My Top 5 cities for food

05/28/2024 08:23 PM

As a Chef, I am constantly asked where to find the best food. People assume my answer will be Paris, or Rome or even New Orleans and while I love them all and have never gone hungry in those wonderful cities they do not make my top 5. 

5. Bangkok, Thailand. Exciting flavours are around every corner. I thought chicken and rice was a boring dish until I had it with Alex one morning and dipped the chicken in the spicy sauce with the perfect rice. Even this simple and humble dish is a masterpiece. Some of the best meals of my life have been had in this city, from street stalls and upon occasion some restaurants. 

4. Hong Kong. I will never, ever, forget my first taste of Lotus smoked Goose. It is one of the masterpieces of the culinary world. I finished it all after a breakfast of Brisket soup. Soup is eaten in the morning to wet the stomach. Another exceptional meal was taken with my friend Natalia on a street corner at a plastic table. We could not read the menu so the chef invited me into the kitchen to point. The grilled scallop (in shell) with garlic and lemongrass topped with rice noodles was a highlight of my travelling and eating life. 

3. Marseille, France  I was there recently walking the backstreets in search of some of the best bites and it just reminded me how much I love eating in Marseille. It is Italy, Greece, Africa, and Columbia while still being French. The best ingredients and international flavours have created one of the best eating cities in France, or the world for that matter. By far one of the best bites was a woven stuffed bread filled with feta, olives, tomatoes and herbs. It was so simple,yet so memorable. And one evening while sitting and watching the sunset over the port we had mussels gratin with a great glass of Rose. Marseille is everything you expect and everything you do not. Discover it. 

2. Istanbul, Turkey. While we do not yet have a food tour there. I can't wait to build one. This Ottoman Empire is the cradle of many of the food beloved around the world. From the Simit to the Lahmacun I am never disappointed in the tastes of this incredible city.  Even the coffee here is an experience, highly caffeinated but it is the ritual and care with which it is made that will enthrall you. Almost every corner will bring you a delightful bite. 

1. Napoli, Italy. I will be heading here soon to create an Original Food tour and I can't wait. The street food is some of the best in the world and at somewhat friendly prices. The tradition of  Cuoppi Napoletani dates back to 1800. It is a cup of mixed local fried fish. It may contain shrimp, scallops, and calamari. And yes they make Cono Pizza, the crust is cone-shaped and it is stuffed with sauce, melted cheese and other goodies. You can walk the streets and never stop eating.  I remember my first pizza eaten in Napoli more than a couple of years ago. It was just the most perfect pizza ever. I was sitting on the street in front of the restaurant and I had a carafe of wine and a Margarita pizza. When I had finished every bite I had it a second time, with more wine. (I was in my 20s calories evaporate at that age). I will check back in with you once Napoli is launched. 

Chef Karl Wilder