I’m a firm believer that anyone can turn their dreams into a sustainable business with hard work and determination. So I was really excited to hear fellow Perth food blogger, Justin Blackford (aka The Skinny Perth), just launched Food Loose Tours, a Perth food walking tour.
I met Justin a couple of years ago and remember thinking this guy knows and love his food so it’s great to see him doing what he loves everyday. I had a chat to Justin last week to find out a bit more about what inspired him to start Food Loose Tours. My interview with Justin is featured below and if you’re wanting to book a Food Loose Tour, it’s half price ($19 instead of $39) this weekend.
My foodie friend Mia happened to go along to Food Loose’s first walking tour so I of course asked a million questions 🙂 a couple of her responses are featured at the bottom of this post.
What inspired you to start Food Loose Tours?
A whole bunch of things really, but primarily our love of food. Jenny (my aunty and business partner) and I come from a family where being a foodie isn’t really an option. Sharing great food and the odd glass of wine (or two or seven) has always been a central facet of family life for us, so carrying it on into our working lives seemed like a natural progression
We got the idea for the business from a walking tour that my parents and Jenny did in New York about a year ago. It was a great one that took them from Manhattan out to the far reaches of Queens and showed them all of the really authentic, awesome, non-touristy food spots that local New Yorkers go to. Given my background in food blogging and knowledge of the Perth food & drink scene and Jenny’s background in business and marketing it seemed like a perfect fit for us to team up and start a similar operation right here in Perth.
We both feel that Perth can be every bit as exciting, interesting and tasty as a city like New York if you know where to look. We want our tours to open people’s eyes to the wonderful world of foodie awesomeness that is right there on their doorstep. At the same time we both love the way that Perth is growing and changing so rapidly – it’s not “Dullsville” anymore – so we also want our tours to support and encourage Perth businesses and restaurants that we believe are great and make the city a better, more interesting place to live. Everybody wins really; us, our guests and the food vendors that we visit and support along the way.
Is food loose intended to be your full-time gig one day?
Hopefully yes. I’m currently working as a barista but if things take off with the tours in the way that we hope then I might be doing the tours full time in the not too distant future. I get a huge kick out of showing people great eating spots around Perth anyway (which I currently do through my blog), so doing it as my full time job (while getting filthy rich along the way) is pretty much the dream. I’m also working towards being a professional freelance food/travel writer and photographer, so operating the tours will hopefully give me more time, resources and contacts to help in achieving that goal.
Tell us about your blog, The Skinny Perth
I started my blog in early 2012 not long after I got back from about three years living overseas. I initially thought I could never live in Perth again as it was so small, boring and far away from the civilized world (which was the reason I left), but being flat broke from my travels I had no choice but to stick around for a while. That’s when I realised that a lot had changed while I had been gone and that Perth was actually a pretty exciting place to live.
I’d always harboured ambitions of being a food writer but had never really done anything about it. I had somewhat of an early life crisis upon returning home in deciding what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I knew that I enjoyed both writing and food, so I started up my blog more as a means to have a creative outlet and keep my sanity while working the mind-numbing laboring job that I was doing at the time more than anything else. I didn’t really have any idea what it involved or where it would lead, so the whole thing has been a really exciting learning experience and turned out in a way that I never would have expected.
As I said earlier, I think Perth can be as exciting as any world-leading city, but the good stuff isn’t as easily accessible as it might be in say London or New York. That’s why my focus in blogging has always been about letting people know about lesser known spots and hidden gems around town. That way I can let my readers in on great stuff they might otherwise not know about while at the same time supporting businesses that I think make Perth a better, more interesting place to live. In this way both the blog and our tours share a common goal I suppose. I’ve always been big on showing as much support to businesses and restaurants that I think are doing cool stuff, which is why I always give them links to my reviews to post online and provide them with any photos I’ve taken free of charge for advertising etc. A vibrant city culture doesn’t just happen, it takes a lot of people with passion and dedication working together to get things moving in the right direction – so showing my support through my blog is my way of contributing to this.
Have you always worked in the hospitality industry?
Pretty much. I got my first restaurant job in Margaret River when I was 15 (I’m almost 30 now) and have always worked in some form of hospitality job all through high school, uni and then travelling overseas. It’s one of those weird professions that seems horrible to outsiders but really gets under your skin if you’re a certain kind of person and have a genuine passion for it. I’ve been a waiter, barman, barista, restaurant supervisor – you name it! The most important thing for me is that I’ve always used each job as a learning experience, and doing it for as long as I have and working both in Australia and overseas has allowed me to build up a great level of knowledge about all facets of the hospitality world. Running a successful establishment involves a lot more than just what food & drink you serve, so I think that my knowledge of this has been hugely beneficial for my blogging and enables me to write from a position of understanding and experience.
Try as I might I’ve never been able to shake my love/hate relationship with hospitality, so through my food writing and tour business I’ve decided to embrace it wholeheartedly while at the same time moving into an area within the industry that is more intellectually and financially rewarding (and doesn’t require me to give up too much of my social life – I’ve done e-bloody-nough of that to last me a lifetime!)
How can my readers book a food loose tour?
People can find out more about what we do and book a spot on a group tour (or even a private or corporate one) through our website www.foodloosetours.com.au
As Justin mentions, Perth’s food scene has changed so much in the last couple of years and it can be hard to keep up and remember the old gems with new venues popping up so frequently. So if you’re keen to find out Perth’s best kept foodie secrets or just after a fun day out, book a Food Loose Tour!
Below are some pics from his food tour…
My friend Mia shares her Food Loose Tours experience below…
How many in the Food Loose Tours group and what type of people were on the tour?
There were about 18 of us in total and a broad mix of people: a few young guys and gals who were singles or mates maybe late 20s/early 30s. There was a bright couple in their 30s and a few couples in their 40s & 50s. At lots of the places we grouped up in 2s, 3s, 5s & 8s to share serving sizes or deals & everyone was really open to grouping up.
Tell us about the walking tour…what can one expect?
One of the stops was Kakulas Brothers – Justin gave some info about each food spot but this one he gave us a bit more about the history on Northbridge & the Greek immigrants. The key recommendations were the olives & the halva. Most people bought olives. We bought halva but saved it to share at work on Monday as we knew we wouldn’t need the food at the time. His Aunt Jenny also purchased some chocolates for us to try which was a nice touch as you pay for the food yourself (they say to bring about $25 in coins).
It was a good day! It would be a great gift idea or corporate event idea.
Like Justin, I too think it’s really important to support the Perth restaurants and businesses that are focussed on bringing great food and service to the table. Hence you would have noticed foodie cravings focus over the last couple of years has been on Western Australian and Perth venues. I love writing my monthly Top 5 Perth Eats, sharing Latest Food News & Events Listings as submitted by Perth/WA food businesses and getting involved with campaigns like Buy West Eat Best’s WA’s Signature Dish and City of Perth’s Eat Drink Perth which are all about showcasing our amazing city.