When it was announced last year that the Taste Festivals – world-renowned culinary events under the IMG banner – would be making a North American debut in Toronto, to say the city’s well-informed food caste was excited would be an understatement akin to saying Lady Gaga is simply an odd character. Chins moistened with salivating palates, anxious for Taste of Toronto to make its mark on our food scene…
Naturally, we, too, were over the moon. The Toronto food scene, while vibrant and robust for a young city such as ours, is also mired in mediocrity and followerism. More often than not we lack the follow-through of other major metropolises when it comes to our event scene. Too often we recycle grand fete concepts – slapping on a different moniker and calling an event something akin to “ultimate awesome foodie time” seems to be the a la mode cycle here in the big smoke.
So Taste of Toronto, with its international pedigree and multi-year success record, would seem to be our guiding light; it’s the “new potential” that will surely sweep our city’s tried-and-tested brood to the curb. At least, that’s the hope.
As a backgrounder, the Taste Festivals essentially curate a list of the best chefs and restaurants in a given city and set them against an outdoor urban setting. (In Taste of Toronto’s case it’s the Historic Fort York.) Coupled with drinks aplenty and live entertainment, an evening at a Taste Festival essentially makes “restaurant hopping” the easiest of pastimes.
But will a three-day food festival thrive in a city suffering from event over-saturation? It’s hard to say. Currently, Taste of Toronto has 18 restaurants listed as participants. Not a lot in comparison to other events – including non-food events where nosh stations are simply an added feature. That said, the pedigree is tight: Fat Pasha, Los Colibris, Khao San Road, Weslodge, The Grove, Yours Truly, etc. These are all prime dining destinations in Toronto. They’re also among the busiest restaurants in the city… which naturally makes us wonder how they’ll fare removing key staff and management players from their brick-and-mortar locations for three days of a food fest pop-up.
What Taste of Toronto will need to cultivate to stand out from the pack goes far beyond simply having the best food on hand. (We’ve been to many an event where the food was fantastic but the event itself was as enthralling as listening to an Ann Coulter book-on-tape.) They’ll need to create an ambiance, a vibe as it were, worthy of 140-character lauding. They’ll need a 360-degree approach to event management: food + drinks + entertainment + accessibility + affordability + intrigue. (Their Features list is definitely a good start… however not as unique as one would hope given the Taste Festivals’ reputation.)
Taste of Toronto will go one of three ways: it will be the hottest new event to take our city’s hashtags by storm; or, it will be a dud of an event that will leave Toronto wanting; or, it will simply be a blip on our summer’s timeline – alright but not amazing, and thus we’ll all leave with a feeling of nonchalance.
We’re ever-hopeful that a new event launch in the city is going to bring interest and intrigue, but we’ve been spurned in the past by supposedly remarkable soirees that have been nothing more than placid.
Dear Taste of Toronto: We want to love you. Please don’t fuck up.
Are you planning on attending Taste of Toronto, July 24th to 27th? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.