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Culinary Vacations for Lovers of Food and Wine

Jackie DeKnock

Gourmet Safari Owner (and Foodie)

The Creation.
My recipe for success is my passion for food and travel. Reflecting on what makes me happy and the pursuits that I would find rewarding, the creation of Gourmet Safari just made sense… After many years of travel experiences and in-depth research, Gourmet Safari is now baked, ready to serve and ‘that’ passion can be shared. One of the best parts of this venture is that part of each future year will be spent searching out the best locations and local chefs and creating new culinary tours.  This also means attending as many of these courses as possible, to ensure that they meet the high standards for which Gourmet Safari will be known.

The Experience.
As we visit each culinary location, we will be writing a journal of my impressions of each culinary vacation. ‘My Safari Notes’ will share first-hand experience and will be posted on each culinary vacation page. This will give you a taste and share the essence of each food adventure before you go!

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The Philosophy.
Travel is one of life’s most important investments. With this in mind, we feel that first hand experience is very important and we will be experiencing all of the cooking schools that you’ll be travelling to as well. Our promise to you: a top notch, flexible, authentic, intimate cooking experience, with lots of great food and wine. You can trust our expertise and advice…invest wisely.

The Travel.
My interest in travel started 24 years ago with the study of travel and tourism and I now have 22 years experience in the travel industry - 10 1⁄2 of them working for one of the most reputable brands in the world – British Airways. That also allowed me to travel to almost 40 countries, pursuing my love of cultures and their cuisines.

My Travel Experiences.
CANADA: 7 Provinces
GREAT BRITAIN: England – (born & lived in Manchester), Scotland, Wales, Ireland
EUROPE: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France (lived in Paris), The Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden, Greece, Russia, Hungary, Malta, Turkey

AFRICA: Egypt, Morocco, South Africa
SOUTH AMERICA: Argentina, Venezuela
SOUTH PACIFIC: Australia, New Zealand, Fiji
SOUTH EAST ASIA: Thailand, Hong Kong
ASIA: Japan
CARIBBEAN: Cuba, Jamaica, Barbados, Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, Puerto Rico, St Thomas (USVI), St Lucia (WI), St Kitts (WI), St. Maarten (NA)
MEXICO: Cozumel, Tijuana
MIDDLE EAST: United Arab Emirates

The Kitchen.
From the time that I was little, I always had an interest in cooking – watching (especially sampling) as my mother prepared the family meals.  Although, to quote my mother, the food wasn't exactly gourmet cuisine “Us English were just well-done meat ‘n potatoes people.”  I even recall watching the Galloping Gourmet …remember him? I probably learned more about how to cook from the TV than in the kitchen, it was a brand new concept with a ‘live-action’ cookbook.

Primarily because I enjoy savouring a well prepared meal, through the years I have cultivated a keen interest in good food! My first experience in a kitchen outside of the home was at an historic site – Old Fort William. I worked as an inte

rpreter and a cook in the historic kitchen and bakery creating authentic meals from the 1800’s.

The First Taste.
I also spent some time living in Paris, France where I worked for part of the time as an ‘au pair’ (nanny) for a French film actress - Catherine Deneuve.   That was my first immersion into another culture and it was an amazing gastronomic experience. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen learning about Parisian and Moroccan cuisine inspired by the Moroccan maid. My taste buds were now fully awake, as I gained a true appreciation for great food.
Wanting to pursue my interest, I started signing up for cooking classes, both at home and abroad – the Bonnie Stern School of Cooking was my first ‘in class’ experience in Canada. I also experienced my own Gourmet Safaris leaning about local cultures whenever I travelled, knowing that food is such a large part of it. While on my journeys I explored and experienced hands-on cooking in Thailand, New Orleans and Barbados. Without even trying, my extensive global cuisine cook book library took shape, and I can’t help but collect recipes. I guess it is obvious that my favourite hobby is cooking - creating, perfecting recipes and entertaining. As a founding member of a local Gourmet Club, I always look forward to the next country’s cuisine that we plan to explore. I have also been awarded a Certificate in Culinary Arts from George Brown College in Toronto. 
And I am the recipe contributor for the local SNAP Bloor West newspaper, capturing life & entertainment, as well as the monthly recipe contributor for Slow Food Toronto's 'Now In Season Recipe'.

I am also a member of the Slow Food Organization and the Women's Culinary Network based in Canada, an organization of more than 300 food professionals. 


I was also the Chair of the BREAKFAST FOR LEARNING Gourmet Safari to Morocco charity event held in September 2006.  A good time was had by all on the food adventure and $50,000 was raised.  Thanks to the generous travellers, the money raised will ultimately fulfill the vision, to ensure that every child in Canada attends school well nourished and ready to learn.  BREAKFAST FOR LEARNING is a non-profit organization, dedicated to ensuring that every child in Canada attends school well nourished & ready to learn, it is the charity that I strongly support. A portion of the proceeds from every passenger on a Gourmet Safari culinary vacation will be contributed to BREAKFAST FOR LEARNING – a very special charity. Continue that good feeling and help support an important cause.


Wishing you unforgettable food adventures!

Carpe diem.