Saturday, May 25, 2013
Nothing brings Maine's top chefs together like a good cause, and this summer is no exception as chefs from the state's best restaurants gather on Great Diamond Island to fight childhood hunger.
A TASTE OF TASTE
HERE ARE SOME of the dishes that will be served at Taste of the Nation on Sunday:
El Camino in Brunswick: Chochoyotes con rellenos negro
The Farmer’s Table: Pork belly confit, preserved orange gastrique, bitter greens
Zapoteca: Corn masa sope topped with Pineland Farms filet of beef aromatic
Francine Bistro, Camden: Curry fries,shallot gravy, local cheese curd and fois gras snow
Five Fifty-Five, Portland: Lobster mac and cheese
IN ADDITION, four chefs who are instructors in Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters program, which teaches low-income families how to prepare delicious food from everyday, lower-cost items in the supermarket, will be provoding a dish for the Taste of the Nation event. Matt Brown of Browne Trading in Portland, James Tranchemontagne of the Frog and Turtle in Westbrook, and Brian and Shanna O’Hea from the Kennebunkport Inn will prepare a Korean BBQ dish, Ssambap, or marinated chicken in lettuce wraps.
The 7th Annual Taste of the Nation benefit will be held this Sunday from 3:45 to 8 p.m. at the Diamond's Edge Restaurant, where fabulous food will be served by such well-known Portland chefs as Sam Hayward of Fore Street, Larry Matthews of Back Bay Grill and Krista Kern Desjarlais of Bresca, and Richard Hanson of Cleonice in Ellsworth.
Steve Corry, chef/owner of Five Fifty-Five in Portland, will be bringing his signature truffled lobster mac and cheese.
Brian Hill, chef/owner of Francine Bistro in Camden and Shepherd's Pie in Rockport, will be making what sounds like a gourmet version of poutine, a dish of curry fries with shallot gravy, local cheese curd and foie gras snow.
The VIP tickets, which include an early reception, have already sold out, but there are still general admission tickets available for $125 each at ce.strength.org/portlandme.
General admission ticket holders will take a chartered ferry from the Casco Bay Lines terminal at 3:45 p.m. and return after the event ends at 8 p.m. by any of the ferries headed back to Portland. There's a ferry scheduled for 7:50 p.m., but guests who'd like to linger at the restaurant can catch the 9:15 p.m. or 10:45 p.m. ferry home.
Nearly one in four Maine children don't know where or when they'll get their next meal. Last year's Taste of the Nation event, organized by the state chapter of Share Our Strength, raised $103,000 to fight childhood hunger. This year, organizers are hoping to top that and reach $125,000.
This year's beneficiaries will be Opportunity Alliance, the Good Shepherd Food Bank, Cultivating Community and the Preble Street Teen Center.
The Prentice family, owners of the Diamond's Edge, and the restaurant's executive chef Justin Rowe are hosting the event. The fundraiser was last held on the island four years ago. Since then, it's been held twice at Southern Maine Community College and once on Cow Island.
"The venue changes partly because of the availability of the venue and partly because I just like to keep things different and fresh," said John Woods, Maine chairman for Share Our Strength. "The idea of doing it on the island is not daunting to me. There are extra things we definitely have to do, but just put it on the list and we'll knock it out. We have a really good (organizing) committee this year. I really think if we put anything in front of them, they would figure out how to do it."
Each year the event is held, Woods and the organizing committee seem to find new ways to create efficiencies and lure in more sponsors so that more of the proceeds actually go to the cause and not expenses. (Those expenses do not include food-related costs. The chefs volunteer their time and donate the food.)
Last year, the group spent $20,000 on costs related to the event; this year, that's expected to be cut by more than half.
This year, for example, the Maine event is borrowing an idea from the Atlanta Taste of the Nation event that has resulted in each invidivual chef being sponsored by a local business, from a law firm to a dental practice or printing company, to the tune of $1,000.
"What it really is asking the chefs to do is to find people in their network and ask them to introduce our work and the issue of childhood hunger to the people who are important to them -- their financial people, their vendors, their farmers, their suppliers," Woods said. "And they just simply have conversations and invite them in the form of a sponsorship."
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