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Bringing world travelers the most authentic experiences

“Our mission is to find you the most meaningful and memorable cultural experiences” Steph & Aashi

Founders' Story

In 2007, Steph traveled to China for the first time. After 2 1/2 weeks in the country, she was struck by how little she had connected with the local food and culture. Spending weeks traveling by tour bus from silk factory to hotel banquet hall where she ate with other tourists, she realized she didn't connect with the local culture at all. She decided to move to China in 2009 to learn the language and explore the culture through its food - she wanted to learn to make dumplings from a Chinese grandmother. But when she moved there, she found there was nothing out there to help her find the experiences she sought.

In 2011, Aashi traveled to Mexico, and had a similar problem discovering the local food and culture. She scoured review websites trying to find the most authentic food and the least touristy restaurants she could. On her way to another overly-crowded tourist spot, she saw through a window a woman in her kitchen, making dinner. That was where she wanted to be eating dinner, sharing a homemade meal with this local Mexican woman, hearing her stories and learning about her culture.

When Aashi and Steph met at business school in 2011, these experiences had never left them. Both of them believed in the power of travel to make the world a smaller, better place, and wanted to help travelers experience authentic, meaningful, and delicious travel experiences around the world. They started working on Traveling Spoon in all their MBA classes, launched the company after graduating in 2013, and haven't looked back since.

Aashi Vel

Aashi ( left ) is a food and travel enthusiast with a deep passion for creative problem-solving, product innovation and foraging. An industrial designer and patent holder, Aashi has designed several award-winning products. She is a magna cum laude graduate of the Savannah College of Art & Design and received her MBA from UC Berkeley.

Steph Lawrence

Steph ( right ) deeply loves cheese, travel, and learning new cuisines and culinary traditions from around the world. A former marketing consultant, Steph has worked with Alice Waters and the Chez Panisse Foundation, Allison Rockefeller and others to drive marketing and business strategy. She is a cum laude graduate of Dartmouth College and received her MBA with honors from UC Berkeley.