A Day with Savor Seattle Food Tours

Grant ChenMay 19th, 2008
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What do alderwood smoked king salmon, fresh hot donuts, juicy red d'anjou pears and a pink umbrella all have in common? If your answer is Savor Seattle Food tours, then you would be on the right track. The new kid on the block in the increasingly popular industry of food tours, Savor Seattle guides both locals and tourists through the myriad mix of stands in Pike Place to see, smell and of course, savor some of the best treats the city has to offer.

Like most Seattlites, I've spent many a weekend and lazy summer day traversing the aisles of Pike Place market doing the common hopscotch like dance to navigate through the mob of tourists. However, even my knowledge of the market only goes so far, leaving a disconcerting fear in my stomach that perhaps dozens, even hundreds of tourists are eating food I haven't tried in my own city. So on this uncharacteristically sunny Seattle morning, it was almost fate that I would be doing the unthinkable - joining the camera-laden army to participate in some unabashed food fun.

Guiding our food tour is Angela Shen, also the owner and operator of owner and operator of Savor Seattle. Clad in black and pink, Angela's color scheme is both professional and passionate. "My goal here is to feed your stomach full of food!" Angela delights as she passes out wireless listening devices to the group. Among the gathered is a mix of business owners, event planners, managers and avowed foodies. A quick meet and greet shows only half our group are tourists, evidencing that Seattle is a city that enjoys its food.

We embark from the corner of 1st and Pine with a hop in our step and rumbling gastronomical engines. For the next two hours, we make our way through the market, munching various samples and learning interesting facts like the true location of the first Starbucks (hint: it's not Pike Place). Angela helps guide us navigate the crowds using both our earpieces and a giant pink umbrella that bears about the same subtlety as "The Man" sauce at Dixie's BBQ.

One of our stops is a bakery that serves Columbian hot chocolate. Our group is given mini-shots of swirling fudge goodness that leave warm cinnamon wafts in their wakes. "Defend your food, use elbows if necessary!" Angela warns us half-jokingly, as understandably curious onlookers drift by our plate of samples. Slurping the chocolate down, my knees buckle and for a moment, I'm taken to a warm happy place. Coincidentally, next to me is owner of Seattle's Oh! Chocolate, Nick Masaoka, who is also smiling as he squeezes out a few last drop from his cup. Professional approval? I think so.

Time flies as we make our way around the market, stopping to sip "Seattle's Tea" and sample the Seattle's best voted mac and cheese, all while following that unmistakable pink umbrella. As a one-time former tour guide during my high school years, I observe that Angela keeps a good pace and does well to keep our attention through the tour. Her obvious passion for food converts us all into eager followers, ready to chow down on whatever is in front of us at a moments notice.

It's no surprise to learn after the tour that Angela comes from a background in food. She worked previously as a marketing and branding executive for Quaker Oats, and before that helped her parents run a family restaurant while she was growing up. Part of her inspiration for Savor Seattle stemmed from her family's hard work in the restaurant industry. Sharing her goals, Angela states, "One, I wanted to share my passion with foodies. Second, I wanted to give back to the food-making community."

Eventually, Angela hopes that Savor Seattle will have tours through the other food meccas of Seattle, such as the International District and Belltown. "Seattle is a great food city," Angela beams, but mentioning that it's impossible to explore all the city has to offer in any one tour. In fact, Angela spent so much time at Pike Place researching and talking to vendors that she got some funny looks. "People thought I was a stalker," Angela laughs.

So, if you should ever find yourself at Pike Place Market and spot that pink umbrella creeping through the crowds, don't panic, it's just Angela or one of her Savor Seattle tour guides.

Savory Seattle Food Tours run every day from 10:00am to 1:00pm. Public tours are $39 per person and include tax. Private tours are also available for parties or company events. For more information, please visit: http://www.savorseattletours.com.

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