Taste of London Festival 2017: From the world’s top chefs to the capital’s best restaurants
Taste of London is the city’s most comprehensive food festival, offering no less than five days of sensational produce, dishes, chef appearances, masterclasses and general foodie delights – at least that’s what the website says.
Don’t get us wrong, we found little to complain about in an excellent demonstration of the merits of champagne, prosecco and Grana Padano. Neil Phillips, the Wine Tipster, is in boisterous spirits as usual, and gives an engaging demonstration to rapt audience members. Likewise, Manilife peanut butter, made without palm oil whilst still being deliciously creamy, is pretty joyous. A jar of their dark roast has last minute yet still surprisingly excellent chicken satay written all over it, and would be a robust pairing to some of the more potent jams if you’re looking to put some cheery in your PB&J.
But In truth, the main joy of Taste has always been, and likely will always be, the restaurants. Bao and Kricket will feature over the weekend, joining all-week favourites like Ametsa with Arzak Instruction, Roka (and their grill), Bubbledogs, Pizarro and Ember Yard.
Sure the odd flavour of the month but otherwise unremarkable restaurant creeps into the line-up every now and again (Duck and Waffle, torn from its spectacular views and transplanted into a field, is not a winner) but in general there’s a solid set on offer.
It’s an interesting way to try the food of some of the capital’s better chefs in a casual, summery setting. Sampling the signature dishes without having to go through the full meal is as close as many will get to eating at some of these London hotspots; so rapidly expanding is its food scene that great – if not mindblowing – places like Ember Yard tend to get put off for “next month” for years on end. Well, no more.
This year, the restaurant angle has been turned up to ten, with a series of dinners curated by Andrea Petrini. Ana Roš, Alex Atala and the capital’s own Ollie Dabbous will be cooking up a storm, offering some unique menus to some very lucky guests. Roš, who won the 2017 World’s Best Female Chef award, is a particular highlight, having recently cooked a wildly successful dinner at Alyn Williams’s.
Back on Earth, away from the stratospheric heights of such lofty chefs and their dinners, the produce stands this year are a little bit more mixed, in multiple regards. With regards to quality, that’s sadly a bit of a negative: although there are some real winners, the sight of an Amazon food tent at an event like this rightly has people scrunching up their noses. Taste has always walked the fine line with commercialism (see Pimm’s and Captain Morgan), but this feels more like an outright deal with the devil.
With regards to status though, we were happy to see some smaller producers given space at the main event, rather than being shunted off into a tent on the side. La Latteria, the exquisite producer of mozzarella and burrata right here in London, were our absolute highlight of last year’s Bellavita. Here, they share the stage with some of the biggest names in the industry, in a show of inclusiveness that’s genuinely heartwarming.
Now, if only they finally do away with Crowns…
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
Taste of London at Regents Park from 14th until 18th June 2017, for further information or to buy your ticket visit here.