Many visitors may come to Vancouver for its West Coast charms of the ocean and mountains. They’ll also find a vibrant food scene, influenced by cultures around the world. Canadian Train Vacations spoke to Michelle Ng, president and founder of Vancouver Foodie Tours (1), about the ways that food can enhance your trip.

Michelle Ng, wonder of Vancouver Foodie Tours, leading a tour.

Michelle Ng, president and founder of Vancouver Foodie Tours. 

How can a food tour add to someone's experience of a city?

Michelle Ng: Food and culture are great ways to get to know a place. I travel the world for food tours and really love how joining a food tour provides great context to a place and its people. A food tour provides more meaning beyond what you get just walking the streets or going to a restaurant.

It's really storytelling that creates a memorable experience and food tours offer that context. They provide connections to local stories that you wouldn't be able to get on your own as a visitor to a place. That's why, for me, tourism and food tours are so valuable. They're also a two in one: a city tour and a meal — one where you get to discover and try all sorts of different foods that you might not try on your own.

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Michelle Ng, owner of Vancouver Foodie Tours, leads a Gastown tour.

Michelle Ng leading a tour in Vancouver's Gastown neighbourhood. 

What can guest expert on a tour with Vancouver Foodie Tours?

Michelle Ng: We're all about bringing people from all over the world closer together and uncovering common ground. We believe people have more in common than what they might realize at first glance. Our hosts are good at drawing out the similarities and the commonalities between guests and making those connections. When you’re able to form those connections, you're able to really broaden your own perspectives. Whether it be learning about where someone else comes from, another guest sharing stories, or trying different foods that you wouldn’t order on your own.

There's also such great variety in the food we offer — ten to twenty food items — it wouldn't be feasible and practical to order it if you were on your own. Guests can expect to try a lot of different things and get a VIP experience. On all our tours, we skip the lineups. Everything is prepared and arranged in advance. When our guests arrive, they really feel like VIPs.

The tastings are presented with stories that are thoughtfully curated and shared in a way that brings people together and generates happiness.

How do you choose the vendors and food on the tour?

Michelle Ng: First and foremost, the quality of the food because I'm a foodie. The food has to be phenomenal. In addition to that, I’ve built all my tours thinking about what I would do if I had my food-loving family and friends coming to Vancouver. They would want to experience the best of the city — the tastings that best exemplify our community, our culture, our people. What are the places they must not miss? That's how I create all of our tours.

In addition to that, it's about the progression of the meal. It's really important when specific tastings are presented because that can really impact the guest experience. When tastings are arranged in the perfect order, it elevates and presents the food in the best possible light. And we never really stop improving on our tour experiences. We get lots of feedback on that. These are live experiences that we work on and improve on all the time.

A Vancouver Foodie Tour guide tells guests about a drink

A Vancouver Foodie Tour guide explains a drink to guests. 

What questions do you love getting from guests?

Michelle Ng: We'd love it whenever guests ask any questions because when they ask questions that means they're engaged and interested.  Vancouver has a lot to offer for those who are curious and excited to experience the city. If they want to learn with us and to experience the city with us, that's a beautiful thing.

Learn more about Vancouver: Best things to do in Vancouver

What is your favourite moment on a tour?

Michelle Ng: I mentioned to you how we are all about bringing people closer and uncovering common ground. Our experiences are built intentionally with that in mind. So, by the end of the tour, I really love it when guests become friends with each other. Sometimes they go on to do things together after the tour. That's really, I would say, one of the most beautiful things. When guests evolve — they have a greater appreciation of the place we've shown them and for the food artisans, and they’ve made newfound connections. They're just happier than when they first arrived for the tour.

As a foodie, do you have a special occasion restaurant in Vancouver that you can share with our guests?

Michelle Ng: We're so lucky to have so many great restaurants in Vancouver but I’ll name two. Boulevard Kitchen Oyster Bar (2) is a great place for seafood. I love their seafood tower, and their hamachi crudo and their seafood boil events. Gotham (3) is a really great steakhouse, with cheese toast and salads. There are many great special occasion restaurants in this city.

Feeling inspired to visit Vancouver and go on a foodie tour?  Many of our trips start or end in this beautiful West Coast city. Learn more about Vancouver train tours

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Athena McKenzie
An experienced lifestyle journalist, Athena is Fresh Tracks Canada's managing editor.