“You’ll only gain 1 pound, rather than 20.” Those were my final words when I appeared on NBC Miami as the resident travel expert last month with InterContinental Miami’s Toro Toro executive chef Rodolfo Cuadros. Together, we introduced a dish that we created specifically for Intercontinental’s Kitchen Cookbook iPad app, an interactive app created in 2011 by the executive chefs of InterContinental Hotels & Resorts and filled with delicious recipes from around the world.

To create fresh content for the app, the hotel chain appointed 4 travel personalities to accompany 4 top chefs in select InterContinental hotels in the US (Miami, Atlanta-Buckhead, San Francisco and Boston). The individual “tastemakers” spent time with the chefs in their kitchen to create and cook these new recipes that paid tribute to their respective destinations. I was honored to be chosen and truly overjoyed to spend a few days in sunny Miami.

As soon as I arrived, I partnered up with chef Rodolfo Cuadros to create turkey pastelon, a new spin on the traditional Puerto Rico entree. Instead of ground beef, we used a leaner turkey. We also dropped the pasta layers and replaced it with sweet plantains. Thousands of viewers watched on NBC as we explained the innovative dish that will appear exclusively on InterContinental’s Kitchen Cookbook iPad app. And if I – even though I haven’t cooked in 10 years — can make the dishes, you can too!

But that’s not all that I whipped up in the kitchen. I had the privilege to prepare other innovative dishes with Rodolfo, including Pork Belly Skewers Al Pastor, served as an appetizer, and Churros con Dulce de Leche, a Latin dessert representing the holiday season (and one of my personal favorite desserts!). I was surprised to learn it was a super easy dish to make, and you can watch us prepare it in this short clip on InterContinental’s YouTube page. As per my request, I also had the opportunity to team up with head bartender of Toro Toro to create a Red Sangria cocktail, using Malbec, Cava, Beefeater Gin and Cointreau, as well as cinnamon, spices and a colorful assortment of fruits. Needless to say, I indulged.

But indulging is an understatement regarding the entire experience. My hosts exceeded expectations and checked me into the 2-story, 3,300-square-foot Royal Palm Presidential Suite, recently redesigned by tennis icon Venus Williams. I had breathtaking views of Biscayne Bay, not to mention a stand-alone soaking tub, private dining area and a bevy of turndown amenities that included everything from fresh-fruit sangria to chocolates.

InterContinental Miami wanted to make sure my stay wasn’t just all about the hotel (even though I was perfectly fine never leaving!). They set me up on an “Insider Experience” with Chef Concierge Eduardo Rosello to explore Miami through the eyes of a local. Rosello, who’s served as concierge at the hotel for 20 years, knows the city like the back of his hand and, quite frankly, knows everyone you need to know. He introduced me to institutions like Joe’s Stone Crab, La Gloria Cubana Cigar Company (where I learned how to roll a cigar) and even a private tour of the wine cellar at the high-brow restaurant, The Forge. This turned out to be my favorite, considering the hearty dishes and Enomatic wine dispenser.

But nothing topped the inventive dishes I created at Toro Toro with Chef Rodolfo. I even learned—as a virgin to the kitchen—that cooking isn’t an impossible feat. Who knows? You may see me again wearing an apron, making my own version of Chef Rodolfo’s version of turkey pastelon.

The Kitchen Cookbook iPad app has been a culinary hit, and it can be downloaded for free on iTunes. Check it out to experience some amazing dishes, and watch Chef Redolfo and me in the NBC Miami clip here.

- Jimmy Im

Jimmy Im is NYC-based travel writer, TV host and instructor, as well as the cofounder of

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue

Tonight at 9|8c, catch the season finale of Airport 24/7! In tonight’s episode, see what happens when a fuel farm catches on fire, causing a catastrophic blaze that could halt Miami International Airport in its tracks. With the loss of so much fuel, can MIA bounce back?

Can’t get enough of the action at MIA? Catch all of our extra content that’s not in the episodes online! From Casey, the adorable therapy dog, posing for her ID badge to the flash mobs that keep the travelers passing through MIA entertained, there’s always something happening at MIA.

Also, don’t miss these fun facts about MIA!  For example, did you know that there’s a protected species living on the airfield?

The airport fun doesn’t have to end tonight! See all of Travel Channel’s airport features, from Mile-High Fashion to the World’s Most Iconic Airports!

Airport 24/7: Miami

When an airport is the size of a small city, there’s bound to be endless drama. Go inside Miami International Airport with our new series, Airport 24/7: Miami, premiering tonight with 2 back-to-back episodes starting at 9|8c.

Did you know Miami International Airport uses enough soap in a year to fill a residential swimming pool? Check out more fun facts about MIA here!

Read our Q&A with MIA’s Director of Security, Lauren Stover, who is the first woman in the history of Miami International Airport to direct the airport’s day-to-day security.

Get a peek at the crazy things the TSA has intercepted from travelers in one of our many behind-the-scenes videos.

Find photos, videos and more at!

Tomorrow is the last day to enter to win trips to Miami and Las Vegas! Enter here to soak up the Miami sun, or enter here for the chance to get a little bit crazy in Vegas.

“But what would I do if I won?”

Let Travel Channel answer that question for you — we have tips for what to do and where to eat in Las Vegas and a glimpse of what you’ll see when you explore the beauty of Miami. You can take it to the extreme with our guide to the craziest shows, restaurants and parties in Miami — or keep it wholesome with our picks for the best family-friendly shows in Las Vegas.

Regardless of whether you’re single and ready to mingle or traveling with a tribe, you can’t go wrong with a free trip. So what are you waiting for? Get to clickin’!

Today’s Daily Escape is South Beach in Miami, Florida. More »

Photograph by Getty Images

Tomorrow at 10|9c, tune in for the premiere of an all-new Travel Channel series, Top Spot. In each episode, travelers will take a whirlwind tour of 3 different hotels in their chosen vacation destination. They’ll test out the beds, sample the food, sip the hotel’s cocktails, explore the grounds, swim in the pools … all in an attempt to decide where they’ll spend their hard-earned vacation dollars.

In the premiere episode, a Pennsylvania family heads to Miami, FL, with a $2,500 budget for a 5-night Sunshine State getaway. Will they choose the kid-friendly Trump International Beach Resort, the trendy Shelborne South Beach or the historic Biltmore Hotel? See our photos to learn more about their 3 options, and tune in to find out the family’s Top Spot tomorrow night! READ MORE

Today’s Daily Escape is from Boca Chita Key, Miami, FL. Learn more »

Photograph by Getty Images

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