Hot Dinners has rustled up everything you need to know about the 2015 Taste of London Festival. It takes place every summer and you can also see what we tried on this year's Opening Night.
For the uninitiated, what is Taste of London?
A number of London's top restaurants will be holding court at one of the stands, serving three or four dishes that are either examples of food from their restaurants or newly created just for the event. Think of it as a street food festival for high-end restaurants.
It all takes place in the either sunny or wet (depending on the luck of the weather) environment of Regent's Park, where they have a huge sectioned-off area all to themselves.
Who's going to be cooking for the punters this year?
There will be over 30 restaurants taking part including some regulars who include: Duck & Waffle, Club Gascon, MEATliquor, Cinnamon Club, Ametsa and more.
But there are a lot of first-timers coming along this year and they include: Chick n Sours, Santo Remedio, Hoppers, LeCoq, Bubbledogs, Farang and lots more.
How does the pricing work?
No dishes are included in the entry fee (and you can use our ticket offer to save money) so make sure to budget for that.
Everything is bought/sold in the Taste currency. You can buy these anywhere throughout the event. And this year they've added the opportunity to pay by card, so it's MUCH easier.
What's worth queuing for this year?
Yes - it's likely that you'll have to queue for the best food at Taste. But don't worry, the queues aren't quite Som Saa-length, so you shouldn't have to wait too long. We went along to the first night and you can read here what we tried (follow us on Instagram and Twitter for more).
It's worth noting that a few of the restaurants have their "Icon" dishes on show - so it's a real opportunity to try them if you haven't yet. They include:
- Pig's Trotter - Koffmann's
- Guacamole with grasshoppers - Santo Remedio
- Iberico pork & foie gras burger with Iberico pancetta & melted Zamorano - Ember Yard
- Duck & Waffle - Crispy leg confit, Belgian waffle, fried duck egg & mustard maple syrup - Duck and Waffle
And we've picked out five more dishes that have caught our attention this year:
- Korean fried chicken bun, Gochujang mayo, sriracha sour cream & Asian 'slaw - Chick n Sours
- Ceylonese BBQ chicken thigh, gotukola sambol & bone rasa - Hoppers
- Truffled Mac Daddy Hot Dog - Pork sausage topped with truffled mac & cheese & crispy bacon bits - Bubbledogs
- Tuna sashimi pizza with truffle ponzu & wasabi tobiko - Kurobuta
- The Farang Burger - Pork & prawn burger with coconut & shrimp chilli jam, pickled cucumber, ginger & Thai basil - Farang
Not forgetting the Five Star Burgers.
Each day of the festival will see a new burger from a top London chef at the Action Against Hunger stand. And yes, they sound AMAZING:
- Raymond Blanc’s beef burger with celeriac remoulade, garlic aioli and Comté cheese
- Jason Atherton’s ‘ultimate lamb burger’ with confit lamb shoulder, crispy aubergine, spicy ketchup and Fleur de Maquis cheese
- Gizzi Erskine’s buffalo cauliflower cheese veggie burger with blue cheese sauce and pickled celery
- Nieves Barragán Mohacho’s ‘Barrafina beef burger’ with crispy Morcilla, San Simon cheese & Mojo Picon sauce
- Shaun Searley’s buttermilk fried chicken burger, smoked bacon mayonnaise, beef tomato, crispy chicken skin.
Any more culinary stars to see?
The place to go if you want to see some stars will be the AEG Taste Theatre. There are a few chefs here that don't have stands, so we think it'll be worth seeing the following:
- Wednesday - Pierre Koffmann "and proteges"
- Thursday - Alyn Williams, Quality Chop House's Shaun Searley
- Friday - Nathan Outlaw, Ben Tish, Francesco Mazzei
- Saturday - Dan Doherty, Robin Gill, Jose Pizarro
- Sunday - Theo Randall
Any other special events this year?
For cocktails, there's a pop-up Dandelyan cocktail bar, so that should definitely be one to stop at. And Mr Fogg's Safari Camp sounds pretty mad too (in a good way) and their gin masterclasses look worth stopping by for. Also new this year, sponsors AEG are running Tasteology, a series of eat-along screenings, so it'll be worth getting your name down for one of those. See lots more here.
What's the best way to get around the event?
Make good use of the Taste of London exhibition guide, particularly the day’s timetable of events – that’s how you’ll find out when certain sections are offering free tastings of food and drink. Don’t rush into spending your crowns all at once. Look through the programme, see what dishes the various restaurants are offering and then plan it so you can intersperse queueing for food with sitting down to watch demonstrations or wandering round nabbing freebies from the various commercial stallholders.
Some key dishes - particularly the one that wins Best in Show - can go quickly or build up a very big queue. But in recent years, some chefs were taking down mobile numbers and calling people when more of a popular dish was ready.
Any last minute tips?
As with any festival, don’t forget to bring waterproofs and suncream depending on the vagaries of the British summer. You might also want to bring a coolbag for any food or booze you buy to take home.
And when's it all happening?
This year's Taste of London Festival runs from 15-19 June 2016.