Rani Craft Robinson-Kiganda

Rani Craft Robinson-Kiganda is managing producer of Travelchannel.com. A Washingtonian, Floridian and wannabe Charlestonian, Rani’s passion for writing, travel, photography and food brought her to Africa, Singapore and Italy. Not even close to scratching her Bucket List, Rani looks forward to her next adventure: traveling with her husband and 2 small children. Follow Rani on Twitter @IAmCraftWeb.

Posts by Rani Craft Robinson-Kiganda

man standing on a rock in a national park

Are you sitting at home, daydreaming about how much you want to be the next Travel Channel Star? If you have questions about the video submission process, voting and how we’re ultimately going to choose a winner, you’re in luck. We’ve gathered some frequently asked questions that should provide the answers to those and more!

What are your criteria for finding the next Travel Channel Star?

The next Travel Channel Star should have personality, a unique point of view and a distinct passion and excitement for travel.

How long do I have to submit my video?
Contestants can upload their videos to TravelChannelStar.com now through April 15, 2015. There will also be an open casting call in Los Angeles in February (details to come). See our Travel Channel Star guidelines for more information on what we’re looking for in your video, as well as technical requirements. READ MORE

Travel Channel Star logo with Thank You, New York

The competition to find our next Travel Channel Star is officially underway! On Monday, Nov. 10, passionate travelers from New York, California, Oklahoma, Atlanta and Washington, DC, lined the halls of New York’s Museum of the Moving Image for a chance to tell us why they should be the next Travel Channel star. Contestants were allowed only 2 minutes in front of the camera to make their pleas, and BOY did they make those 2 minutes count — we were even serenaded by 1 enthusiastic participant! READ MORE

Frosty The Snowman ICE! sculpture at Gaylord National Resort

Photo courtesy Gaylord National Resort

It’s beginning to look, and feel, a lot like Christmas. Bundle up this weekend and visit the annual “ICE!” exhibit at the Gaylord Resort and Convention Centers in Maryland, Texas, Florida and Tennessee, which all officially open their doors to the display this weekend.

In a steadily 9-degree room, the “ICE!” exhibit features larger-than-life ice sculptures from the beloved story of Frosty the Snowman (at Gaylord National in Oxon Hill, MD, and Gaylord Texan in Dallas), ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (at Gaylord Opryland in Nashville) or The Nutcracker (at Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, FL). Each display is perfectly crafted from more than 2 million pounds of ice by 30 artisans from Harbin, China, the ice carving capital of the world. Don’t worry about running out to L.L. Bean or the like: Cozy parkas are provided for all attendees — children and adults — so they can fully enjoy the exhibit.

Carving out 2.6 million pounds of ice — the most ever for Gaylord National — is no small feat. During an exclusive tour of its “ICE!” exhibit, public relations manager Rachel Dinbokowitz provided insider details on what visitors can expect this holiday season. READ MORE

microphone on a blue background

Were Jim Carrey and Robin Williams your inspiration growing up? Have you always dreamed about using your voice to entertain people? Then the That’s Voiceover!™ career expo is the place for you. Showcase your talents at the Museum of the Moving Image — in Astoria, NY –– on Monday from 10 am to 10 pm. Participants will have an opportunity to show off their skills in one-on-one Q&As, audience participation and real-world auditions. The ultimate goal is The AUDITION Spotlight, a voiceover competition where one lucky actor will win an opportunity to work with Travel Channel! For more information and to purchase your ticket, visit thatsvoiceover.com. READ MORE

Bert Kreischer

Bert Kreischer, Travel Channel host

Have you dreamed of being the next Sam Brown, Andrew Zimmern, Kinga Philipps or Shane Reynolds, traveling the world and experiencing new places, cultures and people? Well, listen up if you live in New York City or you plan on visiting the Big Apple. Come to the Museum of the Moving Image — located in Astoria, NY– to audition to become the next Travel Channel Star. Auditions are scheduled on Monday, Nov. 10, between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.

We’re searching for people with adventurous/curious personalities who can share their world experiences from a unique perspective. It goes without saying, but strong candidates should be passionate travelers with a distinct point of view with the ability to transport an audience wherever your travels take you.

When you arrive at the Casting Call, be prepared to share the following: READ MORE

Aaron Goodwin, Zak Bagans, Nick Groff at Loftus Hall in Ireland

Ghost Adventures Crew at Loftus Hall

We’ve come to that frightful date on the calendar once again — Oct. 31. Happy Halloween, everyone! If you aren’t venturing out for a night on the town to trick-or-treat or checking out a haunted attraction, you’ll want to turn to Travel Channel tonight at 9|8c for an epic 2-hour Ghost Adventures special: Ireland’s Celtic Demons!

Zak Bagans, Nick Groff and Aaron Goodwin investigate some of the most haunted locations in Ireland: Hellfire Club, Leap Castle and Loftus Hall, where it’s said that the devil himself once spent the night. There are parts of Loftus Hall that the owner himself won’t visit!

Happy Halloween!

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Brian Unger at the Griffith Observatory

Brian Unger at the Griffith Observatory

On Oct. 13 and 14, I traveled to Los Angeles to field produce 3 web series — Meet Brian Unger, My Hometown and A Day in the Life — with new Travel Channel host Brian Unger of Time Traveling With Brian Unger, which will premiere in 2015. By the time we were done filming, I’d discovered a new side of LA’s valley.

It’s always a challenge filming in Los Angeles because it’s been done so many times, but lucky for us, our task was to showcase Los Angeles’ “other side,” its valley (the San Fernando Valley), which consists of a few cities, including Glendale, Burbank, Sherman Oaks and Van Nuys — all of which we covered, and then some, for Brian’s My Hometown web series. What we uncovered were some amazing places to eat, work out and play. READ MORE

Hallway of Wizard Chambers at Georgian House hotel

We might not have a magic broom for you to get to London this Halloween weekend, but if you’re planning on being in the big city anyway, why not go all the way? No costume needed for this Hogwarts experience: Stay at London’s Georgian House in the residential district of Victoria. The Georgian House is a beautiful hotel that has created a special space for its Wizard Chambers. It’s as if you’ve come to Hogwarts Castle for the weekend. This, my friends, is where your Harry Potter package begins. The chambers are designed with rustic wood paneling and an Old-English-style bed frame with clever accent pieces from floor to ceiling. The Harry Potter package also includes complimentary tickets for an exclusive Muggle walking tour; see firsthand where Harry Potter was filmed, hear stories of London’s rich history and explore the secret places once known only to Harry, Hermione and Ron. READ MORE

Andrew Zimmern

It’s been a little over 8 years since my first production meeting with Andrew Zimmern, a chef who was unknown to me at the time — as I was brand new to the TV and foodie worlds. He has hundreds of hours and thousands of miles recorded on national television, and to this day, I still ask myself, “How does he do it?” How does anyone travel so much, eat so exceptionally well, and then be expected to return to normal life? As we prepare for another season of Bizarre Foods With Andrew Zimmern, which kicks off tonight at 9|8c on Travel Channel, I decided to get the answer to that question, along with others about what we can expect on Bizarre Foods, what Andrew is most excited about this season, his future travel plans and projects in 2015, and more!

As you go into another season of Bizarre Foods, what are you most excited for the viewers to see?

I think what’s most exciting for me is that we are finally able to slow down a little this season and dive deeper into the cultural elements of the show that are more interesting to me than skimming along the surface of the places we visit. TV needs to be relevant to stay current, and today’s viewers demand that. I think this season, we are finally delivering on that in spades.

What locations can the viewer look forward to this season? Any of them at the top of your list?

Mexico City, LA, Hawaii, Brooklyn, Ireland, Newfoundland, Lisbon, Kazakhstan, Shanghai, Ho Chi Minh City, Dubai, Rome, Iquitos and Panama. Top of the list has to be all of them. I am always most thrilled to talk about where I’ve just been.

On Oct. 27, we’ll showcase your trip to Mexico City, where you indulged in whole-minnow tamales in Xochimilco Market. How do the tamales in Mexico City differ from those found in popular places such as Los Angeles and Chicago’s Tom Tom Tamale?

Well, we got the chance to try many tamales with pre-colonial roots. Those don’t exist, in the purest sense of the word, anywhere else than in the culture you are diving deep into. I believe in the transformative power of travel, so going to the source has many side benefits that are crucial for personal and societal change.

Next, you’re off to Lisbon, and the steamed clams you posted on Instagram look amazing! What surprised you the most about Lisbon’s food scene?

The seafood in Lisbon is epic, and in the summer, there is nowhere else I would rather be. Uncrowded and accessible, inexpensive and delicious. The clams weren’t even in the top 10 once I was done. Food entrepreneurship and food tourism is helping to revive their sagging economy, and I think that was the biggest surprise for me.

Andrew Zimmern with an animal carcass head

While filming for the Ireland episode, you spent a lot of time in Cork. How does Cork differ from the popular city of Dublin?

We actually spent all our time in Cork and Cobh, with a side trip for a few hours to Dublin to eat at my friend Kevin Thornton’s restaurant. The greater Cork area offers some of the purest farm-to-table experiences on Earth. I was blown away by the horizontal and vertical reach of Irish cookery. I think that’s the best show we’ve made to date.

Out of all the foods you’ve tried this season, which dish do you have to have again and again?

So many — that’s not a fair question. Giana and Clovisse Ferguson made me several meals that I regard as some of the best of my life, and I begged them for recipes, and I cook them all the time now. Clovisse’s farmhouse bread recipe is on my Kitchen Adventures page at www.foodandwine.com for anyone who wants to take a peek.

Is there any place you haven’t traveled to, either on Bizarre Foods or during personal travel, that you’re eager to get to?

So many! I have a list in my office of over a hundred places I want to take our viewers, from the Trans-Siberian Railway to a boat trip down the Mississippi River, from Poland to Paraguay. And I want to do another dozen shows in China and Mexico, 2 countries with the deepest and most complex food cultures on planet Earth. Personally, I want to spend some time with my family in Thailand, take my wife to the far reaches of the Pacific Ocean, and do the dude ranch thing with my kid.

With only 2 months left in 2014, what have been your highlights from this year (including personal, professional and unforgettable food moments)?

Holy moly, hard question. Professionally, I would have to say that I am consistently amazed at how lucky I am to be in the places I go with the people I am with. Diving for prawns in the Waipio Valley in Hawaii is something you only dream about, right? Cooking with and being fed by the world’s greatest chefs and cooks is another. But the biggest and best treat of the year from a food standpoint was eating the 3,000-year-old butter that was found in the Kildare bog a decade ago. Starting my production company, Intuitive Content, is a great milestone; seeing my cookware line launch is another. Creating another book right now — that’s fun. Seeing young people I mentor go out in the world and do great things is a high that I never imagined having. My longtime colleague Molly Mogren is out on her own, writing and creating content for her own web projects, and that’s incredibly satisfying. And of course, we continue to expand our AZ Canteen food business, so that’s exciting.

What are you looking forward to in 2015? Any big trips — outside of Bizarre Foods — planned?

New Year’s will turn in Costa Rica, spring in France with family — that’s fun. For 9 years, I have had a shooting hiatus in spring, and it’s taken this long to turn that around and take the summer months off, so that’s going to be a great time to travel with my family. A driving vacation across the USA is on the docket for sure. I want to go camping with my kid and teach him some survival craft; I think he would dig that. I have some shoots I am planning for other projects in China and Haiti that I am very excited about, entrepreneur-oriented social innovation documentaries that I am really excited about. I want to create businesses in developing communities and leave them behind as a piece of a new sustainable, economic development, social aid program. Along the way, I want to make these into mini-docs. Imagine creating energy systems to help solve energy poverty in Africa, making electricity available so that wood-burning kitchens can be transformed into safer environments for families. I think this is important stuff.

As of now, what dish/restaurant is on your bucket list?

I want to eat my wife’s roast chicken more often. That’s a good goal.

Samantha Brown in Cape Town South Africa

Feeling on top of the world at the summit of Table Mountain, overlooking Cape Town and the surrounding mountains. A 5 a.m. wake-up call is tough (especially when it’s really midnight your time) but worth it to see the sunrise at 3,500 feet.

Look who we found in South Africa! Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown was recently in Cape Town. We thought it was the perfect time to catch up with Sam and get the “skinny” on her trip: unforgettable moments, things to do and, of course, what to eat in Cape Town.

What were your expectations of Cape Town, and did it live up to them?

I’ve been hearing a lot of great things about Cape Town for close to 10 years. It’s where my husband and I wanted to go on our honeymoon but couldn’t, due to lack of time. When I arrived early Saturday morning, I was mesmerized by Table Mountain; I mean, the location of Cape Town is just overwhelmingly beautiful. However, when I went out for a long walk, I was a bit underwhelmed. I headed downtown, which was a ghost town. All the shops were closed, and I wanted to go to a coffee shop I had read about that is run by a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. When I got there, it, too, was closed. I finally made it to a cute, hip neighborhood that ran along Kloof Street and had a great pot of tea and a nice conversation with the owner, who told me that if it’s a nice day (and it was gorgeous, especially for their winter), everyone closes up shop and heads to the beach. That’s when I realized Cape Town is really a city that’s a beach town at heart. It was also the last time during the trip that I was underwhelmed by Cape Town.

READ MORE

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