Taste this!

Annual foodie festival leaves a good Taste on your palate

By Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin

Photo: Participating restaurants include Arepas & Company, Ashley’s Pastry Shop, Brio, Butter Café, Christopher’s Restaurant and Catering, Dixie Dairy Dreem, Figlio Wood Fired Pizza, Sweet P’s Handcrafted Ice Pops and Young’s Jersey Dairy

Thursday, Aug. 28, at Fraze Pavilion the Kettering Moraine Oakwood (KMO) Chamber of Commerce will proudly present the 26th annual The Taste, an evening of sampling from area restaurants and networking with professionals, sponsored by P & R Communications.
Come sample from dozens of local eateries, enjoy live music and participate in the silent auction.
“It draws a business-professional crowd,” said Ann-Lisa Rucker, KMO Chamber’s executive director. “It’s the after-5 crowd. It has a networking feel to it.”
Numerous area restaurants will be showcasing their finest fare, some that are classic Dayton staples, and others that are new favorites. Among them are Arepas & Company, Ashley’s Pastry Shop, Brio, Butter Café, Christopher’s Restaurant and Catering, Dixie Dairy Dreem, Figlio Wood Fired Pizza, Lindy & Company, Sweet P’s Handcrafted Ice Pops and Young’s Jersey Dairy.
“It’s a great kickoff to the Labor Day weekend,” Theresa Hammons, owner of Ashley’s Pastry Shop in Oakwood, said. “It’s a really great community-feel event. We have a lot of customers of ours that come each and every year, as well as many new faces we see, so it’s a great opportunity for us to promote our business. Food is something people always talk about, good, bad or indifferent, and when you can get in front of that many people that are there all to enjoy a great dining experience, it really gives you the opportunity to put a great name for your business or organization in front of a lot of different faces.”
While at most similar events you would pay for each sample, at The Taste you purchase a wristband – $25 in advance or $30 the day of the event – and can enjoy samples from every participant for the entire evening.
Music for the evening will be provided by Chris Bowman, the musician behind the themes for The Early Show and WYSO Weekend.
“He performs all evening long,” Rucker said. “He comes out and does an incredible job. You’re hitting all five senses that evening. The music’s great, and it’s kind of like an extra complement to the food and what the restaurants are doing.”
There will also be a silent auction that will be boasting some items unavailable through any other channel.
“We do have some really exclusive silent auction items,” Rucker explained. “[For example,] a personal tour of Moraine Farm for six. [The public] can’t go into Moraine Farm, and this is a guided tour. It’s pretty cool. We do Ohio State tickets. There’s a party bus with bar crawl gift certificates. So, there are all kinds of really cool things going on.”

Morsels from the purveyors
At the heart of The Taste is the food, and behind every bite are the good people of Dayton’s diverse cuisine community.
“This is our fourth year doing this event,” Amy Beaver, owner of Butter Café on Brown Street, said. “We love the location and all of the new people we meet at the event.”
The Taste offers a chance for restaurateurs to interact both with the public and one another.
“We enter as a way to promote and be a part of the true restaurant community in the city,” Elliott Harrell of Christopher’s Restaurant and Catering in Kettering, said.
Part of what keeps vendors returning year after year is the stellar production on the part of the KMO Chamber.
“The Kettering Moraine Oakwood Chamber, it puts on such a great event, and they publicize it greatly,” said Hammons, who has been in business for 32 years in a building that has been a bakery for 90 years. “They make it a really easy event for a food business like myself to participate in. Yes, there’s the hard part – I’ve got to produce the items and I have to have the staff there, but they’re going to make sure my tent is set up, my tables are there. They’ve got great staff that’s always walking around to see what they can do to make things go smooth for us, so that’s always nice.”
The event also provides the opportunity for newer businesses to present their product to a rapt audience.
“The Taste has been a great way to introduce our ice pops to the community and continues to be a good form of advertising for us,” said Pam Bertke, owner of Sweet P’s Handcrafted Ice Pops located in Cross Pointe Shopping Center in Centerville. “The Fraze is such a wonderful venue, and Sweet P’s enjoys any opportunity to participate in events held there.”
But not all of the treats are for humans!
“I met Ann-Lisa from the Chamber last year and she felt the exposure from The Taste would be good for [our company],” said Tena Mitchell, Sales Director of Lindy & Company, a non-profit that, together with Daybreak and the help of homeless youth, makes healthy, delicious pet treats. “She couldn’t have been more correct! It was a wonderful event and we met so many great people. We gave out over 2,500 samples to interested community attendees. This was a huge support to us in being able to get out our message and product to the community. We are very excited and are looking forward to an even bigger turnout this year!”
The companies that have participated in The Taste have found the event offers not only great exposure, but also the opportunity for their staff to learn from other established businesses.
“We have participated in The Taste for several years now,” Ron Enderle, owner of Dixie Dairy Dreem in Moraine, said. “As usual, the reason for doing most things in business is to grow the business. The Taste allows exposure to local people that might not know of us. It allows us to present some of our products, some literature and show our smiling faces. Also, it exposes my staff to the products and professionalism of other restaurants or caterers. Often, this type of thing is very new to them. All in all, it has brought in new customers, formed some network connections with other restaurants, and helped as a training aid for my staff.”
Peter Danis, Dayton native and owner of Figlio Wood Fired Pizza in the Town and Country Shopping Center, outlined what he sees as the three most positive aspects of The Taste.
“I would say there are three things that draw us to this event every year,” Danis said. “The first is it really feels like a community event. Food is the great equalizer. When you have lots of different restaurants in Kettering and you basically promote it to the residents of Kettering, it’s obvious you’re seeing neighbors who bump into each other. … It’s like you never know who you’re going to see, but you know it’s going to be people from your own community. So, there’s that real deep and sincere community sense that’s pervasive at The Taste.
“Secondly, it’s fun for our staff, especially our chef,” Danis continued. “What’s really cool about this event is it’s very intimate, and the back of house, our chef, assistants, etc., they get to interact with our customers who often times are the people who are aware of our restaurant, that come up and get a sample of whatever we’re serving that year, and the guests have a chance to talk directly with a couple of folks they don’t interact with much. The average person only interacts with a server, possibly a bartender or manager, but they rarely interact with the chef or one of the cooks from the cook line. So, it becomes something our staff looks forward to, especially our cooking staff.

“The third reason we keep doing this year after year, it’s really for a chance to introduce new people to our restaurant,” Danis said. “We’ve been in Kettering now for 10 years, and there’s a whole lot of people that have never been to our restaurant, don’t know where we are, know nothing about us, so it’s been a great way of exposing our restaurant to new people. In this business, you always have to be out there. You always have to be discovered, and so it gives us a chance to be discovered again.

“There really is wonderful leadership in Dayton in certain areas, and food and organizing events around food is one of those strengths,” Danis said.

When it gets down to it, The Taste is about fun and food in a community that revels in an abundance of both.

We love doing this event because it’s so much fun!” Ally Bretz, event coordinator at Brio Tuscan Grille at The Greene said. “People are always so excited to try our food! We see a lot of our regulars as well as new faces. It’s a great way to get our name out in the community!”

Strategic advice from a seasoned professional

Now that you’ve made the decision to attend and penned The Taste into your day planner, you’ll need a plan of action. When facing down all of the options, you’ll want a strategy.

“I think it’ll create a dilemma,” said Dan Young, CEO of Young’s Jersey Dairy, which has traditionally brought their renowned ice cream, but this year will be adding their wildly popular hand-breaded deep-fried bean curd. “I think a lot of customers will have to go to us twice because usually they walk by and see the ice cream and say, ‘Ooh, I’ll be back.’ And that is true. Normally we’re not all that busy at the beginning, but the last couple of hours everybody shows up to kind of top off the evening with some ice cream. If I were planning, I would go from tasty, savory kind of things and end up with sweet kind of things.”

Young’s Jersey Dairy, which has been retailing for more than 60 years from a farm that was founded in 1869, has been involved with The Taste for years.

“It’s a pretty inexpensive way to go for entertainment, as well as get something to eat,” said Young. “You could go try out some restaurants, maybe ones you’ve driven by for years and just never stopped in. And I see a lot of people just chatting with their neighbors and folks they don’t see all that often.”

But Young does offer this warning about their deep-fried bean curd: “I will tell you they are semi-addictive. It’s our number two side now, after fries. It’s amazing. It’s keeping our cows employed.”

Food, music, a silent auction, networking and keeping local bovine quadrupeds gainfully employed. An evening not to be missed.

The Taste will take place Thursday, Aug. 28  from 5-9 p.m. at Fraze Pavilion, 695 Lincoln Park Blvd. in Kettering. Adult tickets are $25 in advance and $30 the day of the event. Children under 10 are $10 at the door. For more information or to buy tickets, please visit fraze.com/the-taste.

Reach DCP freelance writer Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin at JenniferHanauerLumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com. To read more from Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin, visit her website at jennerlumpkin.com.

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About Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin

View all posts by Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin
Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin is a writer and amateur cartographer living in Dayton, Ohio. She has been a member of PUSH (Professionals United for Sexual Health) since 2012 and is currently serving as Chair. She can be reached at JenniferHanauerLumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com or through her website at jennerlumpkin.com.

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