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Airbnb Is Looking for the World’s Best Abuelita Cooks

12:36 PM PST on November 26, 2019

    The following article was produced in collaboration with our partner, Airbnb. 

    [dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he lifeblood of most Latinx households pumps from the kitchen. Conversations bursting from over abuelita’s stove and infecting the dinner table—that’s where we become a home. Now you’ll be able to find and share that holy experience thanks to Cooking on Airbnb Experiences

    Even better, you can nominate your abuela for a chance to go to Italy and fight with professional cooks over whether she should cook the noodles in a pan with way too much cheese. Or maybe Doña Angela can teach these foos how to make ponche navideño.

    Cooking is a new category of experiences you can book on Airbnb, with more than 3,000 unique recipes–typically reserved for the Fam Bam from the deep culinary traditions of families from more than 75 different countries. You can learn how to make abuela's pozole in Mexico City with Enrique Olvera or try traditional Uzbek home-cooking in Brooklyn

    “Ever since the very first guests traveled with Airbnb, we have realized that sharing a meal is the key that unlocks culture and fosters connection,” Airbnb CEO and Co-Founder Brian Chesky said in a statement. “We want to bring back the tradition of people coming together to make and share meals, and through this help preserve unique recipes that are shared within family kitchens around the world.”

    Airbnb Cooking Experiences are perfect for those that enjoy traveling, learning through living, and eating some life-changing chilaquiles, made the same way since the first-ever hangover grandma’s great, great ‘buela Lorreto had. 

    Airbnb says their food and drink Experiences have been growing at a rate of 160 percent a year since 2018. “Our new Cooking category brings together the very best of our platform with brand new Airbnb Experiences, united by new principles that ensure an authentic, local experience in intimate settings and small groups.”

    Highlights of Cooking on Airbnb:

    Culture Through Food

    Food and culture go together like tamales and Christmas. And Airbnb is hoping to take that marriage to the next level—open relationship status. The hosts run the gamut of tios y tias, rancheros, pastry cooks, and more. 

    “Through Airbnb Cooking Experiences, we are presenting a new way to understand culture through food,” the company said in a statement. “Unlike typical cooking classes, which can feel intimidating or time-consuming, at the heart of every experience is human connection; people coming together to make and share a meal.”  

    According to Airbnb, every recipe has been vetted against guidelines inspired by Slow Food, an organization that promotes local food cultures and traditions. “Through this vetting process, we have verified that each host of an Airbnb Experience communicates the unique essence of every dish through their personal stories and has proven a deep knowledge of the heritage of the cuisine that they share.”

    "It’s really encouraging that Airbnb looked to us for guidance on how to help people preserve their family recipes and become quality and sustainability advocates,” Slow Food Secretary General Paolo Di Croce said in a statement. “Airbnb Cooking Experiences represent a great opportunity to spread our urgent call for sustainability standards and food biodiversity protection across the globe, reaching new audiences and inspiring change in the entire food and tourism sector.”

    As part of the partnership, Slow Food is introducing 15 special Airbnb Cooking Experiences that “perfectly align with its principles of good, clean and fair.” These include Walk Cook & Eat in the Amalfi Coast and ‘Let’s Rescue Food’ in Cartagena, Colombia. “We have a long-term commitment to ensure that travel experiences remain authentic and help travelers learn about local communities and raise awareness about sustainable food practices,” Di Croce said.

    100 Cooks 

    To celebrate the launch of Airbnb Cooking Experiences, they are launching a campaign to “find the next wave of culinary treasures.” Airbnb will take the top 100 applicants to Italy where they will get to study with the likes of chef David Chang and his mom, Sherri. 

    “We are calling on the world to apply or nominate their favorite home cook so that we can treat them to a once in a lifetime trip to Italy,” the hospitality company said. “There, they will learn to refine their family recipe and cement their legacy in an Airbnb cookbook, planned for 2020.” 

      Those selected will get to experience workshops, tastings, field visits, and lessons at Slow Food’s University of Gastronomic Science. There will also be lessons from Nonna Nerina, one of Airbnb’s most booked Experiences hosts. According to Airbnb, Nerina has earned more than $150,000 “just by welcoming travelers to the Roman countryside to learn about her and her family’s love of pasta-making.” 

    To be one of the lucky 100 sent to Italy, eligible Airbnb users can enter on their own or nominate their favorite home cooks via Nominate your favorite Abuelita or tio who gets down with a spatula for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to Italy!

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