Name: Matthias (Tesi) Baur
Occupation: Founder of the World Gourmet Society and Consultant
Matthias Baur is the founder of the World Gourmet Society (WGS) and a consultant in the international event and exhibition industry based in London. In the past he worked for the two largest organisers for business to business events: Reed Exhibitions and UBM in the positions of global e-Business Director, Business Development Director and most recently as Portfolio Director managing more than 20 food trade shows and conferences.
In 2010 he founded the World Gourmet Society during a period of intensive travelling primarily in Asia with the aim of creating a platform where gourmets from around the world can discover new culinary landscapes. The World Gourmet Society quickly became the largest group for gourmets on LinkedIn. It now numbers more than 20,000 people. Through all its channels WGS now reaches 37,000 gourmets worldwide.
How would you describe your travel style?
Too often I travel for business which sadly means I don’t have much time to meet friends and enjoy the culture and hospitality of the places I visit. However, when I can – and particularly when I travel for the World Gourmet Society – I enjoy meeting friends or making new contacts by diving into the local culinary culture to explore the country where I am. Food is culture and to explore a culture via the local cuisine is a great way to understand the country you visit.
When choosing travel destinations, how important are food/drink choices and experiences to your overall decision-making process?
As you might imagine, the local cuisine is very important when it comes to choosing a travel destination for me. In Germany we have the phrase “Liebe geht durch den Magen” which can be translated as “Love is shown through food”. That said, food and drink is not everything. Enjoying food and experiencing local hospitality is only possible when you share this moment with local friends. So to come back to your question: local food and drinks in a combination with meeting local friends is immensely important for me when I choose my travel destinations.
Culinary traveler or food explorer? Which do you identify more closely with?
Clearly food explorer as it has a deeper meaning. You need to go “underneath the skin” to explore something. My recommendation to all would be not just to enjoy food. Explore the culture and people behind the food and you understand food in a complete new way.
If we ask your best friends if you’re a foodie, what would they say?
I think they would say yes. Actually my best friends have really proven their friendship by putting up with me over the last few years as I’ve permanently talked about my hobby to explore culinary landscapes and build up WGS!
What’s the most unusual food you’ve eaten?
Hmm…it probably has to be the grasshoppers prepared for me by a local that I met whilst on holiday in France when I was in my 20s. It was made with herbs and eggs fried in a pan. Together with a glass of Bordeaux it was a delicious dinner in good company that I’ll never forget.
What’s the best culinary travel experience you’ve ever had?
It was a few years ago in Beijing. I was staying in a wonderful hotel close to the Capital Club. I ordered a steak in the hotel restaurant. The meat was top quality and the restaurant offered a pleasant atmosphere, had a good wine menu and it was great service. However, I suddenly realized that I could have such a steak in the same atmosphere in London, New York or Munich and it didn’t make any difference that I was in Beijing that evening. The next evening I asked a Singaporean friend of mine who had lived in Beijing for many years to show me a restaurant that “a Westerner” had never seen before.
He took me to a dark side road in Beijing where I’m pretty sure I would never have left the car if I would have been on my own. It turned out that the street was home to five Japanese restaurants that offered Japanese food as it was cooked a hundred years ago. The restaurant had a basic decor but the atmosphere was lively and the room was filled by the smells and steam coming from the kitchen which was situated in the centre of the room and the conversations from other guests. That night I had one of the best culinary experiences of my life so far by enjoying traditional Japanese cuisine with a good friend in a place I could never have found on my own.
Any great travel tips to share?
Explore where you are with local friends. If you don’t have local friends make contact with the locals and explore their culture.
Favorite Culinary Destination: Italy, France and Thailand
Favorite Cuisine: In Asia: Japanese and Thai In Europe: Italian, French and Alpine
Favorite Restaurant: The Dysart (UK), Launceston Place (UK), Chez Flo (France), Schiffchen (Germany).
Favorite Street Food: Thai
Favorite Food Market: Borough Food Market London
Favorite Gourmet Shop: La Cave a Fromage (London)
Favorite Winery: Chateau Margaux, Chateau Beychevelle
Favorite Brewery: Grohe in Darmstadt
Favorite Whiskey: Edradour
Laura Goyer is a world traveler and culinary travel professional, on a mission to help busy prime-time women find the best local food when they travel.