Ashley Stevenson, founder of Foodie Foot Tours in Oklahoma City, leads hungry groups on unique, walking food tours through two of the city’s historical neighborhoods.
After less than a year in operation, Oklahoma’s first walking food tour has gained public notoriety and has been recognized on both a local and national level.
[pullquote]My goal is to introduce people to something bigger than chain restaurants. The food and people behind the restaurant concepts here have a lot to offer, and I just want to share the joy of my journey.”[/pullquote]Stevenson’s first walking food journey began in the Deep Deuce District, a location rich in African American history and a community that thrived during the 1920s through the 1950s.
The second tour added, Uptown 23rd, centers around a once-booming business area and the famed Route 66.
Tour members sample locally prepared dishes while interacting with the artisans who craft them. Between tastings, “foodies” walk through the historic neighborhood filled with unexpected landmarks that even the most local of locals find enlightening.
Each restaurant provides a minimum of three samples from their menu. By the end of the tour, most participants are comfortably full – of both flavorful food and culture.
“I’m simply a lover of food,” Stevenson discloses on her website, www.foodiefoottours.com. “My goal is to introduce people to something bigger than chain restaurants. The food and people behind the restaurant concepts here have a lot to offer, and I just want to share the joy of my journey.”
The journey that she refers to began on a Girl Scouts mission trip.
“It wasn’t until a trip to Africa my senior year of high school that I was forced to adjust to the fact that there was more than chicken nuggets and fries in the world,” she says.
The Tulsa native eventually moved to Louisiana, and again was intrigued by the cultural landscape of food.
“I decided that eating and traveling belonged hand-in-hand,” says Stevenson.
She says she finds herself enjoying the food as much as the sites when she travels. When she moved to Oklahoma City, she wanted to share all the city had to offer in both food and culture.
Blogging about her food travels was a favorite pastime, so it made sense that she created a way to bring her blog to life based on a theory of “walk, eat and learn”– foot tours through a city’s past while tasting its culinary present.
Stevenson’s walking tours will end in November due to the colder temps and unpredictable weather of the winter months. During this time, they will be replaced with winter-friendly, festive holiday dinners, diving heavily into the menu of one restaurant.
At the present time, the thriving business is a one-woman-show.
“It’s a struggle at times, but I’m doing something that I love,” she says with a laugh. “I finally hired a booking company to help out with reservations.”
Over the past decade, Oklahoma City has made significant strides in the restoration and preservation of its historical areas, resurrecting the glory days of years gone by. Stevenson’s business serves as some of the icing on that cake.
Stevenson hopes to launch a third tour option in 2016, offering “foodies” the opportunity to eat through more of the city’s colorful history and cuisine.