Toronto Taste - Is the Foodie Revolution over?
I went to Toronto Taste yesterday as a freind of mine decided to go to her cottage and enjor a day of good weather instead of using her ticket for this event. I have been to this event for several years starting when it was in Yorkville and this year while nothing really had changed and the weather was perfect the event did not seem to have any energy and by the feel of it I would say there seemed to be a lot less people and and the ones that were there did not seem very enthusiastic and basically cleared out by 9pm with a ton of food still left an many of the chefs tables.
I am wondering if people are just getting bored of these foodie events? Prices too high? Too much competition from other events? This tends to be a top event with the best chefs in the city turning out along with all you can eat and drink food and wine yet there was no energy yesterday...
Food highlights for me were:
Stew of braised veal tongue, cheeks, tripe, chorizo w/ white beans - Boulud
Cured duck yolk, Ottawa valley butter, cinnamon cap mushroom, scorzone truffle - Buca
36-hr braised Mennonite pork belly & beef tongue and also Fermented smoked bear sausage, and bear loin served with bacon jam - Thuet
Rabbit, stinging nettle , millet, asparagus - Le Sélect Bistro
BC Spot Prawn & Cucumber Popsicles - e11even
Grilled catfish in banana leaf, curry beef tripe in a corn taco with radish pickles - Lindas Modern Thai
And surprise hit of the evening:
Amaretto chocolate budino w/ hazelnuts, caramel, chantilly whipped cream - Pizza Libretto
Is it so hard to figure out? Burnout, rip-off aversion, weariness with ill-advised mash-ups, foodtruck flops--all topped with an awareness of poor value and mediocre execution.TUM at the Brickworks got old fast.
I see very little buzz here now about local sourcing,"farmers' markets, CSA, and the other Pollan-esque food conceits of just a few years ago. My guess is that people either tired of 25 buck fryers and uber-pricey carrots or simply chose to blow their $ elsewhere.
????????? The Stop Night Market sold out in two hours, both the SLURP noodle events were jam packed and I'm pretty sure TUM is still going strong, although it's not my cup of tea.
As for foodtrucks I went to the Sony Centre a couple of weeks ago and the lineups for both the trucks there were huge.
But ok, the buzz is over and Toronto has wisened up to these charlatans.
Food trucks? Please...Unless or until restrictions lift and trucks can move/locate freely, you're looking at a frozen status quo.
Charity event overkill seems an obvious problem. But my points concern a wider weariness with "foodie culture," to use the OP's term. The ON/TO board just doesn't reflect the volume or variety of topics/discussions it carried 2-3 years ago, especially on "locavore"(hate the term), slow food, sustainable issues. Not that I miss them but I'm thinking tastes/preferences/priorities have shifted for many of us.
i don't want to speak for anyone else, but i know that for myself the sustainable/local/etc has actually just become part of my general lifestyle and buying practices. it's not something i have to vigorously hunt down the way it was a few years back with trusted purveyors focused on these issues having popped up, more detailed labeling, and learned seasonality.
overall i think that there is fatigue based on repetitive similar events with repetitive similar vendors and very little guarantee of quality as the amateurs try to sell their wares (there wasn't even a guarantee with the professionals). there isn't adventurousness so much as trends that mire the food culture and stop me, personally, from eating out as much or going to events because it is... BORING.
and speaking of costly events... i recall one year a couple years back where i went to a few high profile charity food events and restaurants were serving the exact same thing at each. meh.
I found at this event - Toronto Taste ... this year that there was not the repetition of previous years and in fact some really interesting concepts, a lot of seafood and even some veg.. BUT saying that, last year seemed very repetative (too much pork) most on bread.. that may have turned off a lot of patrons..
I'm in the same boat. I no longer need to talk about it, because for me, it just is and I don't need to hunt to make it so - it is almost always at my fingertips. The food choices I make take always local/sustainable/ethical food into consideration. I'm not perfect and I do sometimes go outside of those parameters but as little as possible because unlike three years ago, it is now pretty darn easy.
A general comment, when talking about pricing on these type of events one should remember that these are charity fundraisers with all of the proceeds (after costs) going to raise money for a charity (Second Harvest in this case). I read that they raised over $9 million dollars from this event (just saw the headline so guessing that inludes tickets, auctions, etc)..
Now, in regards to this particular event. In my knowledge this was one of the first that did this type of event in this area. I think maybe people are looking to try new experiences and to support different organizations over time. I haven't been as a patron before to the Toronto Taste event but I did help out one year as a volunteer and there is definitely more food than humanely possible for one person to it. Seeing how much food was being wasted (i.e. people taking one bite then tossing) also made me pretty sick considering the cause that the event was associated with but that has more to do with certain patrons than the event itself (and, maybe some chef's choices to go with buns/etc for some dishes).
Having said all of that, there is definitely a huge rise in "food" type events. There are some events that are much more accessible too (like The Stop Night Market) where you still get to have an awesome night and proceeds are going to a charity.
Agree, these events are for charity, so we can't necessarily comment on or blame the ticket price. I tend to patronize events that have something value-added, especially wine and beer events where I'll be able to taste and possibly buy things I wouldn't normally have access to. I'm not interested in paying upwards of $50 to attend any food/wine event, especially if I can predict the food offerings (pork belly sliders, cured fish with a dollop of yogurt on a flatbread, soup shooters, etc).
Perhaps, in a way, the war is over and we won. This is subjective but I feel like over the past decade the quality and variety of food available at regular restaurants around the city has improved a lot. Even the mainstream chains and fast food industry have improved and opened their eyes to the fact that people don't just want the same old bland stuff. 10 years ago we had McDonald's and KFC, now we have Banh Mi Boys serving pork belly baos and kimchi poutine. 10 years ago we had the Firkin and a few imitators plunking frozen burger patties and fries on a plate, now we have the Queen & Beaver serving duck, sweatbreads and goat curry. 10 years ago a bar that poured a Sleeman's along with the domestics was cool, now the Molsons and Coors and Labatt's taps have been pushed out in most downtown restaurants by microbrews of every description.
Obviously there's still a place for foodie festivals and new things, but there are a lot of options out there these days and it makes sense that the popularity of individual events will rise and fall accordingly. This is a sign of great overall success, not failure.
It's a bit like when that cool obscure band you loved to see at your local dive bar hits it big and is all over the radio and TV: you're happy for them but you no longer have that feeling of being in on a great secret.
No. Not bored at all. I have been attending these events for many, many years, and while they evolve, there are new experiences to be enjoyed.None of the above dishes jumped out at me.
While I get to go to insider events that are corporately sponsored regularly, there are events such as the Delicious Food Show that I also enjoy attending.
So I will not throw in the towel/apron when it comes to these events in Toronto. Having a charity component makes it all more palatable.
I used to go to Toronto Taste years ago but stopped because all the A-list chefs were not there. When I first started attending, Susur Lee and his ilk were participating. When I checked the list of attending chefs and the ones I wanted weren't there, I stopped going. Nothing against the participating chefs but I wanted the top tier guys. I haven't been for quite a few years now, so I can't say whether the level of chefs has improved or not.
I transferred my "foodie fix" to the Evergreen Brickworks Picnic. That was pretty good but it's been discontinued.