Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with former reality TV star and rising entrepreneurial star, Steuart Martens to talk about his latest commercial endeavor, the revamped and soon to be relaunched, Taste of DC. Many of you in the DC area might remember ToDC from years past, but also wonder what's happened to it in recent years. The short answer is that after being a long-standing starred event on the DC social calendar, the event fell under hard times and crumbling financial/sponsor support. With his keen eye for a good deal and coupled with his business acumen, Martens purchased the rights to the event and over the last several months, has worked tirelessly to redesign, rebrand and relaunch this once popular DC event.
Below is an excerpt from a fun and informal Q&A I had with Steuart, leading up to this three-day event, being held this Columbus Day weekend in Downtown DC.
"Ok, Steuart I've had an opportunity to read a lot of the media coverage you've gotten over these last few days leading up to ToDC and I'm sure you must be happy with the coverage that this event has received. In light of all the other interviews that we've done, I thought we'd change the format for this one and do a "lightning round" of sorts. In other words, I'll give you a question and you give me a one word response. It will be a literal, 20 questions. Ready?"
1. What was the reason for bringing this back?
2. Why now?
3. Biggest obstacle during the process?
4. Biggest reward up to this point?
5. Part you're most excited about, for yourself, this weekend?
6. Part you think others will enjoy the most?
7. Culinary vendor you think will surprise and delight the most people?
8. How many restaurants?
9. Anyplace for kids?
10. Place/entity you wanted included but somehow didn't make the cut this year?
11. Ever consider expanding this?
12. Really? Where and when? Ok, you're right you can't answer three questions with one word. Rephrase. Where would you consider expanding?
[Martens laughing said, "You realize how hard this is to limit my questions to one word answers, and actually give you an answer of substance, while not sounding like a smart alec in the process! This is tough. I love it! Keep going."]
13. What would the timeline be for that expansion?
14. Is this event geared more towards the foodie, the casual DC resident or the accidental tourist?
15. Love the diversity of your sponsorship portfolio, which one has been the most enjoyable to work with?
16. I see that you have Joey Chestnut headlining a chili eating contest, is this going to be DC's version of the Nathan's hotdog eating contest?
17. Are there any Black Widow's we should know about?
18. What's the best way for DC area residents and visitors this weekend to buy advanced tickets for this event?
[Note: all the information relative to the location, time, musical acts, food vendors, wine tasting, kids activities and more can be found by clicking on the link to their website www.thetasteofdc.org]
19. Ok, on that, given the street closures and area of DC, where the event is being held, what's the best mode of transportation?
20. Last one question Steuart, curveball, lightening round, one word... Trump, Oprah or Martens. Who will your grandkids be reading about in 40 years as being a pillar of the American 21st century business landscape?