Wine and cheese. Peanut butter and jelly. Tyler Dillon and The Slow Road.
Some things were just meant to be.
When he first heard about Butterfield & Robinson nearly a decade ago, Tyler knew it would be a perfect fit. All he had to do was convince the company.
“I was a chef under the acclaimed Hugh Acheson (of Top Chef fame), who was a guest chef on a B&R trip years ago. After working for Hugh I moved to China to teach English and remembered the things he said about B&R, so I called them up and asked for a job,” he says.
He’s been on the road for B&R ever since, living in China and Peru and working throughout Asia and South America (with a few detours to his “native” regions, the American south where he grew up, and Ireland, from which his family hails). Still with the company, Tyler recently transitioned into the role of Trip Designer, choosing New York as the base of operations from which he crafts and plans the sorts of experiences he spent a decade facilitating as a guide.
A true world wanderer, Tyler amassed a wealth of knowledge in his decade spent traipsing the globe. As a columnist for The Slow Road he provides travelling tips and advice, shares stories and anecdotes from the road and reveals the ways in which he’s made himself a part of the regions and cultures he’s visited, including his philanthropic efforts.
Years in Travel Business: 8 Years
Years with B&R: Coincidentally, also 8 years
Countries/Regions of Expertise:
Oh boy, China, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Bhutan, Peru, Ecuador, Patagonia, Ireland, and the “country” of Texas….
Countries visited: Somewhere around 30
Countries lived in: Three:US, China, Peru
Trips guided (if applicable): More than a hundred.
Q&A with Tyler
Favourite trip you’ve ever taken? (I know, I know, but try to narrow it down to one!)
China during the Olympics in 2008 with an amazing family for a month, or Myanmar in winter 2012 with a group of four folks who were fantastic.
Favourite hotel in the world?
The Malikha Lodge in northern Myanmar before the generals took it over. My friend Brett built this thing from the ground up and it was amazing. That or any of the Aman properties—I love the Aman ideology.
Favourite restaurant in the world?
Caves Madeleine in Beaune, in France’s Burgundy region. It’s small, unpretentious, home-cooked Burgundian food with great wine and a large public table.
Favourite bar/wine bar/watering hole in the world?
I know I am sticking to a theme here but the Bar Du Square in Beaune as well. It’s the perfect mix of Motown/blues and wine—plus, they let me play live music there when I am in town. Any place that lets me drink for free and play guitar is good with me.
What’s the top destination you haven’t been to, but want to visit?
Anywhere in Africa! There are large animals there that I want to see!!
How did you get started with B&R?
I was a chef under the acclaimed Hugh Acheson (of Top Chef fame), who was a guest chef for our Antarctica trip years ago. After working for Hugh I moved to China to teach English and remembered the things he said about B&R, so called them up and asked for a job.
Everyone at B&R has their fair share of wanderlust. When/how did you first get bit with the travel bug?
When I was four years old, my family lived in Puerto Rico. It changed me forever, changed my perspective; the world was no longer just my house and little village, it was a whole wide world that I wanted to get out and see.
What’s the best meal you’ve ever had? (And where was it?)
Babbo in NYC, nine-course chef’s menu with wine pairing. It was way too much money, but oh my it was good.
Favourite bottle of wine?
St. Romain Chardonnay, any of the five or six vintners in that awesome village. Oh yeah! It is mineral and flower all at the same time.
What’s your favourite George Butterfield story?
A few summers back George and Martha invited my brother and I over for dinner at their place in Beaune. I had been on a search in town to find someone to teach me how to sabre a bottle of champagne, and had mentioned to George that I needed help. What I didn’t know was that George knew how to sabre and he said he would teach me for cocktails that evening. It was amazing, like becoming a member of an ancient secret society. My first try, the top of the bottle flew off and it was a perfect pour!
This worked for the next few times I did it, but in the middle of guiding a Masters golf trip in Georgia a year later, I had a bottle explode on me—it was not nearly as graceful. I now suspect that getting it to work the first time had more to do with being in Burgundy in the summer than with me.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen or done while on a trip?
There is a long list of strange things on trips I have seen, from riots in Kashgar to Olympic gold medal tennis matches. The one that takes the cake though is a karaoke night on the final night of a trip in China. A group of travellers did a Bon Jovi rendition I shall never forget, no matter how hard I try! It was perverse and strange in the best of ways.