Taste of London is a food festival that celebrates the great culinary delights that London has to offer. It give people a chance to try dishes from the top restaurants for affordable prices, and to engage with chefs and food & drink suppliers. Taste festival started in 2004 at Somerset House in London, and since then it has spread to cities all over the world. What makes these events so likeable is that they take down the barriers between fine food and money. It allows people of any background and income to sample dishes from michelin starred kitchens without paying michelin prices.
This was my first Taste festival and it did not disappoint. The entry was very well organised and quick, considering the crowds of people they had to get into the park. Once you were in you could go and buy your ‘crowns’. This was the currency used to buy dishes from the restaurants, where 1 crown = £1. About 20 crowns is enough to sample a wide variety of dishes with most costing about 4-6 crowns. On the food and drink suppliers stalls you could generally just use normal cash to purchase items. What I really loved about this event when compared to other similar ones, is that there was plenty you could do and try for free. Samples of food and drink were being given out at every other stall, there was music to watch, a silent disco at Mortimer’s Orchard, cookery classes, and talks from many of the chefs exhibiting at Taste.
One such talk I attended was by head chef Gina Hopkins from The Drapers Arms. This was a fantastic talk as she talked about using offal in cooking. At the beginning when the crowd heard that this was what she would be talking about, there were a few disgusted faces. However by the end, everyone was fully on board, mainly because of Gina’s genuine enthusiasm for her ingredients, and no doubt, her menu at The Drapers Arms will be a testament to this.
Another way that visitors could get hands on with cooking was through one of Taste’s sponsors, AEG. They had set up a cooking theatre, where guests could free of charge, take a cooking class with some of London’s top chefs. I was lucky enough to take part in a session with Jeremy Pang, founder of School of Wok. This was a thoroughly entertaining session, where we learned how to make wontons and venison stir fry, using AEG’s induction cookers, of which we also learnt about. Jeremy helped guide us through each step and taught us the correct way to use a wok. Although my wonton folding technique was questionable, and the end result looked nothing like Jeremy’s (a bit more practice needed I think…), they certainly tasted delicious, and in my mind, that was all that mattered!
A bit of relaxation was needed after this, so we perused more of the many food and drink stalls, drinking cocktails, and sampling plenty of tasty morsels. We also headed over to Mortimer’s Orchard to take part in their silent disco, the perfect way to while away a summers afternoon. Highlights for me were the Chinese roast duck in mantou bun from Chai Wu, the iconic duck and waffle, from (you guessed it..) Duck and Waffle, macerated strawberries and yoghurt mousse from chef Ben Donkin (one to watch), and of course the gorgeous endless cups or refreshing iced T2 Tea that were being given out, which were appreciated by many I am sure.
Overall I cannot praise this event highly enough, and I hope to return again next year. What I loved about it was that there was plenty to try and do without having to pay extra, and you could even fill yourself up without having to buy any dishes due to the many samples that were being offered. My only criticism would be that there were perhaps one too many coconut water stalls, but then of course, if you like coconut water, this is just one more strength Taste of London 2015 had to offer…
Early bird tickets on sale now for the Winter Taste festival at Tobacco Dock London: http://www.seetickets.com/search?q=taste+of+london&search=