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Vancouver for Foodies

April 25, 2012 By: Deanna Ting Travel Agent



Vancouver’s Historic Gastown
Vancouver’s historic Gastown district teems with restaurants and brewpubs.

Vancouver, B.C., may be best known for the 2010 Winter Olympics, but it also plays host to a multitude of flavors and cuisines on a global scale. From authentic Cantonese cuisine to the most delectable Pacific Northwest fare, this multicultural city has it all when it comes to delicious eats. Figuring out what or where to eat, however, can be a daunting task. That’s where two Vancouver-based tour operators—Vancouver Food Tour and Edible Canada—come in.

“I like to take the guesswork out of it for travelers,” Melody Fury, founder of Vancouver Food Tour, tells Travel Agent. “When I’m traveling and looking for places to eat, the worst thing is when I get pulled into a tourist trap. I want to eliminate that for people, and I want to eliminate any stress involved.”

As culinary tourism continues to grow in demand and interest, more and more travelers are starting to discover the pleasures of not only eating out while they travel, but also learning more about what they’re eating and where it’s from. Tours operated by Edible Canada and Vancouver Food Tour do just that.

“We like to think of it as sightseeing for your taste buds,” says Donita Dyer, culinary tour manager for Edible Canada. “It’s not your typical tour; it gives people a good feel for the local culture and firsthand knowledge of their destination and what they’re eating while they’re here.”

Dyer’s and Fury’s food excursions aren’t just popular with fellow foodies, either. The tours, which generally range in length from two to four hours, have become a popular option for cruisers who come to Vancouver during the summer Alaska cruise season.

During a recent visit to Vancouver, we got a firsthand taste of these tours and they were as informative, interesting and, best of all, exceptionally filling as we’d hoped. Here’s a closer look:

Vancouver Food Tour

We met up with Fury and her guide, Nicole Coetzee, on a chilly night in the historic Gastown district, a downtown neighborhood brimming with some of the city’s newest and most sought-after restaurants, brewpubs and lounges. As we traveled from one gastro pub to another, I got a chance to learn more about Gastown district and the local food scene.

Coetzee, a bona fide beer nerd, possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of craft beers and, at each of our stops, she took the time to tell us all about the beers we were about to taste, and the foods that were specially paired with them. Pairings included a creamy lobster mac ‘n’ cheese with Red Racer IPA from Surrey, B.C.-based Central City Brewing, and a satisfying panko-breaded Scotch egg with pale ale from Bend, Oregon-based Deschutes Brewery.


Mark Mercier
Granville Island Tea Company owner Mark Mercier was more than happy to share his veritable knowledge on teas with our group.


Exploring Gastown with Coetzee and Fury felt like being taken around the city by two good friends, albeit ones with exceptional tastes and palates. When Fury isn’t busy running Vancouver Food Tour, she works as an award-winning professional food journalist and blogger. When numerous pals kept asking her for her personal foodie recommendations in Vancouver, she was inspired to start Vancouver Food Tour in the summer of 2010. Her passion for food and drink, combined with Coetzee’s, made it easy for us to place our trust in their recommendations. “Most of the places on our tour,” said Coetzee, “are places where we’d normally hang out.”


Jessica Knight
Edible Canada Chef Jessica Knight conducts tours of Vancouver’s Granville Island Public Market.


Developing an intimate and non-touristy atmosphere is something Fury strives to achieve on each of her small-group walking tours. “We want it to be a personal experience,” she says. Most tours average six to eight clients, while private tours can accommodate up to 14. Unlike other Vancouver food tours, her tours are usually set at night, allowing clients to experience the local food scene in full swing. There are a variety of tours to choose from, including a Modern-Chic Chinatown Tour and a Salt Spring Island Food Tour. All are commissionable to travel agents at negotiable rates, and prices range from $80 CAD for the Gastown Craft Beer ‘n’ Bites Tour to $390 CAD for the Salt Spring Island Food Tour that includes a roundtrip flight to the island from Vancouver. Agents should reach out to Fury ([email protected]) directly with any queries.


Vancouver Food Tour
Vancouver Food Tour’s Craft Beer ‘n’ Bites tour includes an array of delicious food tastings.


Edible Canada

Edible Canada is a one-stop shop for all things culinary in B.C. It operates a bustling retail store and bistro in the heart of Vancouver’s Granville Island, just across the street from the famous Granville Public Market, which sees more than 12.2 million visitors per year. We met with Donna Dyer and pastry chef Jessica Knight at their headquarters, Edible Canada at the Market, to begin my morning Granville Island Market Tour ($35 CAD per person).

From the start, chef Knight, a Vancouver native and professional chef for the past 15 years, eased all of us into our tour, telling us what we could expect to see, smell and taste on our two-hour tour. Edible Canada, like Vancouver Food Tour, limits the number of people per tour; only a maximum of eight clients is allowed per tour.

During our tour, Knight told us, we would visit and sample foods and beverages from 12 different vendors throughout the covered public market. We couldn’t wait to get started. Our favorite stops included a visit to Benton Brothers, a fairly new installment where we sampled a creamy Swiss-style Nostrala cheese from B.C., as well as Oyama Sausage Company, where we nibbled on local prosciutto, speck and a Czech beer sausage. The most enlightening stop, however, took place at the Granville Island Tea Company, where owner Mark Mercier gave us a comprehensive introduction to tea. He even gave us the scoop, quite literally, on his secret masala chai mixture, a savory sweet mix of milk, spices and butter.


Vancouver Food Tour
Vancouver Food Tour’s Craft Beer ‘n’ Bites tour includes an array of delicious food tastings.


By the end of our tour we were stuffed, quite literally, and eager to try out the recipes I’d been given as part of the tour. As chef Knight wrapped things up, she brought us to the demo kitchen space co-located in Edible Canada’s busy bistro, where the company also hosts special chef dinners.

Edible Canada also offers commissionable tours of Chinatown, $65 CAD with dim sum and $40 CAD without. In the summer, clients can indulge in a three-day Gourmet Kayaking Weekend to the Gulf Islands with special chef and kayak guides for $750 CAD per person. Agents are advised to call Edible Canada directly at 604-558-0040 to book tours.

Whether your clients have a few hours or weeks to spend in Vancouver, we can tell you from personal experience that it’s worth taking the time out to savor the city’s best eats, and even more so with help from Vancouver Food Tour and Edible Canada.


Vancouver Food Tour
Vancouver Food Tour’s Craft Beer ‘n’ Bites tour includes an array of delicious food tastings.


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About the Author

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By Deanna Ting | April 25, 2012
Savvy operators offer expertise on the city’s many flavors and cuisines.