About Michelle Winner

Michelle is a freelance journalist specializing in luxury and experiential travel. Her readers number in the millions through her various online outlets and print magazines. She loves to explore a culture through their culture and food. "Sometimes, " she says , "luxury can be a shack on the beach with a sand floor and a ceiling of stars."

Sofitel SFO: Sophisticated By Design

When designer Jill Cole was creating the sleek revamp of Sofitel San Francisco Bay ‘s guestroom floors, she had the added challenge of integrating existing elements. Asked by the architectural design trade magazine Hospitality Design for the source of her inspiration, Ms. Cole was quoted as saying of her minimalist beige palette, accented by dark woods and splashes of red, “ The view of the bay. . . we just stood back and let it happen.” ( HD August 2013).

She delivered. The comfortable rooms and suites are well-equipped for working and have subtle details like issues of France Magazine on the desk and Lanvin bath amenities to reflect Sofitel’s French luxury brand provenance.

The sophisticated style and proximity to Silicon Valley surrounded by many Fortune 500 companies, Facebook and LinkedIn in heart of San Mateo county, makes Sofitel SFO a favorite […]

Ka’anapali Fresh Festival 2014

What a glorious celebration Ka’anapali Fresh Festival  is of  the relationship between Maui farmers, fishermen, ranchers and chefs.  For three days the agriculture, seafood and ranching community ( there are 800 farms on Maui) is brought to the forefront  as talented island chefs create an abundance of flavorful, fresh pupu, dishes, deserts and drinks at Ka’anapali Beach Resort.

The mission is simple; to ensure the viability and future of Maui’s farms and ranches. Preservation of the lifestyle is also key. Who in Hawaii and many parts of the world has not heard about the famous Hawaiian cowboys; the “Paniolo?” In Maui they are  usually based in the Paniolo town of Makawao on the slopes of Haleakala crater.

The rich volcanic soils of Haleakala are the perfect place to grow, nurture and bloom. The famous Kula strawberries grow year round preferring the cool evenings and dryer elevations. […]

What’s The Buzz at The Fairmont Olympic Seattle ?

What’s the buzz at The Fairmont Olympic Seattle Hotel? Bees? Yes! For the last three years, Executive Chef Gavin Stephenson has been Chief Beekeeper to the hotel’s hives located on the roof—and devised a myriad of creative ways to showcase the honey throughout the hotel’s restaurants.

The concept of  ‘urban honey ‘was explained by Executive  Chef Gavin Stephenson who keeps the bees,“Bees travel up to six miles from their hive to bring back an array of different nectars, which is why ‘urban honey’ is so interesting and complex,” . And if you were wondering what sort of honey results from foraging  for flowers among the cement and gray Seattle sky? Just know it is “ delicious” honey.

Chef’s hives produce enough honey to delight the Olympic’s guests throughout the hotel. Served at the famous Georgian Afternoon Tea in beautiful little jars to […]

The Winter Charms of Old Quebec City

Describing Old Québec City using “quaint and charming ” could be considered trite. You must try to capture the sound of the horse drawn carriage on cobble-stone streets, the beauty of the sculptured shop facades, the exuberance of summer planter boxes spilling over with geraniums and inpatients, the many colorful painted shutters accentuating mullioned windows on old stone buildings, the order of angles of a mansard roof line, the French street and business signs announcing “rue” this and “table d’hote saisonniere” (seasonal menu) that. One must love the vowels and the syllables of a French speaking city. One must see the joy in setting out on foot on a lovely spring day to shop and wander or in winter and well bundled up, take a guided tour to explore Old Quebec City as part of your experience.

Built for defense, the […]

By |August 25th, 2014|Categories: Canada, Destinations, Quebec City|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Executive Chef Stephenson of Fairmont Olympic Shares His Candied Salmon

Native American Candied Salmon by Chef Gavin Stephenson Fairmont Olympic Hotel

•Wild King Salmon 4# (boneless skinless fillet)
•Brown Sugar 2 cups
•Wils honey 1 cup
•Sea Salt ¾ cup

Slice salmon into 1” x 4” pieces without any skin and brown blood line, place in stainless bowl and add salt, honey and sugar. Mix well and place into refrigerator no longer than 4 hours. Drain excess liquid and place on wire smoking racks. Allow fish to form patina or (get tacky) to the touch before starting the smoking process. Smoke with Apple wood chips until salmon if fully cooked. Cool on wire racks and remove gently. Salmon must be placed in a paper bag in the refrigerator overnight to allow any extra moisture to be removed. Served with crusty bread and Honey Bee Pollen infused butter.

By |August 24th, 2014|Categories: Appetizer, Chefs, Recipes, Savor|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

Half Moon Bay Resort’s Groovin’ Executive Chef Steve Sowa

” If you ladies are free I will take you to Scotchies, down the road. Do you want to meet me in the lobby at two?”

This was after almost of week of dining at the terrific restaurant venues on property we cornered Half Moon Bay Resort’s Executive Chef Steve Sowa and expressed our interest in seeing how traditional Jerk is prepared. One thing about Half Moon Bay before we go further. They never say no. The resort understands that guests are just that, their guests. You’d never say no to a guest’s request in your own home, and they do their very best to make you feel welcome here. Indeed part of the success of Half Moon Bay is that it is owned by a consortium of families. They want to keep it a lush oasis offering mostly beach front […]

By |August 18th, 2014|Categories: Caribbean, Chefs, Destinations, Jamaica, Main Course, Recipes, Savor|Tags: , |0 Comments

AutoVino: Classic Cars Meet the Vines of California in Menlo Park

If you have an inkling to open a winery in this area be prepared to spend 4 to 5 million an acre, if you can find it at all in Woodside, California. Luis (Buff) Giurlani has one and is living the dream.

His Woodside Vineyards is one of the oldest, small vineyards in California. As Mr. Giurlani jokes, ” If we go by the land value here, this wine should be the most expensive in the world!”

“But wait” you say, “didn’t I read above that AutoVino is a state-of-the-art luxury car and fine wine storage facility?” Yes. Mr. Giurlani, part of a family olive oil import business in San Francisco, has a penchant for classic, and luxury cars. Trouble is he soon needed a place to store them. Not finding anything satisfactory, he built one.

Climate controlled, dust free and offering services […]

Executive Chef Michael Wurster’s Grilled Watermelon Salad (Gordon Ramsay at The London Hotel NYC)

Michael Wurster was studying  pre-law courses in college, but something else was tugging at him. He soon realized his life would not play out in a courtroom but a kitchen, and he enrolled at the famed Culinary Institute of America. There, he received a Degree of Culinary Arts.

He chose the right path. And these famed chefs in whose kitchens he worked through the years to hone his craft thought so too: Alain Ducasse at Alain Ducasse NY, Thomas Keller at The French Laundry, Sottah Kuhn at Le Cirque 2000 and David Feau at Lutece.

The accolades piled up. Chef Michael Wurster was appointed Chef de Cuisine of Lutece at age 26, named “Chef to Watch” by John Mariani and received critical acclaim in Food Arts and The New York Times. In addition, as Executive Chef at ICON at W New York […]

By |August 11th, 2014|Categories: Chefs, New York, Recipes, Savor, United States|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Greece: Melbourne’s “Travel Writers Radio Show” With Graeme Kemlo

Greece: Melbourne Radio Show With Graeme Kemlo

Greece Adventure Part 1

The following is the outline used for two radio segments  produced in July  of 2014.

Odysseas Elytis, (Odysseus Elytis) winner of the 1979 Nobel Prize for Literature, was a major poet in the Greek language. Possessed of a highly original and lyrical voice, he was an international figure of 20th-century poetry. Here a favorite quote of his:

“If you deconstruct Greece, you will in the end see an olive tree, a grapevine, and a boat remain. That is, with as much, you reconstruct her.” ~ Odysseas Elytis

Greece is many-faceted. It has a rich history, varied terrain, and great natural beauty. Consisting of many islands and multiple seas, it was birth place to a great conqueror, philosophers, and writers. Here, ancient ruins if not deemed important enough are simply built around or over. In early summer the […]

By |August 6th, 2014|Categories: Destinations, Radio Interviews|Tags: , , , |3 Comments

Rodney Strong Wines Where Place Matters

Wandering the aisles of the local wine store, I sometimes wonder about the names of people on the labels. Are they real people? Who are they? What was their vision? Can their vision be tasted in this bottle?

I do know one who was very real. There was a Rodney Strong. Mr. Strong was the early visionary in Sonoma County who had the idea that this area and all of its micro-climates could bring forth world-class wine.

Today Rodney Strong Vineyards encompass two major brands Rodney Strong and Davis Bynum. Mr. Strong’s namesake company planted grapes of many varietals including Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in the terroir of Alexander Valley. In Chalk Hill he was the first to plant Chardonnay vines in 1965. In the Russian River Valley much like Burgundy, France, he found the fog cooled climate perfect for […]

By |August 4th, 2014|Categories: California, Sip, Sonoma, United States, Wine|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments