Two Boston-based brands, EF Go Ahead Tours and America’s Test Kitchen, are teaming up to lead a one-of-a-kind culinary journey to Northern Italy, and foodies can’t get enough.
While this may seem like an unlikely pairing at first — an educational travel company joining America’s preeminent home-cooking institution — America’s Test Kitchen’s chief creative officer Jack Bishop said the two brands compliment each other like wine and cheese.
“The core thing that both partners share is a commitment to teaching,” Bishop said. “Our job is to educate people about being successful in the kitchen … and certainly, a really big part of traveling is to experience new dishes and new cuisines, learn about new ingredients.
“The opportunity to join our cooking and food expertise with EF Go Ahead Tours’ expertise in travel just was just a natural partnership.”
However, Bishop said the two companies’ close proximity to each other did not hurt, such as when the two companies were planning the itinerary for the trip.
“As the name America’s Test Kitchen probably indicates, we are a national company,” Bishop said. “But Boston is home, and when we can work with another Boston-based partner, that’s always a nice plus — it’s certainly nice to be working with a neighbor.”
Heidi Durflinger, president of EF Go Ahead Tours — a division of the larger Education First specializing in adult travel — said customer’s response to the new partnership has been enormous, despite the fact that the first tour does not depart until October.
“There was a ton of excitement when they first announced it, which is why all the [first four] departures sold out right away,” Durflinger said.
EF Go Ahead Tours has since opened one new tour date to meet the massive demand, with another opening to reservations within the coming week.
While the partnership with America’s Test Kitchen is headlining the trip, Bishop said his company’s chefs will not be leading any of the tours, nor will they hosting any cooking demonstrations, instead preferring to leave these roles to the local guides.
“We really feel that the experts the people on the tour are going to be meeting in Italy, they know more about this,” Bishop said. “But I think we can prime the learning and begin the learning by educating people who may not know that much about the traditions of balsamic vinegar, so that they get more out of their experience.”
Bishop, who will be joining the first tour group, said he will also be creating a travel guide with his personal recommendations for where to eat and drink on the trip.
“This will be personalized from me about ‘You’re in Turin, here’s the place where I was going and having coffee,’” Bishop said. “There’s a fair amount of free time in all of these trips. And we’re thinking about what kind of content or experiences or recommendations we can make about your free time.”
Durflinger, who will also join the first group, said vacation goers can expect a jam-packed 11 days on tour. The group first lands in historic Turin before journeying through the fertile countryside as they make their way toward the region of Emilia-Romagna and its epicenter: the iconic city of Bologna.
Her personal highlight? Truffle hunting in Alba — home to the company behind Nutella and the white truffle capital of the world.
“I’ve been to Alba and it’s a super charming area of northern Italy,” Durflinger said. “Absolutely stunning. And I’m a big, big foodie. I love cooking and I especially love truffles.”
Other activities to look forward to include touring a family-run balsamic vinegar villa and being treated to a cheese tasting at a factory specializing in Parmigiano Reggiano, a variety so exclusive that it can only be made in certain areas of Northern Italy.
After the current group of tours finishes, Bishop said they are “definitely” planning to work with EF Go Ahead Tours in the future.
“We’re really enjoying working with them,” Bishop said. “It’s been super popular and we’re beginning the 2021 discussions now.”
Tour prices start at $3,079 before airfare and includes full lodging and partial food.