If there’s one thing celebrity chef Katie Lee knows, it’s where to find the best down-home, easy, street food AND the best beaches. Two things that are very high on our list of necessities when we’re travelling and exploring new places. As a co-host on The Food Network‘s The Kitchen, and the host of her own series Beach Bites (the new season just launched earlier this month), Katie Lee has travelled to some of the world’s most incredible places (from St. Thomas to Mackinac Island, Michigan to Montauk, New York this season alone), so we just had to ask her our list of travel questions. Read on below to find out her travel secrets and where she’s had some of the best food (think fresh Ahi Tuna Nachos and Caribbean Stewed Chicken for starters!).
What is your first travel memory?
When I was a little girl, my grandparents would take me to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. They had a big camper and we would stay in it at the beach. We looked forward to that trip all year long.
How did travel have an impact on your life growing up?
I didn’t get to travel much as a kid, just those yearly beach trips. I yearned to explore the world. I remember going to the travel agency at our local mall and picking up all of the travel brochures. I would look at them over and over and dream of going to every exotic location.
As a chef, what inspires you most when you travel?
It’s so inspiring for me to try new foods while I travel. I like to see what chefs are doing with their local ingredients.
Tell us a bit about Beach Bites… what do you love about the food you experience on this show?
It’s basically the best “job” on the planet! I’ve met so many amazing people and there is a certain sense of nostalgia about food at the beach.
What spot in the world really surprised you food wise?
I loved absolutely everything I had to eat in Mexico City. I went there a few years ago and ate everything from street food to fine dining. It was awesome.
What’s one spot that surprised you not related to food?
For this season of Beach Bites, I went to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. I never thought of it as a beach destination and it was a great surprise. The beaches were beautiful, the food terrific, and the people even better.
Where was the most incredible meal you’ve had?
The food at Lo Scoglio in Nerano, Italy is the best in the world.
Where was the most incredible drink you’ve had?
I love red wine, especially a big California red.
Is there anything you won’t try food wise?
I’m not into bugs, but I did try fried grasshoppers while filming in Carmel. I actually liked them! I guess you could fry anything and I would eat it.
What is your ultimate dream destination and why?
I would love to go to Southeast Asia for so many reasons, food one of them.
How adventurous are you when it comes to trying new foods while travelling?
I’m not super adventurous. I like the classics.
What would you say to someone to get them out of their comfort zone with food when they’re travelling?
Eat what’s fresh and local, and you can’t go wrong.
Favourite hidden food gem in the US?
The Hamptons on Long Island. The area is home for me, and it’s unique because it’s filled with farms. You get the best produce plus fresh seafood, wineries, dairy farms, and more.
Favourite food spot in Canada?
I went to Montreal once and loved it!
Beach or city… which type of travel destination is your fave?
Beach, no question.
Micheline star or street food?
Street food without a doubt. I’m not into fancy.
Three things you never travel without?
Heating pad (helps with stiff back after sitting on a plane), moisturizer, hand sanitizer
What would you say your travel mantra is?
You can tie this back too food too! As long as you have your passport and credit card, you’re all good.