Artisan Food Marketplace Founder Gives Her Best Travel Tips

April 10, 2019

“Food and drink really bring people together and make for long-lasting memories,” says Mindy Schapiro, event planner and co-founder of Emporiyum, an annual marketplace that brings artisan food producers from across the country to Baltimore and Washington, DC. “Some of my earliest travel memories are being in Mexico with my family when I was 10 or 11 and eating the food there.

Even then I loved its freshness and simplicity. Today, eating Mexican food transports me back to those trips. Food isn’t just about eating, but about the whole experience.”

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Schapiro co-founded Emporiyum with Sue-Jean Chun to facilitate food experiences for others. “Visiting Smorgasburg [a food “flea market”] in Brooklyn, it blew me away,” she says. “I saw no reason we couldn’t have something similar, but on a smaller scale, in Baltimore and D.C.” The first Emporiyum debuted in Balitmore in 2014. It sold out with 2,500 people buying tickets to meet and sam- ple food made by nearly 70 different producers, from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream (from Columbus, Ohio) to Mobtown Meat Snacks (Baltimore), Quin Candy (Oregon) and celebrity chef Bryan Voltaggio. The first D.C. Emporiyum was last fall. Baltimore’s second was in April. And there’s another in D.C. this fall.

How does Schapiro pick the purveyors? “I need to try the product before we let them in,” she says. “We’re not just looking for interesting food, but also great personalities. Meeting the vendors behind the brands—hearing why and how a soda is made or sisters talking about their mom’s chocolate- covered pretzels and why they decided to turn that into their business (Fatty Sundays)—that’s part of the experience.” Traveling to find these purveyors are what Schapiro always looks forward to. “Wherever we go I spend at least one day checking out the local food scene,” she says.

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Mindy on Travel

Will Travel for Food: “The food scene is a huge factor in deciding where we travel. My favorite food cities are definitely Charleston, San Francisco, Los Angeles—Sugarfina there is one the world’s great candy stores—Hong Kong and, recently, Washington D.C. I don’t need fancy—give me a great burger, great fries and a great shake and I’m happy—but as a family we don’t shy away from fancy either. Over Christmas we took our two young sons to the Michelin three-star Flocons de Sel in Megève, France, and it was one of our best meals ever.”

Finding the Most Authentic Food Experiences: “Instead of asking Destination Concierges for the best restaurants, I ask them for good food resources in their city. That’s how I found Edible Excursions in San Francisco; Lisa is amazing, familiar with both restaurants that have been around forever and also the new places that seem to open every week. I also find foodies on Instagram and look for food bloggers in the cities I’m traveling to. In L.A., I go to consumingla. com. In Charleston, CharlestonFoodBloggers’ Instagram feed is an amazing resource.”