Departures is published by Meredith Corp. and owned by American Express. While American Express Card Member benefits are highlighted in this publication, including through the links indicated below, the content of this article was independently written by the editorial staff at Meredith. Other Departures content paid for by American Express is explicitly marked as such.
Chef Cedric Vongerichten—son of the famed Jean-George Vongerichten—is no stranger to travel. Born in Bangkok, where his father was chef of the Oriental Hotel, Vongerichten moved to New York, the Bahamas, London, Hong Kong, and Barcelona, finally settling back in New York, all before he was 30. These days, together with his Indonesian wife, Ochi, the pair have restaurants in both Jakarta and New York. So as you can imagine, he's fairly familiar with traveling the world over for good food.
The American Express Global Dining Collection chef flew over to Aspen, Colorado to bring his newest venture, Wayan, to Away's Chalet pop up. The après ski-themed pop up featured an oxygen bar, cocktails, and chalet games.
We caught up with the culinary powerhouse after his slope-side venture and talked about all things travel and food.
Departures: Tell us a bit more about being part of the American Express Global Dining Collective?
Cedric Vongerichten: "It’s very exciting. I have been working with the Amex Centurion Lounge in NYC (a little bit in San Francisco and Vegas) over the past four years curating the lounge’s menu—it’s been a great experience and partnership. We’re so proud to have Wayan, our latest restaurant, included in the Global Dining Collective & appreciative to be able to continue this great partnership with Amex."
What excites you most about teaming up on this partnership?
"It's always exciting to partner with inspiring companies such as Away and Amex. We love to collaborate on fun pop-ups to be able to introduce our food to new audiences."
What’s been the highlight of the pop up for you?
"Being able to serve the same quality food that we would have at our restaurants (big thank you to our onsite kitchen partners who did a terrific job), hearing the positive feedback from guests, meeting new interesting people, and checking out the new products from Away’s Chalet collection.
We served two desserts from Wayan, our modern Indonesian restaurant in New York City that just celebrated its one-year anniversary: Passion Fruit Pandan Custard and a Banana Sundae with Ube ice cream. We also served one of Perry St’s signature desserts: Chocolate Pudding with candied violets and soft cream."
Who currently inspires you in the kitchen and why?
"My team. They work very hard and are passionate about the food we’re serving. This inspires me a lot, and pushes me to be more creative in the kitchen."
What's your most memorable meal?
"Wow, too many to choose from and so hard to pick. I’ve had so many memorable meals when we’re in Asia, especially the local street food in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur & Singapore, sushi in Singapore and Mandarin cuisine in Hong Kong. A few other top food memories would be the jerk chicken & lobster at Skylark in Negril, Jamaica, local cuisine in Kenya, and trying the local delicacies in Ecuador. Stateside, we always have the best meals in NYC and San Francisco."
What’s your favorite destination to travel for food and why?
"I really enjoy Asia, specifically Japan. The cuisine is very simple with incredible fresh, almost perfect ingredients. I wouldn’t mind eating it every day."
Related: A Foodie's Guide to Hokkaido, Japan
What’s on the itinerary for a perfect day off in New York for you?
"A perfect day off… Wake up & drop the kids to school, workout (Muay Thai boxing is my favorite), have a healthy lunch, walk home through Washington Square Park (great people watching), pick up the kids from school, hear that the restaurants are doing well with no major problems to report, cook & have dinner with my family at home followed by a movie."