Owners     •     Tour Guides


“Feasting on Farm-to-Table: Culinary Walking Tours Through North Carolina.”

Since 2009, Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours has connected thousands of people to North Carolina’s historic cities and their best restaurants through the lens of locally-sourced food. We offer walking tours, foodie adventures, and corporate team-building and appreciation events. Sign up for one of our weekend walking tours or contact us to book a custom event. We look forward to seeing you in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill/ Carrboro, Hillsborough, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Wilmington, Charlotte and Asheville!

We are currently hiring tour guides for Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte, and Asheville tours! Would you make the best tour guide ever? Apply! Email us a cover letter, resume, and three references to get the process started. We look forward to hearing from you!



Lesley Stracks-Mullem

I’m Lesley Stracks-Mullem, owner and co-founder of Taste Carolina. My dream was to open a sandwich shop. One with a chalkboard menu, the finest meats, cheeses, locally grown produce, and fresh baked bread… if you’ve ever been to the Cheese Shop in Williamsburg, you know what I mean. Well, it hasn’t happened (yet), much to my regret, but I know where all the best sandwiches are!

My passion has always been to find the best, most off-the-beaten-path, reasonably priced, and unique restaurants in any town. I love walking into restaurants and realizing I’ve come across something special, and I love a good deal, too! I can often be found driving through small towns, commenting on their cuteness, and searching for the best sandwich, then taking friends and family there after I find it. I moved to Durham in 2006 and graduated with an MBA from UNC — Chapel Hill in 2008. There, I earned a concentration in Entrepreneurship and a minor in Barbecue.

I can be reached at Lesley@tastecarolina.net.


Joe Philipose

I’m Joe Philipose, co-founder of Taste Carolina and an unapologetic food junkie. I spend an unhealthy amount of time researching all things food — from checking out restaurants to reading about trends in the industry to trying new recipes at home. If there is somewhere to eat, I’ve probably been there. If I haven’t, I am going there right now!

A native New Yorker, I grew up working in my family’s restaurant performing a wide range of jobs from prepping food to waiting tables. While working in Manhattan, I took great pride in trying to get to every place in the Zagat top 50 ranking as well as the New York Magazine Cheap Eats edition. Whether it’s fine dining or obscure food hideaways, I’m going to find it.

I love sharing my finds with friends and nothing makes me happier than going to a new town or country and finding where the locals eat. I was inspired by the food culture in North Carolina after moving here years ago, and I still want to share my experiences with everyone I can.

As a side note, I was a lawyer and corporate drone in a former life. I am much happier now.

I can be reached at Joe@tastecarolina.net.

Tour Guides

Taste Carolina’s tour guides are as delightful as the restaurants they’ll take you to. They are welcoming, easy-going, charming and full of unique information about each city’s history, architecture, and all things food. You’ll be in great hands! Click on the names to find out more about them.

  • Jean Smith
  • Nick Cook
  • Cat Lunger
  • Ashley Solesbee
  • Dean Michaels
  • Liz Agoranos
  • Sam Dinner
  • Neesey Greene
  • Tony Infantino
  • Erica Lear
  • Valencia Harris
  • Jessica Harris
  • Nikki Miller-Ka
  • Courtney Matheson
  • Bree Peterson-Resnick
  • Jasmyne Jones