International Food Tour of Perth

You know how when you meet someone and they introduce themselves, but within five minutes you’ve completely forgotten their name? That’s how it was with one of the blokes on the International Food Tour of Perth which I undertook today. Thankfully, I knew he was the father of Justin, our tour guide. We shared a few interesting stories throughout the day, including memories of condensed milk. He also told me a little of the background to these tours which are reasonably new in Perth.

The idea came from a visit to New York last year, and a tour called “Food On Foot”. He spoke with a real passion about the tour; it must have had a real impact. He and his family have been passionate about food and wine, and his son Justin had spent about half his life working in hospitality. And so when Justin returned to Australia after living overseas for a while, it seemed like a logical connection between his working life and his interests. On top of that, Perth has probably been crying out for something like this.

It’s a decade since I lived in Perth, and to be honest, I don’t have great memories of a particularly strong food culture here. Sure, there’s Margaret River, and other places like that. But I always remembered Perth as a bit of a surf and turf kind of town. Memorably from a couple of years ago, Perth was also a town I began to associate with overpriced meals, and particularly overpriced coffee.

But Perth seems to have changed a little bit in the last couple of years. You can see it instantly as you walk through the city: the town is far less Anglo and far more culturally diverse than it was ten years ago, even two years ago. This is reflected in many more interesting places to eat, and, thanks to legislative change, a far greater small bar culture. So in some ways, it sounds like Justin and his aunt (who co-owns the business) have tapped into the wave of change.

Today’s tour covered a range of food establishments around Perth, ranging from the older established businesses (an old Greek supermarket) to more modern ones (enjoying Banh Mi and Vietnamese coffee, and a toasted sandwich at a laneway hispter bar). The tour was well paced. Justin (the guy in the cap with a beard) was a really good tour guide, displaying both knowledge and passion. Highly recommended.

http://www.foodloosetours.com.au/

  1. From the blog Perth Daily Photo, I have learnt that coffee is terribly expensive there. Why would that be? I won’t mention about the awful and overpriced coffee in the QVB we experienced. Out next visit to Sydney found much better coffee, but even in Sydney, coffee is quite expensive. Good coffee, seated at an outdoor table in Melbourne can still be had for less than $3. I am pleased to hear Perth is now much more diverse. Actually I already know that from the blog mentioned above.

    Reply

    1. I’m sure there must be less than $3 coffees in Sydney too, though I’m not sure where. My regular daily flat white is $4 and it’s damn good. The only thing I don’t like about our coffee culture in Australia is the tendency for people to sip the coffee through the plastic lid. I use a recyclable cup, and if I forget to bring it, the first thing I do when I get to work is decant it.

      Reply

  2. Hi James,
    was lovely meeting you on our tour today. Glad you enjoyed seeing the new face of the Perth eating and drinking scene. Thanks a bunch for the great write up, it’s really good to see an interstate perspective on what we do.

    Reply

    1. A friend from Perth read the post, and in particular, my comments about how the food culture had changed here… He wrote…

      “Perth’s isolation has for a long time been its worst enemy – that coupled with the FIFO wage escalation meant that more bogans (….I mean….ahem….people…) were splashing the cash on eateries. The eateries then jacked up prices and the bogans were happy to crow about the money they could spend on a night out.

      Plus, the skilled workers from the hospitality industry (like all others) were pillaged by the resources companies leaving hospitality with a largely untrained, back-packer labour force. Service died in Perth, wages went up, costs went up and quality went down.

      However, variety has sneaked in and a change in laws has brought about a welcome change in how Perth can do business in food and drink. Prices have eased off and we’ve got such a great range of tapas-y bar type places that just couldn’t exist five years ago. We’re growing up.”

      Reply

    2. Thanks for a great day. Thanks also for the shares on Facebook. I do this blog mostly for my own pleasure and self-indulgence, but it’s nice to know others read it too for the occasional interesting piece. Love writing about food.

      Reply

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