Know the city | Know the industry

Op/Ed- TASTE! shouldn’t be a thing, but it is, so let’s support it until we no longer need it!

I often cover issues related to pay and the struggles of Central Floridians in the local tourism industry here on Orlando Tourism Report and if any if you have even listened even once then you know that I’m passionate about ensuring we have a strong tourism workforce. But that can only happen if they’re healthy, happy, and willing to stay here.

In Central Florida, 1 in 6 people struggle with food insecurity. 44.5% of Florida households cannot afford basic needs such as housing, childcare, food, health care, and transportation – the vast majority of these families are working. As we work to ensure better pay in the hospitality industry, and in return better pay across the board in Central Florida. there is something else we can do to ensure that ALL Central Floridians are able to fall asleep every night with full stomachs.

The newly re-branded TASTE! Central Florida is this Saturday, August 19, 2017 from 6:45 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. I’m convinced this is the BEST foodie event of the year in Central Florida. If you’re a fan of the various food and wine events at the local theme parks you’ll love TASTE! It has well over 100 local restaurants who showcase the amazing creativity of their chefs with bite-sized dishes using the finest of ingredients.

Yes, tickets at $150 are a bit pricey but that’s honestly less than I spent at Epcot’s Food & Wine fest last time I went there and the proceeds from this go to a great cause. Both the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida are supported by the event. Approximately 498,000 individuals turn to Second Harvest’s food pantries and meal service programs to feed themselves and their family each year.

This year’s event will include OTR favorites like Yak & Yeti, Universal Orlando, STK, Satu-Li Canteen, SeaWorld, Raglan Road, Paddlefish, and tons of other local restaurants.

The food (and wine!) isn’t the only reason to go to the event. A silent auction has plenty of amazing Central Florida focused items with donations from many of the area’s hospitality leaders. A wine ring toss, the Edible Orlando Giving Tree, a wine cellar giveaway, and many more events take place throughout the evening helping make this one of the most enjoyable evenings of the year. And unlike the parks you don’t have to stand outside when going from booth to booth.

There’s a lot more we can and should be doing to ensure that the 113 million more meals needed per year to fill the hunger gap in our community is a thing of the past but TASTE! is a great first step in that direction. This year, instead of a hot and muggy day of food and wine in a theme park (or on top of it), why don’t you visit the air-conditioned foodie wonderland of TASTE! Central Florida.

TASTE! Central Florida takes place this Saturday, August 18 from 6:45-10:00PM at the Orlando World Center Marriott (the world’s largest Marriott!).




Ken Storey has been blogging about life in Central Florida for the past 12 years. As a 2nd generation Central Floridian he has a passion for and connection with the region. In his spare time he enjoys visiting low budget roadside attractions, Taco Bell, and typically plans road trips with as little interstate time as possible.

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