Between the growing Wahlburger’s restaurant chain (there are more than 20 in the United States and Canada) and the popular A&E reality show that gives a behind-the-scenes look at the Wahlberg family and restaurant franchise, executive chef and co-owner Paul Wahlberg doesn’t have much time for a vacation. But when he does, he is happy going “anywhere my kids want to go.” Wahlberg, the fourth of nine children, co-owns Alma Nove in Hingham and the Wahlburger’s eateries, with his celebrity brothers, Mark and Donnie — both of whom credit him with the restaurants’ success. Born and raised in Dorchester, Wahlberg, 53, lives in Hingham with his wife and two teenagers. We caughtup with him to talk about all things travel.
Favorite vacation destination? I like anyplace warm. I like Captiva and Sarasota, in Florida, and I like San Diego. But really, anywhere my kids want to go is good with me.
Favorite food or drink while vacationing? I always like trying something new, something that’s part of the local food scene. If I go to another country, I want to have classic food from that area and really experience what their habits are. The more mom and pop, the better.
Where would you like to travel to but haven’t? Asia and Hawaii. I’ve tried to get to Hawaii a couple of times, but something has always come up. In Asia, I would love to try the food — the street food and the peasant food.
One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? A good book to read. What type of book depends on the mood I’m in. I like detective stories and spy novels, but I also like nonfiction, and of course cookbooks.
Aisle or window? Window. I can either look out the window or go to sleep.
Favorite childhood travel memory? Loading everyone — all nine of us kids — into the car and going to either the beach or a pond. It was always fine at the beginning of the trip, but it would spiral down from there and we would inevitably hear: “If you guys don’t knock that off, I’m coming back there.” We always had fun though, and it would be like a clown car when we all got out. I remember going to Robbin’s Pond in East Bridgewater — a lot of Dorchester people would go there — and Beaver Lake in Derry, N.H. . . . or Tenean Beach right in Dorchester.I also remember going to Nantasket Beach [in Hull] and spending the day there, then going to Paragon Park [which closed in 1984] and going on rides.
Guilty pleasure when traveling? Walking. I love just taking walks and disappearing. I like off-the-beaten-path places and finding street food — even if it’s hot dogs in a cart. I love the whole idea of that.
Best travel tip? Pack what you need. Be organized and know what you need to pack. I’m a “pack lightly” guy, but I still bring what I need.