Congratulations, Parastoo and Latife, on your 5-star reviews!
TASTE Cultural Food Tours is now 2 years old and we recently received our 200th (and 199th) Trip Advisor review and we couldn’t be more proud. Both reviews got a 5-star rating for our “From Afghanistan to Persia” Merrylands tour. The tour was led by our newest guide, Parastoo, a 21-year-old refugee, new mum, and Uni student, mentored by Latife, our newest Senior Guide, and Engineer-turned-foodie. These Trip Advisor reviews recorded Parastoo’s first time leading a tour.
To have our 200th review be about one of our newest tours, led by our newest trained guide after being mentored by a fellow guide, it’s just incredible.
Upon hearing about our recent 5-star Trip Advisor reviews, Latife said, “I love the Merrylands ‘From Afghanistan to Persia’ tour and I was really pleased to find out we got #200 and #199! This is an amazing achievement for the entire TASTE Team in so many ways. Since joining TASTE I have been inspired by all the extremely talented long-standing guides, and our Director, Lesley. I’ve enjoyed learning from everyone and I hope I have also been able to have a positive influence on the newer members of the team too.”
“It’s been a pleasure to work with Parastoo and show her my version of the Merrylands tour. I know she will now take the tour and add to it and make it an even greater experience for the customers. Parastoo is a very genuine, warm, and friendly person. Her enthusiasm to learn and her mature approach make her a great tour guide. She also has an amazing way of telling stories and making tours very interesting.”
Parastoo was surprised, but delighted, to find out that her tour had scored 5-star reviews. She said, “Leading a tour for the first time was very challenging for me. I was nervous and after speaking for only a few minutes, my throat went dry and I felt like I hadn’t drunk water for weeks! But when I was doing the beginning of the tour, looking at my customers’ glowing faces, and seeing them truly listening to me, that gave me the energy I needed, especially when I was able to make them laugh!”
Parastoo is a full-time mum, with a six-month-old son, and she’s also studying full-time at Uni to become a primary school teacher. In addition to running tours for TASTE, she is a guest speaker with Cumberland Council and a hijab artist. She said, “I love all of my jobs! Working with TASTE has especially allowed me to build my communication skills and share my knowledge, and introduce different types of food to people. I love meeting tourists, visitors and locals and transferring a positive understanding of Muslims, asylum seekers and refugees that live in Australia.”
Latife also feels that being able to help change perceptions has made a huge impact. She said, “TASTE allow us to make a great difference in perceptions, breaking away some of the negative ideas about certain suburbs, races, and religions by bringing people together to experience the tastes, smells, sights, and stories that are so unique to each tour and place. It’s so great to see that after a three-hour tour, even people who have previously feared Western Sydney, they will make it a part of their regular routine to keep coming back to enjoy the tastes of Sydney’s West. TASTE allows local business owners to share their stories, proudly showing what they have achieved and what they have to offer.”
Parastoo loved being mentored by Latife and shared, “Latife is a beautiful person and she taught me so patiently. During every tour she gave me an opportunity to speak with customers and helped me to feel more independent. One lady on a tour told me, ‘The tour was so lovely, thank you for having us today. By sharing your story, it allows us to be a part of you and feel what you felt.’ Her feedback encouraged me and made me feel proud of who I am.”
The original Benevolent Society TASTE project was about connecting across cultures and now at the independent Taste Cultural Food Tours, we have a focus on training and employment for new migrants, refugees, and young people from Western Sydney. Director Lesley Unsworth said, “We could not have hoped for a better 2nd birthday present, to reach our 200th review, and a 5-star one at that! Our tours mean so much to us. When you share a meal, you learn a lot about people. Food tells you about culture, geography, manners, faith…all sorts of things. It’s an easy way to make friends, and it’s often the first thing that new migrants offer to their new nation.”
We feel incredibly inspired by all of our tour guides, past and present. Thank you all! And thank you for lucky #199 and #200, Parastoo and Latife. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and talents with us. Thank you for connecting people and communities through food, culture, history, and most importantly, the beautiful shared stories that help bring us together when we need it the most.
Trip Advisor Review #200
“I can’t say enough good things about this tour – food was amazing, all the businesses we visited were really friendly and helpful, and the guides, Parastoo and Latife, were both excellent, knowledgeable, and extremely nice women. Although we went to lots of places in the four hours, it didn’t feel rushed. I’d definitely go back to all the restaurants, shops and street food outlets we went to and will be recommending them – and Taste Tours – to my friends.” -Leets_2011
Trip Advisor Review #199
“This was a surprise gift for a girlfriend, and we all had an amazing time. This was a fabulous taste of Persian and Afghan food, with wonderful guides who shared their experiences and tips to make it a truly memorable experience. Would thoroughly recommend and we will now venture back on our own. A great way to be introduced to areas you would never have thought to go to. Parastoo and Latife were fabulous guides. -Sandra K
Our next “From Afghanistan to Persia” tour of Merrylands is on Saturday, 23rd September.
#sydney #sydneyfood #westernsydney #letthemstay
p.s. We are so grateful to the awesome See.Taste.Do! for your fantastic photography!