Most of the world remains closed to American travelers, and for good reason, but that doesn’t stop our tastebuds from yearning for bites from our favorite international cuisines. Fortunately, HUNGRY offers virtual “Xperiences” that not only bring the world’s best dishes to your own kitchen, but come with private, live instruction from some of the country’s top chefs and sommeliers, including plenty of television personalities. Each Xperience lasts an hour, some come with special advance deliveries containing everything you’ll need for the lesson, and all are beyond entertaining and delicious. Here, three celebrity chefs and a renowned sommelier highlight five destination-based Xperiences you can book now to virtually hit the road while upping your home cooking (and drinking) game, all with the best of company.

Hidden Gems from Around the World

Erik Segelbaum; 2019 Food & Wine Sommelier of the Year and Vice President, United Sommeliers Foundation

What do you love about working with Hungry?

I love being able to extend the footprint of my wine education beyond the in-person experience and share my passion for wine and sommelier secrets with Hungry’s clients all over the United States. I can positively impact so many more people and help them all to be more comfortable with their wine drinking experiences through Hungry’s national reach.

How many Hungry Xperiences do you offer?

Too many to count! I offer more than 100 topics; however, my most popular experiences are Wine 101, Hidden Gems from Around the World, Exploration of Italy, A Night in Northern California, Age Worthy Reds and Food and Wine Pairing.

How do your Xperiences represent destinations?

Wine is the ultimate way to convey a sense of place. The very notion of terroir is the expression of both where a wine is grown and how it is made. Through wine, I can transport people all across the globe without leaving the comforts of their living rooms. These experiences help fill the craving for traveling to experience other cultures.

What inspires your program development for Hidden Gems?

The joy of Hidden Gems is that I can offer different exciting wines for each session, so no two sessions are alike. I use these Xperiences as an opportunity to help people explore wines they would never normally go for. Sometimes it’s an unusual region, sometimes an unusual varietal or varietals, and often it’s both. I like to take people out of their wine comfort zone without making them uncomfortable. No matter what the budget of the client, I’ll always select wines that will delight, impress and often surprise. This Xperience is centered around two words that I use very differently than the average person: “interesting” and “value.” When most people use the word, “interesting,” they do so pejoratively. When I say “interesting,” I am describing wines that are from uncommon regions, unusual grapes or blends and often both. That’s not to downplay the classics, but if I’m being honest, I rarely get excited about typical wines anymore. The other word that I use differently is value. People often use this term to mean inexpensive. While great values can be so, that’s not always the case. I remember one instance when a guest asked me for the absolute best value on the menu and I directed him to a first growth Bordeaux from 1990. He was incredulous that is was $1600 per bottle and, outraged, exclaimed, “I wanted good value. That means cheap!” My reply was that value means over-delivering for the price. It doesn’t matter if a wine is $10, $100 or $1000—it must overdeliver at its price point or it’s not a good value. For me, value is everything and can exist at any price point.

What’s your favorite element of hosting this particular Xperience?

All of these Xperiences allow me to introduce highly interesting wines with incredible value to a willing and receptive audience. Most people are intimidated by sommeliers which is why I always wear a (wine themed) t-shirt rather than something more formal. I ensure everyone that wine isn’t serious; after all, it’s just moldy grape juice. I also love answering questions, especially easy ones. I like to tell guests it’s not just because easy questions make me sound smart but because wine has so much stigma that people often are afraid to ask questions they deem too basic for fear of being embarrassed. I’m always amazed how people apologize for not having wine knowledge. If this were easy, the world wouldn’t need sommeliers! At the end of the day, I love that this Xperience can help people to be more comfortable with wine, improve their overall drinking experience and expose them to new wines that they’d not have explored on their own.

Tour of Italy

Chef Michele Ragussis; Chopped, 24 Hour Restaurant Battle, Food Network Star, Come Back Kitchen, NBC Food Fighters, Midnight Feast, Farmers Market Flip and judge and winner on Beat Bobby Flay

What do you love about working with Hungry?

I love working with Hungry for so many reasons but through this tough time of coronavirus they have figured out a way for chefs to keep cooking and bring people together through these food experiences. And they give back to the community, which is very important.

How many Hungry Xperiences are you personally involved with right?

I teach a number of Xperiences including butternut squash ravioli from scratch, fettuccini Bolognese, homemade cannoli and gnocchi.

How does Tour of Italy represent the country?

It represents Italy and my heritage. I love teaching people how to make foods that are important to me and, since we can’t travel right now, attendees can still get a taste of Italy from their own kitchen.

What’s your favorite element of hosting Tour of Italy?

I grew up eating and making these foods, so it is so special that I get to share this with people from all over on this platform. My favorite element of this is just connecting with people and watching how proud they are that they actually made ravioli and pasta from scratch—they get so excited! Teaching Italian food is so important to me. It is me.

Tour of Germany and Tour of Asia

Chef Chris Kyler; Food Network Star, Comeback Kitchen, winner of Cutthroat Kitchen

What do you love about working with Hungry?

More success as a chef comes with greater sacrifice to families and personal life. That means 60­­–70-hour work weeks, stressful environments and late nights. To a person with a family this can be detrimental. As a business owner, I find it even more challenging to wear hats I don’t want to wear but often have to in order to be successful! With Hungry, they have reconnected me to the reason I became a chef in the first place: the love of cooking! I don’t have to worry about websites, marketing, client meetings, etc. I can focus 100% of my time and effort on creating and making memorable experiences for clients from all over the United States and around the world!

How many Hungry Xperiences are you personally involved with right now?

I’m involved with at least 10. In no specific order, some of them are: Pretzel Making, Flatbread Pizza, Sushi Rolling, Pho Fun, Home for the Holidays, Lattes and Biscotti, and Tamales and Rice.

How do your Xperiences represent destinations?

Most of these Xperiences represent destinations by helping people to make some of the most popular and intimidating dishes from around the world in a simplified manner, often times with the personal twist of the presenting chef.

What inspired the recipe development for your programs?

As a former U.S. Navy sailor and food personality I have traveled to just about every state and major city and more than thirteen countries. My experiences have allowed me to expand my culinary knowledge and diversify my skills to become and international chef. Each class that I teach and/or cook either represents a story, experience, memory or visit I’ve made a connection with in a specific destination. For example, I connected with the culture and the people of Africa in 2019 and was able to learn about the seasonings, flavor profile and even food procurement of different tribes and people of the beautiful African continent. I have also made a special connection with the Hispanic culture. Not only have I been to several parts of Mexico and Afro-Latino countries, but in the culinary industry I have worked shoulder-to-shoulder with, and learned so much from, my Hispanics brothers and sisters. Most of my Asian teachings have come thru my time in the military.

What’s your favorite element of hosting Xperiences?

My favorite part would have to be engaging with the guests and helping them relax and just cook. It’s one thing for me to cook—it’s my profession—but it’s another thing for me to guide the guest and remotely help them to cook and taste what has made me a famous chef with only a screen separating us!

South of the Border

Chef Chris Bassett; The Real Housewives of Potomac

What do you love about working with Hungry?

Hungry brings together the best of both worlds for me. I started my restaurant career in the front of house as a bartender, and really loved that face-to-face interaction—the immediate response of getting a flavor profile from a guest, and then nailing the perfect cocktail for them. It’s why I love hosting dinner parties so much; I still get to interact with my guests and provide them with a great meal. I mean sure, as a chef I can come out of the kitchen after the dinner rush and shake a few hands, but it’s not the same. I also don’t like the heat in the kitchen. Hungry virtual Xperiences have really provided me with an opportunity to get the most out of what I love. I get to talk, teach, cook and, best of all, get that immediate reaction of, “Oh wow, not only is this dish amazing, but I made it all by myself.” It’s even better when guests’ kids enjoy it, and they want to throw it into their weekly repertoire of dinners.

How many Hungry Xperiences are you personally involved with right now?

I think right now I’m up to around 4 or 5 different experiences. Most of them favor Latin themes (I just can’t get enough of those Latin favors), but I do have some others, and am open to anything someone wants that may not be on my list. Aside from South of the Border, we do a shrimp taco night (great for Taco Tuesdays, or any other day of the week for that matter). There are also Make Your Own Salsa & Tortilla Fiesta and a Date Night menu, which is a scallop risotto dish with truffle oil and balsamic glaze (we do some wine talk in this one as well). We also have a Santorini Nights Xperience, where we make shrimp saganaki and fava dip. And there’s a chicken and Hassleback potato with carrot thyme puree menu, as well.

How does this South of the Border represent a destination?

We are using a lot of great Latin flavors in this Xperience: cumin, ancho chilis and ancho chili powder, cilantro and lime, to name a few. We have a delicious roasted corn and black bean salsa, not to mention purple potatoes, which originate from Peru. It’s almost a fusion-type dish with the butter sauce since you don’t really see a lot of that in Latin cooking.

What inspired the recipe development for this?

The inspiration for this dish came while I was doing my culinary school internship in Florida. I have always had an affinity for Latin food, but I had never seen a purple potato before in my life. It doesn’t really taste any different from, say, a red bliss or russet, but the color was amazing. I find in these classes that most people are just like I used to be—surprised to see their first purple potato. Turning people on to new things is part of the joy I get. Then there is the salsa component: A little roasted corn, some black beans, red onion, cilantro, lime, jalapeno. With so many colors, it really makes the dish pop. We really eat with our eyes first and looking at this plate when it is finished . . . it just pops! The star of the dish is the ancho chili butter sauce. It’s the perfect combination of acid, fat, heat and smoke, not to mention its vibrant orange color. It really brings it all together for a breathtaking plate. My time in Miami coupled with classic French training is really what brings this dish together.

What’s your favorite element of hosting this particular Xperience?

Like I mentioned earlier, being able to get those immediate reactions from the people in the class and showing them that cooking doesn’t have to be hard or intimidating is really what does it for me. Just being able to answer all their questions about not only food, but beverage as well, and to teach is just such a great feeling. I’ve always said that nothing brings people together like a well-cooked meal. I truly believe that, and Hungry Xperiences are the epitome of that. Being able to share this experience in these classes, and hopefully give the guests something that they can repeat for their friends and family, is just an awesome feeling and I’m grateful.



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