Not massively advertised this is an event to put on your Calendar for the next few years. Despite it has already been a month since the Festival finished I do want to write this article to inspire you to visit it next year or the upcoming smaller ‘edition’ of Taste of London WINTER in November. Also, when was doing my research about the festival I could not find much firsthand information about it. Thus, the Facts you need to know to …
- It has been On for 10 years already.
The festival has been ON for 10 years already and yet, I have only found out about it in June accidentally from Financial Times Newspaper. So if you want to attend, better search info on dates online yourself next year.
- The Concept.
What is this festival? Well, do not expect a crowd of teenagers in an inadequate state of mind shouting out the lyrics of some cheese-rocky song ‘helping’ the bands. This is a perfect place if you enjoy the quality time, food and drinks (Laurent–Perrier is the official champagne for the taste of London). Top restaurants hold courts serving 5-6 dishes which are either samples of the actual restaurant’s dishes or were created especially for the Festival. Briefly, the restaurants were: Duck & Waffle, Club Gascon, Roux, MEATliquor, SushiSamba, Cinnamon Club, Barbecoa, Ametsa, Chop Shop.Let’s call it a Fine-Dine-notreallystreet-Food-Festival.
Do not forget to (try) attend the cooking session with AEG and ‘School of Wok’. However be aware – I did get to the ‘booking your place’ reception 10 minutes after the Festival opened its door and it was too late! 60 places per session, 4 sessions were fully booked. However I never give up, so I waited ten minutes until people go to their tables for the first session and… one person from the table just in front of the cooking Chef did not show. So I took his/her place…#evillaughs But if you do not get in, do not worry, top chefs have a show-cooking sharing their recipes in a few theatres around the festival.
- It is not cheap.
This year the ticket price varied from 20 to 87 pounds. 67 pounds was a VIP, and with extra 20 pounds you get a VIP with a Laurent-Perrier Masterclass. Dishes depending on restaurants are 4-7 pounds and it is small-size sample more than an actual plate of food.
- Laurent-Perrier Masterclass.
The Masterclass lasts about 30 min and this year it included three glasses of different Laurent-Perrier champagne (Ultra Brut; Cuvée Rosé; Grand Siècle) and some matching food (Tuna Taco; Lobster Roll; Fried Oyster). This is a great experience and you can add it to any ticket for an extra 20-25 pounds, not just VIP.
However, I did get a Basic VIP.
- Basic VIP ticket.
This included an access to the lounge area where you get some extras like a recipe book and a glass of Laurent-Perrier champagne. Good: you sip champagne near Michelin star Chefs (those 10 minutes I spent there I bumped into Francesco Mazzei and his famiglia) can have a chat or take a pic. Not Good: I wanted to see and experience as much as I could, therefore have not spent there more than ten minutes collecting my ‘extras’. Moreover, I managed to sip wine/take a pic with Double Michelin starred Marcus Wareing and (one of my favourites 😉 ) Steve Groves (chef of Roux at Parliament Square) after tasting a bit too much of his whisky dessert.
Thus I would not say that I advise going for a VIP if you want to experience everything you can, because…
- Time is tight.
You do not get access to the festival for the whole day festival. When you buy a ticket you can choose the day and the time preferred (afternoon to evening on weekend days) which if usually 4 hours. Nobody will hunter you with the salt-shooting-gun after the time Is up, but it all becomes not that much fun and restaurants and shops stop accepting Crowns. Oh..By the way…
This is simply a festival currency and as, apparently, the Taste of London is a stable country with a good economy and the exchange rate per GBP is 1=1. You can get them while booking your ticket online or purchase at the festival. Most of the restaurants do not accept GBP, as well as market-retailers…
Even though I spent 4 hours not really chilling but running around trying to see and try everything, somehow I have managed to miss half of the ‘shops’. At the festival you get a chance to see some famous food brands offering their products on very attractive deals (I have got Vita coconut oil 25% off, My favorite Snowdonia Cheese 3 for 12 pounds instead of usual Selfridges price) as well as some less known ones (Tastiest ever fresh gorgonzola and walnut ravioli, two packs and sauce with some big cool modern ‘sacking’ bag for shopping – all for 5 pounds, yes please).
At the end of the day, or actually just 4 hours, I was seriously exhausted. And obviously I think I am just the crazy one – people were fine, sipping wine and cheese, attending cocktails-making sessions and enjoying the sun as well as some rain. There is so much more to say about the Taste of London Festival but the most important, I cannot wait for the Winter edition.
Winter Festival is smaller as it is not open air to start with, it takes place in November and the ticket prices are actually half the price of Summer tickets. It still holds a decent amount of master classes and a great bouquet of Top-Chefs with their cooking sessions!
Next time I am definitely attending the Champagne masterclass as well as more winery lessons. And let me know if you want to join.