The word luxury applied to food can have multiple meanings. Luxury can be to have time to prepare a dinner for the people you love, or to go shopping at the market talking to the producers. There is a level of luxury, though, which is understood in the literal sense and is directly proportional to spending power. If once gastronomic luxury was associated mainly with tins of caviar and bottles of champagne – two things that we really like, of course – now huge sums of money are exchanged for exclusive and unique food and dining experiences – custom-built culinary trips to remember.
Here are five to put on the wishlist, or to use as inspiration for cheaper trips.
On the four seasons private jet, Worldwide
The Four Seasons private jet will be embarking on two 'Culinary Discoveries' in 2017, two trips that will redefine culinary exclusiveness. Developed alongside René Redzepi, each trip lasts consists of 21 days of incredible dining experiences, encounters with chefs and the discovery of local products. At night, guests sleep at the Four Seasons at each location, while on board, chef Kerry Sears will look after everything food-wise. The first of the Culinary Discoveries (27 May to 14 June) will visit Seoul, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Chiang Mai, Mumbai, Florence, Lisbon, Copenhagen and Paris. The second (3 to 26 September) will stop in Seattle, Kyoto, Beijing, Maldives, Serengeti, Budapest, St. Petersburg, Marrakech and Boston.
We remain at high altitude, this time for breakfast. The Cristallo Hotel Spa & Golf in Cortina offers 5-star luxury in the most luxurious of Italian ski resorts, and breakfast served in a helicopter: an hour in flight flying over the Giau pass, with the Dolomites stretching out before you, enjoying a tasting menu agreed the night before with chef Fabrizio Albini. But if you prefer to sleep in the morning, there is also an intimate dinner for two in the cable car.
Opened in late 2013, The Chedi Hotel has raised the bar of Alpine luxury in multiple ways, including gourmet. Located in the picturesque Swiss town of Andermatt, the hotel has a Japanese restaurant and when sipping sake at 1447 meters, our advice is to try the whole course kaiseki menu accompanied by sake pairings.
A sushi class at the Buddha Bar almost sounds too exclusive to be true. The famous Monte Carlo club is truly the spirit of the city: excessive and vaguely tacky, but also exclusive and unquestionably fascinating. A lesson in Japanese cuisine here includes the basic techniques, from cooking rice to cutting fish, preparation of maki, California rolls and futomaki.
Visiting Machu Picchu is already a special experience and a trip on the Belmond Hiram Bingham train may just make it the journey of your life. The luxury train is in the '20s style with a dining car from which you would expect Hercule Poirot to emerge at any moment (in fact the Belmond Group owns the Orient Express).
The journey begins at Cuzco, with a brunch accompanied by Peruvian wines. Then, there's a visit to the Machu Picchu archaeological site, and, as the train starts towards the village of Poroy, it's time for an Andean-inspired menu – and a good pisco sour, of course. And if you're curious for a "vintage" culinary experience on board a train, but Peru is too far away, Belmond also operates routes in the UK and Ireland.
These are tough times for chefs and restaurant professionals around the world, but there has never been a better time to seek advice and help around a number of topics affecting hospitality workers. Here's a round-up of some of the most useful resources for chefs.