Along with leading the Culinary Adventure Co. with Chef Scott, Kevin Durkee is the Big Cheese and culinary force behind CHEESEWERKS, Canada’s only restaurant 100% focused on placing Canadian Cheese at the center of every plate.
CHEESEWERKS has delivered a love for honest, authentic, ooey gooey comfort food. His restaurant is the epicenter for Canadian Cheese and Legend Dairy™ Comfort Food with stellar reviews from Zagat, NOW Magazine, The Grid, Toronto Star, Metro, The Globe & Mail, Today’s Parent and dozens more.
Kevin’s ooey gooey energy and dynamic charm truly makes him “Canada’s Big Cheese” and allowed Kevin to be selected as Host of the Culinary Stages presented by HGTV at the National, Fall & GTA Home & Reno Shows while making regular appearances on CITY TV’s Breakfast Television, Global Morning, Canada AM, CHCH Morning Show and CBC Metro Morning. Kevin was a featured Chef in The 2014 Great Canadian Cheese Cook-Off: Mac & Cheese Edition sponsored by the Dairy Farmers of Canada – along with having his recipes featured in the Toronto Star Cookbook by Jennifer Bain (Toronto Star’s Food Editor).
With ongoing cooking/speaking/judging appearances for The Royal Winter Fair, Toronto Festival of Beer, Good Food Show, DELICIOUS Food Show, The Grate Canadian Grilled Cheese Cook-Off presented by the Dairy Farmers of Canada, and LCBOs – Kevin continues to spread the word about how to cook, appreciate, entertain and enjoy the best of Canadian Cheeses and local artisan and small-batch products. “This passion continues everyday with the amazing adventures we offer and design for our guests here at the Culinary Adventure Co.”
How do the experiences you offer at The Culinary Adventure Co. give guests a unique perspective on the history, people or culture of Toronto?
Since Culinary Adventure Co. started in 2010, we’ve wanted to offer experiences that treat “Locals like Tourists and Tourists like Locals”. This comes to life by offering Food Tours, Culinary Adventures and Classes – that are filled with unique moments, stories and personalities. Great food is the basis of our business, but great food gets better when you hear the history behind it, the story of the person that created it or understand the culture that inspired it.
How has the company evolved since it began in 2010?
We only offered two food tours when we began in 2010, now we’re proud to be Canada’s largest culinary tourism operator offering more than 16 unique food tours, a dozen culinary adventures and a constant assortment of classes and education.
What is one detail of an experience you provide that may go unnoticed by guests, but which you feel is important?
Everyone that works for the Culinary Adventure Co. are chefs, restaurant owners or foodservice professionals. We have a deeper knowledge and respect for our restaurant and retail partners. This translates into a unique insight that our guests hear and taste on their adventures.
What do you wish every guest knew as they consider participating in one of your tours or adventures?
We’d love our guests to know that while our restaurant and retailer are partners, we don’t discount or ask for “deals”. We treat then with respect and don’t have deals or kick-backs like other food tour companies expect. As chefs and restaurant owners, we operate in the best interest of the business and therefore the experience for our guests is top-notch.
What is one travel trend that really excites you?
Food first. 10 years ago, you would book your vacation around the museum, the landmark, the attraction you wanted to visit. Now travellers are more concerned with booking reservations, place to shop, eat – before they leave home. This desire to seek out great food and interesting finds is why we are growing so fast.
What sets The Culinary Adventure Co. apart from other, similar, organizations?
As discussed above we respect our restaurant and retail partners – which gives our guests the best experience and the best value.
What is one insiders tip to getting the most out of an experiential travel vacation?
Get connected. Social media, especially Instagram is a great “hidden” way to find unique spots, meals, dishes and places to visit. Watch for common #hashtags and follow those – they will lead you to some incredible places.
What is one strategy that has helped your business to grow?
It’s simple – deliver an exceptional product, every time. We have grown partly because of the loyalty and repeat business of our clientele. They loved their first experience with us – so they want another – they share their experience with others. It just continues to grow.
What is one personal habit that has helped you to be successful?
Get engaged with guests. When I’m running a tour, I work hard at listening, getting their names, having fun with their stories – making it personal. I’m not just a guide showing them or feed them – I’m a friend,
Please share one instance where a guest had a moving or emotional reaction to the experience you provided to them.
Food is passion, so frankly each tour get emotional. We hear all the time that the food we offer is the “best” they’ve had. But just this spring, we had a couple feel so passionate about our Food Tours – that they got married on one of them. A great experience.