Monday Meeting: Lori Durante of Taste History Culinary Tours

Delray Beach resident Lori Durante launched Taste History Culinary Tours in 2011, combining the idea of a narrated bus tour with the growing popularity of food tastings.

She started the venture in Delray Beach, and then added tours in Boynton Beach, Lantana, Lake Worth, and West Palm Beach’s Northwood Village neighborhood and Arts and Entertainment District.

Food-based tourism has become big business in Palm Beach County. Two other companies offer similar food tastings.

Durante’s tours are a program of the nonprofit Museum of Lifestyle & Fashion History, which hosts exhibits at various locations but which is looking for a permanent home. They include stops at roughly a half-dozen locally owned restaurants, bakeries, arts shops and cultural centers.

Name: Lori J. Durante

Age: 44

Hometown: Delray Beach

Where you live now: Delray Beach

About your company: Taste History Culinary Tours of Historic Palm Beach County is operated by the nonprofit Museum of Lifestyle & Fashion History. We host cultural culinary tours to West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Lantana, Delray Beach and Boynton Beach.

How your business has changed: Technology has caused the biggest change in the nonprofit museum and cultural tourism industry. To stay relevant, institutions need to have a higher level of engagement with their audiences. The Taste History Culinary Tours is a multisensory experience.

First paying job and what you learned from it: I had my first paying job with my parents’ businesses. My parents moved to Palm Beach County in 1968 and, by 1971, they opened their first company, a child care center. That was followed by a children’s clothing store, a real estate company, insurance agency and a janitorial and property management company in Delray Beach. By the time I was in high school, I was working in the family business. What I learned is that my parents put a lot of sweat equity into their work, providing customer service and their volunteerism in the community. And, to this very day, sweat equity is an important gauge for me with whatever tasks I pursue.

Best business book you ever read: “Minding the Store” by Stanley Marcus for a class assignment when I was in fashion college in Atlanta.

Best piece of business advice you ever received: Always try to do your best. If you’re not going to try your best, then why bother?

What you tell young people about your business: Food tourism has new fame so I’m often asked about the tours and tell people that Taste History is an engaging experience that is three to four hours and travels to four to five family-owned bakeries and eateries for food tastings, including trips to historic buildings, emerging art galleries featuring local artists, trips to emerging art districts and off the beaten path. Established in 2011, Taste History is the first culinary tour of its style in Palm Beach County featuring more districts and cities than any other food tour operator in the state.

What do you see ahead for Palm Beach County? Food as tourism will continue to rise. Emerging arts districts will evolve in downtown Lake Worth, downtown Boynton Beach, Boynton Beach industrial arts districts, and Northwood Village and the 500 block of Clematis in West Palm Beach. All these components will help make Palm Beach County a stronger landmark.

Where we can find you when you are not at the office: Exploring new family-owned eateries, local art shops and emerging historic districts.

Favorite smartphone app: Twitter and Facebook.

What traits do you look for in volunteers? Reliability is very important, and being able to commit to the dates and times they have been scheduled to volunteer. Personality, of course, makes a big difference.

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