Imagine arriving to your next travel destination, where you don’t have any local contacts, and being able to show up at at a cook’s home kitchen to prepare a meal hand-in-hand, using recipes passed down through generations.
When you plan trips, you imagine rubbing elbows with locals and eating real, authentic dishes while learning what people really cook in this new place.
But how many times have your dreams been crushed by the reality of tourist traps, impersonal cooking classes and disappointing restaurant food?
You know that those authentic meals are out there, but you’re not sure how to find them.
After living in Africa and visiting countries including Zanzibar and Ethiopia, Laurie, one of our co-founders, was frustrated with how long it took to make the contacts she needed to have those real moments of picking out ingredients and preparing a meal with an expert in local cuisine.
Laurie Vaquer and Matt Whetton founded Take Me Cooking because they wanted to help travelers discover local culture through cooking.
Here’s Laurie’s story:
I’ve always loved traveling, and once I became more interested in cooking, I started looking for ways to cook during my trips.
I’m originally from France, but I lived in Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo for four years while working for the French Embassy and later a private Belgian company. During my four years in Africa, I visited 13 different countries.
Of all of my travels, I will never forget my trip to Zanzibar in January 2016.
One day, as I was wandering around the narrow streets and admiring the beautiful wooden front doors, I wondered if I could find a way to learn to prepare some of the amazing local food with a Zanzibari cook.
Through some Google search luck I found the contact information of a small cooking tour company and booked a tour.
Shara, my guide, met me at my door and took me to the market to find all of the ingredients for the recipes we were going to prepare: chicken, vegetables and sweet potatoes with spices grown on the island, and fresh coconut milk.
The market tour was amazing. But the afternoon of cooking with Shara really blew me away. We made every dish from scratch with traditional Zanzibari methods: chicken pilau, spinach in fresh coconut milk and a sweet potato dessert.
Once we finished cooking, we sat down in Shara’s living room and shared the delicious meal with some neighbors.
That day, I understood the power of cooking while traveling: My view was forever changed.
When I visited Ethiopia’s capital on a later trip, I was determined to find a similar experience and explore the local cuisine through cooking.
But I had to settle for a traditional food tour with restaurant visits and no opportunity to cook. The tour was lovely, but didn’t satisfy my intense curiosity for local cooking alongside an Ethiopian cook.
I wanted to create a way to connect with local cooks that didn’t take months of networking and creating contacts on the ground.
When I met Matt Whetton, my co-founder, at a Startup Weekend in Derby, England, Take Me Cooking was born. With his technical background and web developer experience, we make the perfect team.
Together, we created Take Me Cooking because we want to give travelers a simple way to find the local cooking experiences they are looking for.
Cheers and happy cooking,
Laurie and Matt
Read more about what cooking experiences are really like on our blog.
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