WORCESTER â€“ A group of 15 people chatter away about work and kids and upcoming trips as they sit down to eat at Thai Time in Worcester. They could be a family or a club or an old group of friends, but when the menus come their purpose becomes clear.
As each person pours over a list of entrees and appetizers, looking for something theyâ€™ve never tried and something different than what everyone else is getting, itâ€™s clear they all have a passion for food.
Itâ€™s that passion that brings them together as the Worcester Foodies on the first Tuesday of every month to try a new restaurant in the city.
The foodies group was formed by Luke M. Vaillancourt about three years ago and, so far, have visited 47 restaurants in the city.
â€œI started it because I wanted to find new places to go,â€ Vaillancourt said. â€œThereâ€™s something like 185 restaurants in Worcester. Many of them are places you always go â€¦ I wanted to find some hidden gems.â€
Instead of a mysterious customer critiquing the meals for a newspaper column or a television show, the Worcester Foodies group arranges their visit with the restaurant owner a month in advance and looks to support local businesses in every way they can â€“ even taking it into consideration when choosing to dine on a Tuesday night, a notoriously slow night in the restaurant industry.
The reviews, written separately from the point of view of each member, give people a look at a number of different dishes, but also give the perspective of the average person.
â€œNone of us are professional foodies,â€ Vaillancourt said. â€œWeâ€™re just everyday people from all different backgrounds that love food.â€
Vaillancourt, who also operates a website called WorcesterScene that launched in 2009 and publishes the group’s restaurant reviews, said they try to be supportive of the local restaurants.
â€œWe want to support the local restaurant scene,â€ Vaillancourt said. â€œThis is a way to get publicity for these small businesses that donâ€™t have a marketing budget.â€
In January, the group visited Thai Time on Highland Street, a relatively new restaurant picked by a member of the Foodies group.
Vaillancourt asked the waitress to bring him her favorite dish and she brought back something called Khao Soi, noodles in a mix of light yellow curry, chicken, ground peanut, scallions and fried shallots.
Drew Wheelock, the Worcester Foodie who chose Thai Time, said he picked it after trying it outside of the group and loving the food.
â€œI asked them to make me duck chuchi, itâ€™s not on the menu, but they do it for me, which is a nice touch,â€ Wheelock said. â€œI thought everyone would appreciate this place.â€
Wheelock joined after asking a couple of his friends who are in the group, but Vaillancourt said the group really grows organically.
Lynn Beauregard joined the group last summer after not knowing anyone in it.
â€œWe went to this southern place that has since closed and I ordered, like, nine things,â€ Beauregard said. The other foodies laughed about how she dived right in.
Worcester Foodies reviews can be found on WorcesterScene.com.
Corcoran, L. (2015, January 20). Worcester Foodies give unique takes on local plates with group reviews. Retrieved January 20, 2015, from https://www.masslive.com/news/worcester/index.ssf/2015/01/worcester_foodies_give_unique.html