Is This Weekend's 'Original Taste' Festival Too Much of a Good Thing?

We love food festivals. Give us a good BBQ, wine, or generic culinary event every weekend and we'd never go hungry or bored. But the amount of overlap between culinary events in Phoenix is starting to be a concern.

Take this weekend's newly-christened The Original Taste festival, for example. After years of taking place at Kierland Commons, the annual charity event relocated to Scottsdale Waterfront this year. Original Taste chairman Dane Fernandes says the move "allows us to draw from the thousands of individuals who head to Old Town Scottsdale each weekend."

While that may be true, it seems in poor taste -- or at least, questionable timing -- to hold the annual event just days away from Scottsdale Culinary Festival, which will take place at the nearby Scottsdale Civic Center. On top of that issue, the festival changed names this year after other "Taste" festivals started showing up around town.      

Chandler's 2010 Taste. festival (don't even get us started on the random period) featured food samples from area restaurants including The Living Room, Shimogamo and The Hungry Monk. At $45 for 12 beer tickets and unlimited grub, it was a pretty good deal. Glendale's version of Taste. premiered in March with food from Bueno Burger, Margaritaville, Zang Asian Bistro and other west side favorites for a mere $25 entrance fee.

Now you see why The Original Taste committee members felt the need to tack on the word "original" this year. EC70 has been putting on their event since the '70s, so they're understandably miffed by the similarly-named events popping up all over the Valley. They even took a little space on their web site to set the record straight. "...  This is not your average taste," the site proclaims. "This is THE ORIGINAL TASTE." 

With tickets starting at a whopping $150 and many of the same culinary participants as Scottsdale Culinary Festival, the Original Taste could be doomed to disappoint. The festival's only major selling point above other foodie events seems to be the charitable aspect: proceeds benefit Phoenix Children's Hospital, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale and Executive Council Charities. And with everyone's purse strings tightened right now, even that might not be enough to lure diners away from next weekend's less expensive Forks & Corks or Great Arizona Picnic

The Original Taste takes place 7-10 p.m. this Saturday, April 2, at the Scottsdale Waterfront. 21-and-over only.  

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[Editor's Note: This blog was edited following publication.]

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