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This week, we’re holding a competition to win two places of our ‘Taste of Chinatown’ tour, that’s run by Lesley from Taste Tours (check it out on Facebook if you fancy a quick pick-me-up this week). Taste tours are a social enterprise business who are passionate about food travel in Sydney and using food to bring people closer together. We’ve been chatting to Lesley about food travel, the collection of cuisines you can find in Sydney, and how food is the great uniter!

So Lesley, last time we spoke, you mentioned that you think food is a great ‘uniter’. We love that idea, can you expand on that a little bit?

Definitely – so recently we’ve just re-categorised ourselves as a charity, and the basis for that is that we try to use food as a community development activity to build connections across cultures. So as well as working to build connections between cultures here in Sydney, we’re hoping to look a little bit further as well, and connect visitors to our amazing cultural heritage.

That’s what I mean when I say food is a great uniter – it has this amazing power to connect people. They might sit and break bread together and then soon they start to have a conversation and to understand each other better. It bridges cultural gaps and I think that’s important.

It definitely is! So is that why you started getting involved with Food Travel in the first place?

In part yes – food travel in Sydney is truly unique because we have such an intense mix of different cultures, and on one hand, we wanted to really show that off and help to make those connections. But on the other hand, I have a background in education and social enterprise and I’m also very passionate about food, so it seemed like a perfect fit!

Can you tell us about what makes Taste Tours different from other examples of food travel?

Taste Tours was set up as a social enterprise – while that’s not a legal term, we see it as a business that is set up to run for purpose not for profit. As we’ve already discussed, our main aim is to build connections across cultures through food, but part of that is through training and employing people. Particularly, we aim to work with immigrants and refugees to give them the skills required to get in to the workforce.

We also aim to go to places that most companies wouldn’t consider – food travel in Sydney can often be quite monotonous and based around the same kinds of places. We pride ourselves on our in-depth local and cultural knowledge, so we always know the best places for food across Sydney. And that also means that every tour can be a little bit different and tailored to the individual group!

If you could sum it up, what makes Food Travel so important to you?

You can travel around the world without leaving one location! For example, with our China-town tour, we’re all about showing people a different side of Sydney. You know, Australia presents itself as this great white nation, but people forget that there is possible evidence of trade with China long before Australia was discovered by Europeans, and Australia now has the largest per-capita Chinese population outside of Asia. We’re using food travel in Sydney not only to give people a chance to experience that Chinese-Australian culture (and celebrate what makes them so unique) but also to remind people of that history and celebrate diversity in Australia.

But as well as that, we offer lots of other tours that are even more diverse. For example, our Global Explorer tour whisks you all over the globe in the space of a few hours. We’re using our local knowledge to celebrate Australia’s diversity, while giving people the chance to experience lots of different cultures. And all through street-food that can be found in Sydney. Of course, though, you’ve got to know where to look!

Don’t forget, our ‘Taste of Chinatown – Sydney’ competition runs until midnight on Sunday – head on over to Facebook, then like, share, and comment on the post for the chance to win a place on the tour for you and a friend. Good luck and happy travelling!