Friday,  November 15, 2019  8:02 pm

David Rocco on why Canadians should fly Ethiopian Airlines this summer

David Rocco on why Canadians should fly Ethiopian Airlines this summer
Ed Radonic, partner, managing director, Radonic Rodgers Strategy+; David Rocco, best-selling author and celebrity chef; Gordana Mosher, PR and social media manager, Radonic Rodgers Strategy+
Christine Hogg

Christine Hogg is the Associate Digital Editor at PAX Global Media. Prior to joining PAX, she obtained her Honours BA in Journalism from the University of Toronto. Upon graduating, she went on to write for several travel publications while travelling the world. Her longest trip was a three-week stint in Europe, and the shortest was a 16-hour adventure in Iceland. Get in touch:

Following the massive success of his cooking shows that profile cuisine in India, Africa, and Italy, celebrity chef David Rocco will be filming a new show called David Rocco's Dolce Southeast Asia in partnership with Ethiopian Airlines.

READ MORE: Spice up your life: David Rocco & Ethiopian Airlines bring the heat to Toronto

The partnership was first established for David Rocco's Dolce Africa series, and with Ethiopia being a convenient transit point into Southeast Asia, extending the partnership with the airline once more only made sense.

"We had such a great relationship in our last season so it was just nice to continue," Rocco told PAX. "On the heels of the unfortunate tragedy [Ethiopian Airlines crash ET 302], we entered a relationship at the best of times, in the sense that we were able to show our confidence in the airline, and show the rest of the world how amazing it is and how comfortable we felt as a crew. The news of the crash, as unfortunate as it was, was truly a non-issue for myself and my crew; Ethiopian Airlines is one of the oldest airlines in the world with an impeccable track record, and an amazing airline overall."

David Rocco, pictured here with one of his best-selling books, David Rocco's Dolce Famiglia.

Exploring Ethiopia

For Rocco, travelling with a film crew proved to be quite the experience, but he was adamant that everybody take advantage of the 12-hour stopover in Addis Ababa

Ethiopian Airlines offers smooth transit for passengers with immediate connections once they reach Addis Ababa. For passengers whose connecting flight is more than eight and up to 24 hours and there is no immediate connecting flight to continue the journey, the interline desk will facilitate hotel accommodation provided that such passengers have transit/entry visa.

According to Rocco, the brand new Ethiopian Skylight Hotel, which is offered exclusively through Ethiopian Airlines, is just one more way the airlines goes above and beyond for its travellers. With 373 guest rooms, including Executive and Presidential Suites, three restaurants and three bars, outstanding amenities like a gym, spa, and outdoor pool, the Ethiopian Skylight Hotel is the perfect place for those who have stopovers to get out and truly explore Ethiopia's capital city.

12-hour layover: what to do?

For many travellers, a layover that's more than three to four hours is met with frustration. Who wants to be in the airport that long, anyways?

But as Rocco explains, the layovers offered by Ethiopian Airlines are actually a blessing in disguise, as they let travellers sneak an extra day of exploring a new culture into their trip itinerary.

"It's actually like a vacation within a vacation," Rocco enthused. "Not many people are aware of just how amazing the layover experience is, especially with the new hotel. If you can get an additional day or two to explore, that's even better."

According to Rocco, Addis Ababa has everything from New York-style restaurants to bustling markets, giving foodies and adventurous travellers tons of choice.

"When I told our film crew that we'd be doing a 12-hour layover, there was a bit of grumbling," Rocco laughed. "And I said 'yes kids, we have to' but I can tell you that once it ended, everybody thanked me, because it really does give you an extra experience. We really had an amazing time."

The Ethiopian Skylight Hotel is within walking distance from the airport, or roughly a five-minute drive. Bole, one of the suburbs of Addis Ababa, is packed with great restaurants, including some of which Rocco and his crew filmed at. "We spent the whole day in the city, and we only came back to shower and have dinner," Rocco said. "We had so much fun and if I ever had to do it again, I'd spend an extra night, which is also offered by Ethiopian Airlines at no additional transit costs."

Dining on board Ethiopian Airlines

During our interview with Rocco, we couldn't help but ask: what does a celebrity chef think of the food on board Ethiopian Airlines?

"The food is just excellent, they've got a full Western menu, but they also have a full Ethiopian menu," Rocco explained. "After you pick your Western entree, the crew comes back with a cart stocked with Ethiopian meal choices, which I think is incredibly smart; if there's a chance a guest might be unsure of trying something new, they still get their standard fare, and at the same time they get to try new Ethiopian foods."

Some of Rocco's favourites? Doro Wat, a spicy stewed chicken, and Injera Firfir, a mash-up of shredded flatbread, spices, and clarified butter, typically enjoyed at breakfast. 

Ethiopian Airlines currently offers five flights direct from Toronto to Africa, and continues to be the only airline promoting direct, non-stop service from Toronto to parts of Africa. Upon arrival Canadians can enjoy seamless connections to other destinations in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

"Dubai used to be the largest hub in Africa, but now Addis Ababa has taken over, and has more connections," added Ed Radonic, managing partner and director of marketing, Radonic Rodgers, which represents Ethiopian Airlines here in Toronto. "We're a member of Star Alliance and our fleet is brand new. As David Rocco has recently experienced, our brand new five-star hotel is there waiting for travellers, where they can even extend their stopover for up to three days, free of charge."

Rocco flies out to Bangkok this Wednesday (May 29) to continue filming his Dolce Southeast Asia series.

Watch the trailer for David Rocco's Dolce Africa below!

Don't miss a single travel story: subscribe to PAX today!