TASTE DeTOURS: Mapping Guelph’s Culinary Curiosities — #stepbitestep

a conversation between Lynn Broughton & Chris Tiessen

This article is set to be published in the upcoming joint publication of ‘Moving Business Forward’ & ‘col.lab.o.rate’ — the Guelph Chamber’s quarterly magazines. Due out in mere days.

It was as if a lightning bolt struck when Lynn Broughton was pitched the idea of training in culinary tourism. It undeniably represented a balance of all her interests — sharing a meal; cooking; storytelling; the notions of local, neighbourhoods, walkability, urbanism; literature and history. She was instantly hooked.

Taste deTours’ Lynn Broughton at Mijiidaa — a stop along the way

Gourmands. Chowhounds. Edible Adventurists. Gastro-nomads. They’ve been around for quite a few years now. The phenomenon of food porn is a cultural reality. Hosts of mobile users tweet, facebook, and instagram their meals — eager to share their experience of good taste and to promote best-loved plates and places.

‘This upsurge in foodie culture has given rise to an intensification of culinary tourism,’ remarks Lynn over bannok beignets at Miijidaa way back in September. ‘Travellers worldwide go on food-themed holidays seeking an authentic taste of place, believing the best route to experience a culture is through food and drink. Culinary tourism is a veritable economic development driver, and it doesn’t hurt local food sustainability either.’

But would such a thing fly in Guelph? Unlike Chicago, Toronto or Vancouver, where tours are run on the hour, we’re a mid-sized city. Is there an audience to sustain such a venture? From Lynn’s years working downtown she knows that the Royal City is brimming with world-class restaurants. As she notes:

‘We see more food and drink businesses emerging everyday. This much, at least, we’ve got deliciously covered. And our community has a connection to the land that surrounds us — and we witness people nurturing and elevating this connection every day.’

Lynn points to Guelph’s deeply-rooted culinary heritage that’s undergoing a renaissance of sorts with organizations like Taste Real, local food-themed events, 100 mile diets, the food truck craze, conversations and action around food security, farm-to-table culture, community-shared agriculture, (micro)-breweries, wineries and now distilleries. Not to mention that most, if not all, local festivals integrate local food as an integral component of programming.

And there’s an emergent critical mass of folks eager to spend dollars at these culinary destinations too.

Lynn points to the thousands moving into the core, for instance. Not to mention Guelph’s seeming eternally-visiting conference participants. And its festival goers. Its university students and their parents. All ready (and most eager) to be immersed in the cultural and culinary fabric of our city by grabbing hold of their imaginations and their appetites. People want to go where the locals go while locals love to be tourists in their own town, too.

And so Taste deTours (tastedetours.ca) was born. Lynn’s freshly-baked business, Taste deTours is Guelph’s very own homegrown culinary tourism business that offers guided culinary & cultural walking tours in downtown Guelph.

As Lynn notes: ‘Taste deTours is about highlighting Guelph’s history by mapping its downtown — literally and figuratively — step by step from one mouth-watering establishment to the next. Our history is at our feet and in our buildings and in our food. We have gorgeous architecture and a rich cultural fabric. We have heritage tales to tell. And we have pubs, cafes, bakeries and restaurants to help tell Guelph’s story and fulfill us — and our stomachs.’
Vignettes from a recent Taste deTours ‘To The Core’ downtown culinary tour
She continues: ‘With our To The Core Food Tour currently running, we’re setting our sights on numerous themed tours both within the downtown core as well as further abroad in our community’s rich and diverse Wards. We are looking to join in creative, collaborative efforts with other organizations — eateries, breweries, farms. We don’t have to be defined by the formulaic tours of other, larger cities. Our imagination is as broad as Guelph is unique. And the tasty possibilities are limitless.’

One tour at a time. #stepbitestep