Meet Travis Monson
Travis Monson’s tour guests think he’s the best. We tend to agree. Find out more about how Travis combines his passion for San Francisco, history, cheese, photography, philanthropy, and farmers markets into his tours.
1. How did you come to work at Edible Excursions?
I’ve known about Edible Excursions since 2011 when I started working as a cheesemonger in the Ferry Building. I would often greet the Edible Excursions’ tour guests as they stopped to taste Cowgirl Creamery’s amazing cow’s milk cheeses. Fast forward about five years, I was introduced to Lisa, we had a chat, and I quickly knew that I wanted to get involved with the tours.
2. What's your favorite part of the job?
I love meeting people from every part of the world on tours and sharing my love of the Ferry Building, San Francisco history, and food with each guest. As a guide, I care about telling other’s stories and learning from my guests and their experiences with food.
3. Do you have favorite San Francisco restaurants?
I constantly try to switch it up and discover new restaurants in the city, but I often end up back at the the San Francisco classics such as Zuni Café, Taqueria La Cumbre, or Boulevard. I live in the Castro, so I often find myself waiting for a spot at Anchor Oyster Bar to have their cioppino or I reserve a spot at Frances for their delicious, ever-changing, modern California menu.
4. Can you tell us about how you combine your passion for food with philanthropy?
I’m a committee member for Dining Out For Life which is a fundraising event supporting the free and local life-saving programs and support services of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. On Tuesday, April 23rd over 100 Bay Area restaurants will participate and donate anywhere from 20 to 30 percent of that day’s proceeds to support the SF AIDS Foundation. Check out my personal fundraising page to learn more and come have dinner at the terrific Polk Street restaurant 1760, which is supporting this cause.
5. What kind of home cook are you?
My cooking is inspired by what I find at the farmers market, family recipes, and dishes I used to make while living in Budapest for more than two years. Some of my favorite Hungarian dishes include stuffed peppers, stuffed cabbage, goulash soup, paprika chicken, and cherry soup.
6. Do you have a favorite farmers market?
After my food tours on Saturdays, I often take a stroll through the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. I grew up in Utah and I had never experienced anything like this market. It has been fun to build friendships with many of the vendors and also see many of the workers branch out and start their own businesses.
7. What's your favorite comfort food?
Probably pot roast and mashed potatoes. Growing up my mother would make the perfect pot roast and my dad would add his extra creamy and buttery mashed potatoes to the dinner. It always reminds me of being back in Utah with family when I make those dishes.
8. Can you share a tidbit or two about what you would like guests to know about the tours you lead?
Get ready to geek out about San Francisco history and food with me. I love getting everyone on tour involved as we talk about our own experiences and relationships with food. There is so much to discover and share!
9. What was it like working with our partner Cowgirl Creamery?
While living in Europe, I fell in love with the wide selection of artisan cheeses there. When I moved to San Francisco, I landed my dream job selling and caring for fromage. Working at Cowgirl Creamery deepened my knowledge about artisan cheeses and the amount of labor that goes into each wheel. I enjoy sharing the backgrounds of each cheesemaker and talking about what influences each cheese’s flavor, such as milk source, process conditions, aging time, and even the diet of the animal.
10. Can you tell us about your project documenting the streets of San Francisco?
I have a unique connection to this city. From 2011 to 2017 I walked every single street, alley, and trail of San Francisco. That’s more than 1,700 miles on foot. I documented my hikes through photography and a journal. These walks were a source of meditation for me. I met hundreds of locals and learned about their lives. I forced myself to get out of my typical day-to-day routine and actually experience the entire city.
I also learned so much about this city through those hikes and I share what I learned while leading the Mission 24th Street and Ferry Building and Farmers Market tours. I have participated in numerous art shows and raised money with my photography from this six-year adventure for the SF AIDS Foundation and the LGBT Asylum Project.
You can find more of my San Francisco photography and stories on my instagram.