By Jae-Ha Kim, Tribune Content Agency
Celebrity Travel by Jae-Ha Kim
9:30 AM EDT, September 30, 2013
Tyler Florence is a chef, restaurateur and cookbook author, but he's probably best known for his on-air work. The 42-year-old television personality is the host of the Food Network's "The Great Food Truck Race," which showcases teams of cooks traveling across the country, with the hopes of getting the opportunity to win their own food truck and a $50,000 cash prize. A father of three children, who range in age from 5 to 17, Florence says he and his wife love to travel. However, they take different types of trips these days to accommodate their youngest kids. Fans of the chef may follow Florence on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tylerflorence.
Q. What have you learned from your travels?
A. I've traveled a lot for work, just on my own or with my wife and it's something I'm passionate about. You get to learn so much about people, food and culture on your travels.
Q. Do you take different types of trips now that you and your wife have young children?
A. With small children, our vacations have changed over the years. We used to think nothing of spending a month in Mexico and just traveling around the country or lounging at a resort. You can't do that with a 5- and 6-year-old. They get too tired or bored or both. So we do things that are family-oriented.
Q. So, lots of trips to Disneyland?
A. (Laughs.) Actually, yes! They love Disneyland, of course. We just got back from Disneyland and they had a ball! We all had fun. The kids liked it because it still felt like a destination for us to get away to, but it wasn't so far away from where we live that everyone felt trapped in a car or a plane.
Q. Since family trips are the way to go for you, do you do a lot of weekend getaways?
A. Absolutely. With small children, we need to get to some place quickly and comfortably! A five-hour plane ride to Hawaii is easy for adults. But it can be a stretch for small kids. So, we really enjoy sticking closer to home. We really loved Whitefish, Mont., which was just amazingly beautiful.
Q. Where are some of your favorite weekend getaways?
A. We live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so there are a lot of wonderful options. We really like Monterey, Calif. The kids always have a great time at Stinson Beach in Marin County, Calif. It's maybe half an hour away. We've rented a house in Napa Valley, which was great. The kids got to play and we got to relax and enjoy the pretty scenery. Overall, these types of trips give us a lot of bang for the buck.
Q. Do you have a family trip planned for the future?
A. Yes. My oldest son is 17 now and a senior in high school. After he graduates from high school next year, he wants to go to Paris. So we'll do that and the younger kids will be a year older, so that'll be a fun trip for all of us.
Q. When you're on the road, do you prefer to find a place where you can make your own meals, or do you opt to eat out?
A. Honestly, it's a mixture of both. There are so many great restaurants in California that serve delicious and simple food, so we do like to go out to dinner with the kids. But we also like to find a farm stand and find fresh vegetables and cook something for dinner. That's part of the whole experience.
Q. What are some of the challenges of feeding children in unfamiliar cities and restaurants?
A. Sure, we have to deal with picky behavior. But our kids like sushi, pad Thai, Chinese food and a lot of other international flavors so it's not too difficult to find something they'll want to eat. My friend, (author and pediatrician) Dr. Alan Greene, told me early on that if you don't have a child exposed to specific foods before the age of three, they in a way grow afraid of eating those foods. So, we tried hard to make sure they got new experiences early on.
Q. Is there a city that stands out in your mind for having the best of everything?
A. I've been fortunate enough to have visited many amazing places. But I lived in New York City for 15 years and I'm there a lot for work and have a lot of great friends there. So, I would say New York is definitely one of the top cities.
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at http://www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow "Go Away With..." on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)