Meet Your Guides
Saimi has nicknamed her hips “Research” and “Development.” Yes, she has taken a few calories for the team, but believes the resultant culinary tours are worth the sacrifice. And the cellulite.
Along with partner, Jennifer Mastroianni, Saimi has spent countless hours combing city streets, trolling tiny towns and roaming rolling countrysides to find (and eat) the best-kept secrets and local specialties that are the hallmark of Foodie Field Trips. Before claiming a spot on a tour, every featured delicacy has to pass Saimi’s demanding taste test. Twice. Or, in the case of baked goods, three times.
Saimi has been a food writer, travel writer and consumer writer for more than 22 years. She wrote food stories and restaurant reviews for the Repository newspaper in Canton and for About Magazine in Stark County.
She has led culinary-themed cruises, and has given countless cooking demos, including an annual appearance at the Ohio State Fair. She has judged numerous cooking contests, from the National Dandelion Cookoff in Ohio to the National Chicken Cook-Off in Birmingham, Alabama.
Saimi and husband of 32 years, Mark, raised Erik, the omnivore, and Katrina, the vegetarian, both of whom grew up to be accomplished, fearless cooks. In her spare time, Saimi grows herbs and vegetables, reads voraciously, putters with crafts and struggles with a cookbook addiction.
Ever eat a thymus? Jennifer Mastroianni has. “Why the heck not?” she mused one evening while ordering at Michael Symon’s Lola Bistro in Cleveland. For the record, she loved the tender gland gleaned from the neck of a steer.
That kind of moxie has served Jennifer well during her food-writing career, especially during her “Will Work For Food” series, while taking on jobs the likes of diner waitress and butcherhouse clean-up girl. Or the year she made 50 new recipes by her 50th birthday. Or during face-to-face interviews with celebrity chefs Bobby Flay, Cat Cora, and Ted Allen.
Jennifer’s foodie fearlessness reached new heights the day she judged a baked goods competition at the Stark County Fair. When none of the other judges showed, Jennifer loosened her belt, and in front of a live audience, tasted all 88 desserts.
All things considered, it’s no surprise that after, “What’s your favorite restaurant,?” the question people most often ask her is, “Why aren’t you, well, um, a lot wider?” To which she quips, “Turns out, having a tapeworm is not as bad as it sounds.” Jennifer shares this wit, whimsy, and “Why not?” attitude with guests on Foodie Field Trips.
When not on the lookout for new culinary destinations, she’s testing a new recipe, working in her vegetable or flower gardens, or feeding a growing family. She resides in Alliance with her killer griller of a husband, Todd, three hungry children, and her first grandchild. (Jennifer will be on hiatus for the 2017 season, but will return in 2018. Saimi’s husband, Mark, will serve as guide in her place.)