Here, iEG Contributor Zoe Eisenberg talks to Jen Bardekoff and Sheri Wheeler, the founders of Urban Food Crawl—a vegan food tour in Los Angeles. Read on as Zoe talks to these food fanatics about how they started their company, their favorite vegan dishes, hobbies, passions and more.
iEG: First, tell me a bit about yourself. Profession? Passions? What revs your engine?
Sheri: I am not only passionate about vegan food, but about art and animation as well. In addition to the food crawl, I work in animation production and do art and design on the side. I feel that Urban Food Crawl is the perfect opportunity to meld the two. It takes a great deal of creative energy to come up with food tour routes and events. I also
maintain the website and do all of the design work for the company. I also like to read comic books, and I envy people who surf and I want to learn how to do that one day.
Jen: I find myself always thinking about food. Constantly! I went to school thinking I would work in the TV/film industry, and after having an interesting and educational run in animation production, I felt as though I wanted my career to revolve around food. When Sheri and I saw the need for there to be a vegan food tour in LA, we developed it, started the
tours, and then I made this my main focus.
When I’m not working on the tour, you’ll actually find me in the kitchen baking. I absolutely love baking and sharing the baked goods with people. At the moment, my favorite things to bake are vegan challah and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. And as far as something that is not related to food, I love taking my corgi, Waffle, on hikes around LA.
iEG: How long have you been vegan?
Sheri: About 4 years
Jen: About 3 years
iEG: Tell me what gave you the idea to start Urban Food Crawl?
Jen: There were a couple of contributing factors. We both love to try new restaurants and attend food events, and felt as though there were a lot of cool food events around, but most of them were not vegan-friendly. We wanted to create something for everyone! Also, our friends kept asking us about where to go for good vegan food–whether it be because they were going out with someone who is vegan, or trying to incorporate more vegan food into their own diet. We wanted to have a fun tour that showcased some of the best vegan food in LA.
iEG: Tell me about your team–is it just you?
Jen: Sheri and I are the owners, and we also host the tours every weekend. We do it all!
iEG: How did you get the different eateries on board?
Jen: We approached the restaurants, pitched the idea, and they were all very welcoming to having the tour stop by each week. We are really excited that these eateries have terrific vegan options. The great thing too is that people on our tours discover places they did not know had vegan options, and then they return to these places now that they know about
them. We love that it spreads the word about the great local eateries of LA.
iEG: You eat at 6 places in 4 hours! I love to eat, but damn! How much food is served at each place?
Jen: The portions are definitely more than a taste, but not a full meal at each stop. It is almost tapas-like portions. Also, our menu is set up as a progression of a meal, so we start out with smaller bites, then serve more entree-like dishes, and then dessert!
iEG: Are you like, running or doing squats in between stops to work your appetite back up? Really, what, if anything, do you do on the tour aside from eat?
Jen: We wanted a tour that incorporates history as well, especially being in Downtown LA. We talk about interesting Downtown info, as well as make a couple of non-food stops along the way so people can get their appetite back! Also, the stops are not right next door to each other, so walking in between each stop helps too! The tour includes about 3 miles of walking.
iEG: Do you hope it will spur a food crawl frenzy in places other than LA?
Jen: One of our main goals is to make vegan food more accessible to both vegans and non-vegans. If other people in other cities see what we’re doing and take that extra step to seek out vegan options in unexpected places, then that would be great!
iEG: Describe your favorite meal!
Sheri: Jackfruit tacos from the now defunct Pure Luck. Really, any type of tacos.
Jen: A toss up between a Southern-style plate with BBQ tofu, collard greens, black eyed peas, and cornbread AND vegan Ramen and sushi from Shojin in Little Tokyo.
iEG: Anything else readers should know?
Jen: We are also hosting vegan events in LA as well. First up is a vegan cupcake competition! We have bakers from around the LA-area bake delicious mini cupcakes and attendees will eat and vote for their favorite.
For more info on the girls, the crawl, or to buy tickets, visit them at www.urbanfoodcrawl.com.
Have an awesome passion, profession or hobby? Constantly have vegan food on the brain? Want to be interviewed for iEatGrass? Email Zoe@ieatgrass.com.