Gourmet Cycling Travel combines the expertise of former professional cyclist and international cycling coach Simon Kessler with the knowledge of top chef and wine connoisseur Jonathan Chiri. We love being your personal guides on some amazing adventures together with our expert, local guides: Neil Martin, Jean Michel Porzyc, Gary Stern, Kelly McAuliffe & Ross Grant among others.
Simon Kessler, co-founder of Gourmet Cycling Travel, has a long history with the Tour de France. His first Tour de France experience was back in
1990 at the age of 15 when his french grandfather arranged grandstand tickets for the final stage on the Champs Elysees in Paris. Simon says “seeing Greg Lemond and Gianni Bugno, my heroes at the time, and the Tour spectacle inspired me to become a pro racer and ultimately create Gourmet Cycling Travel!”.
Simon went on to race as a professional for 6 years with some of the world best and won two professional national road championship titles. Moving into a coaching career (Simon Says Cycling) Simon has had the pleasure of coaching all levels of cyclists from top pros to weekend warriors. One of his former clients and good friend
Daryl Impey, was the first South African to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France.
Simon’s French and German parents has resulted in him living and traveling to Europe and the Tour de France extensively since the 1990s. In 2007, Simon made the decision to bring his love of travel and the Tour de France to his fellow cyclists and active travel enthusiasts. Voila Gourmet Cycling Travel!
Jonathan Chiri is the co-founder and the “Gourmet” of the Gourmet Cycling Travel team. Jon brings a unique side to this active travel company with his rich experience as a gourmet chef and wine connoisseur.
Chef Jonathan Chiri began his career in the early 1990’s in California, notably at The San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito and Restaurant Catahoula in Napa Valley. Moving north to Seattle he was given his first opportunity to run a kitchen as Sous-Chef at the renowned vegetarian restaurant Carmelita. Then it was down to the south and a few years spent in New Orleans as part of the opening team at Restaurants Cuvee, Stella and August. From there, he first set foot in Europe and quickly fell in love with its foods and cultures. He began with a stint at the Romantik Hotel Spielweg in the Black Forest of Germany, followed by a short “stages” in Berlin and Barcelona.
Next it was on to France and the sunshine of Provençe. He spent 4 years at the famed 1 Michelin starred La Mirande in Avignon, eventually becoming Pastry Chef of their gourmet restaurant and the Chef of their cooking school, La Marmiton. Here he developed a harmonious relationship with the hotel and continues to participate in their program of cooking classes.
In 2006, he became Chef de Cuisine of the luxurious Chateau de Massillan in Uchaux, not far from Avignon. During this time he enjoyed the privileges of working closely with various talented chefs of the region and extraordinary winemakers from regions such as Châteauneuf du Pape, Vacqueryas and Côtes du Rhône.
Since 2008 he has stepped away from restaurants in order to expand his repertoire. Seeking to combine his multiple passions for cooking, wine, travel and cycling with his extensive knowledge of the French wine and gastronomic regions, he has devoted himself to his twin businesses, Gourmet Cycling Travel and private chef extraordinaire.