Posted on Jun 22, 2018

How Many Chefs Does It Take To Make A Food Tour?

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Like soup on a slow simmer or wine in barrels aging, a food tour starts long before you walk through the door and say “hello”. Food tours can be found in over 200 cities in the U.S., last around three hours and can be complex for many reasons, first and foremost because they involve, well….. food. Small plates served shortly after the group is seated at multiple restaurant stops takes coordination, planning, and timing. And many people. Aside from chefs preparing awesome plates of yumminess, there are so many other people who make a food tour what it is. The restaurant host/hostess who takes the reservation and makes sure there is a place set aside for us. The staff who set up our spot the day we arrive. The manager or owner who visits the table during a busy night to greet our group. The chef, who not only prepares and plates the food, but often emerges from the kitchen to greet visitors with a smile, tells them about the dish and answers questions. Then there’s the wait staff who refill water glasses and take drink orders. And finally the someone or someones who whisk away our dirty dishes...

Posted on Jun 15, 2016

Stumped. And By A Simple Out-Of-The-Blue Question

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At step 93 I saw them. A family of three, dressed in casual attire, taking photos, looking around. Clearly not here for a workout. The steps I was climbing, known locally as The World’s Largest Outdoor Stair Master, the McKinley Monument steps, 4 tiers of 24, can put an amazing amount of hurt on your buns, thighs and calves. Peering over that last set to flat ground (yay), my gaze caught white tennis shoes, plaid shirt, and slow casual gate. Visitors. At first I ignored them. Completely out of breath and sweating profusely is no way to begin a conversation.  Maybe they’ll be gone, I thought, when I round the Monument.  But there they were, still in sight, the younger boy and older man had walked halfway down the steps to read the statue’s text.  Actually interested in the history of the place? I couldn’t resist. I approached the woman slowly, acting like I was adjusting my headphones, and asked, “Is this your first time here?” She smiled and said, “No, not for us, but for him”, and she pointed to the younger boy (20-something). “He’s a McKinley, he lives in Wheeling.  This is his first time here and...

Posted on Apr 29, 2014

The Farmer and The Businessman: A Study In Opposites

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On a drizzly grey morning we pulled into Mud Run Farm. Sarah and I were developing a series of Farm-To-Table tours that focus on local farmers and restaurants that use in-season local foods. Later that day we had a meeting scheduled with Ken Bogucki, Proprietor and Executive Chef of The Wooster Inn. We continued up the hill to a small brick farmhouse, popped the trunk and traded “regular” shoes for boots.  We figured the farm had the word mud in its title for a reason. At the front door we were greeted with a hurried Alex who was in deep conversation on the phone. He gestured that he would be out in a minute.  We said, “no problem!” and plopped down on the stoop. Here we took the beautiful view of the farm and small valley below us.  The morning sun popped through the clouds and lit up the pond. Farm equipment, outbuildings and black squares of recently tilled soil spilled across the hills before us. Birds chirped and frogs sang. We certainly didn’t mind waiting here. Alex stepped out and apologized for being on the phone. The conversation was about purchasing chickens, and it didn’t end well.  “He...

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