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Going overboard: Red Stick Spice introduces a culinary cruise to Europe

Julia Child once said, “In cooking, you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” While this likely refers to ingredients and recipes, we think it goes far beyond that.

For food enthusiast and Red Stick Spice Company owner Anne Milneck, taking chances has proven her key to success. From retail to offering cooking classes to moving into the podcast space, she doesn’t hold back. That’s why when a friend suggested she take her culinary adventures global, she hopped on the idea.

Embarking on a cruise from Barcelona to Monte Carlo this upcoming October 14 to 21, Milneck and her fellow cooking instructor Lili Courtney are inviting their loyal students and any other adventurous foodies to join them on a trip like no other. The pair will lead the group on culinary excursions against an idyllic backdrop as they make stops in Spain, France and Italy.

We caught up with Milneck to get all the delicious details. Read on for more on the trip, booking and why travel is essential to cooking.

1. How did you get the idea for a culinary cruise?

A friend and travel professional suggested that we look at trips. She worked with groups in the past who raved about the culinary focus of Oceania. She felt they were a natural fit for us. I did some serious research because I wanted to be sure to partner with a company that provides the same customer service experience we strive to provide here at Red Stick Spice.

2. What about this cruise's destinations made it perfect for your group?

I can find culinary fun anywhere I go, but Spain, Italy and France lend themselves to wrapping travel around food.

3. What can people expect from the cruise and the excursions along the way?

First of all, Oceania Cruises is like no other. They are a luxury cruise line that specializes in culinary excursions. At each port, guests will have the opportunity to join me on a culinary excursions--vineyards, olive oil orchards, market tours. There are so many to choose from. We're having a hard time narrowing our list down. Rest assured, guests will have the option to join me as I explore the food culture in each port.

4. Is there one stop you're particularly excited about?

Day four is when guests will join me for a hands-on cooking class in Provence. We will start the day at the market and gather local produce, cheese and all the accoutrement for our class. We'll then head to the private home of local chef to cook in a gorgeous setting and enjoy our meal. Day four is the don't-miss day!

[caption id="attachment_78673" align="alignnone" width="2000"] A market in Provence. Stock photo.[/caption]

5. Do you have established groups that attend your trips and classes?

We do have groups of friends who come in and take classes together regularly. We call them "repeat offenders"--not the most elegant moniker! We really love to see these folks come through the door. They keep us on our toes, too. They let us know what types of classes and experiences they're looking for. We've developed specific classes for friend groups based on their suggestions.

There's lots of research behind group experiential learning--that's what we provide here. When groups come together to learn, connections deepen. Then there's the shared meal aspect--we've known that for generations. So much good stuff happens around the supper table. And we did reach out to these groups to consider traveling with us. One group of six was a yes!

[caption id="attachment_78672" align="alignnone" width="2048"] Photo courtesy Red Stick Spice.[/caption]

6. Is there a community growing out of the interest in culinary exploration?

Our Farm & Food Tours and cooking classes have taught us that there's definitely interest in culinary experiential learning. Folks are definitely there for the delicious food, but the learning part seems to be what keeps them coming back.

Learning the "how" of food is important--you want to be able to replicate that in your own kitchen. But learning the "why" around food--why cultures employ certain ingredients and techniques--that seems to be just as important as the flavor of the food.

7. Why is it so important to pair travel and cooking?

Food is a great way to learn about new cultures. Food tells meaningful stories of the people and the places you're visiting.

[caption id="attachment_78677" align="alignnone" width="5636"] Pasta in Italy. Stock photo.[/caption]

8. What has been the response to the trip?

The response has been fantastic! We are halfway sold, so there are only a handful of cabins available. Travel arrangements are a breeze with Tiffany Ellis of Cadence Travel. She's an expert at helping out if guests want to extend their trip (as many have) before or after the cruise. I've had my own family jockeying to figure out who will come with me!

9. Will you be hosting more trips in the future?

Yes, we are planning a trip in 2021 to Europe. We also host four farm tours in the spring and fall. We are hoping to add local food crawls soon.

10. How can people book the trip?

Cadence Travel is handling reservations. Contact Tiffany Ellis at [email protected].

To learn more about upcoming local cooking classes, and to get more information on this trip, click here.