Food tours are a difficult thing to pull off. For starters there’s the task of distinguishing a single tour from the dozens going on each weekend, but that is a struggle any starting business experiences.
The unique problem food tours face is balance. A certain amount of walking matched with just enough history and the right kind of food makes for a great food tour.
If any of those factors are off by a degree, it can make for a very uncomfortable experience.
Richard Mumith, co-founder the new tour, Local Finds Queens Food Tours, along with tour guide Sergey Kardinsky, have found that balance.
The pair held their inaugural tour on Sunday in Long Island City and it went well, with little to no speed bumps along the way.
“When it comes to good eats, Queens is the king of the boroughs,” Mumith said. “We have so many world-class eateries that need to be in everyone’s itinerary. Unfortunately, Queens is not yet considered a tourist destination and often has to play second fiddle to the other borough counterparts.”
While that may be less true of Long Island City — the neighborhood is increasingly becoming a hot spot for art and music — Mumith’s vision to promote the borough historically and through the culinary arts is a noble one.
What’s more, Local Finds will host tours in other areas, not just the hip Long Island City neighborhood. Tours of Jamaica, Flushing and Far Rockaway have all been planned out.
The tour of Long Island City offered a nice array of dishes, beginning with five-cheese macaroni and cheese from Sage General Store on Jackson Avenue.
Though cramped, Sage gave tour-goers a decent-sized portion of their delicious trademark dish.
In fact each stop provided a healthy serving size.
Kardinsky, a former journalist, was knowledgeableof the area, though he did not drone on as some guides tend to do.
He was responsive to the attendees’ questions and made a point to make historical stops short and sweet.
He also pointed out a few gems, unknown to the tour-goers, who were almost exclusively from Queens.
Though each manager and owner of the featured restaurants were gracious and warm, none stood out as much as Gianna Cerbone, owner and lead chef of Manducatis Rustica.
Cerbone was informative and passionate about Long Island City and her restaurant.
Usually closed on Sundays, she opened her doors just for the tour and, like any true Italian, provided more than enough food for everyone.
Cerbone is one of only four female pizza-makers and isn’t shy to tell those curious why.
“There is the fact that men tend to be stronger, but more than that, it boils down to: We have breasts,” she said candidly. “Because our breasts are the farthest point from our body, they are the closest part to the oven which gets incredibly hot.”
The Long Island City native has made do, despite her breasts, and cooks up mouth-watering pizza in the traditional Neapolitan way.
Also featured on the tour was the Rockaway Brewing Company and Sweetleaf cafe which offered samples of their most popular cold brews.
The tour ended on a pier in Gantry Plaza, just in front of the Pepsi Cola sign.
Mumith and Kardinsky seemed eager to listen to the concerns and praises from their first group and appeared relieved when everyone said they were satisfied.
Understandably Mumith and Kardinsky, who both worked for Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), want their business to work, and so far, it has.
Local Finds has sold-out tours over the next couple of weeks.