Destinations

Guam food tours open for business

Jojo Santo Tomas - AP

After her seemingly innocuous questions eight months ago, I knew that my friend Leslie Travis was up to something.

I never realised she was letting me peep on the genesis of the Guam Food Tours.

It was on my birthday last year, November 28, while I was still living in Hong Kong. My inbox flashed:

Leslie: “Happy birthday! I was wondering if I could pick your brain about something. I’m looking for the best Chamorro food on Guam that is licensed. The best kelaguen or empanada, etc.”

I replied: “So subjective!”

Leslie: “I know, but I trust your judgment … I want the real deal.”

So I gave her what I had and thought nothing of it.

January comes along and now she wants to tell me about her business. Right up my alley, she says.

In late April, a month after I relocated back to Guam, she sent another message – let’s meet soon – and then in late May, we finally talked.

She told me all about the GFT, how she and her partner Conrad Berg were inspired after a food tour in Vietnam.

Chamorro Village
Chamorro Village

Food tours are extremely popular throughout Asia, bussing foodies from place to place to show off cuisine and culture.

They splashed social media when their website launched July 6, and on July 15 – after countless hours of calorie-laden research, dry runs and dress rehearsals – Guam Food Tours opened for business with its Fiesta Plate Tour.

The three-and-a-half-hour, five-course tour takes you and your palate around central Guam to try some of the best local dishes around.

During the ride in the white Ford passenger van, a guide touches on Guam’s history and how it moulded our cuisine.

Travis, Berg and Regis Reyes took their love of food and travel, and claimed their niche in Guam’s booming food scene.

I took the tour on July 25, two days before GFT took its first Japanese group. I was delighted.

The spicy kelaguen proved an excellent starter but perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to pair it with the rich, sleep-inducing tinaktak stew.

We ate in a breezeless, open-air room that sat above a Tamuning cliff.

Then we went to the Chamorro Village for kaddonpika (spicy chicken stew) and doused our blazing tongues with frantic swigs of sweet calamansi lemonade.

We visited a couple of historic sites and ate our last courses there: piping-hot tamales gisu at the Asan Overlook, followed by a decadent latiya at the Plaza deEspaa.

It was the first time meeting operations manager Regis Reyes, who immediately jumped on my good side by professing his love for Boy, Go Eat.

Reyes is hilarious in small groups and can be the tour guide if he has to – but he prefers to make the tour perfect from behind the curtain.

guamfood

I’ve known Conrad Berg for years, first as a Team Guam hoopster with possibly the best free-throw percentage, and later as the banker who could decipher my credit card statement.

Berg is a numbers whiz and of all possible human traits, “raucous” and “talkative” would be used least.

That leaves Travis, whose low, silky monotone belies her knowledge and passion for food.

She appreciates the luxury meals of caviar, truffle and lobster, but equally indulges in street food.

And, she’ll never deny a penchant for what she calls “dirty” food: ramen, Vienna sausage, Spam, sardines and the like.

She is the face of the operation and as the weekend tour guide, has proven herself adept and capable – just as she has done in practising law, coaching mock trial, baking cookies, and – unfortunately – playing fantasy football.

Soon, she’ll be a certified tour guide, too.

Tours run eight times a week: twice each on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

guam-food-tours

Prices range from $US75 ($A101.85) for general adult, $US60 for military, $US50 for residents and $US40 for children.

I applaud this trio’s verve and vision, and especially appreciate their philosophy of quality over volume.

Soon, they’ll add a chef’s tour, which visits restaurants and will (yay!) include alcohol.

It’s about darn time somebody grabbed this opportunity.

Now, who’s going to open the cooking school?

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

Travel Agents

Federal government urged to introduce HECS-style loan scheme for small businesses

Could this turn out to be another much-needed funding opportunity for travel agents? Let’s bloody hope so.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Air New Zealand updates international flight schedule to end of June

Keen to know the Kiwi carrier’s international movements over the next few months? All is revealed here.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

WATCH: “Naughty” tourists forced to do push-ups for not wearing masks in Bali

Travel Weekly staff would do anything to avoid doing push-ups. Hell, we’ll wear six masks if we have to.

Share

CommentComments

Technology

Airbnb appoints new regional boss

APAC hoteliers are looking over their shoulder after the home-sharing giant named its new bossman for the region.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

WTTC releases mental health guidelines for travel and tourism sectors

At a time when mental health could not be more important, the world’s leading tourism organisation has released some new guidelines to help businesses of all sizes in the industry support their employees.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Silversea announces huge commission bonus, as Silver Dawn hits the water

Would you like to get a fat bonus on top of your next cruise commission? Get on board this latest offer from Silversea.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

APAC countries dominate the latest passport rankings

They might seem fairly useless right now, but that hasn’t stopped Henley & Partners from churning out its latest passport index.

Share

CommentComments

Wholesalers

GET IN QUICK: Less than two weeks left for Bunnik Tours’ massive 2022 sale

2022 trips at 2020 prices? This news will have your clients yelling “you bloody beauty!” or something to that effect, at least.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

IHG and City Tattersalls Club team up to open Hotel Indigo Sydney Centre

CTC members are cheering about this new deal, as it means they can now just wander upstairs and pass out at after enjoying a few too many whiskeys at the Silks Bar.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Italy achieves one million COVID-19 vaccinations in just 19 days

Travel Weekly’s editor could be heard muttering Italian superlatives like “eccezionale”, “sorprendente” and “bolognese” this morning as he typed this story out.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Health boss’ international travel prediction highlights need for “renamed and repurposed” JobKeeper: AFTA

Like the way that Pokémon character Jigglypuff turns into Wigglytuff, AFTA is seeking an evolution of JobKeeper.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Australia’s international border closure “one of the last things to change”, says chief medical officer

The man in charge of leading Australia’s COVID-19 response isn’t budging on his international travel forecast. At least that means the champagne has more time to chill.

Share

CommentComments