Details on Taste of the Danforth

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1. A “Taste” of What to Expect – we’ll give you a sneak peak of what’s new in 2019

2. The Popularity of Greek Food and Mediterranean Diets GreekTown, the heart of the Festival, continues to be home to many of Toronto’s favorite Greek restaurants. Nowhere else can you gain a more rich and authentic representation of Greek dining, and the upcoming Taste of the Danforth Festival presents the perfect opportunity to further explore the popularity of Greek and Mediterranean diets.What are traditional Greek dishes served in Greek homes? What types of dishes can be found in today’s modern Greek restaurants? How has Greek food changed over time and across countries? Are Mediterranean diets truly more healthy? Which aspects make it so? What Greek or otherwise Mediterranean recipes could be easily tried in our own homes?

3. A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Organizing a Festival of this Scale and Scope
How does a Greek Festival attract people of all cultures? We can provide a behind-the-scenes look at organizing a Festival of this scale and scope. This can include all stages of planning, as well as how the Festival was repositioned from a Greek event to a multicultural Festival “with a dollop of tzatziki on top”. The Festival is run by a volunteer board and only a couple of staff ー a fraction of the infrastructure that many of Toronto’s other signature
Festivals have. How is this done? And in turn, how do participating restaurants make preparations to host over 1.64 million attendees in a single weekend?

4. The Inside Story: How Did the Festival Really Begin?

People are always surprised when they learn that the Festival is run by a Board of Directors
consisting of volunteers from the local community. There is only one full-time staff member. They’re also fascinated by the unlikely friendships that gave birth to the Festival 26 years ago. The Festival began when a group of competing restaurateurs on the Danforth banded together to find new ways to entice people to come to the Danforth and enjoy their amazing Greek cuisine. They decided that rather than advertising individually, they would be better off pooling their resources and advertising together. The idea was to set up “tasting” tables so that individuals could try food fare from a number of restaurants, and thus The Taste of the Danforth was created. In order to encourage people to try various dishes, the prices were kept very low and even today, no dish costs more than
$6. Sounds good, but what really happened was a group of restaurateurs were sitting on their patios, sipping cappuccinos, and complaining that not enough people were coming to the Danforth, despite the fact that they had great, reasonably-priced food. One of the owner’s kids – a university student – suggested what they needed to do was advertise. One of the restaurateurs quickly snapped back and said, “we don’t have the money to advertise.” The student quickly retorted, “if you pooled all of your money together, you would.” A particularly cantankerous restaurateur chimed in and said there was no way he was contributing money to advertise and have people go to his competitors’ restaurants.
The student thought for a moment and suggested, “what if the callout is not to come dine in your restaurants, but rather to simply visit GreekTown and sample items from various restaurants. So not inside the restaurants, but outside. So not full meals, but tasting menus.” “Tasting menus,” the restaurateur replied, “that’s a great idea. What should we call the festival?” The student said, “if you’re offering tasting menus, you should call it Taste of the Danforth!” In the first year, approximately 5,000 people attended the Festival. Twenty-three restaurateurs participated, selling an eclectic mix of “tastes” from tasting tables. Today, the Festival has grown to approximately 1.64 million visitors during the course of three days and two nights. Taste of the Danforth is one of Toronto’s signature events, showcasing the best of what our multicultural city has to offer: music, art, sports and – of course – food. Over the years, many events and programs remain reflective of the area’s Greek roots, but the Festival programming and its audience have expanded to encompass a much broader cultural spectrum. While the Taste of the Danforth began 26 years ago as a small Greek Festival, it has grown and evolved with the city of Toronto to become a celebration of not only its Greek heritage, but an increasingly inclusive and multicultural community.

5. Big Economic Impact for Toronto and Ontario
The Festival and GreekTown on the Danforth BIA contribute significant impact to the Province and City. In 2018, the Festival’s single weekend economic impact on the Province was $164 million. The Festival is a tourist magnet, with 43% of attendees travelling 40 kilometres or more to attend the Taste of the Danforth last summer, and 77% of visitors stating the Festival was the primary reason for them to travel to Toronto. Equally important to the Province’s economy is the fact that 94% of out-of-towners plan to return this year. In addition, the Festival provides a significant source of exposure for the small retailers and restaurateurs on the Danforth. What many people do not realize, however, is that the Festival contributes enormously not only to the Province and GreekTown businesses, but also to the community; all profits from the Festival are donated to charity. Recipients range from the Toronto East General Hospital, Children’s Hospital “Agia Sofia”, and SK, to local schools for children with disabilities. Over the years, the Festival has donated over $2.5 million to charities, and is dedicated to continue to provide value to Festival
attendees, local businesses, and the Toronto community.

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