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Thursday, July 22,2010

Local Table Tours

A walking, culinary novelty

By Heather May Koski

Perhaps you just moved to Boulder for a job opportunity or to attend school at the University of Colorado or Naropa University. Or perhaps you’re a Boulder native and know the town and its charm like the back of your hand. You’ll soon discover, if you haven’t already, the bounty of great eateries in town. One way to enjoy Boulder’s renowned cuisine scene at its best might be with Local Table Tours.

A business founded by Megan Bucholz and Julie Read, Local Table Tours developed over a simple conversation about the growing tourism niche of food tours. Bucholz and Read met at CU while pursuing their master’s degrees and quickly discovered their shared interest in food and travel. Local Table Tours offers different culinary walks through downtown Boulder that feature fresh, local food at selected restaurants.

“Cofounding foodie” Bucholz says that Local Table Tours’ primary goal is to help locals and visitors have a memorable cuisine experience in Boulder. Opening only two months ago, Local Table Tours is already a growing business with a popular demand. Currently offering two tours, the Market to Table Tour and the Downtown Tour, Bucholz says additional tours are in the works.

“The ideal situation would be to eventually have a West End Tour, an East End Tour and a Dessert Tour,” Bucholz says.

The tours are strategically planned on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday afternoons because according to Bucholz, most chefs don’t work on Sundays and Mondays.

The Market to Table Tour on Wednesday afternoons occurs simultaneously and appropriately with the Boulder County Farmers’ Market on 13th Street.

“The Market to Table Tour tries to link locally grown food with restaurants that use that food to create signature dishes. We live in such a great place for locally grown food,” Bucholz says.

Both the Market to Table Tour and the Downtown Tour feature a sampling of different foods with complimentary alcohol pairings. Bucholz says there is a non-alcoholic option with each tour too. Restaurants like Q’s, Aji, Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant and Salt often change their dishes for every tour.

“One consistency of tour tastings is at Salt, where they always serve signature fries with homemade ketchup. They’re proud of their ketchup,” Bucholz says. Beyond wanting to create a memorable cuisine experience for tour participants, Bucholz says the business strives to support local restaurants.

“A lot of tourists like the Market Tour because they see the food and often meet the people who grew and harvested it before they eat it,” Bucholz says.

Most restaurants offer tour participants an incentive to return within two days for a discounted meal, appetizer or drink special.

An appealing tour draw for international visitors is that Bucholz and Read offer the tours in a variety of languages, including Spanish, French, German and Japanese. Private tours and group cooking classes are also available upon request. Between $50-65 per person, the tour features ample food and beverage samples for a duration of about two hours.

According to Heidi Vair, a Berthoud resident and recent Downtown Tour participant, the tour prices are well worth every last cent.

“You see a wide array of food at each place, and you’re stuffed afterward because you get a small portion at each place. The price that you pay is an amazing deal,” Vair says.

Vair’s tour in early June stopped at Salt, Tee & Cakes and The Blending Cellar.

“I am a huge wine consumer,” Vair says. “I work at a wine cellar, and I learned more about wine on that tour than I have in my entire experience. Everybody was so excited about their product and presenting it.”

As Local Table Tours support local restaurants, Vair points out how the restaurants support the new business.

“The restaurant community is getting Local Table Tours known. The waiters are so enthusiastic and passionate about explaining the wine and food. The pride that the vendors have was incredible,” Vair says.

Vair says Local Table Tours are an ideal experience for those who perhaps work in Boulder but live in surrounding towns because tour participants get a little bit of everything.

“The fun part about it is that it’s so untraditional. You just came in, they had everything ready it for you, you sit, you taste and you leave. It was great,” Vair says.

Local Table Tours doesn’t currently advertise beyond its website and brochures placed around kiosks on Pearl Street. Bucholz says the business has been fairly successful through word of mouth so far. Vair can agree with that statement.

“I tell all my friends and family about the tours because I enjoyed my experience so much. I’ve also been back to a couple of the featured restaurants a few times,” Vair says.

Visit localtabletours.com for reservations, blogs and more information.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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