Name: Joe Marzano
Occupation: President & CEO, Martius Group, LLC and The Cooking Commons®
Where were you born?: Allentown, PA
Where do you live?: currently Upper Gwynedd (I have lived in eight states and three countries)
Joe Marzano is President and CEO of Martius Group, LLC, a talent and change management solutions provider, and The Cooking Commons® which creates fun food engagement events for teams. Joe is a nationally recognized organizational change and engagement expert, leadership coach and speaker.
Joe’s leadership career spans four decades including as college president, business general manager, and executive with Fortune 500 companies and international non-profits. He has served as an officer and board member for over a dozen organizations across the U.S., and has led through start-up, growth, transition and turnaround.
A former culinary school leader, Joe is also a skilled cook, culinary competition judge, historian and world traveler who has explored forty U.S. states and eight countries. When he is not traveling, Joe is cooking up ideas at his home near Philadelphia.
How would you describe your travel style?
Purposeful deep-dive discovery.
What’s your earliest travel memory?
As a child, my family vacationed at Williamsburg, VA and the world fairs in NYC and Montreal, which ignited my curiosity, imagination and love of exploring heritage and culture.
When researching travel destinations, how important are food/drink choices and experiences to your overall decision-making process?
Food is central to understanding culture, and authentic food experiences are essential to my business and passion.
Culinary traveler or food explorer? Which do you identify more closely with?
There is no true difference between these terms. Exploring new foods is a journey, whether from your garden or across an ocean.
If we ask your best friends if you’re a foodie, what would they say?
Foodies are gourmand hobbyists who enjoy eating well. My friends might call me a culinary champion. I connect, teach and inspire people using food.
What’s in your carry-on? Any essential food or kitchen tools you won’t leave home without?
I keep a corkscrew and bottle/can opener in my car, briefcase and checked suitcase, food and travel apps on my iPhone, and candied ginger in my pocket to snack on.
What’s the most unusual food you’ve eaten?
In Japan, I recall breakfast sometimes included dried horse mackerel and Natto (fermented slimy soybeans) which have pungent flavor profiles not to my taste.
If we handed you a ticket to anywhere in the world, where would you go?
New, Peru. Return, Japan or Italy.
What’s the best culinary travel experience you’ve ever had?
Traveling in the U.S., New Orléans. Traveling overseas, Southern Italy. Staying here, in my kitchen where most every day I cook and experiment with something.
Any great travel tips to share?
Follow the locals off the beaten path, avoiding bright outside lights and bi-lingual menus (Italians call these “mosquito traps” that lure tourists). The best meals are often in obscure, un-rated and unassuming locations nearby great local food sources, and I make a business of finding them for my customers.
Favorite Culinary Destination: Italy
Favorite Cuisine: Italian Farmhouse, Thai
Favorite Restaurant: NOLA, chef/restaurateur Emeril Lagasse’s eatery in New Orleans’ French Quarter
Favorite Street Food: Grilled or broiled anything on a stick, especially pork
Favorite Food Market: In the U.S., the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market offers an amazing array of fresh farm produce. Overseas, Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market is a sprawling funky dive into the ocean.
Favorite Gourmet Shop: I’ve been to hundreds around the world. The best offer local artisan products you can sample and buy, and limit the touristy chotskies.
Favorite Food/Tasting Tour: My own. I entertain and immerse people in the culture and the cuisine.
Favorite Culinary Tour Operator: LOL, me!
Favorite Travel App: Google Maps, AroundMe, iTranslate