Cuisine has been an important part of all civilisations throughout history, so eating local foods is one of the best ways to get to know a new city, country or culture. Traveling Spoon aims to help travellers out of the well-worn, commercialised and often contrived rut of tourist traps, and into the homes and kitchens of hosts around the world.
There are three variations to Traveling Spoon’s offered connections. The first is an in-home meal experience that lasts from one-and-a-half to two hours, and focuses on sharing a meal with hosts in a local home.
Second are cooking experiences, which last between three and four hours, and get deeper into the understanding of a culture that can be formed through food.
Finally, experiences that include market tours can last about five hours or more, and usually include all of the above options.
Traveling Spoon currently operates with vetted hosts in 14 countries, each world-renowned for something delicious: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.
Furthermore, there is an in-depth screening process from start to finish – all hosts are vetted and become a part of the Traveling Spoon community, instead of being just another travel platform account number.
Aashi Vel and Steph Lawrence are the founders of Traveling Spoon, and their success is attributable as much to their business experience as to their personal passions for all things food.
The duo met at the Haas School of Business in 2011, and have since built their own business out of their commitment to authentic travel experiences. Tourist trap stories led to the development of Traveling Spoon, after Vel (in Mexico) and Lawrence (in China) experienced travel that was blinded by a tourist’s visor.
As we become more and more accustomed to sourcing reviews and important details from online resources, authenticity can fall by the wayside. Especially in countries where Internet access is either new, limited or monitored, Yelp reviews aren’t exactly easy to come by – and oftentimes when they are, travellers find themselves spending their time far away from the local lifestyle they sought.
Some travellers might argue that to conquer this problem, one must venture outside the safety of the tour buses and the westernised malls with food courts and luxury hotels. With that said, traipsing through foreign territory as a doe-eyed tourist can be intimidating and sometimes even dangerous.
The meaningful experiences these travellers seek can now be shared in the homes of locals who are eager to impart their cultural and traditional knowledge.
And isn’t that what travel is all about?