I believe that great ideas are born when we get outside of our daily routine and follow our passion. For Steph Lawrence and Aashi Vel, that idea was to create Traveling Spoon, a new service that connects travelers with authentic and vetted homemade meal experiences in family’s homes around the world. One part culinary travel tour, another part tasting off the spoon of cultures and generations of people from around the world. Traveling Spoon makes finding authentic homemade meals and recipes around the world easier and is building a community of vetted hosts and matching them with fellow travelers like them that love to eat “off the eaten path.”
I remember fondly my first conversation with this dynamic duo. Both fresh out of the graduate program at Haas Business School at University of California, Berkeley, Steph and Aashi were featured travelers in AFAR magazine and are a high-energy team of women travel entrepreuners. The two met in 2011 over a shared love food and travel and are extremely well traveled. Both have lived and traveled all over the world, often as solo women travelers, on a personal mission to seek out the best and most authentic food experiences, especially across Asia. The challenge they discovered when traveling? Just how difficult it is to find a safe and authentic culinary travel experiences if you don’t have a lot of local knowledge, local contacts, or a lot of money to spend on high-end luxury tour experiences.
This is where Traveling Spoon comes in. Traveling Spoon makes having a meal in a local home abroad both safe and valuable for a broader set of travelers with diverse budgets with concierge-style service. All of Traveling Spoon’s hosts are vetted and extensively screened. The added benefit? Many of Traveling Spoon’s hosts are serving recipes that have been passed down through generations. This experience you just can’t get in a restaurant environment. Traveling Spoon is like having a friend’s mom cook you a home cooked meal in every country you visit.
How Traveling Spoon works
Traveling Spoon makes it easy and safe to find these authentic meals when you travel. It starts with a quick search on Traveling Spoon, look for the country and city you wish to visit, fill out the form and they will match you with a host and experience. You can choose from three different experiences; a home cooked meal, a home cooked meal and cooking class where you learn how to prepare the food, or an entire day experience where you spend the day immersing yourself in the local shopping, preparing and eating food together.”
Beyond the service, it is the stories of traveling and sharing a meal with these vetted Traveling Spoon hosts that tug at your heartstrings, your wanderlust and have your mouth watering. For example, together with her mother, Nid will teach you about the dishes of Northern Thailand she grew up with, as you sit on outdoor mats in an open-air kitchen and learn authentic Northern Thai cuisine prepared over traditional charcoal clay pot fires. Menu options include steamed fish in banana leaf, Nid’s fried chicken, grilled catfish and banana flower curry.
If you’ve had a long day and want to lift your spirits, share a food experience with Zoom in Hanoia, Vietnam. Zoom is a cheerful Hanoian full of life and positive energy and her best friend Hang’s mom. Together they show you their secrets of making sublime cha ca (grilled fish), delicious Hanoian spring rolls and salads including papaya, banana blossom, or green mango made with bright, aromatic, Vietnamese herbs.
Want more adventure? Traveling Spoon’s experience with Pranai begins with a camel safari around the village where his farm is located, a green oasis in the arid desert, an hour outside of Jaipur. After a visit to the village school “paathshaala,” return to dinner with a master of the grill who only ever grills his meat on a wood-fired barbeque. His Khad kharghosh (rabbit cooked under the earth) or Soolas (a traditional battlefield recipe of barbecued mutton, marinated overnight) will simply melt in the mouth.
Right now, Traveling Spoon is celebrating the launch of new cities with a referral program throughout the month of June. If you refer a friend to Traveling Spoon and they book an experience before June 30, 2014 (valid for travel after June), both of you get a free meal (valid for experiences up to $100 per person).
When you talk with Steph and Aashi, you can’t help but smile. It is clear that they love what they do, sharing the joy of their discoveries with others and have big plans for empowering travelers to experience authentic, homemade meals and recipes around the world and preserve local food traditions. In the process, they are helping share and storytell the history of culture traditions passed down through generations.
Disclosure: Anne was hired to do a marketing consulting project for Traveling Spoon on behalf of her consulting business, Anne Taylor Communications. I was not required to write this post or express any opinion as a part of this project. All opinions here are our own.