July 23, 2024

Visit London

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Uncover Culinary Delights In Your Favorite City With Secret Food Tours

3 min read

Ten years on, Secret Food Tours is a glowing success story and a keen favorite of travelers who are looking for something more than a standard “touristy” city food tour. Oliver Mernick-Levene and his partner Nico Jacquart launched their foodie venture in 2014 and experienced rapid growth in sales of 1220% within their first two years. By 2022, they had achieved revenues of $10 million, with a forecasted growth to $50 million by 2027. Secret Food Tours are in 63 cities worldwide from Amsterdam to Tokyo, with recent launches in Atlanta, Savannah, Brussels and Stockholm. The aim is to be in 100 cities by the end of 2024.

What sets Secret Food Tours apart from their competitors is that they offer unique experiences tailored to each destination, with no two tours identical. Guests learn about each city’s history, local food purchasing habits and the influence of food on the area’s culture. And key to the experience is the quality of the company’s 250 guides who each have expert local knowledge and often culinary and/or history backgrounds too. Each tour includes a special “Secret Dish” that is only revealed at the end of the tour. Insider knowledge ensures that guests will discover the best secret delicacies beloved by locals and often missed by tourists. The tours are a decent size, with no more than 12 guests, and often less, making for a really special, intimate experience.

While they may not have had food or tourist industry backgrounds and didn’t realise how quickly the company would grow, the two founders obviously knew they had an excellent, scaleable idea. In addition to being French with a natural passion for fine food, Nicolas Jacquart is a tech genius who initially started his career as an online games developer. British entrepreneur Oliver Mernick-Levene’s background is in marketing a wide variety of brands in technology and finance, ranging from blue-chip multinationals like Microsoft and Sony, to SMEs and startups.

The London Bridge Food Tour is a great example of why Secret Food Tours is a market leader. English food doesn’t have the best reputation but this tour offers ample evidence to the contrary. Often led by the excellent Tom Blyth, an actor, film maker and former chef, the tour covers the fascinating history of the bridge area and the food of Borough Market. Tom also covers more contemporary history and points out where Bridget Jones’ apartment was (handy knowledge with a new Bridget Jones movie out soon). Borough Market has had a food market on the same site since the 12th century but it began with a bridge. For centuries, London existed as a compact walled city along the northern bank of the Thames River. Across the river lay its distinct counterpart, Southwark, characterized by a frontier atmosphere with its own set of norms and activities: bustling with pubs, brothels, street vendors, artisans, and lawbreakers. The sole connection between the two areas, and the primary gateway into the City of London from the southern bank, was London Bridge where the tour starts.

Following a fascinating overview of the area and the bridge often mistaken for the more attractive Tower Bridge, the London Bridge tour starts with a mouthwatering breakfast “bap” (a soft roll stuffed with bacon and egg). The tour also features award-winning fish and chips (this establishment definitely deserves all the accolades), classic sausage rolls, English cheeses paired with local beer/cider and a typical, very moreish British dessert. Plus, as with all these tours, guests are given a “Secret Dish,” a surprise at the end of the tour which you’ll probably need to take away as you’ll be completely full by this point.

Secret Food Tours cost from €75.00 – €129.00/person in European Cities, $79.00 – $139.00 in North America, $59.00 – $130.00 in Asia and $149 in Australia.

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