Conference Tours

Experience the flavors of Des Moines like never before with our exclusive Pre-Conference and Post-Conference tours, designed to introduce conference attendees to our host city, Des Moines! Sample locally-made cheeses and discover the hidden gems of this vibrant city.

Ticket costs for each tour vary and may include lunch, tastings, and transportation. All tours will depart from the Iowa Events Center. Tickets for each tour can be purchased during conference registration.

Book your tour now and get ready to taste, explore, and discover the best of Des Moines.

Please note, the descriptions, locations, and times listed below are subject to change.  Please continue to check back for the most up-to-date information.

Tour: Farm to Table

Date: Tuesday, July 18
Time: ~8:30 am – 4:30 pm

Tour locations include:
Simple Life Farms
PepperHarrow Farm
John Wayne Museum
Covered Bridges Winery

Before the hustle and bustle of the conference begins, immerse yourself in the picturesque rolling hills of Southwestern Iowa with our Farm to Table Tour. This exclusive tour is your chance to discover the best of Iowa’s farm-to-table scene and explore some of the region’s hidden gems.

Our first stop is Simple Life Farms, a family-owned farmstead producer of aged, raw goat milk cheese and goat milk products. Meet the goats that produce the milk and sample their delicious cheese. You can also browse the goat milk apothecary for unique and handmade skincare products.

Next, we’ll make a quick detour to the birthplace of John Wayne, an American icon and proud son of Iowa. Explore the John Wayne Museum, sip on a whiskey drink to honor The Duke, and take a stroll around the town square.

Then, we’ll head to PepperHarrow Flower Farm, where you’ll tour the farm and enjoy a local chef-prepared over-the-fire-style lunch provided by the renowned Tangerine Food Co. out of Des Moines. Savor the flavors of fresh, locally-sourced ingredients while taking in the serene surroundings.

Finally, we’ll end the tour with a wine flight tasting at Covered Bridges Winery. Indulge in the perfect pairing of locally-made wines with artisanal cheeses from La Quercia and Hoard’s Dairyman Farm Creamery. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the true taste of Iowa.

Don’t miss out on this unforgettable culinary adventure! Book your spot on the Farm to Table Tour now and taste the best that Iowa has to offer.


Tour: Food Culture in the Heartland: Growing More Than Corn

Date: Tuesday, July 18
Time: ~8:00 am – 2:00 pm

Tour locations to include:
Gateway Market
The Cheese Shop of Des Moines
Purveyor Wine Bar

When you think of Midwestern fare, your mind likely gravitates toward pork, corn, and hearty meat and potatoes dishes, and while yes, you’ll absolutely find those things here – and they will probably be the best versions of those foods you’ve ever tried – we have a lot more to offer!

Local legend and culinary pioneer Michael Lavalle will be your guide! Lavalle has been on the Des Moines food scene for decades, bringing epicurean culture and cuisine to the community. He had the first-ever cheese shop in the 70s and has been a very well-respected chef throughout his career. In recent years he has been helping shape the next generations of chefs with his involvement in the Cuisiniers de la Loire Trophy Contest annual student chef competition in Saint-Étienne, France – the culinary sister city of Des Moines. We’ll be stopping at one of his establishments on the tour!

Get a feel for Des Moines and meet a few key players of the food scene as we tour some of the best spots in town, eating, drinking, and chatting our way through the city. We think you’ll find that Des Moines is an exciting, fun place to be a foodie. Our first stop is Gateway Market, located in historic Sherman Hill. The thoughtfully curated aisles, cheese counter, and wine and beer selection fit right in with the eclectic and cool, yet refined neighborhood. The market also has a bakery, where we will be enjoying freshly baked pastries while meeting with the Chef / Owner of Gateway Market and South Union Bakery, George Formaro.

Next up is a local producers’ market and tour of The Cheese Shop of Des Moines! The Cheese Shop has been a Des Moines staple since 2011, providing the highest quality cheeses, wines, meats, and all the accouterments to properly enjoy those things. TCS prides itself on educating not only staff but the customers and guests on where everything on the shelves and in the coolers comes from and who made it, through classes hosted monthly and via the in-store shopping experience. They are also happy to host local markets and live music on-site, further building community and connecting the local producers and makers of what they sell and serve to those who enjoy it.

From there we will make our way to the East Village neighborhood. This Des Moines gem is home to many small businesses and is a great place to spend a day eating and shopping or having a night on the town. We’ll be right in the heart of the East Village at Purveyor for lunch and wine. Purveyor shines when it comes to charcuterie and fine wine, but also brings the unexpected with special paella nights in the spring and summer and fresh empanadas available daily. This modern European-style shop has been well-loved since its opening in 2019.

Tour: Food Stream: An Educational Culinary Experience

Date: Tuesday, July 18
Time: ~9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Tour locations to include:
Eat Greater Des Moines
La Quercia
Middlebrook Farm

Join us on the Food Stream tour, a unique culinary experience that takes you on a journey through Iowa’s thriving food scene. This tour is designed to educate and inspire you to make a positive impact on the environment and local communities through responsible food practices.

We’ll start the day with Aubrey Alverez of Eat Greater Des Moines, who will teach us about food rescue and how to minimize food waste in our businesses and personal lives. Enjoy a delicious breakfast while learning about the importance of getting more food to people’s bellies and out of landfills.

Our next stop is La Quercia, a renowned producer of artisanal cured pork products. Here, we’ll learn about heritage breeds, non-confinement farming, and how to butcher a whole hog. You’ll also tour their state-of-the-art curing facilities and sample their delicious line of cured pork products.

After that, we’ll visit Middlebrook Farm, Iowa’s first Agrihood – a neighborhood built around a farm. Enjoy a farm-to-table lunch and a cocktail while touring the property and learning about composting, edible landscaping, and how to grow your own veggies at home. It’s a chance to connect with nature and experience the true meaning of farm-to-table dining.

On our way back to town, we’ll stop by Hy-Vee‘s flagship location to see how they put food waste best practices into place. You’ll have the opportunity to learn from their top deli specialists and ask any questions you have.

This tour is perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about the importance of responsible food practices and experience Iowa’s vibrant food scene. Book your spot on the Food Stream tour now and be part of the change toward a more sustainable future.

Tour Sponsored by: 


Date: Friday, July 21
Time: ~2:00 pm – 6:30 pm

Tour locations to include:
Iowa State University

Join us for a post-conference tour and tasting experience at Iowa State University‘s Food Science and Human Nutrition building in Ames, IA. This tour is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to explore three micro-facilities: the ISU Creamery, Winery, and Brewery. Discover how these facilities produce products with the latest technologies and techniques.

As part of the tour, you’ll also taste flights of beer, wine, ice cream, and honey from the ISU Apiary, in their Culinary Discovery Lab. Get a firsthand experience of the flavors and aromas that go into making these delicious treats.

On the way back from Ames, we’ll stop at Hy-Vee to experience a store-wide sensory tour and tasting lab designed to challenge and expand your cheese flavor lexicon.

This tour is perfect for foodies and anyone interested in the science behind food and drink production. Book your spot on this flavorful adventure now and experience Iowa’s amazing food science wonders.

Tour Sponsored by: