Iranian chef and co-founder of Persian Food Tours speak to Travel Weekly.

Q. What was the idea behind Persian Food Tours?
A. I felt we owed it to the world to introduce Persian cuisine – the food is unique in terms of ingredients and flavours, with huge variety. We wanted to create something fun, so we spent a few months brainstorming, developing recipes and creating the website, and our first guests arrived in April 2016. It was very new to Iran so we gained a lot of recognition here and overseas, which has made us very proud.

Q. Your tour is part of Intrepid Travel’s Iran Real Food Adventure. What can guests expect?
A. We take travellers to the Tajrish Bazaar in Tehran, where they sample ingredients, learn about their origins and usage, and shop for our cooking class. Then we head to the kitchen where my co-founder Shirin teaches us to cook a Persian meal. It’s hands-on and we end up having a feast to relish while we share experiences.

Q. What’s your favourite part about working in travel?
A. The best part is getting to meet people from all over the world. Some of them have amazing stories from their travels around Iran, and cooking a meal together helps break the ice.

Q. What are the most challenging parts of the job?
A. We didn’t have any big investors and everything was funded by the two of us – we still do everything ourselves from start to finish, so it can be hard work. But the biggest challenge is reaching our audience. Working with Intrepid has helped us make this experience more accessible.

Q. What’s Iran like for visitors?
A. For visitors, Iran is still an undiscovered destination. It isn’t flooded with tourists, so you can have many attractions to yourself. The infrastructure needs a lift, but locals are still their true selves and don’t see tourists as cash. The hospitality is overwhelming. It’s a destination to be explored sooner rather than later.

Q. What is it about travel you love?
A. Apart from the excitement of visiting a new place, I feel like a different person with each trip. It’s about observing new ways of life and wondering how different your life, beliefs and values could have been if you’d been born in another place. As an Iranian passport holder earning in rials, travelling can be a challenge and not something to take for granted, but I’m doing my best not to miss out on this world.

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