There's a certain type of traveller – and I am one of them – for whom food is one of the main reasons to travel. Whether it's dining in the finest restaurants, being part of a festival attracting globally renowned chefs, or discovering a destination with locals as your guide, 2015 is destined to be a good year to taste the world.
The first high-profile chef off the blocks in the year of travelling pop-ups is Rene Redzepi, who's relocating Noma to Tokyo. From January 9 to February 14 the World's Best Restaurant will call the Mandarin Oriental Hotel home.
The Noma team are leaving their Danish ingredients at home and will focus on finding and foraging the best Japanese produce to create a completely new menu. Bookings have closed but the one possibility of a seat is to bid in the online auction for a place at a fund-raising dinner on January 28 in aid of Redzepi's MAD foundation – which itself holds a revered position in the annual culinary calendar. See noma.dk/japan. Meanwhile Noma's revered pastry chef, Rosio Sanchez, is stepping down from the post to explore her own Mexican heritage, opening a taqueria in partnership with Redzepi in Copenhagen.
In February Heston Blumenthal opens The Fat Duck at Crown in Melbourne for a six-month stint, while the restaurant's original premises in Bray undergo a major renovation. The bad news is if you haven't already entered the ballot for seats you're too late. The good news is once the Fat Duck's run is complete it will morph permanently into Dinner by Heston, the London version of which actually holds a higher position on the World 50 Best list than The Fat Duck (which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2015). See thefatduck.co.uk.
In Italy, the arrival of Eataly World in November will give Bologna yet another feather in its culinary cap. The $62 million "theme park" devoted entirely to food will include restaurants, grocery stores, food labs and an aquarium. There's an ice to the eskimos aspect to the Mario Batali-led US-based culinary emporium selling its Italian foodstuffs in Italy to Italians but, developed as part of a public-private partnership, it's aimed to boost the country's economy.
For hard core foodies, gastronomy festivals are increasingly becoming as appealing as the cities in which they're held, and a unique opportunity to absorb the culinary philosophies and sample the cooking of chefs from all over the world.
Rene Redzepi's MAD Foodcamp will have its fifth instalment in Copenhagen in late August, with a limited number of tickets for the general public. See madfood.co. And Mexico City is now one of the most exciting food cities in the world and there's further reason to visit with Mesamerica in May. See mesamerica.mx.
A notable addition to the local scene in 2014 was Ben Shewry's WAW (standing for What a Wonderful World) in Melbourne, and he's hoping to repeat the exercise in 2015. Shewry dubs it an anti-festival, a celebration and a conversation to inspire, energise and help people in the food community and beyond. The events bring together chefs, thinkers, and diners to talk, listen cook and eat. See wawgathering.com.au.
Another local highlight, after the longest gestation of any restaurant in the history of Sydney dining, will be former Asador Extebarri chef Lennox Hastie lighting the wood burners at Firedoor in Surry Hills in March to create Australia's first solely fire-powered restaurant with two ovens, four grills, a wood-burning stove and not a gas or an electric stove in sight.
However, the emerging trend in food tourism for next year is neither fancy restaurants nor high-level industry events. It's getting back to basics, having authentic food experiences and eating with locals in their homes. The industry term is peer-to-peer dining. It's driven by the internet and according to a report released earlier this month at the World Travel Market, it's set for exponential growth in 2015 and beyond. Essentially it works in the same way as Airbnb and other home sharing sites, matching hosts to diners, with a review system whereby users can rate the meal and the host, and hosts can rate the guest.
Startups including mealsharing.com, EatWith.com and Bookalokal.com are already servicing the trend in cities across the United States and in Europe, and while predominantly offering meals in private homes, some hosts also run cooking classes and food tours in their local area. For food tourists, it's about keeping it real.
And if we're talking about the essence of food, and its true purpose – to nourish – then Expo 2015 which runs from May to October in Milan is worth a mention. With the theme of "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life", participating countries will showcase their own food and produce, and themed zones will examine everything from biodiversity to technology and innovation. It's a taste of the world, and the future of food, in one location. See expo2015.org.
Expo is drawing some big names in the food world, including Italy's Massimo Bottura, chef and proprietor of Osteria Francescana in Modena. In collaboration with Expo's creative director, Davide Rampello, and the archdiocese of Milan, Bottura will be co-ordinating a revolutionary soup kitchen called Refettorio Ambrosiano. He has invited numerous international chefs to cook and share their ideas about food waste by accepting the challenge to cook dishes from the leftovers displayed on various national pavilions as part of the expo.
A disused theatre is being converted into a contemporary refectory with the participation of leading architects, designers and artists. This project goes beyond Expo as it will provide ongoing services to Milan's neediest, including baking training to refugees and disadvantaged locals. Want to attend? You can't. "This is not a publicity stunt," Bottura says. This is food as nourishment to those who need it most.