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The foodie behind the 'Taste of Atlanta'

11:33 PM, Oct 24, 2013   |    comments
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A year's worth of work goes into the annual Taste of Atlanta festival where success is defined by everyone eating, except for one person.

"I'm a nervous wreck. I don't eat," explains Dale Gordon DeSena, the founder of Taste of Atlanta. "It's like going to your wedding. Did you eat at your wedding? No."

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To set up for nearly 100 restaurants in Midtown at Tech Square, From scaffolding, to police detail, handicap accessible ramps and fire extinguishers, just in case, Dale's team has a massive 'to do' list for the 12th annual event that includes a bartender's competition, cooking seminars and a special section for kids. 

Of course, then there are the nearly 100 chefs who make the annual event possible.

"Like musicians, we're dealing with egos," she said with a smile.

DeSena is very familiar with working with top musicians. Before coming up with the concept for Taste of Atlanta 13 years ago, she worked on Music Midtown, Atlanta's Jazz Festival and the Dogwood Festival as well. After years of helping to create some of Atlanta's most popular events, she was spent.

"I was 40 years old, I wasn't married, I wasn't even really dating anyone, oh my god, I have to get off this path," she explained.

While on that new path, she met her now husband, adopted a son, and Taste of Atlanta was born.

"I love to eat out and I figured so many other people like to do it too. So in a way, I was like how can I create a festival for myself and my friends," DeSena explained.

In the first year, five thousand 'friends' turned out. Now, an estimated 45,000 people show up to savor all of the tastes of Atlanta's dining scene and mix and mingle with top chefs from Atlanta's Kevin Rathbun to Emeril Lagasse.

"We're not just shrimp and grits, we're not just fried chicken and mac and cheese," DeSena explained.

And then there are the tastes you won't find at the festival.

"'Taste of' festivals today are funnel cakes and cotton candy. We don't have any of that," she explained.

Despite being the founder of an event billed as Atlanta's premier food, wine, beer and cocktail festival, this Savannah-native's own palette is as casual as it gets.

"I'm just simple, a cold beer, some blue crabs. I'm good."

The festival kicks off with a party Friday night. General tickets to the festival on Saturday and Sunday are $30 in advance and $40 at the door. VIP tickets are $75 each day.

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