Three weekends ago I put on my fancy academic pants, and attended the first ever Taste Trekkers conference in Providence, Rhode Island. Taste Trekkers is an organization and conference focused on the culinary tourism industry as well as enthusiasts. It pretty much rocks.
What is culinary tourism? There are several definitions and interpretations, but a willingness to learn and experience new things through food is the essential component of culinary tourism. Taste Trekkers provides these tourists with a unique opportunity to interact directly with vendors through hosted seminars.
The conference was divided into three one hour seminar blocks. Four topic options were given for each one hour block and attendees submitted their requests one week prior to the conference. I lucked out, and managed to get into my top three choices: Lamb Butchering, New England Rum, and Vermont Ice Cider! Other session options ranged from Peruvian Ceviche to Madagascar Chocolate. The seminars were very informative, discussing the challenges that vendors face while catering to the tourism industry, and highlighting the importance of supporting small, local operations. Fun demonstrations and delicious product samples were also included!
Following the sessions, participants hit up the Tasting Pavilion! Local culinary businesses and session leaders manned booths, distributing samples and answering consumer questions. The pavilion was a fantastic introduction to the Providence culinary scene, showcasing local restaurants, markets, and breweries. I’d never heard of companies like Foolproof Brewing, despite living only 50 miles away! Discoveries like this really highlight the versatility of culinary tourism. You don’t need to travel hundreds of miles to be a culinary tourist. You can find exciting new food experiences right in your own backyard!
Taste Trekkers was a great experience that provided tons of information on resources available to culinary tourists, while introducing them to an industry perspective. The conference was also an excellent opportunity for networking and highlighted interesting topics like tourism strategies, benefits, and emerging trends. Most importantly, Taste Trekkers was a fun weekend adventure and a great way to meet other people with the same interests!