The Perfect Team - Travel Artisans

With over 40 years at the forefront of the travel industry -- and combined experience of over 75 years -- we are a team of enthusiastic, experienced and knowledgeable travel artisans dedicated to your travel enjoyment. At Epicopia Journeys and Epicopia Culinary Journeys - specialists in food & wine travel experiences we heartily agree with the principles of Slow Food. Our philosophy is, “Drink local, eat local, with the locals!” We love food and wine. We know you do, too.

Harold D. Partain, CTC, CCTP, DS

  • Founder and Executive Director
  • Email: hpartain@Epicopia.com
photo by j matherne

photo by j matherne

Being equally at home in Italy and Texas, Harold has dedicated over 45 years to the travel industry. His ownership, management and training skills have lead several companies to success and recognition. Harold, a senior partner with McCabe Travel Group LLC, lectures on travel styles and trends, destinations, and the history of food - recently at Brookhaven College in Dallas, and for various travel organizations and conferences. Often the theme of his lectures, as well as professional specialization, is the Mediterranean region.

Harold is the Founder and Executive Director of Epicopia Journeys and Epicopia Culinary Journeys. Epicopia is the natural evolution of a long travel career now focused on all aspects of culinary tourism. He is also the Managing Director of McCabe Travel Group, LLC.

With food and wine tourism at the center, Harold has marketed creatively designed travel experiences such as; Pilgrimage for the Perfect Pinot Noir, The Architecture of Wine Making: Spain's Commitment to the Future, Arts and Opera – A Taste of the Veneto, Down on the Farm – Italian Style, and developed a travel series focused on the Extraordinary Women of Wine, among many others.

Harold’s interests have included most of the exotic and more adventurous regions of the world. He was one of the first consultants in Texas to specialize in Adventure Travel and Small Luxury Cruises. Today it seems most of his travels are focused on Europe exploring the virtues of food and wine and the role each has played in the cultural development of the host country.

Harold has served on the Board of Directors of the International Culinary Tourism Association (ICTA) since 2004. In October 2006 his professional colleagues honored him when he was elected Vice-Chairman, Board of Directors. He was elected Chairman, Board of Directors in 2011 when ICTA was formally reorganized as the World Food Travel Association (WFTA).  He continues today as Chairman, WFTA. Harold also serves as Chairman of the Education & Certification Committee, and on the Advisory Board for Foodworx, FoodTrekking World, and several other food and wine related organizations. Harold recently became Founder and Executive Director of EATexas.Org.

Harold was one of the first to earn the CCTP designation confirmed by ICTI – International Culinary Tourism Institute. CCTP – Certified Culinary Travel Professional is the only industry certification program available for those seeking a higher level of knowledge and verification of their professional dedication to the high standards of culinary tourism. Harold earned his CTC (Certified Travel Counselor) in  February, 1995. He also holds several DS designations (Destination Specialists). He was awarded the World Food Travel Association's "Certified Ambassador" title in January of 2015.

Harold's career led to Dallas in 1972 where he has been associated with several leading travel companies. His knowledge, management and training skills helped to bring these companies to national recognition. In 1991, Harold founded Exclusive Travel Designs International with business partner, Ann Olene Sale.

A passion for books and seeing a change ahead in the travel industry led Harold in 1997 to accept the challenge as Director of Travel Operations for Voyagers The Travel Store in Dallas. His association helped to forge the team that quickly grew the company to four retail locations and a substantial Internet Store offering complete travel services along with travel books, luggage, accessories and a wide range of travel related gifts.

Harold did his BA degree studies at Ouachita Baptist University, University of Arkansas, and University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He did advance degree study for Masters in Philosophy at New York University.

His passion for travel is contagious. The wonders of the Ancient World always beckoned him. Harold's collection of international postage stamps was a farm child's link to the mysterious and unusual. He spent hours watching planes high above winging their way to unexplored worlds. Today he is passionate in sharing these adventures with his many clients.

Harold is an avid supporter and member of the Slow Food movement. He makes every effort to live by the Epicopia philosophy, "Eat Local, Drink Local, With the Locals!"

Additional Experience Directors and Travel Artisans being updated. Return here soon for more details.

Chef Eric C. Partain, CBA

Growing up in Arkansas, Eric often dreamed of traveling to other lands. Early in life, he developed a great interest in all things Greek – from the ancient ruins and architecture to mythology and, of course, the food.

20130903_105257 Eric Partain.jpg

While living in Mobile, AL Eric discovered the heart of the culinary culture of the South. His discovery of Mardi Gras, which originated in Mobile (USA), is something he feels everyone should enjoy at least once in their life. Mobile also exposed him to fried pickles, one of Eric’s true Southern favorites. Living so close to the Gulf of Mexico allowed him the pleasure of enjoying fresh seafood often. 

After Mobile, Eric moved to the Dallas area – a great ‘City of the South’ where you can be as uptown or as casual as you like.  Dallas offers anything you can imagine for her residents and visitors alike. One of the things he enjoyed the most, besides all the wonderful food, was the Dallas Farmer’s Market – a must for anyone making a trip to Dallas. 

A short stint of his time was spent in the beautiful city of Karlsruhle, Germany. This beautiful German city is alive with history and culture. From the restaurants of nearly any world cuisine you could imagine, to the architecture and history of the area, Karlsruhle is a destination he strongly recommends to any visitor of Germany.

After his time in Germany, life took Eric to Chicago, where he lived for 10 years. His favorite things about the city - the culture and food, of course! Visiting all the different cultural hubs Chicago offers, he could easily choose a favorite – Greek Town – but is hard-pressed to choose a second as China Town, the Magnificent Mile, the Gold Coast and others have so much to offer. Chicago, another great destination Eric recommends for those who have not been to this ‘cultural melting pot’ city in the Midwest.

After most of his time spent in retail and sales, Eric decided to follow his true passions of cooking, baking and travel by earning degrees in Culinary Arts, Baking Arts and Hospitality Management. To expand his knowledge, he has earned the Certified BritAgent designation sponsored by The British Tourist Board. And is currently in study for CCTP designation – Certified Culinary Travel Professional offered through the World Food Travel Association.

Eric joined Epicopia Culinary Journeys as an Experience Director & Travel Artisan with specialization in Greece, Germany, the UK, the USA and Canada. His specially designed small group experiences include: The Lowdown on Lowcountry Cuisine: featuring Charleston Wine + Food Festival (Charleston, SC 2013 and in 2014); Dining as the Gods: A Culinary Journey Through Crete (2014 and 2016); The New Art & Cuisine in Northwest Arkansas (May 2016); Crawling through the Pubs – London and Her Nightlife (2015 and 2017); and Wines of the North: The Canadian Wine Experience (beginning in 2017) – offering several opportunities to travel the eastern provinces as well as the far west to experience the growing acclaim for Canadian wines. 

Eric invites you to join him on his carefully designed small group food & wine travel experiences.

If small group travel is not your “glass of wine”, Eric looks forward to working with you to design your personal travel needs to destinations of your choice.  

Additional Experience Directors and Travel Artisans being updated. Return here soon for more details.