Taste of Catalina tour finds its niche

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The Taste of Catalina Food Tours is getting ready to celebrate its first anniversary in Avalon. The first and only full time food tour on Catalina is the brainchild of local resident Erin Eubank.

Eubank said she got the idea from attending the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce’s Taste of Avalon, a one evening event that showcases the best offerings of the participating restaurants in the island city, with bragging rights for the winners of the judging.

The Taste of Catalina Food Tours is getting ready to celebrate its first anniversary in Avalon. The first and only full time food tour on Catalina is the brainchild of local resident Erin Eubank.

Eubank said she got the idea from attending the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce’s Taste of Avalon, a one evening event that showcases the best offerings of the participating restaurants in the island city, with bragging rights for the winners of the judging.

During the Chamber taste, visitors and locals alike mingle around town and taste sample menu items from various restaurants. 

Eubank and her husband Gene, own and operate Catalina Coffee & Cookie Co.  They have won the Chamber taste’s Best Dessert and Best Non-Alcoholic Drink several times.

Eubank said she decided she’d like to expand the experience and have it occur more than just once a year.  The idea behind Taste of Catalina Food Tours is combining delicious food options with passionate guides who can discuss the island’s history and the scenic backdrop of the city of Avalon.

Eubank this week said the tours have been well-received in their first year.

“The response to the tour has been very positive,” she said. “We are consistently in the top 5 activities on TripAdvisor and have welcomed hundreds of guests and corporate groups from all over the world – as far away as Australia.  Our guests have told us this was a great way to start their time on the island, whether here for just one day or several.”

They started offering tours at the beginning of 2013 and have had hundreds of guests sip, sample and savor all that Avalon has to offer. 

“We visit six tasting locations that serve up family recipes, local favorites and specialty drinks,” Eubank said. “Our guides do a fantastic job of sharing the history of our town and the island while delivering their own personal brand of storytelling to make you feel like you are visiting with a friend.”

The tour also includes visits to specialty food shops as guests stroll through Avalon for less than 1 mile of walking.

The locations feature various critically acclaimed entrees, desserts or beverages to enjoy. Meanwhile they encounter the sights, sounds and stories behind Avalon’s well-known historical landmarks and “hidden gems” the city has to offer.

“Locals have lauded this tour because they get to learn more of the back story and connection between the multi-generational families that make Avalon so special,” Eubank said. “Even long-time islanders have taken the tour and learned something new.”

Eubank said her tour guides and staff have made the difference in the success of the tours. The following are brief bios of the staff offered in the company’s press kit.

 

Erin Eubank

Erin grew up spending summers on Catalina Island. Erin’s family has been visiting Catalina since the 1920’s and has called Avalon their summer home since World War II! 

In 2003 Erin, her husband Gene, and their three boys moved to the island full time, when they purchased the Catalina Coffee & Cookie Co. 

Erin began working for the former William Wrigley Jr. summer home (The Inn on Mt. Ada) in 2005 and continues to help run this upscale historically registered B&B, as an Innkeeper.  Embarking upon the One and Only Food Tour offered on Catalina Island has been a mouthwatering adventure for her.

 

Cathy Sweeney

Cathy, Erin’s mom, takes pride in welcoming new members of the family to the island, sometimes even before they’re born! 

She has kept family traditions alive and well throughout the years – from diving for coins tossed from the arriving steamer ships to swim lessons for the grandkids on South Beach. 

The steamers aren’t here anymore, but Cathy still is.  She now lives on the island full-time with her husband, Jack and spends her days volunteering, teaching golf and water aerobics and playing bridge on the beach.

 

Lisa Lavelle

 Lisa moved to the island with her family the summer before she started kindergarten.

Growing up and working in Avalon, she has always had a love of history, especially the tales surrounding this enchanted isle. 

She adores traveling and has gained a wealth of foodie experiences journeying through England, France, Spain, Greece & Mexico. 

Lisa was elated when the opportunity to combine her knowledge of the island, love of local eateries and passion for the written word became a reality thanks to Taste of Catalina Food Tours.

 

Desirae Hernandez

Although you cannot be born on the island any longer, Desirae is the closest to being an “islander” without being born here.  Desirae comes from a long line of Islanders – her family has lived in Avalon for several generations.  She grew up in Avalon and began working for Erin & Gene at the Catalina Coffee & Cookie Co. while in school and continues to be a key component to the success of this store.  Desirae has a unique perspective that she adds to being an exceptional guide of Taste of Catalina Food Tours because of her background. 

She enthusiastically conducts tours while sharing her love of the island and distinctive local foods with all of her tour attendees.  

 

Jordan Monroe

Jordan, who originally hails from Northern California, came to the island to assist with a water quality study.  He was supposed to be on the island for less than a year initially, however he fell in love with the community (and a local girl named Jen) and has been living here ever since.  Jordan works for the City of Avalon, volunteers as Community Outreach Director for the island’s local radio station, KISL – 88.7 FM and serves dinner occasionally, both at home and at the Seaport Bistro.  He also may love ice cream more than oxygen.

To find out more about the Taste of Catalina Tours, visit www.catalinafoodtours.com

• When: Tours Run Daily

• Time: 3-hour tour begins daily at noon

• Cost: $79 adult $69 teen

• What’s Included: All food tastings, enough for lunch

• Who: All age groups and fitness levels

• Capacity: 16 people per tour

• Wear: Comfortable clothes and shoes for walking

• Weather: Tour takes place rain or shine

•    Where: Downtown Avalon (exact meeting location provided with ticket purchase)

• Guest Tip: Take the tour on the first day of your visit – You’ll know what to see and where to eat.

Taste of Catalina tour finds its niche