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OTown Food Tours offers a taste of downtown Ogden’s cuisine, history

By Adam Rubin - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Feb 12, 2023
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Luca La Mantia, left, owner of Sapori Italian Bakery and Cafe, and Rick Proffer speak inside Sapori on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, prior to the launch of OTown Food Tours.
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Rick Proffer, left, and Luca La Mantia, right, owner of Sapori Italian Bakery and Cafe, pose as they discuss the launch of OTown Food Tours inside Sapori on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023.

OGDEN — Rick Proffer, owner of OTown Food Tours, has launched by-appointment tours of the downtown food scene.

The tours officially started last Tuesday and are given in either in a private setting or to groups with a max of eight people. Tourgoers walk around a 1-mile radius in Ogden’s downtown district, tasting a variety of foods from different restaurants.

“OTown Food Tours is a celebration of the Ogden community,” Proffer explained. “What we do is we take locals and out-of-towners and we give them tastes of amazing food that Ogden is not known for but should be known for.”

Proffer started bouncing around the idea of creating a food tour for Ogden about one year ago.

Participants can expect to begin at Union Station on the west end Historic 25th Street, and Proffer has created relationships with local restaurateurs, which he refers to as OTown Food Tours’ “tasting partners.”

Proffer said one big reason why he decided to create these food tours is because he loves Ogden. He believes the city’s food scene is large and growing — but misunderstood.

On the tours, Proffer shares tales of Ogden’s history, as well as personal stories, over specialized food tastings.

“After I retired, I wasn’t going to sit around,” he said. “Part of what we are doing here is we are giving back to the community, and one of the components of that is that out of OTown Food Tour’s profits we will be giving to those in our community who may need some help.”

Proffer is offering a special discount to current and former educators, offering an “educator discount” on any tour they would like to book.

“Out of the profits from the tours,” Proffer said, “we donate to benefit children and families in the Ogden community, by donating to the YCC, the Boys & Girls Club and other organizations that provide for our Ogden community.”

Lynda Callister has known Proffer in both a personal and professional capacity, having first met him while her children were attending the former MarLon Hills Elementary School in South Ogden. Callister has worked for the Ogden School District for the past eight years.

“Rick just cares about people and he wants to make the world a better place, and it is evident in the tours he gives,” Callister said.

Callister shared some of the ins-and-outs of the tours, saying that it was like a little date for herself and her 14-year-old daughter, and she laughed while expressing that her daughter tried sushi for the first time, along with all sorts of different types of foods her daughter had never tried before.

“There was so much information that Rick shared, like all these little ‘aha!’ moments,” Callister said. “Rick points out architecture then shares a story behind it.”

Callister said that they felt like VIPs going around to all the restaurants, tasting different foods and at some stops on their tour getting to speak with the owners and hearing their stories.

Luca La Mantia, who opened Sapori Italian Bakery and Cafe with his wife, Azzurra Cuchel, in 2019, after moving to Ogden from Sicily three years prior, said Ogden is a small and warm community but still has plenty of room to grow.

“We wanted to give our customers a real Italian experience with food, our pastries and with our gelato too,” La Mantia said. “I believe that Ogden is a place where things still need to happen; I see Ogden as a white paper where you can just start writing in it, and we can see Ogden as a place where we want to grow, and we just want to be a part of that and write our Italian chapter in this book.”

La Mantia said Proffer is ahead of his time and wants to put Ogden on a stage. When he was approached by Proffer to be a “tasting partner” for OTown Food Tours, La Mantia said he was honored because he feels like Proffer is the right person for the tour.

“Rick was one of our first customers. … I remember the first time I talked to Rick, and I realized that he was someone that could tell a story,” La Mantia said. “When he told me about his plan for OTown Tour company, I told him, ‘Look, Rick, you have to be the perfect person to be doing this,’ because he really has that specific thing that keeps you there listening to him about this history of this place.”

OTown Food Tours events are offered year-round. According to Proffer, tourgoers can plan on spending two hours per tour. Alcohol is offered as an add-on. To schedule a tour, visit OTownFoodTours.com.


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