In this edition of Celebrity Travel Addicts, we speak with celebrity chef and TV host Ronnie Woo, best known for his private chef company The Delicious Cook, his Logo TV series Food to Get You Laid, and his current travel/food web series Craving Jetlag. Woo’s impressive resume includes A-list celebrity clients like Gwyneth Paltrow and Mindy Kaling, as well as appearances on The Today Show, The Rachael Ray Show, The Kelly Clarkson Show, and Beat Bobby Flay.
In our interview, we chat with Ronnie about Craving Jetlag, how food is able to unite people from all walks of life, his favorite dishes he tried while filming, and much more. Check out his favorite destinations around the globe and find out where he’s off to next!
How did your passion for travel get started?
I was lucky enough to have parents who love seeing the world, so my passion for travel actually started at a very young age. When I was in 3rd grade, my parents took me and my sisters to Australia to see all the unique animals (they know I love animals) and it was actually from that point on that I knew I wanted to see as much of the world as possible.
Chef Ronnie Woo of The Delicious Cook and Craving Jetlag at Machu Picchu in Peru
What does travel mean to you? Why do you feel it’s important?
Travel means many things to me, but if I had to narrow it down I would say that it’s my way of putting things into perspective — a way to remind myself that there is more to this world than my own life and my own worries. It’s an important part of my life because it’s also a way to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and just be in the moment.
You’re the host of a travel and food web series called “Craving Jetlag,” which fans can watch on your YouTube channel. Can you please tell us about it? How did it come about?
I really wanted to showcase a part of the world that doesn’t always get the most attention, maybe because it’s not as accessible or mainstream. We had a trip planned to Namibia and we thought it would be fun to shoot a series on each of the locations that we visited. It was a lot of work but the end product was definitely worth it.
Chef Ronnie Woo of The Delicious Cook and Craving Jetlag with a tray of decadent snacks at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Macau
On “Craving Jetlag,” you’ve traveled through Africa, exploring locations including the Skeleton Coast, Deadvlei in Namibia, and the pyramids of Giza. Which travel experiences meant the most to you and why?
All the destinations were so amazing in their own way, but if I had to choose, the two standout stops would be Skeleton Coast and Cairo. Funny enough, they were two totally different types of destinations. Skeleton Coast is one of the most remote and isolated locations I’ve ever visited. While Cairo obviously has the pyramids of Giza, which have always been on my bucket list since I was a little boy.
As a world-renowned chef, you learned how to make several local dishes while filming “Craving Jetlag.” What’s one dish you tried or learned to make during that time that you feel more people should know about? What made the dish so tasty or special?
The head chef, Aaron, at Shipwreck Lodge (in Skeleton Coast) made this simple dish using the tenderloin of the oryx and it was the most delicious protein I’ve ever had. I would say oryx meat tastes like a mix between lamb and beef, but without the gaminess of lamb.
Chef Ronnie Woo of The Delicious Cook and Craving Jetlag enjoying dessert on the streets of Singapore
In your travels, you’ve enjoyed dishes with people all over the world. What do you think makes food such a unifier for people? What makes sharing a local dish with someone so special?
What makes food such a unifier is that everyone has to eat and that makes it something we can all relate to, no matter what it is we are actually consuming. I love sharing local dishes because not only do I get to learn about where that dish came from and the origins of the ingredients, but I really feel like I’m able to connect with the locals over my love of eating. I just absolutely love food so much and I will always try something at least once.
In addition to your travels and your work as a chef, you’re also known for the hilarious shirtless photos you post on social media. How do you stay fit while traveling?
I have to admit that when I’m traveling, staying fit is not a priority. As most people know, watching what you eat and working out is very time consuming, so when I’m traveling I allow myself the freedom to eat whatever I want and not worry about hitting the weights. Many times, the destination itself includes a lot of walking around and I look at that like built-in cardio. LOL.
Chef Ronnie Woo of The Delicious Cook and Craving Jetlag with the moai of Rapa Nui, a.k.a. Easter Island
How many days/weeks do you travel in any given year? What types of places do you like to visit?
I would say I do one or two major “destination trips” plus a handful of shorter trips dispersed throughout any given year. Luckily, I was able to squeeze in a trip to the Dominican Republic for my birthday this year right before the pandemic and stay-at-home orders, so I’m glad we were able to do that. As much as I love traveling, I’m also a major homebody, so having to be at home hasn’t been all that bad, but the second it’s safe to travel again, I will definitely be back on a plane somewhere.
What do you want audiences to gain and learn from your work?
Ultimately, I would love for people to catch the travel bug as well and step outside of their comfort zones when it comes to food and travel.
What are the top three destinations you’ve visited?
Easter Island, Cambodia, and Scotland.
Chef Ronnie Woo of The Delicious Cook and Craving Jetlag at Bayon Temple in Cambodia
Give us your ‘Top 5’ list for one of your top 3 destinations. Like a mini-guide or a to-do list of sorts. It can be anything from your favorite hotel, the best place to have lunch, the best sightseeing, etc.
Easter Island: I would stay at Explora Easter Island lodge, bike around the island, visit the Moais at Rano Raraku National Park, visit Tongariki, and have a picnic on the rocky coastline.
Cambodia: I would stay at Amansara (in Siem Reap), visit Angkor Wat, visit Bayon Temple (you will never see more smiles in your life), visit Ta Prohm Temple (a.k.a. Tomb Raider Temple), and participate in a traditional monk blessing.
Scotland: I would stay at the Tiroran House Hotel, visit the Edinburgh Castle, visit Loch Ness (let me know if you see the monster), eat lunch at Café Fish Tobermory (best seafood ever) and have dinner at The Three Chimneys (Isle of Skye).
How many countries have you visited so far?
What are your top 3 favorite cuisines?
Vietnamese, Mediterranean, and Thai.
Chef Ronnie Woo of The Delicious Cook and Craving Jetlag meeting a beautiful Asian elephant in Chiang Mai, Thailand
What is your favorite restaurant in the world? What dish do you recommend there?
Chua Lam’s Pho in Central, Hong Kong. I recommend everything on the menu, seriously.
What is your favorite travel movie?
Does Avatar count? LOL.
What is your favorite international airport?
Incheon International Airport. The food is amazing.
Chef Ronnie Woo of The Delicious Cook and Craving Jetlag having a snack on the streets of central Hong Kong
Which city had the friendliest people?
It’s not a city, but I’ve always found that the people in Vietnam are really warm and friendly.
Who is your favorite travel companion?
What is the best way to kill time while traveling?
Chef Ronnie Woo of The Delicious Cook and Craving Jetlag on a boat in Venice, Italy
What is the most exotic place your career has taken you?
What is your best bit of travel advice for someone who wants to, or is about to, embark on a life of travel?
Pack less clothes and bring more money.
What are 4 things you could never travel without?
Chapstick, comfortable underwear, my phone (cliché but essential) and hand sanitizer (airplanes are gross).
Chef Ronnie Woo of The Delicious Cook and Craving Jetlag going for a climb at Amangiri Resort in Canyon Point, Utah
What is your ultimate dream destination?
My current dream destination is the Maldives. It’s going to happen soon, I can feel it in my loins.
What is your favorite travel quote?
I don’t believe in travel quotes.
Where are you headed next?
When this pandemic is over, probably the Maldives.
Chef Ronnie Woo of The Delicious Cook and Craving Jetlag
Ronnie Woo is the chef and owner of The Delicious Cook based in LA. Chef Ronnie’s extensive travel around the world has helped him acquire new techniques and recipe inspiration, drawing from both his personal experiences and the chefs with whom he’s worked. He has an ever-growing list of high-profile clients, which includes Mindy Kaling, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba, Charlie Sheen, Holly Robinson Peete, and Dita Von Teese. Ronnie is a recurring guest on multiple shows, including The Today Show, Rachael Ray, The Kelly Clarkson Show, Food Network, The Kitchen, Beat Bobby Flay, and Home & Family.
You can learn more about Ronnie on his website and his private chef services at The Delicious Cook. You can also watch Craving Jetlag on his YouTube channel, and follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!