I just got back from HOT-Lanta and Savannah! If you’ve read my blog before, you know travel is my thing. My friend and I decided on very short notice, to use up some of our vacation time from last year to do a little something-something. We have a habit of setting impossible sight seeing standards for ourselves, doing things that only the very dedicated (or crazy) tourists would do. We decided on Atlanta and Savannah on a whim. My job, which I took very “Type A” seriously, was to plan Atlanta for us. Hi-ho, hi-ho, off to Trip Advisor I go, or went in this case…
I’m a big fan of walking tours, you get to see a lot that way, and it helps you orient yourself in a big city. As I was looking, I noticed a walking tour that was all about food! Even better, it had a perfect 5 out of 5 stars on Trip Advisor! That’s the best that you can do on this finicky site! I was hooked by what people were saying and thought it would be cool because I had never been on a food tour before. My friend Amber was in, so the tour was booked for our first full day in this peach of a city. It was even better than I expected. I’ll write more about the tour itself in my next blog, but I was curious about how you get into this line of work, so John Hannula was kind enough to answer a few questions.
How/why was Peachtree Food Tours born? In 2014, as a retired home-builder, I decided to spend quality time with my three boys who live around the world, a 2 – 3 week opportunity in each of my boy’s homes to visit…and hike…and just be Dad and Grandpa. That experience led to my idea of getting all three of the boys together in one location so off we went to hike Glacier National Park. Before leaving for Montana, my sweet Jeri reminded me that, although I was creating wonderful father/son/grandson memories, it was all costing money. 2015 would have to see me going back to work. Yikes!
During the 24 hour flight layover in Atlanta after the Glacier NP holiday, the oldest son who lives in the UK asked if lunch could include a big, juicy burger…so off we went to The World’s Best Burger, just 2 blocks away in my Midtown Atlanta neighborhood. After the incredible burger, he asked what were we going to do next. “There’s this bourbon thing that you might get a kick out of” to which he broke out in a huge grin and replied, “Dad! You should do a Food Tour! It’s a no-brainer! You’ve already been on 15 or more Food Tours around the world and Midtown is restaurant heaven!” And from that September conversation, my first Tours occurred two months later! That has been followed by over 150 Tours sharing food, booze, and fun with 800+ guests!
Why sign up for a Food Tour? The real question is “What is a Food Tour? Of those 800 guests at least 80% had never been on a food tour (!) with many of those having no idea what they were getting into! (The short answer – A Food Tour is typically a walking, tasting adventure that has a bit of history woven into the outing but focuses on sampling food in a number of restaurants.)
But…why do a Food Tour? The best answer is two-fold. One, you get a taste of that neighborhood’s (and even region’s) dining options that should include several local specialties. This is a fabulous way to “try out” some restaurants that you might not have considered in your travel plans…but now will definitely return to. Secondly, you will be with a local for 3 – 4 hours and he/she is often a font of information as to other restaurants, shopping, great day trips, etc. All you have to do is ask and soon you’ll feel much better about where your travel dollars can be spent best.
Finally, if at all possible, ALWAYS take a Food Tour the first day in your visit!! You have the opportunity to learn a ton about the city you’re in…and why learn all this with only one day left in your holiday??
How do you find a Food Tour? When traveling, I’m a huge fan of TripAdvisor. Just google “TripAdvisor/Atlanta” (or wherever!) and then type in “Food Tours”. Large cities around the world will have several to choose from…so now what to do? Read at least 5 – 10 reviews as a pattern will start to unfold of the “Why” the reviewer had a terrific time. While reading the reviews the tour guide’s name should show up in almost all of the writings…which is extremely important. Remember…you are about to spend 3 – 4 hours with this person which makes your guide a huge part of your day!!
Trust your Trip Advisor reviewers as they tend to be more objective, better traveled, and certainly thoughtful. If there isn’t a Food Tour that looks attractive, an excellent plan “B” is a Cooking Class, particularly when in Europe or Asia as you’ll start the Tour in a local market. Imagine being in a Rome food market with a chef, everyone hollering in Italian, you having the time of your life!
Thank You John – I had an amazing time – it was a great introduction to food tours and Atlanta. If you happen to be anywhere near Atlanta, check out John’s website http://peachtreefoodtours.com/about/ and book one. Check back this week for more on Atlanta and my experience on the Peachtree Food Tour.