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June 23, 2012 / Stephanie Vermillion

My Taste of London … was delicious

Because Amy and I somehow didn’t get enough London sampling at Vinopolis Thursday, we decided to check out one of London’s largest, most popular culinary festivals, the Taste of London in Regent’s Park.

Amy and I with our first Taste of London!

Amy and I with our first Taste of London!

The event spanned across most of the park, and included over 13 pages of listed restaurants and chefs. As if that in itself wasn’t enough, there were another 50-100 smaller vendors including Lindt (oh my goodness!), Blue Diamond almonds, and way too many more.

I’m usually disgusted by gluttonous food-eating challenges because the global communities worldwide who could benefit from even a portion of the foods, but in this case I had to adapt a slightly different mindset. Instead of “save the world with proper nutrition”, my Friday night motto was more along the lines of “When at Taste of London, do as the tasters”. And oh man, did we ever.

Before I delve into the dishes, I have a few thoughts from a PR standpoint on best practices for business promotion at the Taste.

  • It’s all about free samples: This didn’t apply as much to the restaurant booths where you pay for your meal tastings (those could have been featured on a Top Chef finale, therefore well worth the money), but for the smaller side vendors such as Lindt, free samples to draw in business is crucial at these types of events. And I keep bringing up Lindt chocolates because we stopped by that booth for samples well over three (four, five …) times.
  • To influence behaviors after the event: Vendors and restaurants both should do more than samples or paid tastings, but offer incentives to go in-store, or into the restaurant after the event. One restaurant gave away free cocktail vouchers for any visit after this weekend, therefore getting people into the restaurant and hoping to entice them with smells and a fuller menu to buy more. And from those aromas, I’m pretty sure this tactic will work.
  • Have a fun, interactive staff running the booth: It makes the experience more enjoyable for the tasters, makes them want to stay longer (purchase more samples) and potentially come into the restaurant in the weeks/months following the event. Just like social media for business, events like the Taste are all about relationship building with customers.
  • Ask for cards, not just emails: I’ve always been one to avoid giving out my email address because I hate junk mail, similar to over half of the population, I’m sure. But one of the restaurants used a trick we learned in a PR class at BU: To collect business cards instead of emails. Be it to enter a raffle or simply just trade contact information, sharing business cards feels less like becoming just part of a list, and more like doing business with the restaurant. And proof it works? The business card container was filling up, while other venues asking for emails were struggling to get 10.

Okay, I promise that’s all the PR talk I’ll do (for today). Now onto the good stuff: The food. In total we bought seven samples from various restaurants, and I have absolutely no idea how many free samples we tasted, but it was in the ballpark range of gluttony.

Here are my top five tastes from Taste of London, all amazing in their own right. Enjoy, and prepare for some salivating, because this is more than just food — it’s culinary heaven.

Tamarind: Papdi chana chaat: spiced chickpeas, with tamarind chutney, sweetened yoghurt, gram flour crisps and a sprinkling of blueberries, London

Tamarind, London

1. Tamarind: Papdi chana chaat: spiced chickpeas, with tamarind chutney, sweetened yoghurt, gram flour crisps and a sprinkling of blueberries. 

Whitechapel Gallery Dining Room: English strawberries, basil sorbet and black olive, London

Whitechapel Gallery Dining Room, London

2. Whitechapel Gallery Dining Room: English strawberries, basil sorbet and black olive. 

Cotidie: Pappa al pomodoro: Tuscan-style bread and tomato soup with buffalo stracciatella, London

Cotidie, London

3. Cotidie: Pappa al pomodoro: Tuscan-style bread and tomato soup with buffalo stracciatella.

Aurelia: Truffle tortilla, London

Aurelia, London

4. Aurelia: Spanish truffle tortilla with cheese, potato and fried egg.

Kensington Place, London

5. Kensington Place: Mini Fish and Chips with haddock.

Just writing this post, describing these photographs makes me want to go back in time … but for the sake of my pant size it’s probably good that just like Thanksgiving, Taste of London comes only once a year.

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