Food. Some see it as a functional thing. Some see it as a ritual. Some see it as a way to break bread connect with family, with friends, with strangers.
Food is something that connects people. Creates a bond. Creates memories.
Over the last 15 years, Toronto has become one of the food capitals of the world. Some say we are in a renaissance. Some say we have a ways to go.
No matter what one thinks, no one can refute that a new tier of stars have emerged. They are the chefs of the moment. They are our new rock stars.
Names like Carl Henirich, Elia Herrera, Cory Vitiello, Ippei Iwata, David Chang, Steve Gonzalez, Stuart Cameron, Donna Dooher, & Anthony Rose are but a few Canadian & international born chefs that will strut their brilliance at the 1st Taste of Toronto, which arrives to Toronto from July 24 to 27th at the picturesque Fort York.
This IMG produced festival is expected to host upwards of 20,000 visitors across the four days featuring world class chefs, 16 of Toronto's top restaurants and over 50 exhibitors.
Food fans, this is your moment.
We had the fortune to sit down with Meghan O'Hanlon, who is the Festival Director for Taste of Toronto, the first such festival in North America.
So you are Canadian and you lived in Australia for 13 years. While you were there, you were the Festival Director of Taste of Sydney and Melbourne. What is your impression of Toronto and its culinary scene since you have come back?
Toronto's culinary scene has been booming for a while now and there's no signs of it slowing down. It seems like every week there is a new restaurant opening, new farmers market popping up or an exciting new cocktail bar to try. Torontonians are starving for more food festivals, as it's impossible to get bored of what the city's culinary offerings!
The common feeling is that Toronto is going through a culinary renaissance. How does Taste of Toronto reflect that?
The fact than an international festival chose Toronto for its North American debut speaks to how much food now defines our city, and how quickly the scene continues to evolve. Toronto is reflected in every decision we made from restaurants to vendors to musicians. We worked hard to make sure this Taste of Toronto is representative of everything we love about this city and that it showcases the best of the best.
At Taste of Toronto, guests come to timed sessions. Can you explain what that is?
Each Taste of Toronto ticket gives access to the grounds and programming for one four hour lunch or dinner session. Four hours is the perfect amount of time to experience the festival and a new audience every four hours means that more people get the opportunity to engage with the restaurants and vendors over the course of the 4 days.
Can you highlight a few of the feature programming guests can expect?
We're thrilled to offer an extensive range of interactive and engaging programming. Highlights include the Metro Master Class where visitors cook in real-time with their favourite chef at individual stations, learning expert technique and signature tips and tricks, The Tasting Room where you can meet wine experts from Whitehaven Wines, Louis M. Martini, and Charlie's Burgers for 30 minute interactive classes, The Electrolux Taste Theatre where top chefs and special guests host live demonstrations, as well as live music curated by local record label, Arts & Crafts. With many more opportunities to interact with top chefs and special guests onsite, there really is something for everyone at Taste.
So how to people pay for food at Taste of Toronto? Understand there is a currency that has been created just for this event?
Taste of Toronto operates on its own currency called Crowns: $1 CAD buys you 1 Crown, which is used to purchase small plates from each of the pop-up restaurant venues onsite. Dishes range from 6 - 10 Crowns each, and are designed to let you indulge in many flavours from around the festival. Crowns can also be used to purchase drink tastings and more, and are non-refundable but any leftover at the end of the festival will be donated to our charitable partner, Second Harvest.
Some have said that this food festival will be a lot different from a food truck round up. Can you explain how?
Taste of Toronto loves food trucks! With so many events featuring food trucks so well in our city, Taste of Toronto aims to bring together brick and mortar restaurants for a truly unique culinary celebration. Taste is about grabbing a custom dish, enjoying great Canadian music, learning insider cooking tips or meeting a local producer while sipping on an amazing glass of wine -- it brings everything that goes into food together, all in one place.
We hear ticket sales are brisk. Can you confirm best availabilities and how people get tickets? Can you also share any promo codes for a valued readers?
Your best bet for tickets is to check out our website here. We have many packages that will ensure your experience is perfectly tailored to your needs. 2 Premium Tickets for $90 - this includes entry to the event plus $30 worth of Crowns (saving of $10).
Toronto has always wanted festivals with international appeal. Something one may have gone to in some other global city. So now that this city has what it has dreamed of, the hope is that its citizens and tourists alike come out to experience what a world class food festival can be. One bite & drink at a time. How many crowns are you going to get?