Today we’d like to introduce you to Layla Ali-Ahmad.
Layla, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born and raised in Southern California. My twin sister and I are first-generation Americans of Lebanese descent. Growing up in a Lebanese-American household meant food was always front and center. Whether that meant coming home and watching my grandmother roll grape leaves, or shamefully hiding my lunch from friends in elementary because it was just easier than explaining why our peanut butter and jelly came on pita, instead of Wonder Bread. Nevertheless, we were always fortunate enough to travel abroad every other summer to visit family in Lebanon. That always meant stopping somewhere on the way to Beirut (France, Italy, Turkey, Greece, etc.). Our frequent travel only enhanced my curiosity and love for all things food related.
When it was time to go to college, I moved to San Luis Obispo, CA, and majored in Civil Engineering at Cal Poly (Go Mustangs!). While my experience living on the central coast was second-to-none, I graduated feeling lost and unsure if I had made the right career choice. I moved to Long Beach and started working as a designer for a large engineering consulting firm in Downtown LA, never feeling truly settled. I found myself spending all of my off time taking “mental vacations,” by reading local food blogs and publications to pass the time. I knew I wanted to make my way into the industry…. I just didn’t know how yet.
Fast forward a few years, and I made a sudden career move into the wine industry. I worked for a local online retailer selling wholesale French wine to local restaurants, shops, and bars. One year into my new-found role, I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer at the age of 26. I decided to take a year off to undergo treatment, and upon my return, I couldn’t help but feel like it was time to move on. Something inside me knew I needed to start my own company.
I returned to the engineering industry to make a little more cash and figure out what I wanted to do. It wasn’t until my husband and I went on our honeymoon, that it all clicked for me. We had a 3-week whirlwind trip to Europe, which included 2 days in Edinburgh, Scotland. Hard-pressed for time, and unsure of what to do, we decided to take a food tour to get acquainted with the city and make sure we didn’t fall into any tourist traps. I remember leaving the tour thinking, “I wonder if there’s a food tour in Long Beach?” That’s how Beach City Food Tours was born! I launched the company in September 2016, and haven’t looked back.
Has it been a smooth road?
My road has been anything but smooth. 5 months after launching the company, I was diagnosed with stage 4 bone metastasis. This time, my treatment is focused on long-term mitigation, which means never getting complacent and always staying on top of new (and old) treatments. I currently spend roughly one month at a time in Vienna, to receive immunotherapy. While I’m fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel for treatment, it can make running a local business challenging, at times. I’m lucky to have the help of my amazing tour guides. I don’t know where I’d be without them.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Beach City Food Tours – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Beach City Food Tours is a public and private culinary tour and event company. We take visitors and locals on food and drink tours throughout Long Beach, CA. Guests can sign up to take an intimate 3-hour guided tour of the Downtown Long Beach’s dining scene.
They eat at 6 restaurants and specialty food shops over the course of the tour, while learning about the history, culture and architecture of the city, along the way. We’re proud to say we only hire local tour guides, who have intimate knowledge and enthusiasm for the city of Long Beach. We feel it’s important for guests to be able to ask our guides anything about the city. We like to think of ourselves as local culinary ambassadors.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love the diversity. It’s nice knowing that if one day you’re craving tacos and the next day you need to get your hands on some dim sum, it’s all just a matter of how far you’re willing to drive. I do think LA, as a whole, is very misunderstood by people that don’t live here. It tends to be generalized into one big traffic-ridden city, solely dedicated to Hollywood and Santa Monica Blvd.
Only when you take the time to get to know the heart of each individual city, do you really begin to appreciate it for what it is. Take Long Beach, specifically. With a population of roughly half a million people and dozens of distinct neighborhoods, it’s the 7th largest city in California, alone.
- Public tours start at $69/person
- Children under the age of 3 are free
- Website: https://www.beachcityfoodtours.com/
- Phone: 8882791392
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/beachcityfood/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/beachcityfoodtours/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/BeachCityFood
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/beach-city-food-tours-long-beach
- Other: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g32648-d10748931-Reviews-Beach_City_Food_Tours-Long_Beach_California.html