Deborah Christakos has spent most of her adult life in the food business — or several businesses, to be more precise. Trained in France, she was a chef in restaurants in several major large cities, including New York, Boston, and San Francisco. Later, after moving to Northampton, starting a family, and deciding that a chef’s life didn’t mesh well with family life, she started offering cooking lessons.
And it was while teaching one class, where students shopped at a local farmers’ market and prepared what they bought, that she started to conceptualize a new and different kind of venture — at least for this region. She would call it Pioneer Valley Food Tours, and that name tells you all you need to know. Well, not really, but it sets the tone.
These are, indeed, walking tours involving food — in the Pioneer Valley. There’s one focused on Northampton and another that takes people to various stops in Amherst. There’s a bicycle tour, a concept born at least in part from COVID-19 and the need to keep people socially distanced during the pandemic, and private tours that have taken people to Springfield, Greenfield, and other communities. The tours take people to restaurants, bakeries, butcher shops, farmers’ markets, and other … points of interest, let’s call them, where participants can explore local food and beverages from source to table.