With food tours on hiatus, Madison Eats develops a new food experience

Madison Eats Food Tours finds a new way to share the local food community.
Otehlia Cassidy With Item From Treats Box
Courtesy of Otehlia Cassidy
Otehlia Cassidy holds a sandwich made from ingredients from the Backyard BBQ Hawaiian Luau bag, the first Madison TrEats collaboration with Christine's Kitchens.

When in-person food tours needed to be put on pause due to COVID-19, Otehlia Cassidy decided to launch a new part of her business promoting Madison’s local food scene.

Cassidy, the owner of Madison Eats Food Tours, launched Madison TrEats first for Mother’s Day, but has since created three other collaborative gift bags, including the current offering, which has a Mediterranean Meze theme.

“[With] all of the changes that are taking place, it’s hard to have a physical, interactive tour that we can build right now and run right now,” Cassidy says.

At first, she thought she would just try a few of the collaborative bags to provide a unique food experience and support some local food producers who are experiencing difficulties due to the coronavirus. But now, she plans to continue doing more bags for the foreseeable future.

Each bag has a specific theme with products from locally owned businesses. Items vary, but there is traditionally a protein, sides and ingredients to create a mocktail or cocktail (though alcohol is not included).

“I wanted so stick with something that wasn’t a meal kit,” Cassidy says. “We wanted to do as minimal cooking as possible and as minimal products that need to be processed once you get them.”

Cassidy has been working with her Madison Eats Food Tours team and Christine Ameigh, who owns Christine’s Kitchens and Slide, to create Madison TrEats. Christine’s Kitchens is an artisan food store and collaborative kitchen space that has been offering local food delivery in partnership with FEED Kitchens and the MarketReady Program since the pandemic began. There are more than 50 businesses currently offering delivery through Christine’s Kitchens and many of those businesses are featured in the Madison TrEats bags.

Cassidy says Ameigh knows all of the food producers incredibly well, so she’s able to identify which individual might be able to create something for the bags. Some of the items are only made by those producers for Madison TrEats, so your only opportunity to try that product in in that bag. Each one features about 10 local businesses and Cassidy is committed to working with at least two minority-owned businesses in each bag, with at least one of those businesses being Black-owned.

The Mediterranean Meze meal, which can be ordered through July 20, includes gyro lamb sausage or chickpea shawarma for a vegan option, pita from ORIGIN Breads, tapenade, tzatziki, feta from Farmer Johns’, Mediterranean pasta salad from Savi Cafe, baklava from Bunky’s, Slide gourmet potato chips, honey from Madame Chu and club soda from Top Note.

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“For us, we’ve always offered an experience,” Cassidy says. “We try to make it more than just a bag of food, but also an experience that people can have.”

The bags include videos on how to style products, recipes, photos for inspiration and also a Spotify playlist that can accompany the meal. Madison TrEats can be ordered through Christine’s Kitchens for delivery or pick-up.

The themes will change every two weeks. Cassidy says some future themes include grown-up summer camp, tacos and pizza.

“It’s a way for us to keep people connected to the local food and for us to stay connected to that,” Cassidy says.