One of the country’s most popular celebrity chefs, Todd English loves finding new dishes on his travels. He incorporates some of what he finds into his food empire, which has more than 20 restaurants worldwide and includes Figs in Charlestown and Figs on Beacon Hill, 29 Fair on Nantucket, Bonfire at Logan International Airport, and Tuscany at Mohegan Sun. Father of three grown children, English, 53, has homes in Boston and New York, has won numerous culinary awards, was voted one of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People” in 2001, and once hosted the travel show “Food Trip With Todd English” on PBS. We talked with English about all things travel.
Favorite vacation spot? Anywhere along the coast of Italy.
Favorite food or drink while vacationing? Anything that’s fresh and local to the area I’m visiting. I always want to know where the locals eat and what they eat — beverages included — and I go for that.
Where would you like to travel to but haven’t? I’ve been to Africa, but never to the Congo. I want to go there to see the gorillas.
One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? My running shoes. I love going for a run outside in a new city or destination so I can explore while burning off the food and drink calories. It’s also my time to myself to clear my head and escape for a few.
Aisle or window? Window on the long hauls, aisle on shorter trips.
Favorite childhood travel memory? Traveling with my family — my mother, grandmother, and younger sister — along the southern Georgia coastline. We traveled in the Savannah area, stopping and eating fried oyster packs along the way.
Guilty pleasure when traveling?
Local fast-food joints! Yes, I have to admit I do love In-N-Out Burger. I also sometimes raid the Peanut M&Ms from the hotel minibar.
Best travel tip? As much as I travel, I love my Global Entry [the US Customs and Border Protection program that allows expedited clearance for low-risk travelers] because it saves a ton of time. Also, going back to my earlier answer, when it comes to travel and food, always eat like the locals — as long as it’s safe.