It is always best to explore a culinary or wine destination if a chef or wine expert is leading the trip: they have the contacts and knowledge to unlock the secrets of the place. A new series of small group trips from Modern Adventure Company called Paragon will bring that experience along with an altruistic goal: a portion of each trip will support a charity or non-profit organization chosen by the superstar.
The first flight, scheduled for April 15-23, 2023 to Japan, will be led by Kyle and Katina Connaughton, owners of Healdsburg, California three-star Michelin SingleThread, Farm-Restaurant-Inn, a showcase of exceptional ingredients grown on their farm and style. In 10 exquisite dishes from the tasting menus of Japanese-influenced creations. The Konuton family draws on their experience living and working in Japan, a passion for the country’s rituals, and deep relationships with master artisans and chefs, which they hope to expand to others by donating $50,000 from this trip to students at the Culinary Institute of America to fund scholarships to study in Japan. “I am excited that through this trip we are able to help young culinary professionals get the opportunity to study the amazing Japanese cuisine culture, which has had such a huge impact on my career,” says Kyle Connaughton.
The journey in Osaka begins with an introduction to Japanese hospitality through a 13-course menu prepared by Chef Noguchi Taro in his small restaurant hidden behind a nondescript door in the city’s nightlife district. Over the nine days in Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo, guests will learn about and experience the roots of delicious elements of Kaiseki cuisine, learn the arts of knife making and sake brewing, visit Akashi Bay Market to watch the live auction that day pick up, and stroll through Kyoto’s famous temple area in the crowd-free evenings Visit the markets and experience the impossible to reach the world’s best restaurants among many other activities. Accommodations are also first-class from Aman Tokyo to the esteemed Hiiragiya ryokan in Kyoto, which has been family run for six generations since 1811. It truly is a trip for anyone interested in Japanese culture and cuisine that would be impossible to achieve on their own.
After his Single Thread Japan trip, restaurant bartender Rusty Rastello, this year’s Wine Spectator Grand Prix winner, will lead a trip in May exploring Paris and champagne in collaboration with Dom Perignon. This trip will include private tastings and stays at luxury hotels such as the private Moet & Chandon Château de Saran. Connaughton will be driving another trip in September, this time in Napa and Sonoma.
Other excursions in the Paragon portfolio will explore the food, wine, and culture of different parts of the world. Expert bartender Bobby Stocky will lead a trip to Venice and the Italian region of Friuli in June. Chef Jorge Vallejo of Mexico City’s Quintonil, a permanent restaurant on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, will drive guests through that city and parts of Yucatan in October. These flights are open for 8-16 guests and are now open for waiting list.