You’re on holidays, somewhere around South East Asia. You’re looking to have one of those authentic gastronomic experience, but you don’t want to end up paying an extraordinary price for some overrated westernized version of that local meal you’ve been dying to try. So, what’s a wannabe worldly eater to do?
This quest for authenticity is exactly what led Aashi Vel and Steph Lawrence to develop Traveling Spoon, a food and travel platform launched back in 2012 and was described by Forbes Magazine as being “the next generation of culinary tourism”.
“We wanted to make it easy for travelers to be able to have the kinds of experiences we sought, learning to make dumplings from a Chinese grandmother, or enjoying the home-cooking of a mother-daughter team in Vietnam”, co-founder Vel told The Bubble. Combining tech, food and travel, Traveling Spoon aims to provide self-professed foodie voyageurs with an authentic “off the eaten path” gastronomic experience.
While the platform has quickly expanded around Asia, The Traveling Spoon is still making its way to Latin America. This month, a Mexican presence was officially launched, offering experiences in over four different locations around the country. And the good news is… Traveling Spoon has a small but significant base forming in Buenos Aires.
Their porteño hosts, Geraldine and Santiago are welcoming guests to their dreamy “PH” style home, right in the heart of the Colegiales neighborhood. Their living room, like their inviting conversation, is filled with memories of their multiple adventures around the world. Santiago – a lawyer who’s passionate about cooking – has an incredible way of narrating his experiences and transporting you to another city in a few minutes. Geraldine – a dermatologist – is always there to throw in the fun facts and anecdotes being missed by her husband.
The first time they ever welcomed a Traveling Spoon guest, Santiago decided to cook his version of an Argentine specialty: Locro. Following his grand mother’s recipe, he stocked a huge pot with meat, corn and vegetables. He remembers spending about six hours in and out of the kitchen. Although he was immensely proud of the result, and loves the entire cooking process, by the time the guest arrived, he was exhausted. Both he and Geraldine realized they needed to offer a less laborious, yet equally flavorful experience.
For the following dinners they moved on to classic dishes like milanesas and empanadas. “We enjoy getting to know new people, and showing them what a local actually cooks and eats at home” Geraldine explained. Furthermore, welcoming travelers into their home is a way for them to leave their daily routine and travel for one night through the stories of every guest.
Geraldine and Santiago aren’t professional chefs, but they do enjoy spending time in the kitchen and they stand by one principle: everything is homemade. “What truly matters is the raw materials you use” Santiago said. Geraldine prepares the empanada dough, while Santiago takes care of the filling. She lights the fire on the parrilla, while he prepares the meat. Argentine teamwork at its best, delivering an authentic, mouth watering result.
Traveling Spoon for Guests:
Traveling Spoon takes the “puertas cerradas” concept to a whole new level. This informal way of dining has become so popular in Buenos Aires that very often the authenticity, or the direct contact the cook has with their guests gets lost in the restaurant-like service. The application’s strength is that it offers users a chance to actually dine at the host’s table and directly interact with them. The food menu is not the only focus of these dinners. The entire concept centers around the exchange that is taking place with the help of the delicious food being served.
Being such a new location, Buenos Aires isn’t listed on the website’s main menu. If you’re interested in joining the Traveling Spoon experience in town, you can contact the reservations service by emailing email@example.com. The Traveling Spoon team will take care of arranging your dinner at Geraldine and Santiago’s home.
The menu varies according to what the hosts offer, as does the price which ranges from an average of $30 US to $80 US a person.
Traveling Spoon for hosts:
The food and travel app is expanding in Latin America, and is looking to grow its network of cooks and cuisine amateurs in Argentina. If you are passionate about food and enjoy entertaining you might be suitable to become a Traveling Spoon host. “Our mission is to provide travelers with meaningful, memorable, and authentic food experiences, and to achieve this we commit ourselves to finding and personally vetting the best hosts and home cooks around the world” co-founder Aashi Vel explained.
Every host goes through a vetting process, which includes an online video chat, and a home visit and tasting. Hosts can arrange their own menu and fix a price that would be later approved by the Traveling Spoon team. “We are excited to expand our host community in Argentina so if you love food and enjoy sharing your culture and cuisine with people from around the world, you can sign up to become a host on our website” Vel concluded.