When you say you are the Director of Operations at a Food Tour company, people usually say ‘you must have a glamorous life!’ Well, I didn’t dream of a career in the food industry. I spent many years as an executive assistant working at a tour management company. That is, until I had a life crisis of major proportions.
Finding my then day-to-day job expendable due to the economy I dove head first into working full time as the Director of Operations for About Town Taste adventures. A company that offers walking food & culture tours, in and around Fresno/Clovis.
Supervising the tour guides and maintaining relationships with the staff of the restaurants and other shops in the four local neighborhoods that About Town Taste highlights, I walk the streets of the city to find the best food and the most interesting off-the-beaten path sites in order to create new (or enhance current) Food Tours.
Follow the two part diary to learn about the behind-the-scenes planning, and mishaps, that happen during the tasty adventures of About Town Taste.
Monday- Date Dilemmas
7:00am, 7:15am, 7:30am: Snooze, Snooze, Snooze. I love the morning. But don’t tell that to my night-owl alter ego. She’s devilish.
8:45am: I walk from a small apartment to the office. It’s two blocks. Tough commute.
9:00am: At the office, I’ve got several hours ahead of computer and coffee. Our office coffee is not the most palate pleasing coffee in town and certainly not as good as café Corazon (on the Tower tour) or Fresno Brewing Co (on the Urban Taste tour.) I have a Monday morning meeting with my boss and the owner of About Town Taste. Then I read reviews from this weekend’s tours and check Facebook for any new photo contest submissions. I’m knee-deep in edits for our website. The home page is done and now I’m editing About Us, Contact Us & the FAQs page. Looking spiffy!
I create a few contracts for some upcoming private tours: One for a corporate team-building event and the other for a group of high school students. Then I get hit with a cookie emergency. A few last-minute tickets just sold on our Urban Taste tour and I need to call Frosted Cakery and a few other shops to update them. Is it terrible that I know the phone number by heart? Dangerous digits.
Noonish: I just got a call from Gina, who is one-half of (some say the better half) George’s Shish Kebab, a restaurant on our Urban Taste adventure. We have a tour on the street already set to arrive at George’s in 25 minutes. But the food delivery did not arrive today. Translation: we can’t serve (our usual tasting) of the decadent bacon-wrapped date stuffed with Gorgonzola as part of our sampler and some of my tour guides may have already began bragging about that delicious date. We select the ever-reliable eggplant rollatine as the substitute and hope it is equally as edible. We scramble to alert the tour guides. And thankfully, those 15 foodie folks on the tours are none the wiser. To them, it looks seamless — as it should.
2:00pm: I receive an email inquiry from a customer about some severe food sensitivities: He is a gluten intolerant vegetarian who is allergic to mushrooms and tomatoes. This will take some maneuvering since our Urban Taste adventure is like a trip around the world only on a plate… But my business philosophy is that the answer is always, “Yes we can.” I hope he likes artichokes!
Shortly before the dinner hour: It’s my time to hit the streets for some restaurant relations: I stop in to ENZO, our local family owned olive oil artisan, to pick up a few bottles of extra virgin olive oil to pass along to my tour guides. The more the tour guides taste, the more they can talk about their favorite items on the tours. I love force feeding friends small spoonfuls of this stuff and watching their astonishment at how it tastes.
– I make sure to visit with Gina at George’s to find out how the eggplant rollatine tasting went today and check in with Chef Maribel at Joe’s Steakhouse. Chef and I chat about the local food scene. I tell her all about a porchetta sandwich I tasted, which blew me away. Ten times better than the one I tasted from a food truck in Umbria, Italy, the home of porchetta!
Dinnertime: I taste a small bite of zucchini pizza and equally small bite of the potato/rosemary pizza at Mattie’s Wood fire Pizza to taste-test this spot and choose between the two flavors. We have been tasting from Mattie’s on the tour for only a few months. We usually wait a while before introducing a new eatery to our tours — but the Italian charm won me over.
Dessert time: Quick stop to Frosted Cakery to pick up snacks for my tour guides. Their Dark Chocolate Toffee cupcake always do the trick. I meet my troops. We like to spread the Frosted love whenever we can.
9:30pm: Finally home. Emails back and forth with my tour guides.
Tuesday- Too much of a good thing
Just past 9AM: On my iMac, I’m a 10-windows-open-at-a-time multi-tasker. I’m always trying to fit too much in and end up overloaded. Spin. Crash. Reboot. Its seems our tours might be suffering the same sickness. In an attempt to fill three hours with multiple food tastings and a wealth of tasty historical tidbits, we may have overloaded our tour guides and asked them to engage in a challenging juggling act. An email comes in from one guide: It is becoming tough to fit the two-hour tour into two hours. I peruse the route sheet in an effort to figure out which architectural elements are must-mentions and which can be cut. I hope to have some inspiration from my architecture class later tonight.
Lunchtime but no lunch: All day I am editing the latest version of our On Location, the newsletter that all the tour attendees get with our favorite restaurant recommendations. I’m editing silly simple items like phone numbers, addresses, websites and food recommendations. This takes up a large portion of my day.
6:45pm: Off to class. I’m taking Architecture of CA: 17th century to Present Day. It can only help in tweaking our tours architectural component. Amazing session tonight. And I do indeed think I found a few topical tidbits for the tours that allow us to add some quick architectural references without sacrificing the tastings: How do I spot an original Federal style wooden door from the 1800’s, you ask? Why it has 8 panels! Let me show you one…
9:30pm: I ordered some Chinese food from my current local favorite: Tsing Tao on Willow
Wednesday – The best medicine
9am: The task for the day is to tackle the new website and bring us closer to our season launch date — which we are already two months behind…..