In this rampant age of streetfood markets, and the general ubiquity of gobbling decent food alfresco, is there still a need for what was once a quietly revolutionary food festival?
We reckon yes. It’s worth remembering that Taste’s first incarnation in Somerset House’s elegant courtyard was genuinely pioneering back in 2004. We know: we were there. How we cooed to sample cooking by Gary Rhodes or Le Gavroche at a fraction of the price (although the paper plates have never really quite done the food justice).
And Taste can probably take credit for being at the vanguard of what has become a key London leisure pursuit, inspiring everything from Camden Market’s current foodie revamp to seasonal affairs like Model Market in Lewisham.
The key point of difference endures,too, that Taste showcases chefs who already have bricks-and-mortar restaurants, in fact the reverse of streetfood markets, which feature newcomers who are striving to get their names above the door.
Now five days long, the festival is back this month setting up camp again in Regent’s Park with dining, masterclasses and over 100 dishes to try from London’s spiralling multicultural food scene.
This year, of the 40 restaurants involved to keep things fresh it’s 50 per cent newbies, including Bodega Rita’s (the tiny diner in Coal Drops Yard) Kutir, Berenjak, Kym’s, Indian Accent, Lina Stores and a bespoke BBQ from Flesh & Buns.
Current streetfood heavyweights like Club Mexicana are there, as well as the mighty Berber & Q from Haggerston and Smokestak in Shoreditch.
And among the other delights on offer, various food-knowledgable heavyweights, from Ottolenghi to Melissa Hemsley will swing by for a series of TedX-style talks, focusing on issues from wellbeing to investing in talent.
So even if you’re jaded by stalls serving food in quirky locations, this one might yet surprise you. And as much of a draw as the food (and fizz) is surely the majestic Regent’s Park – at nightfall.