Author: Steve Bramucci

How I Travel: Hosea Rosenberg

Hosea Rosenberg: Tasting the Road Less Traveled

Hosea Rosenberg is best known as the winner of the fifth season of Bravo’s Top Chef but his career in the kitchen started much less dramatically—as a dishwasher in Taos, New Mexico. Since climbing the ranks to head chef at Jax Fish House and his subsequent Bravo win, Hosea has been a man on the move—cooking at festivals, competitions and fundraisers across the globe. “I have to say that in the last 12 months, I’ve probably taken more trips than the last 10 years combined,” he says. “I’ve seen almost every state in the US in the last year or so.”

Hosea’s wanderlust has left the New Mexico native particularly fond of street food, a concept which he plans to research further in an upcoming trip to Hong Kong and Thailand. Recently, he began developing a concept for StreatChefs which he describes as “a mobile food business serving addictive, affordable street food using locally sourced ingredients and healthy alternatives to the traditional offerings you might see on a corner.”

My first trip was going to visit my uncle with my mom and dad.

I grew up in the mountains of northern New Mexico. He lives in LA. I had never seen the ocean before. I was totally blown away. I think I was about 4 or 5 at the time. When my dad decided to go into the water to swim, I started to panic. I thought the waves were going to literally eat him up and I would never see my dad again. I didn’t stop crying until he came back!

Relaxing in Mexico
Relaxing in Mexico

My travel style changes depending on the reason for the trip and my companion.

I just returned from Pebble Beach. I stayed in a luxury hotel overlooking one of the most beautiful stretches of beach anywhere. Not roughing it. However, when I travel to foreign lands, especially for extended periods, I like to stay in smaller areas without a lot of tourists. I think you learn so much more about a place when you distance yourself from “typical American tourists”. I like to eat where the locals eat, if you know what I mean.

Locals inspire my travel experiences.

I always meet people who live in an area and they help me define and tailor my trip. I try to stay in contact with people I’ve met on the road as they always have great advice on where/when to go next.

I have a problem in that I always think things over too much.

I try and make the best decision based on too many factors. The best trips I’ve ever taken in my life have been spontaneous. I once went to Belize with one of my best friends and we bought the tickets a week before. We got there without any kind of a plan at all. We checked into a tiny hotel on the beach for $5 a night, and started wandering around. By the next day, I was learning how to SCUBA dive and had a license two days later. One of the best trips of my life.

I think it’s smart to have a schedule and a plan.

However, I like to really keep my mind open. I often find myself doing things and going places that were definitely not on the agenda. Those adventures usually end up being the best ones. I was recently in Mexico and we ended up hitching a ride in the back of a pickup truck to go check out a bird and alligator sanctuary. It was so beautiful and so majestic, but I never would have gone if I had stuck to the “plan”.

My life is so crazy that I don’t seem to suffer from jet lag much.

Some days I sleep for two hours and others for 10. The life of a chef has you working a lot of long hours and there are times when you never know if it’s sunny outside or raining. That helps your body adjust to long flights and sudden changes in environment.

A bit of legwork is always a good idea.

But as I said before, don’t make everything set in stone. It’s best to float wherever the wind blows you.

I always carry a guidebook.

And half the time it stays buried in my backpack the entire trip!

I usually eat everything in front of me when I’m on the road.

I try to convince myself that it’s R&D!

Late-night Korean
Late-night Korean

Street food is my passion.

Eat where the locals eat. Don’t be afraid to try anything.

The best meal I’ve ever had on the road was fish tacos on the beach in Baja Sur.

We had been on the road all day and stopped at this little roadside shack. The husband would fish all day and the wife would fry up little strips of fish and put them in homemade tortillas. They had about 20 little salsas, salads and garnishes to top your fish with. I must have eaten 12!

I don’t like fast food and I really try not to support the big chains.

However, whenever I travel out of Denver International Airport, I always eat something at McDonald’s before leaving town. It’s the only time I ever do it, but it somehow feels right for me.

When I arrive someplace new I always try to find shelter.

Once I know where I’ll be sleeping, I’m much more at ease.

It’s almost always humbling when you travel to places that you don’t understand.

There are so many lessons about life and how people live. We forget just how good we have it in our country.

Sampling sandwiches in Seattle
Sampling sandwiches in Seattle

Once you’ve packed everything…

…take half of it out!

To connect with locals, I try to learn a few words and not act like I’m doing anyone a favor.

You need to stay humble and thankful for the good fortune of traveling into someone else’s home. Always be gracious.

Always thank everyone you meet.

If I could go back to one place it’d be New Orleans.

For ever. I recently was invited to ride with the Krewe of Orpheus in their Mardi Gras parade. There is nothing like that in the world.

With the Mardi Gras Krewe
With the Mardi Gras Krewe

Matter of fact, I’d have to say New Orleans is my favorite place in the world right now.

The people, the food, the music, the art and just the vibe of the place make me feel like I’ve discovered something really special and soulful. It’s like the first time you put on a snorkel mask and can see under the water. I think the city of New Orleans has more to show us about humanity and the human spirit that just about anywhere.

New Zealand tops my “never been, want-to-go” list.

It’s such a far away, beautiful place. Really want to go someday.

When I’m taking buses, I go for the nicer ones.

I’ve had some really bad experiences on long bus rides… Things that no one should have to go through.

I slept too long on a bus in Mexico once and had no idea where I was.

It was the middle of the night and I was hundreds of miles from nowhere – in the dessert. And nobody knew what the hell I was talking about. Took another day and a half to find my way back to where I was going.

I stayed in a tiny hotel in Belize for $5 a night for over a week…

…And that was for two of us. It was pitiful: two cots with chewed up blankets and nothing else. We had a shower down the hall that only had cold water. That was it. But we weren’t there to hang out in a room!

Enjoying the sunset on Pebble Beach
Enjoying the sunset on Pebble Beach

I met a guy in Hawaii a few years back that made a living traveling and shopping.

He would buy something in a place (i.e. calculators in China) that was really inexpensive and would smuggle them into a place that really wanted that thing (India). Now I don’t know what else this guy was smuggling, but he had been all over the world and didn’t really have a home to speak of. However, he was always surrounded by really fun and interesting people and always seemed to have enough money to get to the next destination. He had been on the road for over 10 years and didn’t seem to be slowing down.

I would never discard a place without experiencing it firsthand.

There are places I wouldn’t want to go see again, but I will try anything once.

I hate the American travelers who bark their way through other places.

Just because you have money does not mean you shouldn’t be humble and respectful of the people and places you visit. I try to avoid this type of traveler whenever I can.

The greatest beach I’ve ever seen was on Maui.

North Shore beach, I think it was called Ho’okeepa. There had been a storm and there were 100 foot waves crashing on the reef. It was an amazing sunset and everything around seemed like it was bigger than life. I will never forget sitting on that beach.

I find it easiest to have one travel partner.

Alone can be lonely. Too many people means too many itineraries.

I always learn something about myself when I travel.

I learn things through the people I meet and the places I see. I discover what I like about myself and what I want to change. I feel more connected to this amazing world we live in by connecting to the citizens. We all get so caught up in our daily routines that we forget how magical the planet is and how many treats there are out there for us.

The hardest part is stepping on the plane.

After that, everything seems to always work itself out.

Online, Hosea can be found at, blogging here and on twitter at @ChefHosea.

“How I Travel” is a new BootsnAll series publishing every Tuesday in an effort to look at the unique and diverse travel habits of some of the world’s most well known and proficient road warriors. Got ideas for who we should talk to? Drop us a note.

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all photographs provided by Hosea Rosenberg and may not be used without permission