Dishcrawl, the company that introduces communities to one another through food, is coming to Cupertino Feb. 15, and for Dishcrawl CEO Tracy Lee, it’s a homecoming.
Lee is as "local as they come," she says. She attended , Cupertino Junior High, , and before finishing her marketing degree at San Jose State University.
After graduation she headed out into the corporate world but found it unfulfilling.
“When your (self) value is a spreadsheet it's depressing,” she says. So she quit.
"I just decided, I’m just going to take over the world," she says.
And at 27 she launched Dishcrawl, which wove together the best of Lee’s education, experience and passion—food.
Dishcrawl takes ticket-holders to four restaurants in one night with the hope of using food as a way to connect and get to know a community, with the fun little twist of learning which restaurants only on the day of the event.
“We take people on food adventures,” she says. “We build community using food to do that.”
The concept is simple: four restaurants in one night, lead by a local resident who serves as “ambassador” to their town building presence and acting as host.
Cupertino’s Dishcrawl has two ambassadors—Yiren Wang and Anne An—and the Feb. 15 event’s theme is Asian Culinary Journey.
Cupertino presented a challenge for Lee, in a couple of ways she says. It’s not a walkable city such as Campbell and Los Gatos, so Dishcrawlers will drive from restaurant to restaurant.
“There are so many Chinese restaurants—it’s a different culture than Los Gatos for example, and the restaurants there,” she says.
There was also the language barrier, says Lee who can “kind of speak the language but not eloquently.”
When she approached some of the restaurant owners about the Dishcrawl concept they assumed she was “selling something” and refused to talk with her, she says.
Wang and An helped make a difference. The women, both fluent in Chinese, moved things along.
The ambassadors are excited to bring notice to the rich, Asian culture in the city.
“As you already know, Asians are the majority in Cupertino, which makes the city a very rare and special culture phenomenon. We know there's some extraordinary charm in this community because of the cultural implications, but we rarely get the chance and channel to gain deep insight into it,” Wang says.
“We also know that food plays an important role in understanding the culture, especially for Chinese; Chinese cuisine culture is deeply rooted in China's history.”
Owners and chefs will come from behind the counters and kitchen walls to introduce themselves, their culture and, of course, their food to Dishcrawlers.
“They (will be) telling us their business and personal stories while we are tasting their specialties and experience the dining (customs)…diners could also share their own stories with each other, through which we can more deeply understand the community we are living in and more closely bond up with our neighbors,” Wang says.
There are a few tickets left for the Asian Culinary Journey, which can be purchased through the Dishcrawl site. Next up is Sunnyvale on March 7.