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Airbnb Cooking Experiences to Give Users a Taste of Travel

Not all adventures involve the great outdoors. Some take place in a home kitchen.
Airbnb launched Airbnb Cooking Experiences on Monday, which features more than 3,000 food-themed activities in over 75 countries. The events, which max out at 10 people and take place in "family style"-locations, range from learning traditional recipes to regional cooking.
"You don't just travel to sleep," Airbnb Vice President and head of Airbnb Experiences Joe Zadeh told Cheddar. "You travel to experience a city. Food is a great way to experience a culture, and restaurants can only take you so far. When you go much deeper and you get hands-on with ingredients and then you share a meal together, which is part of every Airbnb Experience, you go so much deeper into the stories and the culture."
Airbnb Cooking Experiences is part of Airbnb Experiences, two to three-hour cultural activities in locations where the company also offers lodging and homestays. It is an expansion of the original business, coming as the company is expected to make its initial public offering in 2020.
"Airbnb for some time now has been very excited about getting to more parts of travel, not just where you sleep but also what you do and maybe one day how you get there," Zadeh said. "Experiences is really our effort into bringing a location destination alive through its people."
Airbnb was valued at $35 billion when it sold shares on the private market in March. Zadeh, who was the company's ninth employee, is transitioning out of leading Experiences and will be in charge of how Airbnb will balance commitments to owners and shareholders when it goes public and in the following years.
The company decided to create the culinary track after seeing food and drink bookings on Airbnb increase 160 percent since 2018. One host, 83-year-old grandmother Nonna Nerina in Rome, brings in about $11,000 a month sharing her pasta recipes with Airbnb customers, according to the company.
To ensure safety, Airbnb is investing in both its Homes and Experiences divisions to vet every experience and create more verification checkpoints. Experiences hosts in specialized activities, like helicopter rides, are also required to show certain licenses and permits. The company is also expanding its list of prohibited activities it deems not safe, including bungee jumping.
Several notable chefs got involved with Airbnb Cooking Experiences for the launch. American restaurateur David Chang and his mom Sherri will be holding a competition to bring 100 home chefs to Italy to study at the University of Gastronomic Sciences and participate in Airbnb's first cookbook. British-South African restaurateur Prue Leith, Mexican chef Enrique Olvera, and Singaporean restaurateur Violet Oon are also hosting limited-time experiences.
"The thing I love, what we kept always true, is that the magic of travel is really in people and is in connecting with people, whether you're staying in a home or taking an experience," Zadeh said. "Our cooking experiences are about connecting with other humans and breaking bread together."
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