Review of the 2011 – 2012 Taste of Tasmania food festival
Mures Fish Centre Restaurant | Tourism Tasmania | Nigel Honey
Well another Taste of Tasmania festival has come and gone and overall I think it could be much improved in many ways.
The number of stalls at the Taste of Tasmania this year was reduced by approximately 30 and the overall quality and experience suffered as a result in my opinion. There was simply not as much diversity of food and the quality was lacking.
The Taste of Tasmania really became the drinks of Tasmania in my opinion – there were an incredible number of wine and alcohol stalls and if you didn’t drink alcohol then I think you would have been disappointed. Personally I love Tasmanian wine and sparkling wine so had a great time at the new Winery. The Winery was quite a civilized affair as it was separate from the main food hall and as a consequence had fewer visitors, was quieter, more standing room and you could talk to the stallholders and enjoy the wine you were tasting.
Some of the wineries were very stingy with the amount of wine they gave you to taste – I understand they have to limit the quantity as it costs them money but if you can’t taste the wine properly then you aren’t going to enjoy it, go back for more, buy some and spread the word. Thinking back it was the most generous and friendly wineries that we went back to and bought wine from so their generosity and spirit was rewarded.
I understand from media reports that the turnover in the Winery was down and the wineries didn’t make as much money. This is unfortunate but I believe the wineries could improve their marketing. None of the wineries were collecting email addresses – in this day and age this is just a terrible wasted opportunity. They could have had a sign up to our mailing list for a chance to win a bottle of wine, Like our Facebook page for a chance to win etc – most people (well a lot at least) have smart phones and could do it on the spot or fill out a coupon and leave with the stallholder. This would have meant the wineries received a lot more value from the experience as they would have built a marketing list. None of the wineries appeared to have special prices for the Taste, special freight offers on dozen buys etc. There are so many things that could be done.
The inclusion of ValHalla icecream in the winery was also fantastic – the icecream is some of the best available and there was always room to sit down and eat it.
I know the Taste organisers wanted to expand the Taste onto Salamanca lawns to provide more food stalls and greater seating area but I personally think it was a failure in terms of food. The area had no ambience whatsoever and the quality of food available in that area was not good in my opinion. Just the way it was presented felt very much like a market alley food area rather than a quality Tasmanian gourmet experience. The area felt very much like the poor cousin of the main Taste festival.
In terms of the main shed I felt the area was laid out poorly. There was a lot of wasted floor space and duplication of food stalls. Now don’t get me wrong, I love berries and pancakes but with the number of stalls drastically reduced there were really too many berry stalls.
There were also too many fish and chip stalls – this is not gourmet Tasmanian food. They may well be popular but you can walk a few hundred metres and get the identical food in a more calm and larger seating area at the restaurants themselves on the wharf. With fewer stalls available they really need to limit the number of fish and chips and berries.
Overall the quality of the food was to me more like a Tasmanian food court rather than a gourmet Tasmanian food experience. This may be as a consequence of the large volume of food but is unfortunate and doesn’t showcase Tasmanian food as well as it could be.
I felt there was a lot of wasted space near the entrance to the shed and also just inside the shed – surely they could have put more stalls in?
I also understand the Hobart City Council is moaning that it needs more money from the State Government or it may have to charge an entrance fee. The organisers need to realise that already entrance is not quite free – you pay $7 to $10 for your tasting glass and if they were to charge $2 or $3 for entry then you would be effectively paying $10 to $13 for entry. Similar events on the mainland are only $20 including your glass, bonus magazines and other gifts if you book in advance. I think there are other ways of raising the shortfall.
Also the attitude of the Hobart City Council in terms of competing with paid stalls was very disturbing. The HCC sold cleanskin wines at an exorbitant price – quality Tasmanian wine was available from wineries ranging from $20 upwards and cleanskins were far more expensive. Apart from competing with paid stalls the HCC was not showcasing quality Tasmanian wine and this is what the Taste is meant to be about.
Also concerning was the placement and offering of donation boxes for money. There was no signage indicating who the donations were for but I can only assume that it was for the HCC – for heavens sake how tight can they be! Collect money for charities not for the Council! Either the event is free or it isn’t.
Also I think similar to the wineries that the HCC could do with some further marketing assistance. They could have had a competition and developed a marketing list of emails – after all what better list of people interested in Tasmanian food and wine that you could market to, to attract them back to Tasmania for future events and visits.
Overall I enjoyed the Taste because of the wine experience but thought the food was disappointing. I have been to the Taste of Melbourne several times and find that it is a higher quality gourmet experience. I would like to see an event similar to Taste of Melbourne held in the Winter in Tasmania to truly showcase gourmet Tasmanian foods and a quality gourmet Tasmanian experience.
If you went to the Taste of Tasmania what did you think of the festival? What did you think of the food?