TASTE Cultural Food Tours are more than just foodie tours that send you home with a full tummy.
It’s a social enterprise program that provides tour guide training for newly arrived migrants, refugees and young people. The new trainees may not speak much English when they first arrive but a love of food and cooking is the common binding ingredient.
After all, who better to explain the new and different foods we find in restaurants today than those who understand it best.
Patrick, our guide on a Chinatown food tour in Sydney’s Haymarket, is multi-lingual, with a proud mixed heritage – “Think of me as an ethnic hot pot or an Asian stir fry”.
There’s little he doesn’t know about Asian food, its ingredients and the best places to sample all manner of fare.
For the next three hours he leads us on a six-course journey of discovery through Chinatown’s narrow streets.
This is not a gourmet food tour but it is all the better for not being one. Our small group samples only authentic food – the national, the traditional and the comfort food of a number of Asian nations.
We eat hot spicy dumplings, sit down to an authentic Chinese tea ceremony,
sample hot sweet emperor’s puffs from a hole in the wall and eat Thai gelato (who would have thought?).
Tours are also on offer in Sydney’s western suburbs where you can experience the food and culture from Iran, the Balkans, Middle East, India, Vietnam, Laos, South America and more, visiting eateries, supermarkets and other places of interest.
The Chinatown tour is $99, which includes more food than you can comfortably eat. All profits are invested into supporting new and young Australians, migrants and refugees into their chosen career paths.
The new arrivals are offered training and employment as tour guides in their local area and culture, and often go on to other jobs.
* Sue Preston was a guest of Taste Cultural Tours.