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How Taste of Atlanta Restaurants are Selected

Ever wonder who decides what restaurants will participate in Taste of Atlanta? Or how there always seems to be that perfect mix of celebrity chef hot spots and beloved staples? Or maybe your favorite restaurant was left out of the mix last year and you want to know why. Taste of Atlanta Restaurant Manager Shelly Gardner is your woman.

With great knowledge of the Atlanta restaurant scene and personal connections to many local chefs, Gardner approaches the ones she thinks will be the best fit for Taste and fends of registration requests that aren't.

How do you decide which restaurants to approach for Taste of Atlanta participation?
We put our invitation list together based on recommendations from a panel of well known food critics, bloggers, and people involved in the industry. We want to make sure that our restaurants reflect the variety and diversity of flavors of Atlanta ranging from fine dining ( such as Rathbun's, The Optimist, 4th & Swift, Park 75) to neighborhood favorites (such as Rosebud, Hobnob, Woody's Cheesesteaks). We are also pleased to have a few restaurants that are so new to Atlanta that they have yet to open (like Mi Cocina), and some beloved food trucks (such as Sweet Auburn BBQ, Honeysuckle Gelato, Munch Truck).

What kind of resistance from chefs or restaurants have you seen in the past? What do you do in this case?
Most resistance I have encountered is from restaurants that have not participated in this event or remember Taste of Atlanta from its infancy. It is my job to get in front of these people and show them all the benefits that Taste of Atlanta participation has to offer. It is a professionally-run event offering a huge branding and marketing opportunity for restaurants to get in front of the 45,000 + people that attend. There is no doubt that TOA is a lot of work for our restaurants, but what better way to reach so many people that love to eat?

What exactly is required of a participating chef/restaurant?
The restaurant is responsible for bringing delicious food and smiling faces. We have many chefs who also participate on our demo stages, in the Food Studio panel discussions, and in our new kitchen workshops ( hands on teaching segments).

Have you ever been approached by a restaurant that wants to participate but doesn't meet your qualifications? What did you do?
We have had many registration requests that we had to decline since we have been at maximum capacity for the past several months. As this event continues to gain steam from each successful year, we fill up sooner and sooner.

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