Taste of Toronto has come and gone and after attending the event for the first time, I have to say it was a lot of fun and I will definitely attend again next year!
I took a friend, Fina, with me and we arrived at 11am, before the doors opened at 12pm. We didn’t check what time the doors opened but I guess the universe wanted us to get there early so that we could get into the Nespresso VIP Private Pairing Session! But, first we signed up for the Metro MasterClass session at 12:30 pm because we were told they fill up really quickly.
We headed to the Nespresso tent since it was the only one open, early, and we saw them setting up for the Private Pairing event. We asked about it and they told us the event was for contest winners only. We told them that we were both long time Nespresso Club members and as we proceeded to walk away, the girl came running back to us and said she would make room for us at the event! SCORE!
Our hosts at the event were Chef Victory Barry of Piano Piano restaurant in Toronto and Elyse Lambert a Master Sommelier (and she is also classified amongst the top 5 sommelier of the world) and Sommelier-Consultant for Nespresso. They took us through how to properly taste coffee and what to look for. We were then given a few pairing canapés, developed by Chef Barry himself, to taste with the coffee. I learned so much from this experience and I wasn’t even supposed to be there!
The Nespresso tent was a popular one because they were giving out free coffee and iced coffees in these really nice take home cups.
After we were all caffeinated and our appetites already primed and ready for more, we headed over to the Metro MasterClass tent for our class with Rob Bragagnolo of Carver Restaurant. We had to wait in line as they set up for the class but they offered us fresh lemonade and watermelon juice so we kept hydrated on what was a very hot and sunny summer day. Miranda Kerr was the host on stage with the Chef. I have been an Instagram friend of Miranda’s for a long time and we also have many mutual friends but have not met in person. It was great to meet her face-to-face and see her in action!
For the cooking class, everyone is given a cooking station to share with a partner. We were going to be making Chorizo & Ginger Steamed Blue Mussels with Cava, Lemongrass and Chili. Chef Rob did a great job of explaining all of the ingredients. We then followed along as he cooked and there were lots of Metro helpers who assisted us with water, and equipment malfunctions. We worked together and created a delicious mussel dish that we were able to enjoy after the class. It was a great recipe and I will definitely make it again. We walked away from the Metro Masterclass with some new cooking knowledge, an apron and free canvas bag with a cookbook and some other coupons.
Next up, we wanted to go and see Chef Mark McEwan at the Taste Theatre where a friend of mine, Michelle Jobin, was hosting. They are both great people and have an awesome chemistry on stage. Chef Mark was talking about Mushroom risotto and truffles. We unfortunately got there a little too late so there were no seats underneath the tent. We stood in the back and watched and it was very entertaining and we learned a thing or two about risotto, too!
Fina and I are both moms so we had to leave the grounds by 2:30pm to make it home to pick up the kiddies. We spent the rest of our time walking around to check out the other booths of restaurants and new products. We stuck to the free samples only so we got some great chili and sausage from the Blue Goose Organics tent, and they were also prepared by my friend Nancy Crocker of the blog Nancy’s Cravings! Ace Bakery were sampling breads and various butters, and that was pretty much it for free food samples. We were okay with that since we had our fair share of food at the Nespresso Pairing Event and the Metro MasterClass.
I have never attended this event so I wasn’t aware that the restaurant offerings had to be paid for. I think it’s a great concept to have all of your favourite restaurants in one spot and be given the opportunity to try many different dishes but they were all a little pricey, at $8-$10 a pop. The value was there – the samples were full size – but if I’m supposed to be there to try many different restaurants, how could I do that if I’m paying a lot for each sample and also getting such a large sample and get full so quickly? The show was great but this is my only issue with the event. People are paying for an admission ticket so there should be more available to them in terms of food and drinks. Maybe some more sampling opportunities, perhaps.
Some other things to consider, the location of Fort York is a little rugged and the parking is really scarce. Wear comfortable shoes and sunscreen since there isn’t much shade and the grounds are a mix of grass and dirt. Also, get there early so you can get parking!
I did the Taste of Toronto on the cheap and was able to enjoy myself with the Nespresso Private Tasting, the Metro MasterClass and the Taste Theatre, but you can certainly spend your crowns (Taste of Toronto has its own currency!) and try all of the different food offerings from the different restaurants, too.
Taste of Toronto did a fantastic job of rounding up an amazing group of talented chefs and restaurants and creating a show where food lovers could come and explore, learn about new restaurants and products and meet some rock star chefs!
Growing up my father would often do a family barbecue night in the backyard using his charcoal grill. The barbecue would be