leisure1.JPG (44711 bytes)By Natalie Berkowitz

Ideas are a dime a dozen. Good ideas are rarer still. Good ideas put into action are the best.  And that's what Addie Tomei has done with her exciting year-old business called "Savory Sojourns."  Addie retired from a career as an English teacher in the New York City system and was casting around for a new idea that would combine her love of food and entertaining, her passion for New York and her delightful, people-oriented personality.  Wasn't she the daughter of a Sicilian mother and Tuscan father, and hadn't the family's life centered around la tavola? She could parlay her love of teaching and food and her passion for New York into a business. Why not help New Yorkers and out-of-towners who want to combine their interest in restaurants and food learn more about the city with walking tours of the neighborhoods? she thought, after discounting the idea of owning a restaurant. One day, she had a "Eureka" moment. She came up with a name for her new baby, and Savory Sojourns was born

Like Dorothy setting down the yellow brick road without much of a clue about where she was heading or how much work it would take, she persisted and opened an office in her Greenwich Village brownstone. "What did I know about business and marketing?" she asked. in the early days, she sat by her phone optimistically waiting for hundreds of calls, which, of course, didn't come with the rapidity she had wished for. But gradually, through word of mouth, her excellent relationship with the New York Visitors and Convention Bureau, appearances on radio and TV shows, and articles in national and international magazines, Savory Sojourns has taken off. Corporate groups, ladies who lunch, trial lawyers, visiting food critics and journalists are just a sampling of the people who attend Savory Sojourns' trips. "Women feel particularly safe with me, where they might be hesitant to go into unknown territory themselves." Addie leads groups as small as 6 and as large as 26 on 5-to-6 hour tours that range all over the 3 boroughs. Her clients are delighted to be offered the opportunity to glimpse the city from the unusual perspective of food. They relish tramping through Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx to get an insider's view of the City.

"Often, if a kitchen isn't busy, we have an opportunity to whip up something under the tutelage of a renowned chef"

"New York is made up of disparate areas, each with wonderful restaurants and specialty food stores. We live in the finest restaurant city in the world, and I can introduce people to culinary experts in the best of those restaurants. Often, if a kitchen isn't busy, we have an opportunity to whip up something under the tutelage of a renowned chef," Tomei says.

Her favorite tour? "That's like asking a mother which is her favorite child. Each tour is different and special. I've toured through Chinatown, where we visit colorful food markets, and tea and herbal shops. We get a chance to learn the art of Chinese cooking and prepare a meal, which becomes our lunch. I like starting at Agata & Valentina's gourmet food store on the Upper East Side, where we watch the staff preparing fresh mozzarella, foccaccia, and baked goods. We move on to Orwasher's famous bread bakery, Best Cellars wine shop, a cook's paradise--the bookstore called 'Kitchen Arts and Letters'--and Germantown. The trip to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx is special because it has a real oldfashioned, 1950s charm that reminds me of my childhood. The merchants are friendly, and Italian customers offer cooking tips even if you don't ask," she adds.

Addie doesn't trade much on the fact that she is the mother of Marisa Tomei, the actress whose appealing, delightful Academy Award-winning role in My Cousin Vinnie has achieved cult status. She's equally proud of the growing reputation of her actor-son, Adam Tomei.

Savory Sojourns' newest brochure is ready now. Addie's infectious personality is the biggest draw in a great package. Anyone who meets her will immediately want to sign up for one of her tours. Give me a 24-hour notice, and I'm on my way.

Contact Addie Tomei Savory Sojourns,
155 West 13th Street, New York, New York 10011
212-691-7314 or 888-9-SAVORY.
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