Food tourism is on the upward thrust. A 2016 World Food Travel Monitor survey found that almost two-thirds of respondents burdened the significance of meals and beverage reports while traveling, a widespread increase in the closing five years. In 2012, a University of Florida survey suggested 39 million United States enjoyment tourists selected a destination based totally on its culinary offerings, at the same time as another 35 million seek out culinary activities once a target has been chosen. Moreover, 3-fifths of leisure tourists say their interest extends beyond eating to truly mastering about foods and drinks, commonly as a manner to recognize the nearby way of life.
Back in 2011, American Kenny Dunn took a jump of religion in founding Eating Europe, a meals excursion service with a project to take guests on an exploration of hidden communities and colorful road life with nearby insiders. From its beginnings in Rome, Eating Europe has extended to become considered one of the biggest food tour operators in Europe, now in seven towns serving 50,000 human beings annually.
In the latest interview, Dunn opened up about Eating Europe’s beginnings, his passions, and his future in an enterprise of growing opposition.
How does a man from outside Philadelphia end up founding a meals excursion enterprise in Rome?
KD: Upon acquiring a Master’s Degree in International Development with a focus on sustainable agriculture, I moved to Rome with my wife and were given activity with the United Nations working within the place of meals security, sustainable agriculture, and starvation comfort. As my agreement ended, I determined running for a 12,000-man, or woman organization turned into no longer for me. On a brief go back to New York City, I stumbled upon Scott’s Pizza Tours in Greenwich Village. Having previously lived in this community, I became blown away by way of how much I learned about pizza and the region. It was any such a cool idea. I lower back to Rome to discover, remarkably, no person become doing a meals tour like this, at least now not within the identical way.
Your excursions provide an intimate experience of a neighborhood and its meals. How did you go from concept to execution?
KD: The idea percolated in my head for some time. It ticked a variety of packing containers for me—an opportunity to start a business, my passion for food, and my love of performance. Eventually, I prepare the first excursion, which becomes in my Roman neighborhood of Testaccio. It covered places that had been part of my day by day lifestyles, complemented with the aid of numerous studies into the records of the community. I started leading the tours with a group of ten to 12, allowing me to share first-rate stories of the human beings in my neighborhood pleasingly and educationally for a private institution. This tour stays one in every of our maximum famous and is a sentimental favored for me.
KD: A right excursion is made from dynamic places with fantastic records and food. The neighborhood and eating places are selected through our metropolis manager, someone obsessed with the meals tradition of their town. Eating Europe seeks to take individuals off the overwhelmed course. We pick out places seeking out the “Wow, I could have by no means determined this region by myself” experience. We are both introducing food or drink our customers aren’t going to find anywhere else, or we’re serving up one of the town’s iconic dishes and the location we’ve got taken them does it the best. We never need our customers having the same meal from considered one of our excursions some other place after the tour and the lunch being higher.
The publications are as tons part of the tour as the foods and drinks. How do you locate them and what abilities do you look for?
KD: The courses are decided on by using each town’s supervisor, mainly through referral and phrase of mouth. For example, we’ve got no longer advertised for publications in Prague in 3 years, but we add new courses every 12 months because the excursions hold growing.
We search for humans who have a few culinary connections—writers, cooks, gastronomical tiers, brewers, bartenders, even actors who love food—and are obsessed with their city. We rent city natives and ex-pats; each offers unique factors of view. Each manual should be a passionate story-teller.
How important are travel distribution platforms and other relationships in building Eating Europe’s customers?