Banff's Big Taste returns in January and the annual culinary event is bigger and even tastier than ever.
The five-day event takes place beginning Jan. 18 and is organized by the Banff Hospitality Collective – a collaboration of some the resort community's finest food and beverage establishments.
Mike Mendelman with the collective said Banff's Big Taste includes more restaurants, chefs and experiences than in the previous three years of the event.
“It is really focused on lifting the culinary scene in Banff,” Mendelman said, adding a couple of events are already close to selling out.
While the Hospitality Collective organizes the event, he said, the organization invited outside eating establishments to be part of Big Taste. There was interest in being part of the event from Fairmont, said Mendelman, and Banff Lake Louise Tourism was also on board with support for a culinary event at this time of year.
The reason late January was chosen, he said, is because it is a period when visitation to Banff is slow and efforts to get people into hotel rooms and restaurants in the shoulder season are welcomed by the business community.
Mendelman said Fairmont has partnered with the event to host the Grant Tasting Hall at the Banff Springs over two days – Thursday and Friday (Jan. 19-20). As the main sampling event, the Taste of the Town offers an atmosphere for guests to try food from 14 different restaurants – from Mexican to Canadian cuisine – along with Canadian and international wines, spirits and craft beers.
The cost is $20 a person plus sample tickets and is held from 7-11 p.m.
The Grand Tasting Hall event might be the largest of what is offered at Banff's Big Taste. Mendelman said the focus of the event has been on providing smaller events that are curated and really give those attending an exciting and flavourful experience of what restaurants and chefs have to offer.
It all kicks off on Jan. 18 with Banff's Top Chef event – which he said would likely be one of the events that sells out beforehand.
Five of Banff's most accomplished chefs will go head to head at the event to prepare a small plate for a panel of three selected judges to decide who is the town's top chef.
Other events include fresh tracks and lunch at Lake Louise Ski Resort, a Rustic Italy experience at La Terrazza, a tequila tasting dinner at Magpie & Stump, a Tsantali wine dinner at the Balkan, a chocolate experience at the Cave and Basin and an Alberta gin seminar at Park Distillery, to name only a few.
Mendelman said the event is geared towards giving back to the community instead of making a profit. The Banff YWCA women's shelter project and the Banff Canmore Community Foundation are charities of choice, he said, and Grand Tasting Hall ticket proceeds will go towards those worthwhile community efforts.