How A Las Vegas Fitness Competitor turned her Passion for Food into the Taste Buzz Food Tour

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Manage episode 276831207 series 94129
By Vincent Ferguson. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Kathryn Kelly is the founder and CEO of Taste Buzz Food Tours, a Las Vegas-based food tour company, providing guests with an exclusive local insider's perspective on the absolute best places to eat in the city. Guests can choose between two three-hour walking tour options, the Las Vegas strip option, and an evening option in downtown Las Vegas. Taste Buzz Food Tour guests are treated to five different foodie restaurants, where they can enjoy a mind-blowing sampling of one to four of the venues most popularized must-have dishes. Kathryn Kelly is also a fitness competitor, and she took first place in the Team USA 2020 Junior Masters Fitness competition and is now currently training for Miss Olympia.

Vincent Ferguson:

Before we discuss your amazing company, Taste Buzz Food Tours, let's talk a little about Kathryn Kelly's early years. Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?

Kathryn Kelly:

Las Vegas is my home. I was born here. Born and raised in Las Vegas. I did spend one year of my childhood in the Philippines because my mom is Filipino. So we came back here again. I would have to say that my childhood is probably not like most other children because I grew up in Las Vegas, I did spend a lot of time in the hotels and the casinos running around, playing in the arcades. And then as well, the city isn't like most other cities, it's definitely unique on its own.

Vincent Ferguson:

I've been to Vegas and I can't wait to go back. Now, were you involved with fitness at all when you were a child?

Kathryn Kelly:

I wouldn't say professionally or anything like that. Just like other kids, I enjoyed running around and playing around. This was a little bit different than I guess the way kids grow up now. I think a lot of children play video games and use their cell phones a lot more than I did when I was growing up. I have two brothers and we were very much out for the... We would run around the streets, we would climb walls, we would climb trees. We were always playing catch and shooting hoops. So I was always active and into fitness without actually playing sports or going to the gym or anything like that.

Vincent Ferguson:

That's interesting because even though you were not involved in any structured fitness activity, you still got into the fitness world. So how did you become interested in a fitness competition?

Kathryn Kelly:

Well, I was always active as a kid. It was probably when I was in high school or college when I started actually doing classes. So I started getting really into yoga and I started going to this gym. And when I was about 18 years old, I started working at the juice bar inside the LVAC here, which is our local gym. And part of working for the juice bar, I got to use the facility as often as I wanted. So I got to go to any of the classes. I got to use the workout room. I got to use the steam room and the pool, which was really exciting for me because I had never had access to that before. So I started working out. I didn't really know what I was doing, but I would just be in there and using the machines and figuring things out myself.

Kathryn Kelly:

Ever since then, I just continued going to the gym. So after that, I subscribed to a membership at the gym. Actually, I'm still a member of LVAC today and that's where I train and work out. And I just love it. I love working out. I love bodybuilding and my passion for bodybuilding has grown throughout the years. So in the beginning, I was saying that it was more of just like go to the gym and do whatever I deemed fit for the day. It was in the last few years, I've really taken on this passion to where, or interest in how bodybuilding changes the way your body looks and how you can manipulate the shape of your body, and I find that very interesting.

Vincent Ferguson:

You went ahead and participated in a competition. Did someone encourage you to take part in that show?

Kathryn Kelly:

Yes. Let's see, it's been about five years now, I went to a different gym, the same gym, but there are five locations here in Las Vegas. So I started going to a different one because I had moved. And one of the trainers was like, "You have a great body to do the bikini competitions." She was telling me about, it took me a little bit to decide whether or not I wanted to do it. And so I said, "You know what? I think I'm going to." One day I was at the gym and I saw this girl and I was never really into really muscular look for a female. I liked more of that soft, feminine look. But once I was at the gym and I saw this girl and she was muscular, but yet she was still feminine and I thought she was gorgeous.

Kathryn Kelly:

So I told the coach, I said, "Yes. Okay, let's do it." So she trained me for a fitness competition and actually, I hated it.

Vincent Ferguson:

Really? You hated it.

Kathryn Kelly:

Yeah, I did. I hated the entire process. It was interesting, but I didn't like the entire process. I was starving. I don't think I was at the right place mentally. I was at the gym every day and I was still doing it, but I didn't enjoy the process. And I think a big part as well was the food. I didn't really understand the food concept of it, what I was supposed to be doing. And at this time, while I was training, one of the other coaches at the gym, he approached me and he's like, "What are you doing?" And I was explaining to him that I'm entering in this bikini competition and he was interested and he started talking to me and he let me do my own thing.

Kathryn Kelly:

And after the competition which I didn't do very well in, he was like, "Let me start training you." And for years I was like, "No, it's not my thing." I really didn't like it. And we've become really good friends. My coach is Jerry Anderson, so he's actually a 17 time Mister All Natural Universe title winner, and he's been training since 2001, really. So I look up to him and he took me under his wings and in the past year, I told him, "Okay, let's do this again." And he trained me and I have a new mental approach towards the competitions and fitness and bodybuilding in general. And the process is much more pleasant. I actually really enjoyed every step of the way. And a lot of it has to do with the food since that's such a big part of your life. And I took first for the Miss Bikini Diva National Team USA for Junior Championship.

Vincent Ferguson:

So what's the next step, Miss Olympia?

Kathryn Kelly:

Well, there's, yes, there's the Olympia, which will be here in Las Vegas as well. This is the natural competition and I will be entering into the amateur division.

Vincent Ferguson:

What's the date on that? Do you know?

Kathryn Kelly:

That is November 12th through the 15th. They haven't set the actual date for my competition, exactly. But it'll be one of those days.

Vincent Ferguson:

Still Miss Olympia. That's a big deal. You know what I mean?

Kathryn Kelly:

Yeah. I'm really excited to do this. Yeah.

Vincent Ferguson:

You learned about the training aspect of it. And you also know now about the nutrition aspect of it, which is also a pretty big deal, right?

Kathryn Kelly:

Yeah. They actually say that the food when you're training is probably like 60 to 70% of your body and the fitness aspect of it.

Vincent Ferguson:

And that's why it's so interesting that you started a food business. So that's what we want to talk about. As you said, nutrition is very important. Do you follow a strict nutrition plan as you prepare for the show?

Kathryn Kelly:

Yes. I do have a strict nutrition plan for the show. Correct. And I think, one of the reasons why I'm able to follow it so strictly, and I don't have these urges to cheat, is because my diet plan is built around the things that I enjoy to eat. So I know when people are asking me about the competition, they're like, the first thing that they say and this must be widely recognized is that if you're doing a competition, you're just eating chicken breasts and broccoli, because that's what everybody says. "Oh, so you're just eating chicken and broccoli, chicken and broccoli." And I have to tell you, I'm not the biggest fan of steamed broccoli and just plain chicken breasts. I probably wouldn't do very well if that's what I was told to eat. So my trainer gave me a lot of room to be able to manipulate my diet by following certain rules, and I created meal plans for myself where I actually enjoy the food.

Vincent Ferguson:

So that has got to be the key to be able to still enjoy yourself, enjoy the foods you eat as you prepare for the show. Correct?

Kathryn Kelly:

I believe so. Yeah. It's definitely, it's a mental thing and it's about balance. And if you're not enjoying the process, it's going to be very, very hard to be able to succeed.

Vincent Ferguson:

Now, let's talk a little bit about your business, the Taste Buzz Food Tours, which is awesome. I read about it. It’s amazing.

Kathryn Kelly:

Thank you.

Vincent Ferguson:

How long has the company been around and where did the concept come from?

Kathryn Kelly:

So we started doing food tours back in 2016 and the concept started because I really wanted to show off my city, which is Las Vegas, to visitors. So I love to travel and when I travel, I want to see, and I want to do, and I want to go where all the locals go. I don't love “let me just do sightseeing and let me do all these activities.” I love a more local approach. And I know that when people come to Las Vegas, it's a little bit harder to get that because this is a big city and you're overstimulated with lights and shows and nightclubs. And there's just so much activity. And if you don't know somebody that lives here, it's going to be hard to get that "Where can I really go? Am I getting ripped off?" Like, "Everything is so expensive." One of those kinds of vacations.

Kathryn Kelly:

I wanted people to really appreciate Las Vegas and see the charm that I get to see. So since food is my passion, I decided to show it off in a way that I would really enjoy. And luckily it came at a time when the foodie realm was starting to become really popular and people are exploring different food options. And at a time too, when Las Vegas started changing from a really big chain restaurant city to more of these local holes in the wall, chef-driven restaurants.

Vincent Ferguson:

That's interesting because all the time, the many times I've been there; I didn't know anything about that. It was all about going to the big shows, visiting the hotels, all the excitement that comes with it. If I would've known there was something like the Taste Buzz Food Tours, I would have definitely taken advantage of that. But prior to starting your company, did you have any experience working in the restaurant and hospitality industry?

Kathryn Kelly:

Yes I did. So I'm going to go way back and I'm going to say that, it's always been a dream of mine to own my own cafe or a little restaurant. I remember when I was really young, before I could even start working as a teenager, I would watch these TV shows and I would see the small-town girl and she was always tomboyish, but cute and she was always a server. It just always looked like a really fun job to me. And so for some reason, I always wanted to be a server in a restaurant. That was my dream when I was a teenager. I was like; I was going to be a server. And I started off as a hostess and then I became a food runner. This was back in the day when you had to have experience working in the food and beverage industry here.

Kathryn Kelly:

So I made my way up and then I became a food server. Then when I became a food server, I was like, "You know what? I want to be a bartender." And then I became a bartender. And then I was like, "You know what? I love bartending, but I think I want to do something different." "I'm going to show people around." And then I became a food tour guide for Taste Buzz Food Tours. I created the concept and it's been great. It really worked out.

Vincent Ferguson:

The response has been great so far then?

Kathryn Kelly:

Yes. As you were saying earlier, a lot of people come to Las Vegas and they're looking like, "Okay, I'm in Vegas. I have to do this big... I'm going to do the shows. I'm going to do the nightclubs. I'm going to do the pools." And that's all great. I definitely think you should come to Las Vegas, experience that because as a city, I think we're the best place for that. You cannot get this kind of excitement anywhere else in the world. And we have some of the most beautiful hotels and nightclubs that you'll ever see and you have that aspect of the city, but it's also really, really cool to see a different side of the city. In a city that's so big and grand that you can have this small-town feel to it as well, where everybody knows everybody and you walk around and people are like, "Hey, hi Kathy, how you doing?" And, "Hi, welcome to our restaurant." People really enjoy that.

Vincent Ferguson:

It’s a very intimate type of an environment.

Kathryn Kelly:

Exactly.

Vincent Ferguson:

Are there other food tour businesses going on right now in Vegas?

Kathryn Kelly:

With the pandemic, I think a lot of places have had to shut down. So I'm not really sure because everybody's kind of reopening and navigating the reopening on their own accord. But we started up right away, as soon as the city reopened. And we were ready to show off our restaurants and help build up the support again, because they really needed it.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh, definitely. But how has this current pandemic affected your business?

Kathryn Kelly:

Well, restaurants were closed, so we completely shut down. And then the city reopened and business is slower than usual, but I think, in a way it's been good because I've had time to do some restructuring and reorganization, but at the same time, people are coming to Las Vegas and they cannot do the shows and a lot of other tour companies, like let's say Grand Canyon or whatever, they're not running as often. People are having to look to do other activities. And I think, just by searching what to do in Las Vegas, we're coming up and people are like, "What is that?" And we're getting a lot of guests who've never done food tours before, and just trying to experience something different. They go on our tour and they're like, "Wow, I'm so glad that we were able to find you and try something different."

Kathryn Kelly:

So it's been good. I think we're going to have a lot more guests and followers for the future years.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh yeah. It sounds like it. And also, it's a good time to market and promote your business too.

Kathryn Kelly:

Oh, for sure. For sure. I love the fact that we're working with a lot of the smaller restaurants and that we're able to promote and help them out at a time like this because we have a very strong food and beverage industry here and it's sad to see a lot of places having to close down because of the situation. And so it's nice to be like, "Let me introduce this restaurant to my guests." And my guests, they'll come back; they'll tell their friends about it. So the next time they come back to Las Vegas, they can say, "Try out this restaurant. We had a really good time on Taste Buzz Food Tours." It's promoting and marketing those restaurants as well.

Vincent Ferguson:

Excellent. Now I've been on many tours, but never a food tour. So explain what we can expect to see and do while on a tour.

Kathryn Kelly:

Yeah. Okay. Well, next time you come to Las Vegas, you're going to have to come check us out.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yeah. I promise.

Kathryn Kelly:

We do a little bit of everything. So I think what makes our food tours very unique is not only do we get to try the local side of Las Vegas, but we get to try the variety of it as well. You'll do something at a hole in the wall. You might do a food truck. We might stop by a coffee shop or a brewery, but you'll also do a nice trendy restaurant all in one tour. And you get to try those signature items. So you really get to see what makes that restaurant special through a local's eyes. You might be able to meet a chef. We're very close with the people that we work with and the restaurants that we work with. So if the chef is on duty, he might come out and say hi, and we could take souvenir photos for you to remember.

Kathryn Kelly:

We do some sightseeing as well. So the routes are walking tours, so you get to see the most out of the city, but we'll walk through some of the top attractions and we'll do some fun facts about the attraction, take more photos and some history.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow, you said it's a walking tour. So you get some exercise in.

Kathryn Kelly:

You get exercise, you get food, you get sightseeing, and you get a little bit of everything. It's a really great concept.

Vincent Ferguson:

Goodness. That is awesome. Now, how much do the tours cost? Are they expensive?

Kathryn Kelly:

I think they're very reasonably priced. Our downtown food tour is $95 per person. And our Las Vegas strip food tour is $99 per person. So for under a hundred dollars, you get a three hour experience, which includes sightseeing, history and a full meal.

Vincent Ferguson:

How many people can you accommodate on each tour?

Kathryn Kelly:

We do small group tours, so usually there are 12 on a daily basis, but right now with the COVID restrictions it's reduced to 10, just so that people feel a little bit more safe.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh, I see. Yeah. It's very limited right now. Right?

Kathryn Kelly:

Yeah. So there are a lot of restrictions still here in the city. So we're trying to please everybody.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes. It's been challenging, but I'm sure we're going to get through this, you know?

Kathryn Kelly:

Yeah. We will, we will in time. We just need a little bit more time for people to feel safe. And we got to do the right thing and prevent the spread and, eventually, we'll get through, we'll get through this difficult time.

Vincent Ferguson:

Most definitely. We'll be looking back on this and saying, "Remember when?"

Kathryn Kelly:

I know, right? Remember that crazy year?

Vincent Ferguson:

Exactly, exactly. The key is to keep going, stay focused and we'll get through it. We always do. And we always will.

Kathryn Kelly:

Yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

How long are the tours? How much time does it take?

Kathryn Kelly:

They are three hours long. So from the time we meet to the time we say goodbye, everything's about three hours long, which is a perfect time for an experience. You get that intimate feeling with your tour guide and you get to eat for three hours long, a little bit of walking here and there. And then, after the tour, you get to go on and explore more things in Las Vegas.

Vincent Ferguson:

I love it. How far in advance do you recommend customers’ book a food tour?

Kathryn Kelly:

I would say as soon as you know you're coming to Las Vegas and you've decided, "I'm going to take the food tour." Because, since our groups are small, especially right now, they're only up to eight people, they book out. So definitely you want to get your tickets as soon as possible.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yeah, this is great! Sounds like it would be a lot of fun to bring a family; your friends, to go out there and make it happen. That sounds to me like a winner.

Kathryn Kelly:

Yes. Thank you. Thank you. Yeah. It's a really nice experience really, for everybody. And we've made it for all ages. So you could bring your family, you could bring your kids. It's a great date night. It's great for bachelorettes. It's great for wedding parties. It's great for friend’s night out. It really is a fun, wholesome activity.

Vincent Ferguson:

But how do you balance getting ready for a show and running your business?

Kathryn Kelly:

I won't eat on the food tours while I am getting ready for the competitions. And it is a mental thing. So I made my decision. I'm going to do the competition and you just have to stay focused. And it is hard because I have to meet with new restaurants or I'll be out at an event and there's all this amazing food coming out, and people are asking you to "Please eat," and I'm like, "I cannot. Not this time, but I'll be back."

Kathryn Kelly:

It's only, however long you diet for, so the last competition I dieted for 13 weeks, which is a typical amount of time for a diet, but it's stricter and stricter as the competition goes, so you just have to stay focused. And then I know as well, it's only for this amount of time and then afterwards I can go out and I can enjoy all these restaurants and all of this food once again.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh yeah. After it's over, it's on.

Kathryn Kelly:

Exactly. It's time to celebrate.

Vincent Ferguson:

There you go. Exactly, exactly. But if you can say anything else to my listeners, what would it be about your business?

Kathryn Kelly:

I would say, just do it, it's just so much fun. You get to go out, get to meet great people; you get to experience something that only a small group of people get to experience. And it's fun for everyone. You get to try great food; you get to exercise at the same time. Life's all about balance. So while you're here in Las Vegas, you want to be able to enjoy as much as you can.

Vincent Ferguson:

Most definitely. So how can we find out more about Taste Buzz Food Tours and you?

Kathryn Kelly:

So visit our website, www.tastebuzzvegas.com and you'll have all the information, all the fun photos for our tours. You can also visit on Facebook and Instagram @tastebuzzfoodtours. And if you wanted to look me up a little bit more, I do have a personal Instagram, it's K_to_the_athy.

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