About Us

Picture of Jonathan Bean

Chef at Large Tours Philosophy

Chef At Large Tours offers participants the opportunity to go places they have an interest in seeing with a small group of like-minded, adventurous people. The tours feature interesting sights of all kinds, from the well-known to the obscure. For example, we visit museums, houses of worship, historic sites and castles. We also hear local music in authentic venues, and go to national parks for nature and picnics. There are always shopping opportunities and times to rest after all the activity.

I carefully select the restaurants, cafes and other food venues. We choose meals that are served family style, because it allows participants to try a wide variety of interesting foods and beverages in places that they might not find on their own. Food is a window into the heart, soul and culture of a nation! Therefore, at Chef At Large Tours we NEVER use a tourist menu. Every restaurant and cafe meal is carefully curated for a genuinely satisfying culinary experience.

Your time and money are important, and we appreciate your spending them with us. When you get home we want you to tell your friends, family, coworkers, even people on the train, that your Culinary and Cultural Tour with Chef At Large Tours gave you the greatest vacation you’ve ever had!

Chef At Large Tours. Great vacations. Great experiences. Great value.

About the Chef at Large

The Chef At Large is me, Jonathan Bean. I’ve been cooking and traveling for more than 50 years. Over the course of 18 years I’ve conducted about 500 cooking classes, food programs for libraries and private groups and catered events. Since 2005 I’ve been organizing and leading tours throughout Chicago, the suburbs and Wisconsin for the continuing education divisions of school districts and senior centers. During that time I have developed a travel and eating philosophy that has taken me, my friends and family off the well beaten path to authentic, unusual and delicious places  ! And our tour participants agree.

On the first tour I led in 2005, to the Southeast Asian neighborhood of Argyle Street in Chicago, a woman asked on the ride home “How many years have you been doing this?” I told her that it was actually my first as a paid tour guide. Stunned, she replied, “Keep doing them, you’re meant to be doing this.” I thanked her and told her I would. It validated what I already knew. And now we’re going international!