The table is the first social network. It’s where people have always connected, shared ideas over a meal and built relationships with family, friends and business associates. So it’s a natural place for travellers to connect with locals and now a host of new social media companies are hoping to take the joy of table talk global.
One company, Vizeat is a social dining platform for immersive food experiences with locals. Travellers and local hosts get to share meals, cooking classes, food tours, afternoon tea and so much more. The food app proves you can find unique dining experiences beyond what hotels and restaurants offer. The events are held in the most authentic location such as a gallery, a home, backyard, garage or any pop-up location venue. Travellers use the app to book and connect with any of the over 22,000 locals signed up ready to host visitors from anywhere in the world. Built around a sharing economy business model, founder Jean-Michel Petit initially thought of the idea while sharing a meal with Indian locals in Peru. “There’s a kind of paradox for the modern traveller: It has never been easy to travel than it is today. We travel to cities inhabited by millions of people but the problem is we don’t necessarily meet any of the locals. Our aim is to encourage these types of encounters and to make them accessible to everyone. For us, the table is the most original social network”.
The app was named top 3 in the world in 2016 by Apple. Even Tim Cook, CEO of Apple experienced this himself and was hosted by locals in Paris. Travelling in a foreign land will not be complete without immersing yourself with the locals, and this phenomenon and platform took centre stage since Vizeat launched. The app was accessible in over 110 countries, with over 22,000 hosts, Vizeat has become the largest food immersive experience platform in Europe. EatWith is a similar start-up and another immersive dining platform based in the United States. Most recently, Vizeat acquired EatWith to expand its global offering. The acquisition will also put the social dining platform at the forefront of the travel and tourism sectors as well as give a boost to the rapidly growing sharing economy.
Here are some of the top experiences travellers can check out according to EatWith
- San Francisco-Don calls himself “a person of the sea”. He is a fishmonger and home cook specializing in local seafood cuisine. He currently works as a fishmonger at the Santa Cruz Harbour and Bay Area Farmers Market and always inspired by regional seafood dishes. He has extensive knowledge of locally harvested seafood and sustainable fishing practices. Spending his life mostly in the waters, Don has forged his respect for the wildlife and the ingredients he uses for his dinners only come from a diverse community of sustainable fisherman, farmers and artisan food purveyors. Don promises only the best hand selected seafood during his dinners.
- Rome, Italy- Enjoy a dinner in an elegant location in the heart of the historical center of Rome, Trastevere (Piazza Trilussa) then at the height of the Roman “movida” , guests can soak up the atmosphere of the old town, vibrancy of the streets full of bars and shops. Federica and Barbara are the hosts and their charming house will invite you the to tasting of excellent Italian wines and travellers will also discover the secrets of Roman cuisine.
- Barcelona, Spain- Rudi is a young professional chef who lives in Barcelona. This Austrian born chef prides himself in incorporating Mediterranean notes in many of his dishes. He works mainly with ecological products and is big on using seasonal ingredients with a focus on quality. Guests will surely leave with an unforgettable experience.
- Paris, France- Odile is a mother of three and a food sector professional. She is welcoming travellers in her home and has a great passion for using organic products in her dishes having worked for an organic distribution food company. She was inspired by her mother and grandmother transforming produce from the garden to amazing dishes and would like to share their family recipes to her guests. In 2017, Odile and her family had the great pleasure of hosting Apple CEO Tim Cook along with others in their home.
- Tokyo, Japan-Shino is a Japanese culture lecturer and loves to invite people into her traditional style house in Tokyo. Guests will visit the market and local shops with Shino and prepare the meal together where she will share secret tips on how to make the best sushi but also share the secrets of the Japanese way of life not many people know about.
- Tel Aviv, Israel-these hosts are right in the epicenter of the upcoming area of Tel Aviv where new galleries and art studios are opening. With a warm candle light dinner, hosts Yonatan, a chef and Maya, a pastry chef will take you on a journey of the different aromas and flavours from around Europe. The hosts promises using only the best ingredients showcasing their very own unique creations.
- New Brunswick, Canada-A caviar and champagne feast from Canada’s most reputable Sturgeon Caviar producer, The Sturgeon Academy. Depending on the season, the experience will be either at the sturgeon farm on a grassy lawn or beach, in the host dining room or anywhere on the road in Canada! With a flexible sturgeon and caviar menu the unforgettable experience includes a tasting session and education of the 3 different types of Acadian caviar they produce. Dishes will include Sturgeon ceviche, smoked sturgeon, sturgeon paterillete, and more!
- Rome, Italy-How about a mystery dinner with a magician and illusionist? Marco welcomes his guests not only with a fabulous Italian dinner but also a show! He promises a one of a kind dinner and show experience right in the comfort of his home.
- London, England- This top secret food tour will surely get your taste buds tingling! Your local guide will take you to the Borough market and delight on English fudge and chocolate. You will then try some Lincolnshire sausages and then heading over to the best fish and chips place in town. The guide will take you through the market and talk about the history and then head over to a historic pub to enjoy samples of British cheeses and London beers and ciders. Along the way, you will also get to visit the London Bridge and the Tower Bridge on the River Thames and also the Battleship HMS Belfast.
- Amsterdam, Netherlands- What better way to experience Amsterdam than a luxurious house boat dining with host Robert right in the Amsterdam Center. Guests will enjoy a spectacular view of the beautiful canals during dinner along with great local stories from the host. The intimate setting has received rave reviews from guests and the host even gives cooking options to visitors to ensure the best culinary experience.
Cristina Carpio is a television personality, brand and restaurant strategist as well as a passionate food and beverage expert. Travel and living life to the fullest is in her DNA. In addition to hosting Going Global, Cristina is a country ambassador for a global immersive dining platform and has a column for a noted North American food and beverage industry magazine. She has also been recognized for her work and involvement in charitable and community projects and has hosted several prestigious festivals, fashion and cultural events.