For the past few days I’ve been reviewing the recently held Sauté Trinbago food event. If you’ve been following along I hope you have enjoyed the photos and videos that I’ve shared. If you’ve missed any of the posts to date you can quickly catch up by clicking the series navigation bar above this post, or if you are reading this via RSS I have included a handy link box at the bottom of this one as well 🙂
Overall I thought that Cloud Nine Promotions, the organizers of the event did an amazing job, I also thought however that there were some areas for improvement. I will outline both (as I see them) below.
• Truly all-inclusive – once you entered the gates everything was truly covered by the cost of your ticket. Even with my Taste T&T Gourmet ticket there were ‘premium booths’ that charged additional fees. So this was greatly appreciated.
• Safe and secure surroundings, steady visual police presence – it’s not often that I feel truly relaxed at public gatherings, and in this case I definitely did. All must be praised for their vigilance, especially with that much free alcohol on tap!
• Cleanliness was maintained – garbage bags and receptacles were prominent throughout the layout. They also seemed to be replaced at intervals as I never saw any overflow.
• Rich entertainment – As you can see from the photos from the start of the festival to the end, there was never of shortage of locally derived sights and sounds. Kudos!
• ‘Street food’ was extremely well represented – one of the criticisms of Taste T&T was that there were too many gourmet options. Alhough I am a huge fan of gourmet (hey it’s in my name!), as these menus were only available at a prepaid price, it was a valid criticism. The person walking in with $50TT in their pocket was unable to enjoy any local offerings, whether it be doubles, aloo pie, sugar cake, whatnot. This was definitely -not- the case at Sauté Trinbago. Even better, they made no geographic division between the offerings of local vendors and that of local restaurants. Unlike Taste T&T which did create separate areas for both.
• Poor Promotion – Who knew about this event? How was it promoted? These were valid questions I believe as this event should and could have been better attended. I myself only learnt about it via a press release in the Trinidad Guardian some days before it was held. I was later sent by a Twitter follower, a similar release in Newsday. Although press releases are great, I’m curious what other avenues were explored. If I had not seen that issue of the Guardian I would still be unaware that there was anything called ‘Sauté Trinbago’ and I’m not the only one.
• Poor Social Media Outreach – Talking to other local food bloggers none of them knew about Sauté Trinbago. Zero. Zilch. As WizzytheStick commented:
“I drove by this event on my way to the zoo with my kids. I saw the people but did not know what it was. “
Sauté Trinbago seems to have been a bit confused as to how it position itself. It billed itself as a premium all-inclusive culinary event but seemed to prefer to promote itself via avenues like Triniscene, Scorch and Facebook. Now I for one don’t pick up Scorch (nor do I believe do many (if any) of the other local food bloggers), neither do I visit Triniscene (and I’d venture to say it’s not a regular visit on their internet trolls either). None of us are certified fete addicts or devout partygoers, we are however passionate about Trinidad culture and cuisine – which is what Sauté Trinbago said it was about. Yet, the promoters never sought to contact any of us to get the word out to our readers, other ‘foodies’. There was no genuine social media plan or campaign on their part, outside of the established party/carnival channels, which I’m not sure was the sole demographic (or best) to pursue for this event.
So what about Facebook? What’s the problem there? Well nothing. However their only presence on Facebook was a private profile which one had to ‘add as a friend’ rather than a public page. The logic behind that decision baffles me, and I hope it was more done out of ignorance than as part of some deliberate “premium” strategy. With a Facebook page they could have done so much more to share tastes of what the event was going to hold to their followers, and their followers could have in turn shared that information. More importantly, that information would have been viewable by people without Facebook accounts. I saw the YouTube video that they created (after much searching for -some- information) and wondered how it had been intended to be used.
Several people who did know about the event beforehand told me that they were not ‘sold’ on the idea so they didn’t attend. After seeing my posts they now regretted not attending. I myself was not sold, and only went because I thought if nothing else, it would provide some new content for this site. The ticket purchase was a leap of faith more than anything else.
A golden opportunity was lost then to get the word out, to let people know what they would get, and to reach out to people who are already ‘sold’ on what they were promoting. Better job next year!
• Lack of Vegetarian Options – we always like to boast about our diverse multicultural population. Part of that diversity means that there is a relatively large percentage of people who don’t eat meat for health, ethical, or religious reasons. Even many people who do meat, for religious reasons will choose vegetarian or fish if they can’t certify the meat’s origin. Of course no one can attend to every variation in dietary observance, which is why I recommend vegetarian options as a way to cover everyone in one sweep. It would be great if every stall at events such as these had a vegetarian option (like Benihana did). Even if they only supplied 1/2 the amount and ran out quickly, at least the option was there!
• Lack of Vendor branding – The branding of stalls at Sauté Trinbago was puzzling to say the least. Restaurants clearly displayed their names, and then you had stalls called “Roti”. Huh? I personally would have loved to have known who was providing these foods, where they were located, and how to reach them after the event. In the haste of the moment it was not always opportune to get all this information from the food workers, however some co-branding and take away literature would have been nice. I’ve already mentioned Hanif & Sons Doubles several times in this series because they were -that good- however I have no idea their location and if I knew more I would definitely share.
One such generic stall “Crab & Dumpling” – decided for themselves to hang up a sign letting you know that they were “Maggie’s Catering” and how to contact them . Which just goes to show, that vendors have a responsibility as well to make sure that they get the most out of these events, regardless of what the promoters provide.
• Taste T&T’s gourmet ticket option was a big draw like it or not. I’m not sure how Sauté wants to blend the two worlds of local culinary presentation moving forward but I think that the option of ‘finer dining’, especially with the all-inclusive presentation (maybe as an add-on?) would be well-received. Again, I think a confusion was made between the local foodie/restaurant crowd and the fete-centric crowd. Of course there is going to be overlap but there are huge segments of both who remain rather separate. And for $400TT our expectations of what/who we want to see to attend will be rather different. A food event with live entertainment is not the same thing as a fete with food.
So there it is. If I had to give them a grade it would still be a solid A. The pros far outweighed the cons once one was at the actual event. The majority of the cons had to do with why I think more people were not there. I hope that this series continues to be read and that next time more people will be inclined to give it a chance.
ETA August 3rd, 2010: After this post was originally published Dawn wrote in to say the following:
“Dear Trini Gourment:
Thanks for this info on Saute Trinbago. I agree with you on the promotion aspects. There are many Trinis around the world who would actually schedule visits around such a great event if only we knew long enough in advance. A good but different example is Reggae Fest Jamaica which occurs annually and people plan a year in advance to attend. All Trinis like to eat Trinbago food though so we would love to hear about eating events. “
Dawn I definitely hope that I start to receive advance notice of such events so that I can spread the word to you and all others around the world with an interest and passion for Trini cuisine and culture! 🙂
Here’s to Sauté Trinbago 2011!
Sauté Trinbago Link Roundup
• Sauté Trinbago is Today! (video)
• Sauté Trinbago 2010: Part 1 – Arrival (video)
• Sauté Trinbago 2010: Part 2 – Blue Devils & Moko Jumbies (video)
• Sauté Trinbago 2010: Part 3 – Picton Folk Performing Company (video)
• Sauté Trinbago 2010: Part 4 – The Evening’s Entertainment (video)
• Sauté Trinbago 2010: Part 5 – Oasis Carnival Band Launch 2011 (video)
• Sauté Trinbago 2010: Part 6 – Shurwayne Winchester (video)
View my full Sauté Trinbago 2011 playlist (21 videos)