Taste of Atlanta enters its 14th year

Faster service through RFID wristbands, new restaurants, and a Latkepalooza kitchen workshop
Dale DeSena
Dale DeSena, founder of Taste of Atlanta

Courtesy of Catrina Maxwell Photography

Taste of Atlanta returns this month, September 25-27, at Tech Square in Midtown. Founded by Dale DeSena, the festival will feature bites from 80 local restaurants, including JCT Kitchen, Table & Main, and Alma Cocina. “It’s about showcasing Atlanta as the culinary center of the South and the entire country and helping people find those hidden gems off the beaten path,” she says.

This year’s festival will have four cooking stages featuring chefs from the El Felix, Superica, and Taqueria Del Sol. DeSena has also planned a Gospel Brunch with live music and food and drink pairings from Asante and Twisted Soul. Below, DeSena shares what’s new this year.

Going Cashless

“This is a game changer for us—we’re using RFID wristbands. The taste coupons have been converted to taste points. Every restaurant will have their own RFID reader and a computer where you’ll tap your wristband, and it will show how many taste points you have. You can order your chicken tacos, and the computer will automatically deduct those points from your account. This means quicker service.”

Keeping Track of Samples

“With the RFID, we’ll have the data for what you’re eating, so after the festival I can send an email telling what you ate and what restaurant it came from. We’re also working with the restaurants to create special offers [for those who sampled their food at the festival], to help fulfill our mission of turning tasters into diners.”

Participating Restaurants

“We have what I think is our best restaurant list ever this year. New participating restaurants [include] Community Smith, Foundation Social Eatery, Southern Gentleman, Twisted Soul, Shake Shack, Noble Fin, St. Cecilia, Asante, and the El Felix. Rathbun’s and Barcelona will be back too.”

Kitchen Workshop

“One of my favorite things at the festival is our Kitchen Workshop. It’s hand-on cooking classes managed by Cook’s Warehouse and taught by Atlanta chefs. The first 40 people who register for one of four classes each day can cook alongside the chef who is leading the demo. Patric Bell from Max’s Wine Dive will lead Latkepalooza. Nick Leahy [of Saltyard] is doing an aphrodisiac-type demo with oysters called In the Mood for Food. Susan Vizethann from Buttermilk Kitchen is leading Eggspertise, which is all about eggs. This year, we’re adding food bloggers to each class to teach people how to take better food porn pictures.”

Like what you see? Tickets are on sale now. General admission ticket ($25) provides access to every demo and tasting. VIP ticket ($75) provides entry into the Grand Tasting Tent with complimentary food, wine, beer, and cocktails. Saturday VIP ticket holders judge the bar craft competition from 12:30 to 2 p.m. The first 300 VIPs each day get a goodie bag with gadgets and sponsor items.