Culinary curiosity continues to captivate our culture, and many people today are looking for foodcentric experiences when they travel. Affinity groups can attract a lot of travelers and, perhaps, some new members by offering culinary tours to tasty destinations. But the mechanics of a food-focused trip are substantially different than those of a traditional group tour.
We spoke with representatives of two destinations with great food cultures — New Orleans, Louisiana, and Columbus, Ohio — and gathered five tips for helping you plan culinary trips for your group.
1) Take local food tours.
Trying to arrange culinary experiences in cities you don’t know well is a daunting task. But many destinations now have local tour companies that specialize in culinary expeditions that showcase the flavors of the city.
“New Orleans Secrets offers a Magazine Street foodie tour where you will find some of the culinary giants in the city, including James Beard Award winners,” said Kristian Sonnier, vice president of communications and public relations at the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. “They can also take you to the French Quarter to some of the grand dames of creole dining for the quintessential New Orleans experience.”
In Columbus, a company called Columbus Food Adventures can customize its offerings to large groups.
“They can do afternoon tours or even all-day tours,” said Roger Dudley, senior tourism sales manager at Experience Columbus. “They can really act as a receptive operator to do the whole culinary side of Columbus.”
2) Incorporate food-themed attractions.
Travelers can only eat so much food in a day, but epicureans will enjoy visits to attractions that are focused on the culinary arts. In Columbus, that means shopping at Crema Nut Company, makers of organic peanut butter, as well as tours of Anthony Thomas Chocolates.
“They make the buckeye, which is our staple here in Columbus,” Dudley said. “There is a catwalk on the second floor so you can overlook the production area and see how chocolate is made.”
The food culture in New Orleans offers plenty of attractions as well. One of the most prominent is the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, where exhibits trace the history of creole and Cajun flavors of Louisiana, as well as other regional traditions from throughout the South. In addition to learning about the food itself, visitors are introduced to the farmers, fishermen, hunters, processors, inventors, chefs and businesspeople who contribute to the Southern food scene.