Jersey Girls Food Tours’ Janis Borroto on Jersey City and how to run a food tour

Jersey Girls Food Tours was founded by New Jersey natives Janis Borroto and Alessia Aron. Throughout the calendar year, no matter the weather, Borroto and Aron take groups around Garden State hubs like Jersey City, Red Bank, Hamilton Park, and Rutherford; more tours are currently in development. Attendees can expect a light-heartened approach to food as Borroto and Aron aim to offer a fast-paced yet fun environment when leading visitors around. Borroto shared details on the the past, present and future of JGFT. 

The Daily Meal: How would you describe the average Jersey Girls Food Tours experience to someone who hasn't yet read about it?
Janis Borroto: Jersey Girls Food Tours provide an interactive culinary ​journey​, ​an insider's look at the hottest restaurants in town. ​Guests will eat and sip their way through five or six eateries in three hours, learn the history of the restaurants, and experience the city's culture. This ​walking tour​ ​is guided and fully curated in advance, providing a hassle free way to enjoy each restaurant's unique offerings. JGFT tours allow guests to “eat like a local,” meeting ​restaurant owners​​, chefs, ​artisans, ​and other industry experts along the way. It's the ultimate VIP treatment!

How did you two meet? Where did the idea for running food tours come from?
We met on the premise to start a business of this nature. Alessia was hosting progressive dinners here in Jersey City for a company based on the West Coast, which had no personal contact with the restaurants they featured. After cultivating so many relationships in the local food scene, she had a strong desire to continue to grow those relationships, but with her own venture. I signed up for her last event, which was actually never scheduled to run -- because Alessia was phasing out -- and instead we met up to discuss future opportunities as partners.

The inspiration to start a food tour company for Alessia, really came from her experiences on other food tours she attended around the world. After working for Yelp, and then the West Coast company, she always shared a passion for food, restaurants, and gathering all kinds of people to break bread together. For me, the inspiration and passion for food, culture, and dining was instilled at a young age. My parents often took self-guided tours with friends-- having an appetizer at one restaurant, entree at another, and finishing up with dessert at a third. Coming from a Cuban/Chinese background, culturally, food was the center of it all. I quickly learned to adapt an “ADD” style of eating, wanting the best of the best a neighborhood/city had to offer, all in one night, one experience.

Have you noticed a change in Jersey City in recent years?
That is an understatement, as we have seen a TON of change in recent years. We have more than quadrupled our number of restaurant partners just in the last 3 years since starting up. There has been a recent influx of new development, directly impacting the amount of residents and new businesses opening up every day. We feel very fortunate to have lived through and witnessed the change so far, and love the “old JC” just as much as we welcome all the opportunities these changes have offered us.

Finally, Janis, any last words for the kids?
Our passion is in showcasing the cities and restaurants and chefs we feature, giving them a voice, and telling the stories behind the plate. We aim to give each guest an exclusively memorable experience, delivering a new appreciation for food and breaking bread with others.

Aside from this, we find true satisfaction in pushing the envelope a bit, getting guests outside of their flavor comfort zones, and giving them a safe forum to try and taste new things. Due to this, we do sometimes tend to feature off-the-beaten path cities, restaurants, and/or neighborhoods, to really make breakthroughs happen.

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Last words of wisdom: Always taste it at least three times before you say you don't like it! ​