What is Taste of London?
In short Taste of London is a foodies paradise, an opulent food utopia where the finest & most creative purveyors of all things tasty congregate to entice, treat and aid the expansion of your waistband. All for a small & justifiable fee. The event dubbed the world's best food, drink and live music event host more than 30 top restaurants and bars who provide their signature dishes in bitsize portions to allow you to sample and entice you to experience the full meal at their actual residence. Theres also cooking workshops, demostrations live musicians & more. All set within London's gorgeous Regents Park.
Who & Whats There?
You'll meet Celebrities both onstage and amongst the crowds, veterans chefs, families, couples but no pets! understandably. Some London's best known restaurants, bars and brand names. At a previous event British Airways where there in a makeshift 747 with pretend seats serving the 1st class meals and discussing the thought process behind the menu and how its implented in-flight. Other organisations or brands will showcase the results of kitchen experiments, classic & signature dishes, nutritionist’s research and the product of food-venture kick starters. Add a few freebies here and there, some light entertainment a chill-out area to rest your feet and sip sparkling wine and you have an event that'll make you feel lucky to live in London.
Vs previous years
My partner & I attended the previous x2 Taste summer festivals as a staple of our annual calendar. We’ve done the VIP, bought the book, haven’t tried the recipes, but who has the time these days, especially when eating out is so much more fun, especially in London where the world's cuisine and culture typically within walking distance of most front doors. This year had some usual faces, a few missing and the odd welcome surprise, although this year seemed scaled down in comparison to previous years. Missing was a large centre bandstand, the farmers market was a little smaller and missing some of the items we were looking forward to purchasing like the elegant flower blooming tea. That’s not to say it wasn’t still spectacular, I guess when you're used to something you expect it to be the same or better. This year felt a little more intimate, with more independent retailers & less major chains/franchises. Not a problem at all.
There’s always interesting people at to meet at Taste, and like any culture convention they’re passionate about their product, so you’re likely to hear stories of how their offerings came to pass. Anyone remotely interested in perhaps launching their own beverage, snack, culinary accessory or service should definately attend & pick the brains of entrepreneurs already walking the walk for tips, networking and inspiration. There're typically so many samples goods to purchase you should ideally bring either tupperware, a cooler, a tote bag or just space in your backpack for the bits you're going to want to take home. For my partner & I we'd also buy cupcakes, turkish delight, an array of breads, macaroons and always the gormet popcorn, as they're always some fantastic flavours. Theres always a ton of sweets & deli options too. Essentially stuff you're likely to pig out on for at least a week. If you're super organised you'll drive and park close by the entrance to the park and ferry goods back to be stored in your in-car 14v powered cooler.
How to Taste
This post isn’t so much a guide or a review but more a snapshot of anexcellent day out in London town. To spread awareness of Taste & give you an incentive to book your ticket for next year. Whether you’re trying to impress a date, spend time with the family or fill a day in your London City-Break itinerary. Taste of London won't dissappoint. However, a warning for those with young children. Taste didn't seem to cater too heavily for young kids. I don't recall observing any obvious attempts to entertain kids. The event came across as mainly an adults affair. But if you ensure your little ones have a friend their own age to bounce off then the event may just work. but one adult's going to need to keep an eye out as the layout of the event is such that kids could easily get lost or lose you if not kept in clear line of sight. The event features Micheline star restaurants & top bars pitching their experiences, as these are typically aimed at an adult audience it makes sense the attendees are typically mature. I may be the case you just loaf in one of the many seated or grassy sections of the venue to pass the time while you send your partner off to forage for you?
Don’t quote me on what the 'aim' of Taste is other than to celebrate food & drink. Previous year's events had a currency system called “coins” which were roughly two-coins to a pound or something close, with the premise that proceeds from the event would go to a designated charity, which took the edge of any reluctance to spend frivolously as you knew the money you were spending was partly going towards a positive cause. This year the coin system was scrapped. Not sure why but it did reduce the faff of having to transfer money every so often. What Taste will do is give you an opportunity to do in one day what you simply couldn’t do ordinarily, and thats experience a vast array of the very best that the UK has to offer food & drink wise, all within a single event, within such close proximity.
Tips for Taste
The tip I can give is to book you're ticket and go see for yourself. I’ve tried to capture a fraction of what Taste has to offer. One day is enough for me to scoot around and grab a fair few tasters & bits for the home, mainly because I know what to look for. But for those who've never attended i'd advise booking more than one day and perhaps allocating the 1st day for retail & exploration, making note of the whats on offer. The 2nd day perhaps for a couple tutorials, speeches and fair amount of chilling out to just soak in the atmosphere and observe the hoardes of good looking people who term up to be seen as much eat. It's Regents Park after all.
Whilst booking our tickets we noticed their were VIP Experiences & of course wondered what this was. In previous years we'd not bothered but observed the VIP area was a separate area gated away from the rest of event with shelter from the elements, a whole bunch of seats, complimentary Champagne and collectables book on offer. So this time we opted for it. I'd say the VIP experience is worth it, but only if you can afford it. The aforementioned class of champagne & unlimited access to an indoor seated area where you and a group can relax in style and re-charge between rounds of the grounds is a convenience that certainly adds to the overal occassion. If you’re a lady in heels (which my partner usually is) you’ll regard this area as an indoor comfortable seat-guaranteed! a haven to rest your pins. Which is quite pertinent when you consider in London the heavens may open up at any given time. Seats outside the VIP section are available too, they’re just usually occupied. Plus, A Regents Park event wouldn't complete without a little elitism.
What to Wear?
In terms of attire? The dress code is what you want. Some people look uncomfortably formal, others are uncomfortably laid back. Although be warned, in previous years the walkways have become a little muddy. As mentioned above it may rain on your day to attend, in which case the Regent's Park grass will quickly turn to mud. There are pre-laid walkways but these will sink into the mud and become stained. So perhaps gauge the forcast and make provisions should the weather turn bad. If its super hot then heels & shoes might be ok, but certainly wouldn't risk wearing a smart pair of shoes, especially suade or easily stainable material. Leather Boots or wellies will keep you safe or a pair of beat-up trainers you don't care for. Festival wear essentially.
Regarding Travel, I prefer to drive whenever possible. I love driving through the city and the price of parking at a nearby pre-pay meter is a small price to pay for the convenience of air-con, privacy and total control over one’s route home. Like the weather, be pragmatic and let your circumstance guide your choice. But with a car you can bung everything in the boot and head to anywhere you choose relatively quickly if you have plans after the event.
I love food, London, Summer & combing the former with my partner over something we mutually enjoy, like a good foodie event. Taste of London being one of the best certainly the UK has to offer makes for a easy win for most individuals. There isn't much more to consider. Oh take plenty of spending money.
See you next year!