Designed to be the most serious and reputable food festival in the World, Taste Festivals has rapidly grown internationally – with 30 cities around the world hosting a Taste Festival annually and the number is projected to grow again this year.
How long have you worked for Taste?
Since year one in 2006. I had been watching the success of Taste of London for a year or so before I decided it would work in Ireland. Our first event was in Dublin Castle and the response from both restaurants, feature sponsors and the public was so positive we’d outgrown the venue even before we’d opened the doors! We moved to the Iveagh Gardens in 2007 and haven’t looked back since. I sold the Company in 2010, but in 2013 was approached by IMG (who had bought out the Taste Global franchise) to run it again, and have been back in the driving seat since 2014.
What’s the story behind Taste of Dublin?
Backed by the credibility of this international brand, Taste of Dublin has been running for 11 years and it’s gone from strength to strength. I’ve ensured that whilst we work within the parameters of the Taste brand guidelines, Taste of Dublin is very much a uniquely Irish event with a flavour and flair of its own which keeps it relevant for the local market.
How is it different from other food festivals?
Taste is unique for a variety of reasons. No other event offers high end dining, access to free masterclasses, demos and expert talks plus a well-produced entertainment line-up. I think that it’s not just the event content, but also the ethos that makes it unique. Restaurants vie to be represented at Taste, as the serious foodie buzz gives credibility. They also see it as an opportunity to meet up to 30,000 people, a chance to try something new, and launch new dishes that you wouldn’t necessarily see at the restaurant (but might after they have been introduced at Taste!)
As the Managing Director of Taste of Dublin, what keeps you busy?
My role varies a lot, from managing and steering Taste staff, to keeping an eye on the bigger picture, and staying in touch with the restaurants (the event’s lifeblood!) and key sponsors. Creating bespoke experiences and collaborative partnerships for the festival as well as introducing new partners is what drives this event forward.
How was this year’s festival?
This year, Taste of Dublin ran from 16th – 19th June, and was very successful. We had the opportunity to work with a number of incredible brands including Electrolux, Sony, Aldi, Celebrity Cruises, Champagne Taittinger and OpenTable, to name just a few. We also had 30,000+ attendees this year and customer feedback was very positive.
What were you excited about this year?
Our theme this year was ‘The Homecoming’ and the idea was to celebrate Irish talent at home and abroad. I was most excited to have these incredibly talented Irish chefs who are making waves abroad, come back to Dublin for the four-day festival. Along with our local Irish talent, ‘The Homecoming’ was our way to showcase these amazing chefs to our Taste audience.
What feedback did you receive?
We received some lovely feedback from the Taste of Dublin attendees this year. “Absolutely loved the atmosphere at Taste, never seen anything like it! Can’t wait to return next year”. “It was a great event with lots to see and do. The food, music and entertainment was fantastic, thank you for a great day out!”.
After 11 years running the festival, what have been some of your learnings?
Well, in terms of scale we’ve quadrupled our size and offer a greater emphasis on the experiences visitors can enjoy. We’ve also made sure that we haven’t sat on our laurels, but have kept our ear to the ground in terms of new trends and never been afraid to try something new!
Why do you think people have responded the way they have to the event?
Taste of Dublin has become the must attend event in the Dublin foodie calendar. I think people respond positively to Taste because we’ve never become complacent and after 11 years our passion, commitment and excitement is stronger than ever.
Our visitors know that Taste will also bring the best restaurants, sponsors, chefs and features to the event, with new surprises every year. In Ireland, people are extremely passionate about food and with Taste of Dublin they can enjoy the very best Dublin has to offer all in one city-centre location.
We’re already working on Taste 2017 – including an exciting new layout and collaborations. We are also working on our monthly bespoke Taste Club events which will be popping up all over Dublin, and I’m also involved in consultancy for other Global Taste events! There’s always something exciting happening with Taste, so stay tuned!
Photos courtesy of Taste of Dublin