Finger Lakes Food Tours made its Canandaigua debut in June. It is owned and operated by Suzanne Wright, a Canandaigua local and hospitality entrepreneur, who discovered food tours during her own travels and decided it would be a great fit for the Finger Lakes region.
“I have a propensity for traveling and a passion for good food,” says Wright who attended food tours in Florida and in the Midwest. “You just can’t beat getting to know a city in a short amount of time by learning where to go and what to do”
A food tour is a professionally guided excursion with a pre-planned circuit of tasting stops. Tours are crafted to showcase delicious, locally sourced fare. Narratives along the way also provide cultural insight, historical perspective and a sense of place—that intangible combination of characteristics that make a community special or unique.
Finger Lakes Food Tours provides a leisurely three hour guided walking tour of several area restaurants and specialty shops in downtown Canandaigua. Guests will meet chefs, restaurant owners and shop proprietors, hear their backstories and sample “exceptionally good offerings,” says Wright who will expand her food tour locations to other Finger Lakes cities and towns in the future.
Wright seems ideally suited for this new venture. For years, she operated as the “Fun Getaway Gal”, a travel concierge offering customized New York State vacations with a special concentration on the Finger Lakes region. When the convenience of booking travel via the Internet began to cut into her business, Wright knew she would need to re-invent herself professionally. Opening a food tour company, a growing component of culinary tourism, seemed like a logical next step. To learn the business behind developing food tours, Wright trained intensively with Food Tour Pros in Chicago last fall.
A recent World Food Travel Association study revealed that about 30 percent of travelers choose destinations relating to local food and drink. About.com, an Internet-based network covering various subjects on its topic sites, estimates over 500 food tours are currently operating across the United States.
“Culinary tourism is a trend that is not going away, and especially here in the Finger Lakes, where we have a lot of long-established resources, from wine, beer and spirits to local foods, restaurants and farmers markets,” says Karen Miltner, the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection’s public relations manager. Food tours are great for groups, families, couples and solo travelers who may want some camaraderie on activities.
The Canandaigua tour leaves from Rio Tomatlan on Bemis Street every Friday and Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. — but not before guests get a chance to learn about and taste some delicious Latin-inspired cuisine. Rio Tomatlan has become a Canandaigua mainstay, well loved by locals.
Flavors, an intriguing new Indian restaurant on Lafayette Street, is another planned stop.
Wright welcomes both tourists and residents. “There is always something new to learn about a particular place — especially in your very own backyard,” she says.
One prominent local, Mayor Ellen Polimeni, plans on taking a tour. Polimeni thinks there are several components that make this an ideal venture for her beloved city. “The wine and beer walks, the local produce that many restaurants use, the culinary arts program at FLCC and the New York Wine & Culinary Center all speak to the fact that eating in Canandaigua is special with lots of variety and restaurateurs who enjoy serving quality foods.”
Finger Lakes Food Tours is a guided walking and tasting tour of Canandaigua restaurants and specialty shops.
Advance ticket purchase and registration is required. Visit flfoodtours or call 1-800-979-3370.
by Nancy E. McCarthy