3) Take cooking classes.
Many food enthusiasts relish opportunities to get their hands dirty preparing food when they travel. An ideal way to provide that experience is to take your group to a cooking class.
“Right next door to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum is Isaac Toup’s new restaurant with a performance kitchen,” said Sonnier. “It’s 20 seats in a box shape with the chef in the middle. You watch the chef prepare everything; then you can get behind the stove yourself.”
The Kitchen in Columbus’ German Village offers interactive experiences for groups as well.
“They break groups up into pods,” Dudley said. “One might make a salad while the others make entrees or desserts. They provide recipes and give everyone an apron. In some groups, people just want to have a glass of wine and watch, and others want to get their hands on.”
4) Book great restaurants.
The people who sign up for a food-focused trip are likely to want to experience some of the best restaurants in the places they’re visiting. And although it can be difficult to get a full group into the hottest spots in every city, the local CVB can often recommend high-end establishments that also accommodate groups.
“In downtown we have Hubbard Grille, which is a wonderful restaurant,” said Columbus’ Dudley. “They have a specialty dining space on the second floor. We also have M, one of Cameron Mitchell’s high-end restaurants. A lot of groups like to end their visit with a nice meal there. It’s a steak-and-seafood restaurant that overlooks the riverfront and the Columbus skyline.”
In New Orleans, Arnaud’s is an iconic restaurant with tuxedo-clad servers and a flair for dramatic presentation. It is also perfectly equipped to handle large groups.
“It’s a huge building, almost a whole city block,” Sonnier said. “They have lots of rooms that can be opened up to accommodate a lot of people.”
5) Enlist experts for creative ideas.
If you’re looking for exclusive experiences or other VIP perks on a food tour, working with the experts at the local CVB can help take your trips to the next level.
“Give us a call and let us help,” Dudley said. “We have some options with restaurants that we can get people into or that will work with us to open a private dining space that they don’t normally do for groups.”
In New Orleans, the CVB can help connect travel groups with chefs and venues for memorable, customized events.
“There are a lot of communal spaces around the city that lend themselves to groups that want to have a celebrity chef come in and teach them,” Sonnier said. “Chefs here are used to doing unconventional things in places like warehouses or park pavilions. They can provide excellent dining experiences in various settings.”