, Salem, MA


October 16, 2013

A taste of history

Karen Scalia's food tours of Salem emphasize the city's historic links with the spice trade and its current variety of restaurants


“I think Karen has done a great job for the city itself just showcasing all the various restaurants that are out there,” said chef Bill Fogarty of Scratch Kitchen, which is located on the corner of Congress and Derby streets at the base of the South Harbor Garage.

Each tour is unique, Scalia says, because not all the tour partners are visited during each tour. She leaves it up to the chefs to come up with a menu for the tastings.

“They are the artists, they are the ones who are creating these beautiful items,” Scalia said.

Scalia certainly has her food chops down. A native of Chelsea, she ran a restaurant in New York and has worked in corporate event planning.

“I am not a trained chef, but my friends are not upset when I invite them for dinner,” Scalia said. “I’ve always been a foodie and I’ve always been very interested in eating organic, healthy and local sourcing. That has kind of been a kind of a battle cry for me for years.”

She also has a knack for being in front of people. She’s a voice-over actress.

“If you don’t blink, you might catch me on a commercial every once in a while,” Scalia said.

The tours not only boost Scalia’s business, they bring customers to her tour partners.

“It’s great to have Karen start this business because it brings a lot of people into the store,” said Sharon Driscoll, owner of Milk and Honey Green Grocers, at 32 Church St. “People who live on the North Shore who may not have been through this way get exposure to the store, which is great.”

Scalia will start her tour at Salem Spice at the Pickle Pot on Pickering Wharf, which allows her to highlight Salem’s relationship to the spice trade. Owner David J. Bowie (no relation to the pop star), has run the culinary store for more than two years. Salem Spice features more than 200 spices without preservatives or anti-caking agents.

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