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Gourmet Food & Wine Expo

Anyone going this year/have words advice from prior years?

I'm going this Saturday for a tutored tasting...might or might no go earlier to check out exhibits. My impression is its way too busy and just not a pleasent environment on the floor.

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  1. Thursdays and fridays are the best time to go, less crowded, more relaxed.
    Saturdays is full of couples and all the out of towners. It's shoulder to shoulder.
    I've been to the show every year for the last 6 or so years (both on vip and regular nights) and its always a good show, but obviously, depends on your expectations.

    Looking forward to german foods being there this year

    5 Replies
    1. re: Suresh

      Can anyone tell me how much I have to spend on sample tickets to really enjoy the expo. I was givin tickets for the vip night.

      1. re: gogomiser

        Sampling tickets are $1 each.
        Liquor/Wine servings range from 1 ticket to a maximum of 6 tickets (vintage section).
        Average is 2 to 3 tickets, and you can very easily enjoy the floor for $30. Anyhting over that, and you're just looking to get hammered.

        1. re: Suresh

          I have tickets to Mining Those Buried Gems and 2005 Focus Bordeaux, both on Sunday. I've never been to the GW&FE before. My questions are: a) should my BF and I not plan to wander around before and in-between the tasting seminars, since it will be so packed full of people? and b) should we both with sampling tickets or will we be pretty tipsy after the two tasting seminars (he'll be okay ... I'll be tipsy)?

          1. re: Suresh

            But if you buy extra tickets, you can always use them up on food :)

            1. re: Sinfulia

              I might be needing some food to soak up the alcohol. ;-)

      2. This show has been universally panned on this board before. This is probably the best thread of them all:


        On principle I'd stay away. Unless you're the type that thinks Harbour 60's wine markups are reasonable....

        1 Reply
        1. re: TexSquared

          Yup. There were several items at the Vintages booth (generally all in the main area that's worth it except for a small area that Prevedello, Halpern et al pour) that were 30+ tickets. Yeah. $30 for a one ounce pour. I'll be there for a tutored tasting, and the only reason I'm going is because it's to make up for last year's horrendous experience to which I went to great extents to complain about. But at least it's not in Miserysauga.

        2. I don't remember seeing too many items for one ticket last year. Almost everything was 2-3 tickets. Plus, some vendor only accepted cash.
          The tasting portions are quite small. No chance of getting tipsy. :-)

          1. my expeience, go early first day as soon as they open and get it done!

            1. Go for the wine only, the food is a major let down. Unless your ok with crowds, the whole experience is not very pleasant.

              1. I have to echo the sentiments about this show! I received free admission tickets and decided to check out the show despite the comments on this board. If I had paid the $15 entrance fee I would have been VERY upset. Your $15 pretty much gets you nothing (except for a few cheese, mustard and fruit samples). My friend and I decided to split $20 worth of sample tickets and then head out to go for dinner. Most of the food was in the 5 ticket (read: $5 range) and there were some odd, not really gourmet selections. Canyon Creek does NOT strike me as gourmet. Bright Pearl in Chinatown... not so gourmet either! We split a peameal sandwich that was delicious and also a prime rib sandwich which was just ok. We also sampled a few of the cheaper 2 ticket wines.

                Overall the food selection was very disappointing. I wish that it was more about food artisans selling their wares than about just shilling samples. I'm not that into wine so I can't comment on the selection, value etc.

                I can comment on the fact that the place was PACKED. It was hard to walk around without getting frustrated.

                Would I go back next year? If I had to pay for admission definitely not, If I got free tickets I would consider it for a minute.


                4 Replies
                1. re: wontonfm

                  I was given tickets to the show, plus two tutored tastings. I was really surprised at some of the booths. What do timeshares and tourism boards have to do with a gourmet wine and food show? I agree that the prices for samples of both food and wine were outrageous, based on quantity and quality of the items. Tasting the wines was fun, but expensive. I was there for the closing of the show, so there were a few last minute deals to be had for the food items, but not many. To be honest, I regretted every ticket wasted on the food items. I certainly didn't need any of it, calorically, but none of the food I tried was particularly inspiring. If I go again next year, it will only be to attend a couple of tutored tastings and sample some wines at the booths. I can't believe that the admission price only covers a glass for sampling. I really think at least a recycled materials shopping bag would be a handy inclusion for future shows, to hold the various business cards and brochures that people invariably pick up from the booths.

                  1. re: wontonfm

                    So $15 gets you nothing and the place was packed!
                    I sense a disconnect there. Surely there's perceived value to a whole host of people.
                    I agree in general - it's not the place for me either (and I didn't go this year) - but kudos to the organizers for risking their own capital to put on this event. I have occasionally organized events (on a much smaller scale) and I challenge you to organize even a relatively simple event and find a way to recoup the up-front expenses. Either you charge the 'exhibitors' - who if they accept will pass it on by higher unit prices, or you keep the exhibitor cost down by charging admission - and hence get more exhibitors.
                    Perfectly fair comment if you didn't like it - but I still give credit to the people who do all the set-up work!
                    A question: what would you pay for entrance if it included a few food tickets (exchangeable anywhere) and say any 10 wines of your choice? - by the way, your admission fee essentially amounts to about $1 extra for each of these items.
                    I think there are better events around, but my point is not to shill for those. This is a reasonably regular event - so they must be doing something right (the original organizers went belly-up, but I assume the current management are making money).

                    1. re: estufarian

                      I completely understand your perspective on this. My friend and I were trying to figure out what would make the show worth it. Knowing that I have to spend $35 to get even a part of the show experience ($15 for entrance + $20 for tickets assuming I'm not sharing) seems kind of steep. If I paid $15 and got say a ticket for a free wine sample (up to a certain value) and/or 5 sample tickets that would soften the blow. OR sell sample tickets in packs smaller than 20! That's all I ask :) It's just hard to pay money to get in and know that you HAVE to spend more money to experience the show.
                      It's not like say the One of a Kind show where you pay to get in but can browse the show stopping at various booths to see what they offer and walk away satisfied knowing you experienced the show With food you kind of have to taste it (unless there's a level of visual artistry, which there wasn't at the GFW Show).

                      But you're right, if the formula is working for the organizers (and judging by the crowds it is) then no need to change.


                      1. re: wontonfm

                        To add... I went to the One of a Kind Show this weekend. Entrance is $12 (if you can't find a coupon) and you are basically paying this for the opportunity to shop. HOWEVER once you hit the area with the food there were tons of samples. Not the most varied (a lot of candy, jams, nuts etc) but enough that it made me happy considering that I wasn't expecting any samples at all.


                  2. I attended on Friday afternoon. If the current lineup is the same next year, it should simply be titled, Wine Expo. While there were food options, you could not call it gourmet. When you have Big Daddy's pouring processed cheese sauce on crawfish cakes...you know you're not in Kansas anymore. Absolutely disgusting. The saving grace was Rodney's shucking perfect oysters. The wine selections were varied as always with wide ranges in costs, however, if you go next year for the 'food' aspect...eat before you arrive.

                    1. I go every year but I've found that since spirits started being featured more, the show has taken a turn for the juvenile. I can't believe how many times the booth attendants referred to their drinks as 'liquid panty remover'. Not exactly classy.

                      1. Who is going this year? I wanted to go but I am on a budget. I heard that you would need to spend approx. $60 per person including the admission price.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: TOchowgal

                          Yeah, I'd agree with that. I spent about that much on just a few tiny portions of food (almost everything is $5, and the selection very limited), and the wine and beer are very expensive, given that a lot of wines are $2-3 for a very small sample. Overall, would not go back - it was simply too crowded, and something feels wrong about billing it as a "Food and Wine" expo with so little (and expensive!) food available.

                          1. re: morefoodplz

                            I went last year. I must agree on the food and tastings being expensive and not worth their prices. However, my SO and I were given tickets to two of the seminars. I (being a lightweight drinker) drank far more than I needed during the tastings alone and probably didn't require my "drink" tickets for anything beyond food to soak up some of the alcohol. The seminars (depending on which one) can be great value and are very informative.

                            Had we not had the seminars to occupy our time, I suspect we would have been bored quite quickly by the booths in the main hall. I wasn't particularly impressed by any of the food we tried and in the end we struggled to unload our remaining tickets, trying random wines here and there. None were great. Any gems we sampled were all from the seminars. I'd return again this year, bring my own snacks and only go to seminars (meaning: I wouldn't buy any drink/food tickets at all), but I have other plans for that weekend. Maybe next year.

                            1. re: 1sweetpea

                              The whole thing is a big yuck. I was a vendor for the first 4years, but the show did a major slide after that. Have not participated for many years. The food is disgusting, wine not bad, but the whole thing is just a big drink/sample fest - brings out the worst of the general public.
                              Have been to quite a few tutored tastings, which are good and very well run, but hardly revolutionary. The same experience is easily vailable without the unpleasant atmosphere. Even the "VIP" night is nasty - drunken boobs looking for as much free stuff as they can get. Sorry, but the Bacardi "girls" were then end for me. Tacky, tacky, tacky.

                              1. re: Prok

                                Bad news about the VIP night, I already bought tickets hoping that it would be an improvement.

                                "The same experience is easily vailable without the unpleasant atmosphere."
                                Where?! The only similar event that I know of is the Wine & Cheese show, and it's terrible.

                        2. I must admit to having a great time at this show. Last year I went to a tutored tasting and really enjoyed it. We also spent approx $40 on tickets each and went early on Saturday and it was not too crowded. I agree that some things are over priced, but it gives you a great opportunity to try new wines. I don't purchase expensive bottles without trying them first, so this gave me the opportunity to do so - even if it did cost a few bucks. We took the time to chat with the vendors and lots offered free samples after our first purchased one. We had the opportunity to try some good food as well. I will admit that it got very crowded by late afternoon on Saturday but that was when we were leaving anyways. I would not go during the evenings they would be too crowded for me.
                          If you are going to enjoy this show understand that it will cost you a bit of money but we had an absolute blast.
                          This year we are attending another tutored tasting and are looking forward to bringing some new people with us. I have already put my $50 aside for tickets and am looking forward to the weekend!
                          I think a lot of it is what attitude you go into the place with. Yes, it will be a bit busy and chances are you won't have your mind blown away by anything but I think it is a nice way to spend a Saturday in November with friends.

                          1. I've never been, and apparently I haven't missed much, but anyone going tonight?

                            Also: I have an extra ticket (for today's VIP evening) if anyone is interested. jen@foodpr0n.com Will accept chocolate and food-tickets as bribery or I'll just do a random selection at like 4. You'd need to meet me at the MTCC at 6 for ticket pick-up though!

                            http://www.foodpr0n.com/ -- more pictures. less adjectives.

                            1. Has anyone ever gone on a Sunday before? I was thinking of going then to avoid the crazy line-ups and crowds of Saturday.

                              1. Went last night.
                                Some good news, prices per drink have drop significantly from last year. Most samples are now 2 tickets instead of 3 or 4. That being said, the wine quality was also reduced somewhat. Almost everything was off the shelf from the LCBO, only a few importers were present and the lines to get to them were extra long due to the poor selection. So if you were concerned about the cost last year, you might prefer it now. But if you went to taste the more extravagant wines, you may be disappointed.
                                Food this year was a little better. Splendido was representing with some pulled beef brisket sammichs. Also we found some chilled lobster in some kind of sweet dressing. Both were good enough. Other than those two though, it was the same crap as last year.
                                Lots of space was taken up this time by non booze/food related booths. Tourism booths mostly, and a cell phone dealer? I'm not sure what that was about.
                                Going on a Thursday really was a mistake. It was really crowded and towards 10PM the crowd was getting pretty drunk. Lots of old people causing lines by trying to impress the pourers with their "wine knowledge". The time to go is definitely Saturday or Sunday in the afternoon.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: graydyn

                                  That show has run it's course. I'd never go back there as I found it a waste of time. What gourmet food did you see besides the 2 items you mentioned?

                                  1. re: foodyDudey

                                    What? Lonestar Cafe isn't gourmet?!

                                    I'm writing up my notes - will post this pm. Flickr's up though.

                                    In general, I had an okay time, but I didn't pay for my ticket. I'd feel different if I had to shell out for it myself. I probably wouldn't return unless I wanted to try a lot of alcohol. Food was meh, though I had a tasty angus beef sandwich from the Windsor Arms place.

                                    1. re: foodyDudey

                                      Gourmet? None whatsoever. Had some alright oysters for 4/$5. And a meh sausage from Embrujo Flamenco.
                                      I also had a "Kobe Beef Burger" from Edo. It was at least good for a laugh, as it was bad to the point of hilarious.

                                  2. Review time! (with photos: http://bit.ly/7F4m3F


                                    While I had heard that the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo was taking place this weekend, I was highly unmotivated to go. First, there’s a $15 entry fee. Secondly, you’re forced to buy $1 tickets/vouchers that you hand over to vendors for their samples. In lots of 20. Thirdly, you’re not always getting gourmet. Maybe it’s the snob in me, but last I checked, Lone Star Texas Grill does not qualify.

                                    However, having a ticket for the Thursday VIP night ($35!) given to me and a $10 voucher subsidy, I decided that the trip down to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre was worthwhile. I shelled out an additional $20 dollars for tickets, took out my camera, and I was good to go… and wait in line, that is. At least it moved quickly. Once in, trays of wine glasses flank your path. The greeter tells the incoming masses to grab one now or they’ll think you’ll lost yours and will charge you extra for it. After snagging a glass, I noticed I was out of hands. Note: pockets come in handy. Too bad I didn’t have any. Ah well, I’d make do.

                                    blah blah

                                    Bypassing the giant LCBO store booth that seems to dominate the entry, I zeroed in on the sake tasting. With little trays of wasabi peas. My first ticket goes to sample the Sho Chiku Bai Nigori sake. Sweet, creamy, and light, this was a tasty way to begin the evening. I had wanted to come back and try some premium sake, but didn’t get to it.

                                    I swung down aisle one, missing it initially due to the LCBO booth obscuring the path. Intriguing me were Saltfish Cakes from the Antigua and Barbuda booth. They also had Pineapple Upsidedown Cake and another dessert that was described to me as fudge with coconut. That last one was interesting, but I opted f or the Saltfish and Upsidedown cakes. Saltfish was interesting in that never-had-it-before way. Not so tasty as to get another one. The cake was all right, but too large/messy to eat with one hand.

                                    I wandered for a bit, bypassing such gourmet places like Lonestar, Canyon Creek, and The Sultan’s Tent (they had a nice booth). I also noted that there was a ton of booze. Nice if you want to get drunk, but I was still sipping my sake. And I wanted to still be able to walk.

                                    I was pleasantly surprised to see Ruelo had a booth. With its rainbow of macarons, it was hard to miss. I snagged a passionfruit and a blueberry-lemon. At $3 and $2 a shot respectively, it was a fair price. The chew was okay, though I found the cookie not as crisp as I would prefer. Passionfruit was a good, intense flavour. I got lemon from the other, but missed the blueberry. I also chuckled that the guy behind the counter was touting them as “the latest craze” in Paris. An institution, maybe. Ladurée has been rocking that train since 1930.

                                    I wandered some more and ate some free samples of carrot and dip and an apple and caramel dip. Entirely missable, but veggies and fruit I hadn’t seen much of yet. I thought it could balance out the pineapple upside down cake from earlier.

                                    Rodney’s was present and while they were one of a few offering raw oysters, I opted instead for the chowder. Thick and creamy, this was pretty good. Well worth my $2!

                                    Having passed many a drink, including some interesting ones I quasi-regretted not trying, I looked at my now-empty glass and wondered what I would fill it with next. Most of what was on offer didn’t seem to spark my interest. I though maybe I should try something new when I passed the California block.

                                    Having spent a happy time in Napa, I recognized the Beringer name and thought I’d swing by in case they had their deliciously sweet Nightengale on hand. Sadly, no they didn’t, but they did have a bunch of wines on offer at various levels. Knowing very little about wine, I just chose the cab-sauv, Goldilocks style. This mid-priced wine was pretty good – very drinkable and just right for me.

                                    Maybe this is odd, but this bottled Chilean fruit from Tamaya Gourmet seemed to be the most interesting thing to me at the show. For sampling, the vendor offered his Carica fruit and Wild Baby Pear. I was told that it was very European to drop some fruit into your wine, so I played pseudo-Euro and followed the Italian next to me. I quite liked the fruity notes the pear lent the wine and eating it after I had finished my drink was very pleasant. While at the booth, I also tried the Carica fruit (apparently related to the papaya) and quite liked it. More of a crisp mango texture than papaya, reminding me almost of jackfruit. I ended up buying a bottle for $6 to take home.

                                    Brix. Fancy-branded chocolate to drink with your wine. Free samples were up for grabs, otherwise I wouldn’t have paid a ticket for it. It’s a huge block, but I’d have rather bought a chunk from Callebaut. It wasn’t bad, but it’s just chocolate and not single-origin either, though it was of a particular region, which they touted paired well with wine.

                                    Having wandered into the premium lounge that offered a nice seating area with trendy white couches and low coffee tables (the chocolate was located here too), I found the guys from Windsor Arms offering an Angus sandwich with horseradish mustard and caramelized onions. For $5, this wasn’t bad – the beef looked and tasted delicious. Nice and tender too. I got to add a generous spoonful of onions too. Probably the tastiest meal I had of the evening, though to be fair, I didn’t sample the Splendido’s sandwich offering or the intriguing lobster from the East-coast either.

                                    More wandering past wines (I was still working on the Cab-Sauv), and I managed to snag a sample of Xoçai, a supposedly super-expensive health chocolate. Taste-wise, it had a bit of that waxy edge and it certainly wasn’t chocolate I’d opt to eat myself, but I think for the masses, it’d pass. I happened to pass these lovely-looking teas not too long later. Perfectly timed, as I had finished my wine and was in need of something to off-set the chocolate. I opted for the Strawberry Green Tea to see if the flavour would live up to its name. While I don’t think I could have identified it as Strawberry, it did indeed have a pleasant berry taste. Acceptable, in other words, as it far exceeded the hot-water taste that many fruit-teas deliver.

                                    Première Moisson was on the floor with their loaves on offer and samples to tempt you. The booth was busy, so I only mustered the effort to snag a piece of olive cibatta. I had pondered grabbing a loaf for home, but I knew I wouldn’t finish it in time. Still, this would probably pair well with a chunk of La Sauvagine (one of my favourite cheeses) from Alexis de Portneuf (also at the show).

                                    Being fairly satiated on food, I looked to see what bites I could spend my last four tickets on. I had to pass up what looked like a half lobster ($6), and kept wandering across the floor in search of something that could triggered my interest. Across from the Food Network stage was Elio offering Venison Risotto, Elk Ribs, and Pulled Pork for $5. I offered my four tickets and a loonie and asked for a mixed plate of Risotto and pork, when I really ment risotto and ribs. Bummer. As expected, the pork was only mediocre and dry. However, I did enjoy the Risotto. Creamy, as it should be. I wasn’t really able to pull the taste of Venison out, so that was a shame.

                                    So all my tickets spent, the entire floor covered, tummy satiated – I was done picking my way through wines and nibbles. While I can’t say that gourmet was an accurate addition to the show’s title, it was definitely a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. However, I certainly wouldn’t have felt the same had I paid for my ticket in. Prices were reasonable if you don’t count the entry-free mark-up, but it felt like there was more wine and liquor than food, and what food there was, there seemed to be an inordinate amount of pulled-pork sandwiches.

                                    Would I go again? Only if they waived the entry fee. If you go this weekend, I’d recommend you bring a tupperware, a fork, and a bag. Would have made juggling everything a little easier!

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: jlunar

                                      I went on Thurs night, and definitely enjoyed myself - most of the food looked not excellent and was expensive, but I had a little $5 roast beef sandwich (perfectly cooked) from the Windsor Arms - compared to any other food I saw, this was great value.

                                      Ate some cheese at Portneuf/Saputo - YUMMY.... only $5 apiece (cash) to take one home - cheaper than the grocery store -- ended up buying 4 varieties I'd never tried before and my fave - the Sauvagine (did I mention YUMMY)

                                      Wine was so-so -- unless you really know what you're after, it's really just an excuse to get drunk at Metro Convention centre - which I did nicely.

                                      Friday hangover at work - meh.

                                      1. re: mikefly

                                        La Sauvagine is one of my fave picks. Also convenient is being able to snag a round at the Loblaws whenever I please.

                                        The WA sandwich was the best deal IMO too. I found it quite yummy.

                                        Sadly, I don't know my wines, though I was at the LCBO and picked up the Beringer Cab-Sauv 2006 ($20) I had on Thursday, since I quite enjoyed it. I almost regret not buying a jar of the wild baby pears ($6) along with the Carica fruit so I could dump the fruit in again! Ah well.

                                        1. re: jlunar

                                          I wanted one of those brick chocolate bars - which I forgot to buy - and I only bought 5 cheeses - ahhh, regret.

                                          If the other cheese folks had given out samples instead of selling them, I'da prolly bought some too - however, Saputo can afford to sample in this way - perhaps the other manufacturers not so much?

                                          1. re: mikefly

                                            For chocolate, I'd recommend getting some better-tasting ones. I really thought they tasted really ordinary. I'd rather just buy a 70% or higher block from Callebaut... (My favourite is DeVries - though his online sales don't seem to be working anymore T_T)

                                            Saputo can definitely afford to give samples. Big name and lots of money with the distribution in Loblaws, etc.

                                            1. re: jlunar

                                              Update: have now eaten 3 of the 5 cheeses. As much as I regret not buying more for the deal - this is why I was sooo right not to.

                                              Thanks for the tip - truth be told, I'm not much of a chocoholic - the chocolate there looked like a great present, and I like to have some in the house in case I make crepes or something.