AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Share Your Strength DATE: 3/31/2009 08:19:00 AM ----- BODY:
All across the country, cities organize tasting benefit events as a way to raise money for local charities. My favorite event is Taste of the Nation which supports Share Our Strength.

Never been to a tasting event? Imagine walking into a conventional hall - upon entry you are given a plate and a wine glass. As you walk down the aisles, your favorite chefs await you with samples of their signature dishes. When you get thirsty, someone appears to fill your wine glass with a vast array of reds, whites or beer. Feeling full? Bust a move on the dance floor in the front of the hall. Donating to charity has never been so delicious or intoxicating!

Taste of the Nation, Boston, will be this Thursday, April 2nd at the Hynes Convention Center. Over 75 restaurants will participate including some of my favorites: Upstairs on the Square, EVOO, La Morra and Hamersely's Bistro. Each restaurant sets up a table and their staff will offer samples. In between tables of restaurants are 50 tables of wineries and breweries. And, of course, Pellegrino (Nestle Waters) will be on hand to refresh us.

The VIP reception starts at 5.30pm (general admission is 6.30). It costs a bit more, but to me it's worth it: you get an hour jump on the crowds to taste the best dishes. And the VIPs get access to special champagne and caviar tastings.

Why do I love this event especially? Share Our Strength is my charity of choice, and I have volunteered in some capacity for the last 15 years. Operation Frontline (their direct service program) recruits chefs to go into their local communities to teach about cooking and nutrition to families in danger of hunger and malnutrition. I taught classes for 10 years, and sat on their advisory board.

I especially value non-profits that mobilize communities. Instead of giving hand-outs (which obviously are a very important part of the process) they teach and empower people to help themselves.

Taste of the Nation events are organized all across the US. Find an event in your area... click here.
----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Heather DATE:3/31/2009 09:34:00 AM WOW, that sounds like an awesome even. i've never done a food tasting, but it's on my list :) ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:3/31/2009 11:05:00 AM Heather -- I believe that the DC Taste of the Nation is at Union Station, and is supposed to be a TON of fun! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Shannon Palmer DATE:3/31/2009 12:40:00 PM Thanks for blogging about Taste! Share Our Strength is such an incredible organization with an amazing cause (ie. fighting to end child hunger). We need more people like you to spread the message. Look forward to seeing you at the event. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:3/31/2009 04:46:00 PM Share Our Strength is my charity of choice, too (well, second to my own, now!). Amazing people involved with it, not just in Boston but all around the country. I'm so grateful to chefs like you for donating time and talent to make programs like Operation Frontline a success. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous noble pig DATE:3/31/2009 08:13:00 PM I love tasting events and so many support great causes! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Emily DATE:4/01/2009 07:16:00 AM Sounds like a great event! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Psychgrad DATE:4/06/2009 09:35:00 PM Sounds like a great cause. Actually, I think going in and teaching people about cooking and nutrition would be really neat. I don't have an expertise to back it up, but I would imagine it to be a very satisfying experience.

I'm also all for walking around a hall, eating great food and drinking. It's time like that where I wish I had an automatic drain so that I could enjoy the taste of the food, never get full and dispose of the calories immediate. Ok...that's probably not the most attractive image.

BTW - I put ramekins and a torch on my wedding registry. I saw the kit and thought...oh - this would be good for Julia's vanilla. ----- --------