When GuelphToday first profiled Lynn Broughton in the spring of 2018 she was in the midst of shooting a television series and taking people on historical and culinary walking tours of Guelph.
“I created a new tour this year since the last time we spoke,” said Broughton. “It’s called EatStreets and the tagline is ‘A Moveable Brunch’. I have my ‘To The Core’ tour which is sort of my flagship tour that I started with three years ago and I also created ‘Little Bites’, which is sort of an appetizer evening tour.”
The scope and popularity of the tours has grown steadily since 2015 when she launched Taste Detours Guelph.
“I’ve had people from 10 different countries, all the provinces, nine US states – it has been fascinating,” said Broughton. “I have toured more than 1,480 people since I began three and half years ago, with this past year being my slowest.”
The slowdown this past year was a result of forces both beyond and within her control.
“I try to do the tours all year round until this last terrible winter,” she said. “Normally, I can be quite busy in January, busier than August. It’s the opposite of any other food tour in the world.”
Bad weather hurt her winter tours and she took two months off last spring to produce a six-part television series with Bell Fibe TV1.
“That’s the height of irony really if I was hoping to promote the business but that was really secondary,” she said. “It was about showcasing a good dozen or so wonderful people and places in Guelph and it is just scraping the surface of our food offering.”
Producing the series was a whole new experience for Broughton.
“I went with this five-person tv crew to places that aren’t on my regular tours like Na Ha Thai Kitchen, Laza Food and Beverages and places like that,” she said. “It was wonderful because I got to interview and meet and cook with people I don’t get to see on a regular basis and learn their stories. My whole schtick is hearing and sharing people’s stories through food and drink.”
She learned a lot from the experience and hopes to do more.
“It was very stressful but in an exhilarating way,” she said. “There were long days of filming. I did not have hair and makeup people but I did have this magnificent crew who were such pros and that really helped me learn how to do it. I am trying to convince them to do Taste Detours Elora.”
Segments from the series rotate on Bell Fibe TV1 and are posted on Taste Detours’ Youtube channel. The extra publicity has helped grow the Taste Detour brand and elevate Guelph as a food tour destination.
“Guelph is not typically known as a tourist town and this is a bit of a tourist business so I was concerned about going stale,” she said. “I want to keep things new and that is why I accepted the TV show.”
She is hopeful that the success of the Guelph tours will translate to Elora.
“Elora is a tourist town,” she said. “The tours are not only for tourists but that is going to be the biggest draw. I feel like this is a natural progression so it was extra delightful to discover some historic connections as well as clear agricultural connections between Guelph and Elora.”
She said Elora is seeing a boom in food tourism due, in part to the re-opening of the Elora Mill last summer.
“There are three to four restaurants that have opened up in the last six months there,” she said “That town is always busy in the summer but it is a bit insane now. So, I am lucky that they are accepting of me waltzing in there and trying to create a tour. I have always wanted to go to Elora, since the beginning.”
Broughton lived in Elora for a while during the 1980s but preparing for new Taste Detours Elora has put the town in a whole new perspective.
“I did a trial run yesterday,” she said. “I have been working on this for a couple months. There are six stops but I am also talking about the town in general – even how the gorge was formed. That’s how nerdy I get. I got 10 books on Elora from the library and I was studying. It’s fascinating.”
Broughton is always working on new tour ideas and collaborations but she is quick to point out that while she is the sole proprietor of Taste Detours, she didn't and couldn’t do it alone.
“I can’t emphasize more my gratitude to the restaurants and business owners who make these tours possible,” said Broughton. “I couldn’t do any of this without them.”