Give the Gift of Food Tours This Holiday Season

By Rebecca Sodergren, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

For the foodie on your Christmas list this year, steer away from cookbooks and kitchen gadgets and instead give the gift of an authentic Pittsburgh food experience.

Several local companies offer food tours highlighting various neighborhoods or ethnic groups in Pittsburgh.

Food Guy Adventures

Newer to the scene is Cory Van Horn’s “Food Guy Adventures.”

Mr. Van Horn, a Michigan native, earned his master’s degree in food studies from Chatham University in 2012 and has settled in Pittsburgh. He developed the business plan for his tours as a graduate school project, but then he “put the plan away in a drawer and got a real job,” he said, laughing.

He still has the “real job,” too, working for an international travel company. “By day, I deal with international travel, and by night, I deal with Pittsburgh,” he said.

This year was his first in the food tour business. Because he lives in Lawrenceville, he said it made sense that he opened with a tour of his own neighborhood. The “Explore Upper Lawrenceville” walking tour featured seven tastings along Butler Street on Saturday afternoons this year.

Mr. Van Horn’s tours are on hiatus until spring and he will use the time to plan three additional tour routes: “Savor, Sip and Shop Central Lawrenceville,” “Strip District Brunch Tour” and “A Taste of Market Square.” He limits his tours to small groups — usually four to six participants, and never more than 12 — as a way to keep the atmosphere intimate as well as to avoid overwhelming the vendors along the route. He said he likes the walking tour format because “you’re seeing the neighborhood from that angle as opposed to from the windows of a motorcoach.”

Gift certificates can be purchased on foodguyadventures.com, and the recipient will receive a code that can be used to book any tour. All tours cost $45 except the Strip District Brunch Tour, which is $65.

Food tours are a natural way for a tourist — or even a lifelong Pittsburgher — to experience the city, Mr. Van Horn said.

“The way you interact and connect with a destination is almost always rooted in food.”

Read the complete Pittsburgh Food Tour article over at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.