In 2009, we launched Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours and our walking tours of North Carolina’s downtowns. We have gotten to know chefs, entrepreneurs, foodies, and people who just love to eat and have a good time. This blog serves to show off their talents and personalities.

Meet the People Behind Tasting Carolina

Lesley Stracks-Mullem

Lesley is the co-owner of Taste Carolina. She was inspired to start the business after she and her husband hosted their brother-in-law, an extremely adventurous foodie, on a whirlwind night and day of eating North Carolina chow in October, 2008. They visited Toast, Magnolia Grill, and Six Plates Wine Bar one night and seven barbecue restaurants in six hours the next day, including four in the barbecue capital of the world, Lexington, NC. Lesley enjoyed the planning as much as the food itself and thought there might be a market for culinary tours. Lesley’s favorite food is cheese, her favorite local dinner spot is Guglhupf, and her favorite sandwich is the fried egg BLT at Parker and Otis. When she’s not leading and organizing food tours, Lesley plans big adventures with her husband, Jeremy, son, Zeke, and dog, Marley.

Lesley and Joe

Joe Philipose

Joe is the co-owner of Taste Carolina. By day, Joe can be found consulting for PricewaterhouseCoopers. But when night falls, Joe is devoted to trying new restaurants and recipes. And when the weekend comes, it’s a full-on two day spin through farmers’ markets, his favorite restaurants, and a number of craft cocktails bars. Joe’s favorite foods are chocolate and ice cream, his favorite local dinner spot is Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, and his favorite sandwich is the pork banh mi at Spize Café. When Joe isn’t consulting, cooking, or eating, he enjoys biking down the American Tobacco Trail with his girlfriend wife, Donna.

Liz Rodell

Liz, blog interviewer extraordinaire, is a student at graduated from UNC – Chapel Hill majoring in Communications Studies and Public Relations. Her favorite food is peanut butter, her favorite local dinner spot is The Raleigh Times, and her favorite sandwich in town is the turkey guacamole at Merritt’s Grill. Liz grew up in Toronto, Atlanta, and Raleigh and was eager to settle in North Carolina for college. When she’s not interviewing food entrepreneurs for Tasting Carolina, visiting restaurants and farmers’ markets ahead of Taste Carolina tours, finishing her degree, and interning in public relations at French West Vaughn in Raleigh, Liz enjoys a good run or tackling a DIY project.

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