by Brianna Smith-Herman —

Brianna Smith-Herman

In the wake of COVID-19, the travel and restaurant industries are challenged to redefine hospitality and innovate new experiences. As a longtime Memphis culture and foodie enthusiast, Cristina McCarter of City Tasting Tours accepted this challenge and pivoted to virtual food tours in May 2020.

After a long conversation in June of 2020 with friend and now business partner, Lisa Brown, the two decided to come together and go from local to nationwide, with their new business venture, City Tasting Box. 

Cristina McCarter (left) and Lisa Brown. (Courtesy photos)

City Tasting Box is a boutique e-commerce shop that curates a blend of packaged goods from famed Memphis restaurants and chefs, up-and-coming local food artisans and other Memphis-inspired crafts all packaged in a well-designed mailer box.

McCarter and Brown bring years of experience and passion to the industry. 

“We are fueled by Black excellence, sisterhood and resilience that we know as the grit-n-grind culture that every entrepreneur in Memphis embodies,” said McCarter. 

The City Tasting Boxes celebrate the heritage, tenacity and resilience of our local food scene. They invite everyone to eat locally, support Black-owned businesses and experience Memphis – all in one box. 

“Our first goal with all of our boxes is to create the optimal palatable experience for each consumer by blending the perfect flavor balance of sweet, savory, salty and spicy in each box while keeping our north star in mind – highlight Memphis and tell the artisan’s story,” said McCarter. 

“Specifically for The Majority Box,” said Brown, “Each artisan, chef and business owner featured in The Majority Box has an amazingly triumphant and inspiring story. Most of their recipes used to create these packaged goods go back generations – Makeda’s Cookies, Chef Tam’s, Mae’s Gourmet Jams, Cxffeeblack Guji Mane Ethiopian Coffee. That is history. That is heritage. That is worth telling and sharing with the world. You can taste the passion.”

The Majority Box is a limited-time-only box that runs through the end of February and features a variety of Black food artisans and artists, such as Pop’s Kernel Gourmet Popcorn, Flying Sobie’s Memphis gold sauce, Makeda’s Cookies World-famous Butter Cookies, Chef Tam’s Black as Midnight blackening seasoning, Cxffeeblack Guji Mane Ethiopian coffee, Mae’s Gourmet Jam, Elle Elixir’s custom tea blend, a curated We Are Memphis soul music playlist by Tonya Renee Dyson, We Are Memphis swag, and an audio Black History tour by A Tour of Possibilities.

You can see all of the boxes and what they include by visiting citytastingbox.com

McCarter and Brown are continuously working with local artists to produce custom artwork for their box designs.

“We love art, artists, and artisans,” said Brown. “In Memphis, art is a big part of our culture and heritage. And all chefs and food artisans are artists, so it just makes sense. Plus, we give our loyal customers something to look forward to. Many of them have already become collectors of the boxes.”

City Tasting Box will continue to deliver thoughtfully crafted packaged, even after COVID-19 exits.

“Count on us to raise up the micro-business owners, female chefs, up-and-coming artisans and locally famous restaurant staples,” said McCarter. “Eating local isn’t a trend for us, it’s a lifestyle. We are so grateful to bring a positive light into our community and impact the local food scene here in Memphis, TN.”