A Few of the Women We Couldn’t Live Without

From our CEO to our tour guides, the majority of us here at Devour Tours are women.

And in honor of International Women’s Day, we wanted to introduce ourselves. We’re doing it by talking about a few of the things we love the most: food, travel, and all of you.

The women of Devour Tours in honor of International Women's Day

Lauren Aloise, CEO

Can you remember a bite that changed your life?

My first taste of my mother-in-law’s salmorejo. It was an unbearably hot afternoon in Seville in August and I was starving.

My mother-in-law had sent us back to the city with tupperwares filled with salmorejo, and I decided it was time I gave it a try.

It was the moment I truly understood Spanish cuisine—the best ingredients, prepared with love, in season. It is an amazingly simple concept, yet so alien to today’s eating culture in much of the world.

I fell in love with salmorejo in that moment and have been enjoying it ever since!

Which Devour Tours core value is the biggest part of your life?

This is an impossible question, as they’re all very important to me. But I was born curious and it’s a huge part of who I am. I LOVE learning new things.

Starting a company at 25 is a testament to that. I took each challenge as something new to learn and figure out. I devour business books and podcasts, and truly enjoy each step in the process. I think this organic approach to growth and development is much more impactful than any business school could have been!

In my personal life I have a cookbook addiction, and love to cook and read. I’m curious about people and their lives in different parts of the world, and love that food can be a window into someone else’s life.

Travel is another passion, and food is an integral part of that. And when I can’t travel, cooking allows me to take a journey through food. By making homemade pasta one day, I’m suddenly transported back to a trattoria in Rome. A homemade ceviche brings me back to my honeymoon on Playa del Carmen.

Curiosity is key to who I am and I’m proud it’s one of our core values at Devour.

What do you most love about your job?

I love creating something positive in this world. It’s a big responsibility, but being able to build Devour Tours into a company that impacts local communities, economies and the vacations of thousands of guests is a true pleasure.

Lauren is the CEO and cofounder of Devour Tours
Lauren is the CEO and cofounder of Devour Tours

Victoria Bätz, Devour Barcelona Guide

Can you remember a bite that changed your life?

Probably the first time I tried a real paella. Before I had only tried those horrible yellow, come-frozen-in-a-pan, tourist-adapted paellas and was convinced I hated the dish.

However, one summer lunch in the company of five Spaniards I experienced an amazing paella and it made me a believer. Now I am constantly on the lookout for the best paella in Spain. I know, it’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it…

Which Devour Tours core value is the biggest part of your life?

In my life outside Devour I would have to say it’s “be curious, keep learning.” My mantra in life is “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” and that keeps me from mentally settling down; it keeps my mind curious and on the lookout for new things to experience and learn. My worst nightmare would be to look back at my life at age 85 and think, “What if I…?”

In my Devour life, it is probably “live with passion and purpose” as I really love to see people taste, learn and understand the things we talk about on tour. It’s priceless to see someone try jamón ibérico de bellota for the first time.

What do you most love about being a tour guide?

I love being able to share my love and appreciation for this country’s diverse and amazing gastronomy (and culture) with curious travelers from all over the world!

I always say that food is culture—there is no better way to experience a culture than through eating and drinking! I also really enjoy meeting people from different cultures and learning a bit about them as well.

RELATED: Inside Devour: an Interview with Victoria Bätz

Victoria is a guide with Devour Barcelona
Victoria is a Devour Barcelona guide

Amy Bingham, Sales Director

Can you remember a bite that changed your life?

Rather than a bite, could it be a sip? If so, then it was a sip of Barrahonda’s Summum red wine.

I was about halfway through an epic meal at the winery, overlooking the vineyards (which look like they are planted on Mars!) and the third-generation winemaker was telling us the story behind his latest release (a blend representing his three young children) when they poured me a glass of the Summum.

It was one of those wines that explodes into your mouth. Blackberries and vanilla and forest floor (in a good way) and grandma-style boysenberry jam and a thousand other amazing things rushed over my tongue. If possible to pinpoint just one moment when I fell hopelessly in love with wine, that was it.

Which Devour Tours core value is the biggest part of your life?

If I had to choose just one: be curious, keep learning. Especially living in Spain there are a thousand stories to uncover, cultural quirks to discover and historical anecdotes to hear in just the city block surrounding my house! The more I learn, the more I love this country.

What do you most love about your job?

I love translating someone’s mental image of their perfect experience into reality. I have the marvelous job of crafting custom tours for large groups which means every day I do something new!

We are constantly thinking outside the box to show people the country, foods and wines we love in a way that will connect and resonate with them—whether they were dragged here for a trade conference or have been planning their office getaway to Spain for years!

Amy is the Sales Director at Devour Tours
Amy is our Sales Director

Sara Zanini, Devour Seville Guide

Can you remember a bite that changed your life?

It may sound ridiculous but I think that the bite that changed my life was in a Chinese restaurant in London, the first time I took a flight to go live abroad on my own. I was 19.

That simple bite (I just remember a lot of onions!) made me realize how big the world is, how different every culture can be (together with its food, of course) and how unexpected life can be.

Which Devour Tours core value is the biggest part of your life?

I’m in between “Be curious, keep learning” and “Live with passion & purpose”—shall we say “Be curious and keep learning with passion”? I think that what makes a day worth it to me is the fact that I’ve learned something new about myself, the world that surrounds me and its amazing human beings. And every new learning is driven by passion, the thing that keeps me alive.

What do you most love about being a tour guide?

What I most love about guiding is that every day is a surprise! You never know who you’re going to meet and what you’re going to learn with the people you’ll meet, which new worlds they will open to you.

The other thing I love is helping people who come from abroad to understand as deeply as possible the new place they are visiting, with its values, codes, mindsets and so on.

Get to know Sara—and Seville’s Semana Santa—in this video.

Hayley Salvo, Devour Seville Operations Manager

Can you remember a bite that changed your life?

It was 2015 and after two years of running I was ready to take my commitment to the sport to the next level—a half marathon.

I traveled from my home in Spain to London and bright and early one fall morning I had the pleasure of a two-hour running tour of one of the most beautiful cities in the world!

After the race and a shower I headed to Five Guys, my favorite American hamburger joint in the US, recently opened in the British capital. Nothing in my life has ever tasted as incredible as that hamburger and I have learned my lesson: hard work pays off and makes everything taste better!

Which Devour Tours core value is the biggest part of your life?

Make the right choice! Here in Seville we have decided to stop ordering bluefin tuna on all of our tours as it is now classified as an endangered species.

It’s hard to resist that delicious dish, but in the end it was the right decision and I’m proud that we are doing what we can in our corner of the world to support more sustainable tourism.

What do you most love about your job?

I love finding new family-run restaurants to visit on tour in Seville. Part of the Devour mission is to support local establishments and put money back into the local economy and knowing that we doing are doing this by visiting 2nd-, 3rd- and even 8th-generation family-run bars is the best part of my job!

Hayley is the Operations Manager of Devour Seville
Hayley is the Devour Seville Operations Manager

Paula Valluerca, Devour Madrid Guide

Can you remember a bite that changed your life?

Percebes!

Which Devour Tours core value is the biggest part of your life?

Get involved—I can’t be passive. I’m a woman of action!

What do you most love about being a tour guide?

I love learning new stuff on every tour. I love meeting new people and analyzing their different personalities. I am enjoying my job more and more every day!

RELATED: Food Tour Guides on What’s Important to Them While Traveling

Paula is a guide with Devour Madrid
Paula is a Devour Madrid guide

Courtney Brink, Customer Service

Can you remember a bite that changed your life?

Geez not an easy question at all! There are so many.

I’d have to choose these tacos I ate sitting on an upside down bucket next to a busy street while waiting for a bus in Mexico City. It was a husband and wife team, and when we told them we didn’t eat meat they said “Have a seat, we’ll take care of you.”

I watched as the woman molded the dough for the tortillas between her hands with care, then placed them down on the comal right in front of use to cook. While she was making the tortillas, her husband starting cooking potatoes and peppers while adding just the right amount of spice.

In a matter of minutes, they set a plate of absolutely the best tacos I’ve ever had in my life in front of us, all for less than €1 a piece. We topped them with two different types of homemade salsa and ate them in pure, blissful happiness.

Which Devour Tours core value is the biggest part of your life?

I’d have to say “go above & beyond.” Sometimes I find myself researching the best restaurants in Budapest for a guest that’s traveling there next, and I don’t even realize that’s not actually a part of my job! I love making people happy, especially when they’re traveling, and trying my best to make their trip run as smoothly as possible.

What do you most love about your job?

What I love most about my job is seeing the kindness of our guests! Sometimes it’s a simple email, a phone call, or a TripAdvisor review, but when our guests have kind words to say about a job I did it makes my day.

I’d also have to say the people I work with. We have an incredible team here at Devour! Coming to work doesn’t feel like a job, it feels like going to spend time with friends and family and I’m so grateful!

I am so happy to work in a place where I am surrounded by incredibly passionate, complex and beautiful women (and men!) on the inside and the outside. It’s truly inspiring!

Courtney is on the Customer Service team at Devour Tours
Courtney is on our Customer Service team

Norah Piñeiro, Devour Barcelona Guide

Can you remember a day that changed your life?

Rock climbing for the first time! Being fearless to heights, I was mega excited when my friends and I decided to go hiking and climb what is called the “magic mountain” in Catalonia (Pedraforca).

But the fear that I encountered when I faced the vertical face of the mountain was overwhelming. It almost paralyzed me when we had to climb up using our hands and feet without any support (learned a new Catalan word, “grimpar”!).

It was definitely mind blowing to comprehend the human mental barriers in such an environment, but I was sold for life on those feelings after we finished the day!

Which Devour Tours core value is the biggest part of your life?

I’ll choose two: for me, living with passion and purpose as well as learning and always being curious. I was born this way, can’t change it…

What do you most love about being a tour guide?

The novelty of meeting new curious travelers each time and being a facilitator in their understanding of Spanish heritage.

Lior Shechori, Devour Barcelona Head Guide

Can you remember a bite that changed your life?

It’s not exactly a bite but rather a bite experience. I remember the first time my parents took me to a fancy restaurant for my birthday.

All the food was delicious but what I mostly remember is realizing for the first time that food wasn’t just nourishment but so much more. It’s a celebration, it’s an experience, it’s pleasure at its purest, but also stimulating and intellectual at its best.

It triggers memories, it inspires and accompanies us in the most important events in our lives. That evening I came to the conclusion that life is too short to eat boring food and I am going to make every bite count.

Which Devour Tours core value is the biggest part of your life?

I suppose “be curious, keep learning.” I definitely go down a lot of rabbit holes whenever something triggers my interest.

Just the other day I stumbled across an article explaining how most of us recycle wrong and three hours later I found myself reading about the chemical composition of restaurant receipt paper…

What do you most love about your job?

100% the opportunity to share my passion with other people.

Lior is the Head Guide for Devour Barcelona
Lior is the Devour Barcelona Head Guide

Paulina Grzeszczyk, Devour Barcelona Guide

Can you remember a bite that changed your life?

Grilled octopus that I tried for the first time in one of the chiringuitos on the beach soon after arriving to Spain. Before I didn’t like seafood at all, but the views, sea breeze and a glass of Albariño changed my mind—and then I decided to stay in Barcelona!

Which Devour Tours core value is the biggest part of your life?

Live with passion & purpose. In everything you do, purpose gives sense to your acts and passion is a motor, source of energy, this sparkle of light that we need for every day.

What do you most love about being a tour guide?

Contact with people from all over the world and watching how they connect over delicious food.

Paulina is a guide with Devour Barcelona
Paulina’s shirt says “Because I want to, because I can and because I feel like it.”

Katie Stearns, Marketing Director

Can you remember a bite that changed your life?

Fried anchovies in a tiny cordobés tavern. It was my first date with my (future!) husband, and he didn’t even ask if I was down to eat fried anchovies, because who wouldn’t be up for that?!

Needless to say, though I wasn’t very excited about his dinner choice at first, it was one of the best bites I’ve ever had and to this day one of my favorite things to eat.

Which Devour Tours core value is the biggest part of your life?

Live with passion & purpose. Life is too short not to do the things that make your heart beat fast and that make you feel alive.

At work, that means trying new things (even if they don’t work), throwing out ideas and dreaming big, organizing beautiful photo shoots & finding the very best way to present our tours to all of the amazing curious travelers out there. This is what drives me every day, and what makes me feel most excited at work.

At home, you’ll find me in the kitchen, podcast on in the background, and something delicious on the stove—constantly learning, constantly trying new things, and always feeding the people I love.

What do you most love about your job?

I love putting together all of the pieces! From what our website looks like, to what the text says, to the experience our curious travelers have as they buy tickets, to the beautiful handouts they get on tour, marketing plays a part at every step. It feels like one big, never-ending puzzle in the very best way.

Katie is the Marketing Director at Devour Tours
Katie is our Marketing Director

Laura Muns, Devour Barcelona Guide

Can you remember a bite that changed your life?

Focaccia in Tuscany

Which Devour Tours core value is the biggest part of your life?

Be curious, keep learning

What do you most love about being a tour guide?

I love to travel and travelers. I love to take them to the highlights of my town.

Laura is a guide with Devour Barcelona
Laura is a Devour Barcelona guide

Mayu Ishikawa, Customer Service Director

Can you remember a bite that changed your life?

I don’t remember this, but my mom and grandma always joked about how when I was a teeny baby I used to ONLY eat tomatoes picked by this specific local farmer in my mom’s hometown. If they put a supermarket tomato in my mouth, I’d spit it out. Those tomatoes have changed my life without me even knowing it!

Which Devour Tours core value is the biggest part of your life?

Be curious, keep learning! My dad always says that life is a school and it’s true—learning is an attitude.

What do you most love about your job?

I get to interact with people who love food!

Mayu is the Customer Service Director at Devour Tours
Mayu is our Customer Service Director

Carmen Velasco, Devour Seville Guide

Which Devour Tours core value is the biggest part of your life?

“Be curious, keep learning,” “make the right choice,” “go above & beyond” and “live with passion & purpose” are a part of my daily life in every way.

What do you most love about being a tour guide?

I genuinely love this job in every way! Connecting with people from all over the globe is a truly important experience. It teaches us so much about our shared experiences as people.

Carmen is a guide with Devour Seville
Carmen is a Devour Seville guide

Martina Pendenza, Devour Madrid Operations Manager

Can you remember a bite that changed your life?

When I came to Spain and discovered there is something more delicious than prosciutto and it’s jamón iberico de bellota! I can spend an entire evening eating it and never be tired of it!

Which Devour Tours core value is the biggest part of your life?

Be curious, keep learning: I always try to make each day a special day by doing something I like, such as discovering a new foodie neighborhood or a restaurant, practicing yoga and meditation, and continuing to learn about my passions by reading books and participating in courses and workshops during the weekends.

What do you most love about your job?

My role as Operations Manager is great for impatient and curious people like me, because every day you can learn something new about the city, the food, new tour partners to work with, new activities to organize and foodie neighborhoods to discover!

Martina is the Operations Manager for Devour Seville
Martina is the Devour Madrid Operations Manager

Jessica Alcorn, Account Manager

Can you remember a bite that changed your life?

Great question! I think a bite that really changed my perspective on trying new things was at La Cuchara de San Telmo in San Sebastian.

It was my first time visiting there and we were trying to go to all the pintxo bars that Anthony Bourdain went to in his episode in San Sebastian. We wanted to try exactly what he had so decided to try the foie a la plancha with apple compote. It was the first time I had ever tried foie gras before; something I never even thought I would want to try and it blew my mind!

I loved the flavor, the texture, and that it was a new food for me. That bite reminds me of how many new things I’ve tried since living in Spain and how many of them I thought I would never like!

Which Devour Tours core value is the biggest part of your life?

I think the Devour core value that is the biggest part of my life is living with passion and purpose! I consider myself an eternal optimist which really helps me start each day with enthusiasm and passion for whatever I’m doing.

I always try to see the bright side of a situation and have found that having a great attitude about everyday situations is key! I also try to live with a sense of purpose in both of my professional and personal life by having goals and constantly striving to be my best self.

What do you most love about your job?

What I most love about my job in the Sales Department are the relationships we form with guests and helping them create their perfect event!

It’s really fun to help them build a wonderful event for their family members, friends or coworkers that will be amazing and also give them a taste of the true Spain. It’s really exciting to see the whole process from start to finish!

I also love working with a driven team of people who are passionate about Spain, food, culture, and love sharing that with anyone they can!

Jessica is an Account Manager at Devour Tours
Jessica is a Devour Tours Account Manager

Ashley Duncan, Content Manager

Can you remember a bite that changed your life?

Any one of the hundreds of s’mores I’ve eaten over many summers spent at camp. As a seven-year-old, roasting my first marshmallow over the fire and then assembling my own chocolate-graham cracker-marshmallow sandwich was a step towards learning to be independent—and now I live 5,000 miles from home!

I spent 19 summers at camp, and I think the smell of a campfire will always bring me back to those moments (and I absolutely love anything s’more flavored).

Which Devour Tours core value is the biggest part of your life?

Be curious, keep learning: if only I had more hours in the day, I would learn everything! My next big project when I have time is learning to cook (yes, I work at a food tour company but I can’t cook. Don’t tell!).

At work, I love getting to do courses, read books, and go to conferences to learn more about marketing—and Spain! Also reading the content that our team of writers creates teaches me so much about my own home and inspires me and helps me fall more in love with Spain every day.

What do you most love about your job?

I love getting to tell the story of Spain to our guests who are planning a trip or remembering one they took in the past. Being able to share what I love about living here, to get them inspired to come visit and make the most of it, or to take them down memory lane is so fun.

Ashley is the Content Manager at Devour Tours
Ashley is our Content Manager

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