The People Behind the Food: 5 Favorites for 2017
The end of another year. I sat down to think about how to tie it all together. Like everyone in the culinary world, I reflected on the new restaurants that opened this year. I thought about new dishes I tried. I wondered if I could come up with my own version of food predictions for 2018. Nothing seemed to be creative, or different, or a way to separate my post from the hundreds of others that appear this time of year.
Then it occurred to me. What I love and what makes Cincinnati Food Tours special are the people in the industry, the faces behind the names of the restaurants and shops we visit. It wasn’t easy, but I have narrowed our list of partners to 5 who are doing it right. These 5 make each visit special. These 5 are the “blood, sweat, and tears” behind the food that they serve. These 5 are always there, with aprons on, toiling away and aiming to be the best at what they do. These 5 make a difference. Meet the masters.
Kate from Dean’s Mediterranean Imports makes you feel like you are in her own home. She proudly tells the story of how her dad started the tiny grocery store at Findlay Market more than 30 years ago. She maintains his high standards, carries on Lebanese traditions, and creates new ways to appeal to today’s customers. And for Cincinnati Food Tours, it’s a feast every time we stop by the store!
Nino from Panino is “old-school.” He learned butchering from his grandfather and has fine-tuned his craft to make some of the best cured meats in town. He’s proud to source locally, knows the farmers like friends, and serves no meat before its time. The charcuterie is not only delicious, but it’s also a work of art.
Huyen from Le’s Pho is the energy behind some of the best Vietnamese food in Cincinnati. With a smile and a wave in between chops, she’s proud to carry on family traditions. She is side-by-side with her parents, both at work and in their daily lives, and seems to be the glue that holds everything together. What a pleasure to visit Le’s Pho every time!
Mike at Longfellow didn’t just open another bar. His neighborhood pub has become the place where the locals go. With his sleeves rolled up, Mike has his hands in everything from craft cocktails to limburger sandwiches while conversing with patrons at the horseshoe-shaped bar. This is our favorite place for a drink. (Shhh! Just don’t tell anyone!)
Taren at Sweet Petit Desserts embodies the name of her bakery. She may be the nicest person in Over-the-Rhine. Sporting her latest apron, she scurries from the counter to the oven to the register to keep the wheels of her business turning. Her mini desserts have become more than her signature item. They have become her connection to the neighborhood. Family, food, fellowship. Taren has it all going on at Sweet Petit.
Because we have so many food tour partners that do it well, it was difficult to choose just 5. But these 5 stood out because they are ever-present, always moving, as happy to see the first customer of the day as they are the last. And, of course, they all serve outstanding food in a very special way. Our partners make our job at Cincinnati Food Tours easy. Thanks to all!
2017 was a winner for us. We loved meeting so many of you for the first time, and we really enjoyed seeing those of you who came back for a SECOND HELPING. We look forward to adding more tours, more fantastic partners, and more delicious food for you in 2018. Thanks again for supporting us. Best wishes for a Happy New Year!