Taste of Gwinnett: A Cause, An Idea and A Whole Lot of Passion!
There are Tastes ofs and there are Taste ofs and I’ve been to a bunch. However, Taste of Gwinnett is something extra special.
- Not just because it’s a fund raiser for Relay For Life, a nonprofit that supports cancer research
- Not just because it highlights some of the best of Gwinnett County’s restaurants and caterers
- Not just because you can enjoy the music of the Gwinnett Symphony Jazz Orchestra
- Not just because you don’t have to miss one of the most anticipated college football games UGA vs Auburn – two projectors will have live streams of the game
Taste of Gwinnett aka TOG is extra special because of the imagination, commitment and passion of a group of talented high school students from Gwinnett County, GA who wanted to give back. Yup, you read that right – high school students!
The vision for TOG began with Sunil Reddy, a high school senior, with the tenacity to turn a dream into a reality. #Inspiration
This is not a little bake sale, although there will be pie 😉 Oh no! There will be at least forty restaurants and caterers participating at one of the county’s largest venues –Infinite Energy Center.
I am personally excited my pals from Divalicious Crave Pie Studio are participating. Without a doubt this is an event you don’t want to miss!
We’re ecstatic to have Crave Pie Studio on board! Come to the Taste of Gwinnett on November 10th to try a wide variety of their artisan pies! #atlanta #food #relayforlife #pie
Posted by Taste of Gwinnett on Wednesday, October 10, 2018
Recently I had the opportunity to chat with two amazing members of the TOG team – Sunil Reddy and Gideon Tesfaye. They kindly agreed to tell us some of the back-story of Taste of Gwinnett.
About Sunil Reddy By Sunil Reddy:
I am a high school senior at the Gwinnett School of Mathematics Science and Technology. I love binge-watching Netflix, networking, keeping up with politics, coding video games in Unity, and passing time with friends.
About Gideon Tesfaye By Gideon Tesfaye:
I am a high school senior currently doing Dual Enrollment at Georgia State University. During my free time I enjoying working out, reading books, and working on my business.
Diva Foodies: There are many Taste of events happening around Georgia. What makes Taste of Gwinnett extra special?
Sunil Reddy and Gideon Tesfaye, Taste of Gwinnett: We’re homemade and caring and young, and we have a great story. After the cancellation of the 2017 Relay for Life of Gwinnett, the biggest Relay for Life event in the entire world, we wanted to do something. Every team member has been touched my cancer somehow: from a close friend to a relative, we all care about the cause.
We had the idea for the Taste of Gwinnett because we’ve grown up around city tastings, such as Taste of Norcross or Taste of Suwanee. There was no county-wide event, so we took the idea and ran.
With all the progress we’ve made since conception, sponsors and restaurants are surprised to find out that we aren’t just student volunteers—we run the show.
Diva Foodies: Please explain how Taste the Charity Inc. fits into the Taste of Gwinnett picture.
Sunil Reddy, Taste of Gwinnett: I founded Taste The Charity Inc. in June of 2017 because I needed an organization to run under to start planning the Taste of Gwinnett. I learned that I needed to register a nonprofit to be able to open a business checking account, so after a little research, Taste the Charity Inc. was born.
Diva Foodies: What was your biggest surprise in putting together Taste of Gwinnett?
Sunil Reddy and Gideon Tesfaye, Taste of Gwinnett: How much work event planning is. I was in my school’s student council, but dances and food drives do not compare to county-wide events. Schools get leeway on so many regulations that we don’t have, and at the beginning, we learned that the hard way.
Diva Foodies: Coordinating a Taste of food event, with over 40 participating restaurants, is a major undertaking. What is your “Super Power” helping you making this happen? Why is it important for the success of Taste of Gwinnett?
Sunil Reddy, Taste of Gwinnett: For me, I’m just really determined. I took the idea for TOG, ran with it, and didn’t look back. There were so, so many times when I thought the event wasn’t going to pull through, but after meeting the right people, we finally got on track. Looking back at it now, it’s crazy how far we’ve progressed.
As a team, specialization is our superpower for sure. Everyone’s on the team for a reason. Gideon runs 3 successful online businesses, and is an expert at marketing. Ryan is a professional designer that gets hired by politicians for logos and websites. Daniela is the most organized human on this earth, and keeps us all on top of our jobs. Along with genuine passion for what we’re doing, each member contributes to the success of Taste of Gwinnett.
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Need Saturday night plans? Come to the annual Taste of Gwinnett event on November 10, 2018! Experience Italy with Luciano’s, along with other cultures at the Infinite Energy Center from 5:30-9:30 pm. All proceeds go towards Relay for Life. #atl #gwinnettcounty #relayforlife #fightcancer #italian #food
Gideon Tesfaye, Taste of Gwinnett: One of the biggest factors that has led to the success of TOG is that we are high schoolers putting on this event. During the majority of our meetings, our supporters were genuinely shocked that a group of seniors were the backbone behind this event. Because of that, everyone we met with really wanted to get involved and help us succeed.
Diva Foodies: It sounds you are both saying the Super Powers behind Taste of Gwinnett are the talents and skills of the entire team!
Diva Foodies: With that in mind, Sunil, Taste of Gwinnett might have begun as your vision but when you put together a team that vision is shared and often even changed. I understand there are 8 students working on this program. How do you keep the team focused and motivated?
Sunil Reddy, Taste of Gwinnett: We have weekly debriefing meetings. I took what I learned from leadership seminars and applied them to my company. Every week, not only do we discuss progress, but we also make weekly goals.
These weekly goals give us a new target each week, and they help keep the team motivated and focused.
Diva Foodies: Gideon, your role in Taste of Gwinnett is marketing a new event. What creative tactics are you using to get the word out? Which one has been the most successful and why?
Gideon Tesfaye, Taste of Gwinnett: Taste of Gwinnett has partnered with Mundo Hispanico, Telemundo, and WOWNOW (Georgia’s #1 South Asian Information Source). They will be advertising for us through their platforms and helping us reach a new demographic of people.
About a 2 weeks before the event I am also going to launch a series of Facebook advertisements for Taste of Gwinnett. I will be split testing the advertisements’ content and changing the marketing objectives so that I can see which advertisement has the most conversions of tickets sold and draws the most amount of people. Once this is found, I will use the majority of the marketing budget to scale the ads.
Taste of Gwinnett has also partnered with some Gwinnett County Public Schools to sell our tickets at school.
We also have been putting flyers and signs all over Gwinnett County, and each of our participating restaurants has a sign inside of their store.
Diva Foodies: It sounds as though the heart of your strategy is what marketers like to call… relationship marketing. Smart approach especially in a business e.g. Food that is driven by relationships.
Diva Foodies: Diva Foodies’ tradition is you get the last word. Wrap it up anyway you’d like.
Sunil Reddy, Taste of Gwinnett: We may be high schoolers, but we’ve grown into business professionals.
We have a great event in store for anyone who wants to believe in us.
Come out to the Taste of Gwinnett this November and support the fight against cancer!
Gideon Tesfaye, Taste of Gwinnett:
Everyone Loves Food and Everyone Hates Cancer.
Come knock out two birds with one stone at the Taste of Gwinnett.
Connect With Taste of Gwinnett!
Website | Facebook | Instagram
Details: Date: 11/10/18 Time: 5:30p – 9:30p Venue: Infinite Energy Center 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway Duluth, GA 30097 + Google Map
Remember that food ticket sales are LIVE on our website! Go to https://www.tasteofgwinnett.org/tickets to get your…
Posted by Taste of Gwinnett on Wednesday, October 17, 2018
October 19, 2018
Wow! Delicious on every level. Great interview, great cause and amazing looking food.
November 21, 2018
B.L. – thanks for your kind words! These kids are amazing – dedicated, smart, organized and passionate. As a follow-up the event was every bit as fabulous as any “Taste of” that I’ve attended. From informal chats with attendees and food vendors everyone was beyond satisfied with their experiences and looking forward to Taste of Gwinnett 2019!