If you follow us on Instagram you likely saw that we attended the inaugural Tastemaker Food Festival, which debuted at the Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto, Ontario from May 18th-19th. Following its Toronto debut, Tastemaker will head over to the windy city of Chicago, August 17th-18th at Revel Fulton Market.
Designed by IMG, the folks behind the renowned Taste Festivals series, Tastemaker is billed as being a fresh, immersive food festival designed to cater to North American foodies who crave new food experiences.
We absolutely love the concept behind the Tastemaker food festival because let’s face it – it can get really boring going to food festival after food festival where you literally eat the exact same dishes that you can order off of Uber Eats any day of the week. *Sidenote: just to be clear, we love Uber Eats.
When we go to a food festival, we not only want to eat great tasting food. We also want to be entertained. We want to discover the latest food and drink that the city has to offer. THIS is what makes a food festival worth attending!
*Steps down from soap box* Based on the above criteria/rally cry we think that the Tastemaker food festival series may just be on its way to becoming one of the best food festivals in 2018 if they keep this concept going.
Munching On Exclusive Bites In The Sobey’s Tastemaker Kitchen:
As soon as we entered the food hall we were greeted by the scent of deliciousness coming from the Sobey’s Tastemaker Kitchen. Yes, that’s exactly how we’re describing it. No fancy schmancy culinary terms here folks. The food looked and smelled delicious!
Just take a look for yourself ↓
The coolest thing about the Sobey’s Tastemaker Kitchen is that it paired up chefs from some of Toronto’s hottest restaurants to collaborate and create unique dishes that you literally won’t find on any restaurant’s menu in the city. All dishes in the Sobey’s Kitchen were exclusive to the Tastemaker Food Festival.
The Chorizo Verde with Tomatillo Salsa, Pea Shoots and Cucumber Crema from Grant van Gameren (Bar Isabel, Bar Raval) & the Spanish Octopus with Charamula, Crisp Potatoes and Smoked Paprika from Victor Barry (Piano Piano, Café Cancan) were a big hit. Having chef’s from some of the best restaurants in Toronto come together to create new, innovative dishes definitely added an element of excitement that’s been missing in the food festival scene.
Not only did foodies get to taste these unique dishes, we also had the opportunity to truly interact with chef’s from some of Toronto’s hotspots while tasting their creations.
Every chef we encountered was laughing, providing tips and tricks for your own culinary adventures and truly having a great time. There was definitely an infectious passion and energy in the building!
Chef Collaborations at the Paderno Challenge Kitchen:
Hands down, one of our favourite experiences at the Tastemaker Food Festival was the Paderno Challenge Kitchen. We don’t know about you, but we’ve spent way too many weekends binge watching Chopped and Iron Chef marathons so this challenge was right up our alley! It was cool to see chef’s from some of Toronto’s hottest restaurant’s competing to produce dishes based on a specific ingredient.
Lucky for us, we got to witness Chefs Elia Herrera (Los Colibris) and Alida Solomon (Tutti Matti) duke it out in two different challenges – one using vegetables as the hero ingredient and the second challenge using chocolate #nomnom.
The Paderno Challenge Kitchen wasn’t just a spectator event. The Chef’s were extremely interactive. They provided guests with tips on how to use everyday ingredients in new ways and allowed foodies to ask questions.
We also got a closer look into what inspires some of Toronto’s hottest chef’s to keep on innovating. Alida Solomon shared how early on in her career she was told to stick to baking simply because she’s a woman. Not one to be put in a box, she used this as motivation to prove that female chef’s have the right to be in any culinary niche they desire. #Girlpower
Toronto Life Pairing Table:
Another awesome feature of the festival was the Toronto Life Pairing Table, which allowed guests to experience intimate talks with food & drink experts. If you’ve ever struggled with knowing how to pair food and drinks while entertaining this session left you walking away feeling much more confident!
Foodies were guided through paired tastings from chef’s and craft cocktail mixologists to help inspire their next in-home dinner party. We’re totally planning a dinner party now that we’re practically expert pairing specialists after this session.
Make no mistake, as awesome as the chef’s were, the exhibitors at Tastemaker Toronto certainly were not lost in the shadows. We loved that the exhibitors were actually right in the center of the food festival and not just hidden in an obscure corner like many other events. The entire food hall was filled with exhibitors showcasing the latest food & drink trends making it easy to interact and see what everyone had to offer.
We were super excited to learn about the Barbados Food & Rum Festival happening October 18th-21st, 2018. We’re literally searching for flights on Expedia and Google Flights as we write this because Barbados is one of the top culinary destinations in the Caribbean so this is sure to be an awesome foodie trip.
We sampled quite a few non-alcoholic beverages as well, which was a nice retreat from all of the wine. So. much. wine.
One of our favs was NaturalBliss Infusion. NaturalBliss is basically a herbal infusion with edible pieces of tropical fruit. Prep is easy – you just pour hot water over each pouch and then eat the real pieces of tropical fruit. Each pouch contains a mix of four tropical fruits including mango, strawberry, golden berry, kiwi, papaya, apple and pineapple. Yum.
If alcoholic beverages are more your thing don’t fret – we sampled a ton of craft beers, craft cocktails and wines as well. Pictured below is only a handful of beverages that we tasted. Trust us when we say we got our drink on!
One exhibitor who really left a lasting impression on us was Peace by Chocolate. After handing us more chocolate than we should eat in one sitting, Tareq Hadhad, the CEO and Founder of Peace by Chocolate told us about how his family lost everything when their chocolate factory was bombed during an air strike in Syria in 2012.
Tareq spoke with such passion as he explained that after the air strike his family eventually settled in Nova Scotia, Canada and re-built their chocolate factory from scratch. Not only is Peace by Chocolate run by an awesome family – the chocolates are also super delicious so be sure to get some!
For us, Tastemaker Toronto delivered on what they set out to do.
- Taste new foods – √
- Deliver immersive, interactive experiences – √
- Make food festivals great again – √ (Okay maybe they didn’t say this, but we did!)
It’s been awhile since we’ve been to a food festival that was more of an experience than a grind. The chef’s were awesome. The connectivity and interaction was next level and the vibe was super chill.
If you’re a foodie looking for a great night out definitely consider making the trip to Tastemaker Chicago or be sure to catch one next year!
Tell us, do you enjoy going to food festivals?