The Importance of Taste of the Nation
On Tuesday, April 29, Share Our Strength will present Taste of the Nation Boston, one of the organization’s main events to raise money in support of the fight to end childhood hunger.
Each Taste of the Nation event—there are 35 held annually from coast to coast—takes about a year to plan. The 2013 Boston event raised more than $95,000, both through ticket sales and an exclusive auction, which is in the works again for this year’s event.
Siblings Billy and Debbie Shore started share Our Strength in 1984. The Taste of the Nation events began 26 years ago, and are held in five major markets—Boston, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.—as well as additional locales throughout the country. To date, more than $1.5 million has been raised, involving the participation of hundreds and hundreds of chefs.
At Taste of the Nation events, each participating restaurant brings one signature item, with enough tastes to feed 500. This year in Boston, for example, Chef Jody Adams’s Rialto restaurant is bringing lamb meatballs served with garlic yogurt, while her restaurant TRADE is offering fried oyster with tomato, pepper, and okra stew.
The participating restaurants cover everything from top to bottom—all of the staff, the food, the transportation, and the supplies. “I don’t think people realize just how much of a donation it is on the restaurant’s end,” says Emily Ryan, New England regional senior manager, Share Our Strength. “We really want to acknowledge how much they do.”
The participating chefs welcome the opportunity to give back to their community. “I believe that those of use who have the good fortune of not wanting for anything have the responsibility to help those who don’t,” says Chef Adams. “In my arena, that’s through food.”
This year’s Boston event, held at the Cruiseport’s Black Falcon Cruise Terminal, features honorary chefs Adams of Rialto and TRADE; Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery; Gordon Hamersley of Hamersley’s Bistro; Andy Husbands of Tremont 647 and Sister Sorel;and Tony Maws of Craigie on Mainand Kirkland Tap and Trotter. Also taking part are an additional 60 of Bean Town’s top chefs, to provide food and beverages for the expected crowd of 800.
“I’ve been supporting Share Our Strength for 25 years,” Chef Adams says. “They were one of the first organizations to actively work with restaurants in a really dynamic way; instead of just asking for something, they work with restaurants in partnership. I really appreciate it. I really love the work they do.”
It’s also a great night among restaurant peers, Adams adds. “It feels like a community gathering. We see our friends who work in other restaurants, and it’s a celebration of the important work that Share Our Strength is doing.”
Taste of the Nation relies on regional staff in satellite offices, such as Ryan in New England, along with some staff and a host of volunteers. In smaller markets such as Maine and New Hampshire, local committees made up of volunteers take on a larger role, while in the major markets there are full-time staff.
“We are so lucky to have the chefs in this market—all I have to do is say ‘Taste of the Nation,’ and they will do anything,” Ryan says.
By Joann Whitcher