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Crafting Culinary Experiences with Theresa Nemetz

What is the secret to the perfect culinary tour?

If anybody knows the answer, it’s Theresa Nemetz. After founding Milwaukee Food Tours 17 years ago, she has gone on to build a culinary travel empire that takes people on delicious adventures throughout the United States and around the world. She joins this episode of the podcast to discuss how she uses food as a gateway to authentic and inspiring travel experiences.

Theresa shares how she builds relationships on the ground to uncover memorable culinary opportunities and the great lengths she goes to in search of fantastic tour guides. Plus, we have news about states mandating green practices for hotels; a road tip about the power of pocket itineraries; and a Hot Minute about the role governments should and shouldn’t play in regulating travel businesses.

Insights from Theresa Nemetz

On what people really want from food tours:

“They didn’t want the history lesson — they wanted to know about the neighborhood. They wanted to know about the people behind the stories. We make the food the attraction, but we focus on the stories of the people behind that food…. Travelers want a super-authentic experience.”

On hiring top talent:

“The secret to the secret sauce has been to pay people really well. That has been our No. 1 motivator. And to pay people really well, we have to charge our clients a really appropriate price.In the last couple years, I have realized that the tour guide is the star of the show. I need to be able to recruit and retain those individuals.”

On emerging tour companies:

“I’m seeing an increase in the number of people who were doing day trips and now they’re converting over and they’re offering multiday opportunities. Because as a next generation of tour operators, we’re all gaining experience, and we’re all growing and learning and taking it up a notch.

“It’s bringing something new to the industry. You’re seeing higher-priced trips and action-packed itineraries that are once-in-a-lifetime experiences. I see people building that into their itineraries. And I see that next-generation tour operator figuring it out. And we’re all lifting each other up, and we’re going to make the next generation of travel really a fun experience.”

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

Learn more about Travel Deliciously at

Learn more about Milwaukee Food and City Tours at

Learn more about Chicago Food and City Tours at

Learn more about Great Lakes Shore Excursions at

Learn more about our OnSite familirization tours here.

Key Moments From This Episode

1:30 — Travel News: States banning single-use plastics in hotels

2:36 — Road Tip: The power of the pocket itinerary

12:24 — How Theresa Nemetz became a culinary tour operator

15:34 — How to do food tours well

19:07 — Showcasing culture through food

20:33 — Building relationships with destination partners

23:41 — The secrets to Theresa Nemetz’ success

28:20 — The chief ingredient to hiring great tour guides

32:21 — Creating culinary experiences abroad

35:46 — The growing community of next-generation tour operators

37:58 — Tech tools for up-and-coming tourism entrepreneurs

50:42 — Should governments mandate green hotel practices?

Thanks to our sponsor Visit Atlantic City for making this episode possible. Learn more about Atlantic City’s travel experiences for groups at

About the Podcast

Gather and Go with Brian Jewell is a tourism industry podcast that helps group travel leaders plan, promote and lead better trips. There are also tips and insights for destination marketers and others who support the tourism trade. Each episode reaches thousands of professional tour operators, travel agents and the volunteer group leaders they serve. The audience also includes destination museum leaders, church travel leaders and other tourism enthusiasts around the world. Each show includes an interview with a smart travel pro or an insightful person from outside tourism who’s expertise can help make travel businesses better. You’ll also hear travel news, road tips and more. New episodes are released about twice monthly.

You can find Gather and Go wherever your listen to podcasts or subscribe by email.

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