Sunday, April 20, 2014
(Continued from page 1)
The 2013 Taste of the Nation Maine Chef Committee, from left: Larry Matthews, Back Bay Grill; Lee Skawinski, Vignola Cinque Terre; Sam Hayward, Fore Street; Steve Corry, Petite Jacquline and Five Fifty-Five; Jeff Landry, The Farmer's Table
Ted Axelrod Photography
SHARE OUR STRENGTH MAINE TASTE OF THE NATION DINNER
WHEN: June 23. VIP guests 3 to 8 p.m.; general admission 4:30 to 8 p.m.
WHERE: Wolfe’s Neck Farm, 184 Burnett Road, Freeport
HOW MUCH: General admission $125; VIP tickets $200
For a complete list of participating restaurants, go to ce.strength.org/portlandme .
CVC Catering Group is handling the VIP reception this year. Owner Nancy Cerny says the historic barn at Wolfe’s Neck Farm is being transformed for the event. The barn will be decorated with an antique truck filled with hay, 6-foot-tall distressed fork, knife and spoon, and three crystal chandeliers.
VIP guests will be served four passed appetizers, and there will be two appetizer stations and one chef ’s station. Passed apps will include Seared Duck Breast with Fresh Cherry BBQ and Paniola-Style Lamb Lollipops. At the chef ’s station there will be Seared Local Scallops with Bacon Brittle.
Executive chef Katie Pierce worked with sommelier Amy Propheter to pair each “course” with specialty cocktails. The scallops, for example, will be served with a cocktail of apple puree and bourbon.
When it’s time for the main event, VIP guests will be transported a mile and a half via custom coach.
The main dinner will be held on the farm’s wedding field. Guests will be greeted upon arrival by a representative of Bill Dodge. A couple of years ago, the auto dealer donated a BMW for the auction that follows the dinner. This year, it is offering valet service for every guest and all of the chefs.
The silent and live auctions typically include culinary-related items, and this year several Portland restaurants are participating.
David’s is donating a nine-course tasting menu with wine pairings for 10 people at its Monument Square location. The Salt Exchange is donating a five-course dinner for up to eight people prepared by the chef at the guest’s home. Zapoteca is donating a four-course dinner for 10 people in the winning guest’s home.
Woods has also asked local furniture makers to fill cabanas with examples of their work. The cabanas will be used as private seating, but then all of the furniture will be sold at the auction. Among the furniture makers participating are Thos. Moser and Pierce Furniture.
Woods expects Taste of the Nation to become a $250,000 event in the next few years. Despite its success, he has frustrations, particularly when it comes to bringing more people under the tent.
“I’m not blaming the hospitals, but where’s Mercy and where’s Maine Medical?” Woods said. “They’re not involved in Taste of the Nation, and they should be. This is a health issue. Where are the law firms? We have more lawyers per capita than any city in the country, yet we don’t have a single law firm that is supporting the work that we do.
“Where are the financial institutions? Where’s Wall Street? Why are they not supporting this and bringing their private client groups to events like this?”
Woods takes some of the blame, saying the all-volunteer group needs to get better at reaching out to such institutions and engaging them.
“Our expectation,” he said, “is that this event will continue to grow, along with our other programs, so that we can now fund in a meaningful way programs that will really cut into this issue of child hunger.”