Sharing the love of Cambridge and its food
Wow! Where has the time gone… I can’t believe I have been eating my way around with fellow foodies. It’s been a fun 12 years, and the food scene is booming, so I will keep going!
Mapping out my holidays
Mapping out our holiday or city break is always one of my favourite things to do. I like to go off the beaten track, eat and drink at local independents and mingle with locals. I don’t like the main drags where most of the tourists hang out. Sometimes, you cannot avoid it, but it is only for a short time if I have to be there.
On top of my agenda is always food and drink. It has been one of my favourite things from a young age. Before I started the Cambridge Food Tour in 2011, I had never joined a food walking tour, but it is how I explore cities. Visiting interesting areas, gardens, and sometimes a museum and working my way around the local food scene. I am well-known for ‘my shortcuts’, which is to follow my eye and let’s see where we end up. It has taken us to some interesting places. Or some people might tell you, that we just get lost. Not a problem, as there is always a bar around for a nice glass of wine.
How did the idea come about
Thirteen years ago, I came across a food tour in Rome, started by Kenny from the USA. I loved the concept of his Eating Rome, one of Europe’s first food tours. I liked the idea, but the Cambridge food scene was nothing like Rome, so I dismissed the idea. My background is in the hospitality industry, travel and retail, and I have always worked in niche markets, so starting something new in Cambridge was in line with what I was used to.
Let’s go for it!
The idea of setting up a food tour business didn’t go away. I liked the idea, especially as I love introducing people to new flavours and experiences. Six months later, I started doing research and came across a food tour in Edinburgh and a few in London, which were run by well-known food personalities. However, these were private tours only and didn’t seem to run that often. Food Tours were always aimed at visitors/tourists to a destination, so local products had to be incorporated into my food tours.
How it all started
The Classic Cambridge Food Tour was the first tour which I created. Starting with a coffee and a sticky Chelsea bun at Fitzbilies was a must. Sharing, of course, as one fills you up for a couple of hours. The next stop was the fudge kitchen, followed by a tasting of pies and another snack at the Cambridge Cheese Company. Our sit-down stop was at the Free Press Pub for a drink and a Scotch egg, and to finish, we would go to Mill Road to the Cambridge Wine Merchants. They used to have a corner shop here with a cellar, which was perfect for our final tasting of 4 English distils and 4 English kinds of cheese. As mentioned earlier, I like to push the boundaries. This tasting certainly did this. We combined English Gin, Whisky, Cider Brandy and Pomona with delicious cheeses.
What happened next?
Within the first few months, I launched the Cambridge College Supper Club to enable people to dine at the colleges. In January 2012, I hosted a journalist from Delicious UK and created a bespoke food tour, including international businesses. She was blown away by the offering in Cambridge as many people were under the impression that Cambridge was just a clone city with only chain restaurants and shops.
This made me rethink my direction, and I introduced a shorter weekday tour, Lunch with the Cambridge Food Tour. It is still one of my popular tours, and I have made a few small changes by adding street food, a taster at Bread & Meat, a cheese tasting at the Cheese Company and finishing with a coffee and a cannoli at Modigliani on Mill Road. As this is a tiny cafe, we go to an alternative cafe for larger groups. On Saturdays, we like to celebrate and finish with a glass of Prosecco at one of our favourite haunts on Mill Road, Maurizio Dining & Co.
The Cambridge Food Tour was expanding
My initial idea was to keep it small and not hire any staff. Within the first year of trading, I needed an extra pair of hands to assist with a corporate food tour. My team soon grew to 5 freelance guides running many corporate tours, private tours and masterclasses. Gin and Craft beer became very popular, so I created two dedicated tours for this. The Artisan and Hidden Cambridge food tour were next. The Artisan included unique local produce, and with the Hidden Cambridge, I focus on businesses off the beaten track, even in the city centre, as many people walk past businesses and never go inside.
2020 was a year of reflection
All of a sudden, the world came to a halt in 2020 during the pandemic. Tours had to be cancelled and postponed, but people were still keen to join my food tours. Although there were fewer tours over the last 2 years, 2023 has seen a huge increase in tours. Corporate businesses are keen to host their clients and teams, and groups of friends want to celebrate their birthdays with something different rather than just going out for a drink and dinner.
The way forward
During the pandemic, I lost my guides as they either moved away or took on different jobs. So it is just me these days. I love what I do as it is not just about fantastic independents I want to share on my food tours, but Cambridge, too. Almost 95% of my guests are either locals (or semi-locals within an hour’s drive away from Cambridge) and corporate businesses. The other 5% are tourists. Sharing the ‘real’ Cambridge with my guests is very important for me. Many locals hardly go off the beaten track into small alleyways, Mill Road, or enjoy street food at the local market.
Running the food tours all by myself does mean that I cannot do as many tours anymore. So, there are no multiple tours on a day and fewer days. If you are looking to book a food tour and want to have a bespoke food tour, I recommend either booking early or contacting me well ahead of your preferred date to avoid disappointment.
Bespoke food tours
Keen to do something special with a group of friends or for your business? I can create a bespoke food tour for your party, building it around your favourite food and drink, day of the week, duration and dietary requirements. You can either give me a call or email me via the website.
A new tour is on the horizon
I am very excited that after two years of waiting, I am finally ready to launch a Wine Tour of Cambridge incorporating an urban winery, one of the top sommeliers in the country and a wine shop specialising in English wines. All tastings are exclusively created for the Cambridge Food Tour. Along the way, there will be delicious food to line the stomachs. In future, this tour will be run as a private tour only with a minimum of 6, but I will run a one-off wine tour next year for which you can buy tickets. Great as a Christmas present.
Keep an eye out on social media for announcements or sign up for the newsletter.
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