By Candice Wagener | Photographed by Valerie Tobias
You don’t have to be a tourist to appreciate Madison Eats Food Tours. Founded in 2012 by Otehlia Cassidy, the guided excursions offer locals and visitors alike the opportunity to learn about Madison through a food and drink lens. This summer, the company acquired Capital City Food Tours, expanding their offerings a bit more. “There are a lot of people interested in food tourism now,” says Cassidy. “I wanted to be the one to build what we have here.”
With five different Madison-centric tours running six days a week, guests can sample Willy Street’s global eats, eat and drink crafted items from Atwood purveyors or peek behind the scenes at the Dane County Farmers’ Market. This newest tour includes a meet-and-greet with several farmers at the Wednesday market, plus samples at Morris Ramen, Graze and Ian’s Pizza made with farmers market goods. Want more of an international experience? Madison Eats also offers destination tours to Mexico and Cuba.
It all comes down to connection.
Cassidy prides herself on building strong relationships with local businesses around town and letting those partnerships shine through on tours.
“Hanging out and cooking and sharing a meal is such a great way to connect people…you should feel connected to the place that you’re experiencing. If you’re just tasting food, it’s not the same.”
In providing guests with that deep connection to the people on the ground growing, sourcing and creating, Cassidy hopes to bridge commonalities and expose guests to the many unique cultures in Madison. She’s also highly motivated to put dollars back into the community.
“My overarching mission is to support locally-owned restaurants that also support local producers…it is really important to me that we’re sustaining our local economy,” says Cassidy. “When we continue to support those businesses, it’s strengthening a foundation we already have in our city, I hope. And also finding the fun in that…I want you to have a good time.”