It’s that time of year again when locals get excited about the prix-fixe dining options across the city. Since 2008 when it first launched, Taste of Burlington (“TOB”) has grown from 12 participating restaurants and about 900 diners, to 25 to 30 featured restaurants and over 18,500 satisfied foodies.
With the culinary movement ever growing in popularity and easily attainable here in Burlington, it’s no wonder the program has grown. The launch event was once media only, but is now a much-anticipated public gala. “The program itself has evolved to the point where we have created a brand that supports our dining program but also promotes Burlington as a culinary destination,” explains Linda Cvetanovic, Leisure & E-Marketing Co-ordinator for Tourism Burlington. “We look for opportunities to showcase our chefs, restaurants and cuisine through social media, and other events such as our partnerships with GO Cooking and Lakeside à la Carte to name a few. We have also incorporated eating local into our program, encouraging our chefs to use local Ontario ingredients on their menus wherever they can. This not only supports our local farmers but also tastes better,” she says.
Anyone who attends one of the restaurants during TOB comes away with at least one favourite food item – and a full stomach. “I have to say that the quality and innovation on the menus just continues to impress me,” says Cvetanovic. One of her favourite tastes at the most recent summer launch was Downtown Bistro’s Pan-Seared Scallops over Slow-Braised Pork Belly with Maple Coffee Glaze. “But then I start thinking of all the other amazing things I’ve tried, it’s really hard to pick just one,” she says.
Restaurant owners must appreciate what the program does for their business as the list of participating restaurants continues to grow each year. “I’ve worked with these owners and managers for many years now, and most of them are owner operated or small businesses that are working really hard to make a living,” notes Cvetanovic. “Taste of Burlington is a great way for them to get exposure through our marketing vehicles, and also to entice diners to their establishments – either for the first time or as a returning customer.” Once guests are in the door each restaurant has the perfect opportunity to showcase their food and their service, and hopefully create a loyal diner.
When I didn’t know what to get my parents for Christmas last year, the idea of buying them tickets to TOB popped into my head. It was the best idea for a present I’ve ever had! Cvetanovic knows that people look forward to it every year. “Just like any service industry, people don’t usually share their great experiences but when they do we make sure to pass it
along to the restaurants so they can recognize their staff on a job well done,” she says.
Eating locally is good for our city and your taste buds. “It goes without saying that keeping dollars in our local economy helps everyone, but really the message we are trying to promote both locally and to nearby regions is that you don’t need to travel to Toronto or Niagara for an amazing dining experience,” explains Cvetanovic. “We have first class chefs creating phenomenal menus, and restaurants that suit every taste. Look for those hidden gems, try a new restaurant and be part of our growing culinary scene.”
The launch event for the Winter 2015 Taste of Burlington is on January 20th, 2015 at The Burlington Performing Arts Centre from 5:30-8pm. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased online or at the box office. www.tasteofburlington.ca
By Becky dumais