Why food tours are an awesome example of getting outside the world you live in

Many many many moons ago, when the idea of My Local World was brewing in my head and I had no idea where it would go or what I would do, I looked for ways to spend my free time discovering Sydney like I was travelling the world.  What I love about international travel – aside from getting on the plane and going as far far away from your day to day life as possible – was that it was a chance to explore another culture, tap into another person’s heritage, live another existence, even if if you just experience the surface of it.  It helped bring me closer to other ways of thinking, helped me understand people better, and gave me an appreciation for what I do have at home.

And, while overseas jaunts were great, they weren’t always possible.  By my own reasoning, my main justification for international travel – to explore – was still driving me forward.  Just because I couldn’t afford a plane ticket to the other side of the world every 2 months didn’t mean I had to sit on my ass every weekend and zone out to whatever shit they were playing on the E! channel.  I had enough insight into the local world around me, and enough love for my city of Sydney to know that nope, I didn’t have to go to exotic places to get a taste of something different.

Besides, as anyone with half a brain will tell you, food can be the entry point into another culture.

Taste Cultural Food Tours

What I found in my “local travels” was The Benevolent Society’s Taste Food Tours, which is now known as Taste Cultural Food Tours and run as an independent social enterprise.

I’ve been on a few food tours with them, and I even wrote about my experience for a review.  I have always admired the organisation’s way of bringing people together, through food, as well as by knocking down the barriers we as Sydneysiders place around our beloved postcodes (and let me tell you something, as someone who grew up in Western Suburbs who now lives on the Northern Beaches by way of the Eastern Suburbs and Inner West, I can tell you a lot about postcode tribalism!).  It was an enterprise I supported, and still support, basically.

Here’s a rough idea of what Taste Cultural Food Tours has achieved in the past as Taste Food Tours, and why it’s important to support initiatives like this:

  • They’ve played a role in raising the profile of Western Sydney towns, with some now being considered positively as food destinations
  • They’re shifted perceptions of culture and place through ongoing local and metropolitan media coverage (this one I love)
  • They’re trained 45 western and South‐western Sydney residents as tour guides, completing a specially designed TAFE certificate, and learning public speaking, group facilitation, research, admin and more (this won’t be the same for all food tours, but is an example of the flow-on effect of initiatives like this)

“Working for Taste has had a big impact on me personally and professionally. At first I was really shy, I hadn’t been working for ten years while I looked after my four childen. The TAFE training gave me skills and confidence. It showed us how to talk to tour visitors, as well as learning about different foods and herbs. There are so many opportunities open to me now.” said Taste Tour Guide, Sahar Elsemary.

A rice paper roll I made during one of my Taste Food Tours.

A rice paper roll I made during one of my Taste Food Tours.

As CEO of The Benevolent Society, Joanne Toohey, says, “This was an initiative which had its roots in the community in Bankstown. Locals told us they wanted the area to be known for its strengths rather than its difficulties; and they had a hunch that sharing the rich culinary traditions of the area was a surefire way to cut through the stigma.

“It turns out they were right. Since it began almost five years ago, Taste Food Tours has grown from strength to strength in the communities of South West and Western Sydney.

“Having given Taste its wings, we’re happy to see it leave the nest and become a fully‐fledged community owned business in its own right,”

Lesley Unsworth, Taste Food Tours Manager also says, “We want people to know that we’re raring to go and anyone who books a Taste Cultural Food Tour, or buys a gift voucher before 26 July will get a 20 percent discount on all tours from August 2015 until June 2016.

Here’s a few of their current tours you can book by jumping online at http://bit.ly/TasteToursBooking:

  • Global Explorer – Fairfield
  • Beirut, Bangladesh & Beyond – Lakemba
  • Enthaicing Thai (love that name lol) – Haymarket
  • Babylonian Delights – Fairfield
  • Cabramatta Delights – Cabramatta
  • Arabic Adventure – Greenacre

So aside from getting outside the world you live in by tasting food from around the world, you’re basically going to suburbs and places in Sydney you probably have never been before.



Note: I’ve also done a fantastic food tour with Feasting in the Knowand while it’s a much smaller enterprise than Taste Cultural Food Tours, it’s just as good and Wee Lynn is the most generous, intelligent and enthusiastic foodie you will ever meet.  I’m in the process of working on a blog post to highlight my time with her! 
Our starting off point for our Feasting in the Know excursion through Flemington.

Our starting off point for our Feasting in the Know excursion through Flemington.


  1. Lesley Unsworth says:

    Wee Lyn was trained by Taste Tours. Her success is another measure of the work that Taste Tours does

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