleans. I love all of Louisiana. It is a really cool state to ramble around in. Whenever you start driving, you realize everywhere is like that. If you go to Knoxville, what a little surprise, but the drive from Asheville to Knoxville also just remarkably beautiful being in the mountains. You have to slow it down.

    Everywhere is going to offer the chance to eat great food and meet people. It is not just about eating but the experience of eating. Whenever you are in Savannah, you are going to go eat but walking under live oaks, and for the first time feel like, understanding the draw of the Southern Gothic look, and understand it for the first time when you are under those trees.

    The #MeToo movement has come to the food industry and outside Hollywood. Do you think it has changed the way the restaurant business works or will change it in the future?

    I hope that as we are able to talk and as we are able to feel safe, the more everybody is able to share their experiences, it makes every work environment safer and healthier, a place people can be their best and feel more secure. I hope everything is changing. It is heartbreaking to think people were hurt for so long.

    I think you don’t even realize until you start talking about it, you don’t realize what is normal. The greatest thing about talking is we are now able to see what is not appropriate at work, what is not an appropriate way to feel at work. You don’t know. The greatest thing about talking is we are able to, as a community of restaurants, come up with what is appropriate and what is not appropriate. It is never a bad thing to set up healthy boundaries for people.

  • Ohana Festival 2018

    I recently took an amazing writing workshop with Pamela Des Barres. Miss Pamela is one of the most famous rock and roll groupies who has chronicled her adventures in four novels. She now travels around the country teaching writing workshops to her dolls. I have wanted to check out the workshop for four years since first learning about it and I finally got the opportunity when the workshop came within three hours of my house in Fairmont, Indiana at the James Dean Gallery.

    During the workshop participants have 12 minutes to write a story on various topics and then share the writing out loud in front of the group.  It’s amazing how much you can write in 12-minute increments. The first assignment of the evening was to write a story that ended with …and then I needed a nap.

    My story reflected on my weekend at Ohana Festival in California below:

    I flew across the country and I fought LA rush hour traffic to be near the music. As I walked along the beach watching the surfers catch the waves I thought about how nice it would be to just stop and take a break and listen to the ocean for a few minutes but I had to continue on because the music was calling me.

    I spent the day anxiously waiting to see two of my all-time favorite artists, Johnny Marr and Eddie Vedder. I almost cried when they took the stage together in the middle of the afternoon.

    I could barely stand up by 8 PM as jetlag set in after being in the California sunshine all day long but I made myself stay until the night’s end because I needed to hear Eddie sing just a little bit longer. Tears welled up in my eyes as I sang along to “Better Man” surrounded by people who loved him as much as I do.

    When a Tom Petty tribute of “Wildflowers” sang I had my perfect moment under the stars and the palm trees to the finish the perfect day. The music always wins and I will travel anywhere anytime to hear those familiar songs.

    As waves crashed on my walk home I was so happy I made the choice to show up for the music even though I was in desperate need of a nap.

  • Groove Cruise 2018

    Groove Cruise sets sail from San Diego, California to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico on October 10-14 on the Norwegian Pearl.

    Groove Cruise has always been about the fan experience with one of the longest running dance cruise parties at sea.  This year headliners include Benny Benassi, Cosmic Gate, Green Velvet, Laidback Luke, MK, and Shiba San along with many others provide over 96 hours of non-stop music across the ship and on land in Cabo.

    Theme nights include Tutus and Ties, Show Your Colors, Back to School, Neon Me and more.  Come dressed to impress!

    Deposits to hold your spot for a room is $200. Prices for sharing in a quad start at $734.50. Triples go from $969 to $1,849 per person. Double shared rooms starts at $1,069 to $1,949. For more information on prices for staterooms, go here. The minimum age for Groove Cruise Cabo is 21.

    I experienced Groove Cruise west coast style in 2016 where Cabo became one of my favorite cruise ports ever. You can get off the boat and spend the night on land filled with music and sensational seaside views.

    Also, watch out for the 15th anniversary of Groove Cruise which takes place 2019 from January 10-14 featuring Kaskade as a headliner. The cruise sails from Miami to Key West and Cozumel, Mexico.

  • Interview: Chef Jose Salazar

    Chef Jose Salazar was born in Colombia, raised in New York and resides in Cincinnati. He will be attending and cooking at the Bourbon & Beyond music, food and drink festival in Louisville, Kentucky from September 22-23. The festival is the largest bourbon festival in the world. Salazar will be joined by fellow chef Kevin Ashworth, the duo will show why great steak might pair better with bourbon instead of red wine. Salazar talked about his roots, his love of ham and cheese sandwiches and much more. Check out The Travel Addict’s interview with chef Jose Salazar:

    How did you find yourself in Cincinnati from Queens, New York?

    It was very, very random. My wife and I had just had our son. He was just under a year when we moved here. Right when he was born, we weren’t sure if we wanted to raise him in New York. We thought there had to be an easier, a more tranquil place to live.

    Since neither one of us had lived anywhere else, we didn’t know where to start. My first instinct was to send out some resumes. I sent some out to places on the East Coast. We thought we may move to Philly or somewhere within driving distance of New York but didn’t know where that would be.

    A headhunter got my resume and called me about this job as an executive chef at a hotel, and it all sounded really, really great, but it was in Cincinnati, Ohio. I didn’t really know anything about Cincinnati so it was thanks, but no thanks. Long story short, he eventually convinced me to come out and do a tasting and then, of course, we decided to give it a shot. We thought we would only do it a couple of years. And ten years later, here we are with a couple restaurants and we aren’t planning on leaving any time soon.

    If you have any advice for people coming to Cincinnati, what would you tell them to visit? What are your favorite things to do?

    It is a really walkable city. I think the river is really nice. The Roebling Bridge is beautiful. It is the bridge that inspired the Brooklyn Bridge. I think Findlay Market is really cool. It is one of the oldest markets in the country. Over the Rhine, the neighborhood, the whole neighborhood, has been transformed. A decade ago it was probably considered one of the worst neighborhoods in the country and now it is so transformed in a short period of time.

    It is beautiful. The architecture appealed so much to me when I got here. Walking around that neighborhood, there are so many things to do and so many things to explore. Definitely Findlay Market, I think that is a must for anybody visiting.

    You have had a really good experience in Cincinnati. You have opened two very successful restaurants, Salazar and Mita’s here in town. What advice would you give any aspiring chef who is starting out opening a restaurant?

    Listen to your gut. I think that is important. I feel like the media, no offense, makes it all about being new and hot and what’s different. To some degree, young restauranteurs forget that what is so wonderful and without them it would be a difficult business.

    At the end of the day, the people who are coming to your restaurant are who are going to sustain you long term. I think listening to what their needs are and being attentive. That is really what our industry is all about, hospitality and being as attentive as possible.

    We were down in the Over The Rhine area recently it really is a beautiful neighborhood. It did remind me of New York a little bit.

    A little bit yeah. We have been told that, especially Salazar because it is tucked away on a little side street. It is a little Brooklyn-esque or Paris, depending on where people are sitting. They can kind of feel they are transported somewhere else.

    You’re from Colombia, one of my favorite places to visit. I went last year for Carnivale and went all over the country. I know you spoke before in other interviews about your grandmother and spending time with her. What was your favorite dish she made growing up there?

    For some reason, breakfast stands out to me. She would make big, big breakfasts. There wasn’t anything fancy. There was arepas (corn pancakes) and eggs, chicharrón (fried pork belly or pork rinds) and maybe a little fresh avocado. But the hot chocolate – she would make fresh hot chocolate by hand in an aluminum cauldron with a wood heater. Maybe it was just the whole, pomp and circumstance she did the whole hot chocolate thing. She was so nurturing and breakfast was when everyone was gathered at the same time.

    Have you been back to Colombia lately?

    Not lately. It has been five years or so.

    It is a coincidence. Medellin and all these places used to be the worst in the world as well. They are now safe and wonderful, open to tourists. I met some of the warmest people there I have ever met. I feel like they have had a huge transformation as well.

    Yeah. I am glad you had that impression. The country was definitely plagued by a lot of things that went wrong, a justifiable bad rap. The people have always been wonderful and sweet and caring and party animals. It is sad the whole world didn’t get to see that because there was so much turmoil.

    What is your favorite meal or type of cuisine?

    I really love Japanese food. When I can get wonderfully, beautifully cooked Japanese food. But I love a good Ham and Cheese sandwich, when you have good bread and great ham and good cheese, maybe a little bit of butter or mustard. That is my go-to. I am the biggest fan of Ham and Cheese, the best combination ever.

    If we were to go to your refrigerator in your home, what is one thing we will always find?

    Well, I don’t cook at home. I’m right near the fridge, so I will open it up. My wife cooks quite a bit. So there is always orange juice, eggs, milk, yogurt. As far as cooking, your typical stuff. There is a nice array of fruits and vegetables. My wife cooks. She shops in small quantities. She cooks 98% of the meals in my house.

    What dish would you consider your guilty pleasure?

    I don’t know. Nothing really makes me feel guilty.

    You are going to be a featured chef at Bourbon and Beyond. What are you looking forward to most participating in at the festival?

    I did it last year and it was a blast. It was one of my favorite events ever. The music for sure – there are so many wonderful acts. Then, of course, all the bourbon and rye, you know the combination of those two.

    And then the collaborating with other chefs, that is a huge event for me because I don’t get a lot of time to travel and I work a lot. Getting away to these events is cool to meet and work with other chefs. That is one of the things I look forward to the most.

    What is your favorite bourbon?

    Probably Angel’s Envy. I like their rye even more than their bourbon.

    Angel’s Envy is a great place to go in Louisville to visit, just to go to the actual distillery is a cool place.

    That is what I have heard. I have not been able to make it there.

    What is the oddest thing you have ever eaten when traveling?

    Probably bugs in Mexico, a lot of different kinds of bugs. They were actually really good. A little odd but tasty.