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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Spotlight

Food Tours

Catch Southern California's latest food craze: the food tour. From donuts to dal, see how Angelenos are broadening their food horizons together.

Are you in the mood for some food? Food tours have become a popular trend in Southern California cities, with tourists and locals flocking to join the food tour phenomenon sweeping the nation.

“Food is universal. Everybody likes it and you just have to be adventuresome sometimes. Go out of your comfort zone for food,” said Joy Slothower, a food tourist on the Los Angeles food excursion Six Taste Food Tours.

Diane and Lisa Scalia are food tour trailblazers here in Southern California. The couple started Melting Pot Food Tours to show tourists the diverse menu of ethnic and cultural delights.

“Our first tour was at the Farmers Market. We were really familiar with Farmers Market by then. It was like showing friends around since we take our friends here,” said Diane Scalia, Co-Founder of Melting Pot Food Tours.

Her sister, Lisa Scalia, is proprietor and co-founder of Melting Pot Food Tours. “It’s amazing how your mind and taste buds will expand,” she said.

Just ask food tourist Stacy Frank: “I am a picky eater and I don’t eat donuts at all but that apple fritter donut is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten,” said Frank.

The Scalia sisters started their trend in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas, attracting other food tour companies to enter the area. Tourists and locals alike can now take tours in Santa Monica, Pasadena, Downtown L.A., Little Tokyo and even Thai Town.

Everyone becomes their own the food critic on the tour—even with a donut.

“I haven’t met a donut didn’t enjoy. So these were on the top,” said Norman Frank, a food tourist with Melting Pot Food Tours.

Amy Plaskota was enthusiastic throughout the Melting Pot Food Tour excursion. “Mmm, I love it,” she said, when trying a bit of something to eat at an Indian restaurant on Third Street, a few blocks from the Grove.

“It’s the chocolate and it’s just got a really creamy filling in the middle. It’s fantastic,” said Frank, referring to a macaroon at another stop on the tour.

Food tours can cost upwards of $60 per participant. So why pay someone to show you a restaurant you could just find yourself?

“You can Yelp things and you can learn about stuff but knowing about things is different. This way, you really get your hands into it,” said Dr. Barry Frank, another Melting Pot food tourist.

“If you were to come here normally, you would just go to one restaurant. You couldn’t really restaurant hop,” said Nicole Su, a food tourist with Six Taste Food Tours. Su likened the experience to bar hopping.

As they say, the quickest way to one’s heart is through their stomach. But for one couple, it was more than just their taste in food.

“My best memory which wasn’t on a tour but at the Farmer’s Market, which I just told you, was meeting my husband. Of course he wasn’t my husband at the time. But we met here and we have a beautiful marriage and I’m really happy,” said Kendall Tuchkova, a tour guide with Melting Pot Food Tours.

And that’s one order ready for pick up.

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