A Day In The Life of Culinary Tour Guide & Taste Mastermind Kathy McAree

Kathy McAree. Photo by Deanna Ladret

“Every day starts the same way: feed the four-legged creatures, then sit in my comfy chair and go through email…”


So begins a day in the life of Kathy McAree, radio personality, culinary tour guide, Taste Festival mastermind, novice cacao scholar and freelance media consultant. She’s the busiest person I’ve ever met, and she just might be busiest lady in town.


When I told her I wanted to find out about a ‘typical day’, she showed up to the interview with two pages of typed notes. Delighted at how easy my task had suddenly become – after all, she’d basically written my article for me – I immediately wondered when she’d found the time to write all of this out. Maybe she’s one of those people who doesn’t need to sleep.


McAree’s inspiration for her empire of food-related projects came about during a trip through Europe after receiving a car accident settlement. There she participated in culinary tours through Spain, and later France, where she was staying when the 9/11 attacks took place in New York. Due in Southern Italy for a tourists’ cooking course, McAree arrived to find herself the sole student as all the other participants’ flights had been grounded. They ran the course anyway, and after her one-on-one cooking school experience she returned to Vancouver Island to launch her own tour company, Travel with Taste, and Taste: Victoria’s Festival of Food and Wine, an annual event held in July.


Travel with Taste offers a variety of culinary tours around lower Vancouver Island and Saltspring Island, and a walking tour of downtown Victoria. Guests can visit farms, wineries and award-winning restaurants and see the real gems of Island-grown products and cuisine. The annual Taste festival is a multi-day celebration of regional wines (over 38 wineries are attending this year) and home-grown, homemade food from the Island’s top chefs and farmers who practice an honest “walk-the-talk” commitment to local food. This will be Taste’s 4th year, and on track to be the most successful to date. Judging from Kathy’s notes, chasing down chefs with such nuisances as ‘paperwork’ takes up the majority of her time in the months leading up to the festival. A labour of love, I ask?


“I’d like to get the festival to where its a financial success, and more people are getting involved each year, [though] It’s more important to me to run the festival with a conscience than to fill the room with moneymakers,” says McAree. “It really is, first and foremost, about enjoyment.”


Oh, and then there’s the radio show. Two years ago, Kathy successfully pitched an idea to CFAX 1070 about starting a local food show. In Good Taste airs every Saturday from 1-2pm, exploring food and drink-related topics with vintners, farmers, restaurateurs, chefs, and what McAree calls “the unsung local heroes…especially if they’re afraid of being on the radio.” Episodes can also be heard on the CFAX website.


When McAree isn’t planning a food festival, island-hopping with her culinary tours, consulting for Shop Local Victoria, or hosting her own radio show, she is likely on a much-needed holiday. “I try to do at least one trip per year,” she says, recalling a recent vacation to Mexico – no doubt networking with various foodie connections – and anticipating her upcoming chocolate tour in Ecuador she’s co-leading with David Mincey, chocolate expert and Executive Chef/owner of Camille’s West Coast Dining.


As our 45 minute chat draws to a close, McAree says goodbye and vanishes out the door of the coffee shop, assumedly back into a sci-fi cyclone of multitasking. My head is spinning, trying to keep all the information straight; I should have brought a tape recorder instead of my laptop, I thought I was a fast typist but in this case, not fast enough.


Then I remember the two pages of impeccable notes she pre-wrote for me, and I feel much better.


Taste: Victoria’s Festival of Food & Wine takes place July 19-22 at Crystal Garden. The event uncorks Thursday July 19 with an evening tasting of more than 100 British Columbia wines and local cuisine prepared by top Vancouver Island chefs. Friday, Saturday and Sunday events take place around the city. For a complete schedule and to purchase tickets visit their website.





Written By:

We get many people writing guest articles for us, as well as past contributors. This is the Guest ...

Comments are closed.