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Meet Lori J. Durante of Taste History Culinary Tours of Historic Palm Beach County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lori J. Durante.

Lori, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My interest in history began as an early childhood with family vacations to museums in other states. Also, growing up in Delray Beach, Florida, I was surrounded by history in the oral tradition with a lot of history coming from my parents and other elders in the community. The Taste History Culinary Tours is an extension of the local Narrated Bus Tours that I began in 2004 which has hosted more than 8,000 people. Combining the weekly and monthly culinary and narrated tours, more than 11,000 people have been hosted, to date. I took the Narrated Bus Tour and enriched the cultural experience by adding food tastings which morphed into the Taste History Culinary Tours of Historic Palm Beach County. I have watched some episodes of late Anthony Bourdain on the Travel Channel and I was fascinated with the way he presented the cultural foods of the countries he visited. On Easter Sunday 2011, I had a culinary epiphany hence the birth of the Taste History Culinary Tours of Historic Palm Beach County. The tours go to Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Lake Worth, Lantana and West Palm Beach. The Taste History Culinary Tours is an educational program on the non-profit Museum of Lifestyle & Fashion History.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
‘Smooth road’ is subjective. Great growth comes from ‘struggles’. The first tour program that I developed was the Narrated Bus Tours of Historic Delray Beach which launched in the summer of 2004. It was held monthly plus numerous sold-out bookings for private tours. Prior to that, the non-profit organization for which I volunteer and serve as a curator had already presented nearly 20 cultural exhibitions in the local community. When the Taste History Culinary tour launched in October 2011, my organization had a pre-existing base of cultural patrons, therefore, the cultural culinary tours were sold-out for nearly a year. Taste History is the first culinary tour in Palm Beach County so when the tours launched in the year 2011 some in the surrounding audience were not that familiar with what a culinary tour is however I did not consider that a “struggle’ but I learned the importance of explicitly stating as much as I could about what the tour program is and the tour program is not. The Taste History Culinary Tour offers a fun and enlightening experience yet it operates with a specific educational purpose so we are firm in our mission which sets the standard for what the tour program is about.

Please tell us more about what you do, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
Delray Beach, Florida is my hometown. My parents settled here in the year 1968, moved into a historic black neighborhood in Delray Beach, became small business owners and involved in the community. I attended a private parochial school that was established in 1905 by settlers in Delray Beach. Then, I attended public school at Atlantic High Community School in Delray Beach and graduated in 1990. While in high school I attended a summer pre-college program at Parsons School of Design in New York City. I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Marketing from the American College for the Applied Arts in Atlanta and spent one summer at their London, England (Great Britain) campus. That college has since merged with the American InterContinental University. What’s also notable is that Taste History helps to shine a bright light on Florida’s multi-cultural culinary traditions, the talents of family-owned eateries, local artists and re-emerging cultural districts. I am proud that the Taste History Culinary Tour was the first food tour to merge food tasting experiences in off-the-beaten-locales with trips to emerging arts districts celebrating local artists. The Taste History Culinary Tour is also the first program to conduct a bus food tour featuring the evolving Dixie Highway and Federal Highway in Palm Beach County. I come from a family of community servants, so my parents modeled for me the importance of contributing to the greater good of the area in my volunteer work and that work includes conducting the Taste History Culinary Tours. The program also contributes to the greater good with a fun school field trip I created featuring the five senses on the Taste History Culinary Tour.

What are your plans for the future?
Change is the only constant which is why each Taste History Culinary Tours is unique and not designed to be an exact duplication of previous tours hosted. To keep it fresh and fun, we change it up on each tour by either rotating the cities, food, eateries, art shops and historic districts.

Pricing:

  • $53 to $60 per person; free for children under age 14 (children must be accompanied by a paid adult family member). Private tours are also available. Pre-paid reservations are required.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Credit: Taste History Culinary Tours

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