The four-day celebration of the region’s finest dining, local produce and regional and international drinks was launched with a huge networking event in a tented village in Cannon Hill Park.
A Champagne reception, hosted by Advantage West Midlands, signalled the start of the festival, which is being run this year by Marketing Birmingham and staged with a major city focus.
Council leader Mike Whitby said Birmingham’s culinary scene underpinned both its cultural diversity and its high quality of life.
He said: “No other British city outside London can boast such an international range of foods, just as no other British city, perhaps including London, can lay claim to such genuine cultural diversity.
“As our city has reached out to and welcomed in new cultures, so new cuisines have been absorbed into the fabric of our multi-cultural home. The excellent quality and breadth of food in Birmingham captures the ties between our city and the world.”
The festival was a “model of cultural growth and entrepreneurial drive, created entirely in our own city,” said Coun Whitby.”
The festival showcases the best of Birmingham’s dining scene and features 17 restaurants, making it the biggest one so far.
On offer is food with origins in India, China, Thailand, France, Italy, as well as modern British cuisine. Last night’s feature attractions, which continue throughout the festival, included a cook-off between two football legends, coached by two of the city’s Michelin-starred chefs.
Ex-Blues player Dave Barnett was talked through his paces by Luke Tipping, head chef at Simpsons, while former Villa star Tony Morley received some expert tips from Richard Turner, of Turner’s, of Harborne.
Tipping helped his protege rustle up a classic dish of baked monkfish with heirloom tomatoes, courgettes and thyme. Tipping said he chose the dish because of its simplicity.
Indian restaurant Asha’s gave a masterclass in preparing summer cocktails such as the Delhi Devil.
n Taste of Birmingham continues today and throughout the weekend. Tickets can be purchased online at www.visitbirmingham.com/taste and in the Birmingham tourism centres at the Rotunda and New Street.
Standard tickets are £10 in advance, £12 on the day. Crowns are the currency at the event and are redeemed for dishes at the restaurants at the rate of £1 for 2 crowns.