Sweetery Toronto Food Festival came back for its second year in 2016! I was once again graciously invited by the media relations staff, Vivien, to attend their media event where I would get to taste and photograph the food items from the vendors at the festival ahead of the regular admittance.
Sweetery Toronto Food Festival was held at David Pecaut Square this year (located on King Street West near John Street) on August 20 and 21. Just like last year, it was a free event to the public where the focus was on sweets and desserts (although there were some savory foods available by various vendors).
I found this venue to be a much better one in terms of looks and comfort. There was a large green space with shade and the vendors were spread out — great backdrop of the city building too. I remember last year’s venue at the parking lot was not as comfortable since vendors were squished together and it was extremely sunny and hot — no seats and barely any shade either. Next to the Sweetery installation this year, there were a field of red and white umbrellas lined up on the green lawn so that attendees could rest in the shade and enjoy their treats. I was very curious to see how this year’s Sweetery Festival would compare to last year’s.
It turned out that there were a lot more food bloggers and food “instagramers” invited to this year’s media event. A fellow blogger told me that there were apparently 100 media individuals invited, of which about 70 responded that they would be attending. Wow. It really is a testament to how the food scene is changing in Toronto and around the globe.
We arrived for 10 a.m. for the media event to start. Vivien and another organizer gave a quick briefing about Sweetery’s history, the George Brown Pastry school, the vendors, and how the media event would run. Since there were so many of us, instead of a private guided tour like last year, they allowed us to freely go around to the vendors to sample and photograph the food for an hour. This was definitely different from last year’s media event!
Me and some foodies went around to the vendors one by one to sample and photograph food. With this approach, it was obvious which vendors were very media-friendly and who were not. One of the vendors had the audacity to ask for payment of a drink while knowing full well we were “media” (and essentially doing this tour so that we could advertise for them for free).
George Brown Pastry Chefs:
Butter tarts from Andrea’s Gerrard St. Bakery:
We were given samples to try out their butter tarts.
I loved this! Chocolate chip cookie shots from Golden Crumb Biscuit. The staff manning the vendor was very generous and allowed us to have samples and take ample photos!
David’s Tea who did a very good job explaining their teas and giving out samples. I liked the black tea with the blueberry extracts!
Matcha Tea & Dessert is a new dessert shop opening at the end of September on Spadina Avenue. They were the most enthusiastic vendor and went above and beyond to tell us about their product, gave out full samples of their Matcha Ice Cream and Hokkaido Chiffon Cupcake, and even invited us to their pre-opening media event by handing out flyers and taking down a list of our names and e-mails. This was definitely a social media savvy business and knew how to treat their customers well!
I tried their Hokkaido Chiffon Cupcake and absolutely loved it! The cake was so soft, airy, and light! To my surprise, there was also a huge dollop of gooey matcha cream inside the cake. This was so good!
I also tried a full sized Matcha Ice Cream in a waffle cone. I enjoyed this! This was a great treat for a summer day.
Next up, I visited Baker Siu’s booth, Daan Go. He participated in MasterChef Canada as a contestant and now runs Daan Go selling various popular pastries and sweet items. A lot of people are fans of his. He gave out a sample of his Matcha Rare Cheesecake for tasting upon request. I found that it was a very dense matcha cheesecake. He was also selling some cute macarons that had some unique flavours.
My second flavourite vendor was Cool Beans T.O. They sold rich cold brew coffee topped with some crazy toppings! One was the “Rainbow Giant” which had whipped cream, waffle cookie, rainbow sprinkles, caramel syrup, and Popsicle stick. The “Crumble Mountain” had whipped cream, waffle cookie, Oreo crumble, chocolate syrup, and ice cream sandwich.
This was definitely one of those crazy dessert food trends that I have noticed trending on instagram the world over and I was so excited to try a sample! Cool Beans T.O. was smart to make their full sized creations ready for photographing (with a cool blue background to boot for extra nice photos) and also a tray of shot-sized samples of both flavours for everyone to try. This was awesome!
I was really impressed with the taste of the rich cold brew coffee. I’m not even a coffee drinker but I loved how refreshing and rich the chilled coffee tasted. Out of the two flavours, I liked the Crumble Mountain a lot — chocolate fan, what can I say. Good luck to Cool Beans T.O.! 🙂
I Love Puffy Love was also a vendor in last year’s Sweetery Festival. I liked how their booth was less shrouded in pink this time so that we could take better photos of their products. Puffy Love specializes in “delicious, handcrafted, bespoke marshmallows”.
They have expanded their product line since last year to include an option to add toppings to the marshmallows and perfected more of their flavours. They provided samples too where you could try the bite-sized marshmallows by stabbing into the jar a plastic sword (smart and hygienic!). There were six flavours available for tasting and purchase. I really enjoyed the Raspberry Lemonade Crush was which sweet but also included a sour tanginess to it.
I recognized Beverley’s Bakers’ booth and their butter tarts from last year (which I remember enjoying). However, when we passed by, the guy manning the booth didn’t welcome us at all or provide us with samples (I clearly saw that there were samples at the table). That’s too bad I didn’t get to try their butter tarts again.
There were several food trucks at the festival and Eva’s Original Chimneys was one of them. When we approached their food truck, they let us know that as part of the media, we were let in to try one of their newest creations. It was called the EX-TREME Chimney Cone. It would only be available during CNE August 26-28 and we would be the first to preview it and share it among our followers! I found this was very unique and innovative (and clever) of Eva’s Original Chimneys to do that for us media crew.
Thus, we got one to share and photograph and eat too! This cone featured real cream soft serve layered with toffee, apple and salted pretzel crumble before topped off with more crumble, crunchy caramel corn, salted caramel, and a big pretzel. It was definitely another dessert must-try when it comes to outrageous ice cream this summer. 😉
I loved their real cream soft serve (just as I did when I tried it for the first time a month ago) and found all of the crumble and caramel corn really interesting addition to the cone. Yum!
After spotting some girls with a Nordstrom tote bag, we wandered to the road side where there was a Nordstrom truck opened up to reveal a pop-up shop! After lining up to do a fun photobooth, we got to take a custom tote bag home. It was so fun! 😀
By this point, the one hour of the one-hour media event had long passed and we took some photos with the Sweetery installation before filling out the feedback form for the media event. We still didn’t get to try every single one of the vendors; it was probably impossible to do so on our own since it took time to visit each one and sample food and photograph too.
While I really loved the venue at this year’s Sweetery Toronto Food Festival, I loved and really appreciated the private media event from the first year. I liked being guided by the Sweetery staff to each one of the vendors to be given a truly unique and special media tour where we were thoroughly introduced to the vendors and their products and given full samples to try. Although the media tour lasted more than an hour last year, it was well worth the time and visit. I enjoyed wandering around to the vendors on this year’s media’s tour but it was a little disheartening sometimes when approaching the vendors and they weren’t open to giving us samples or just weren’t social media savvy enough to provide us with photographing opportunities. It was too bad because we were all there ready to take photos and try samples of their food to help them out with their advertising. Social media is so powerful nowadays and with just one or two photos, their business could skyrocket if they only knew how much difference sharing a photo means.
A tip I could give for organizing next year’s media event would be to have the foodies wander the event freely again but to inform all of the vendors beforehand about the media event so that they can be well-prepared with samples for us — both for trying the food and for photographing. I think this would be a great idea so that a Sweetery staff doesn’t have to guide us through every vendor but we would still experience the full experience of what a media tour offers.
Anyway, despite it all, I was very grateful and content that I got to try another media event at Sweetery. Thank you Vivien and Sweetery Toronto Food Festival for organizing and inviting all of the foodies to come check out your festival and giving us the media event opportunity.
Here is a collage of the rest of the vendors and food trucks that I saw but didn’t get to try.
Until next year! 😉
FTC Disclaimer: Although Vivien reached out and invited me to a complimentary tasting to showcase the food and vendors at the Sweetery Toronto Food Festival, the opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of the organization.