Tastemakers Abound

P icture a late summer evening, meandering on manicured paths through a serene, beautifully landscaped wooded setting. A warm summer breeze carries lilting notes of music as you stroll. Savory smells waft around you. Lots of them. Everywhere you wander there’s food. Lots of it. All you have to do is show your wristband and […]

The Taste food festival returns to Lincoln Park Commons

Among the bustling crowd of servers and guests, the Christopher’s Restaurant table will offer vegetarian favorites and their made-from-scratch brownies.

By Paula Johnson

There IS accounting for taste
Picture a late summer evening, meandering on manicured paths through a serene, beautifully landscaped wooded setting. A warm summer breeze carries lilting notes of music as you stroll. Savory smells waft around you. Lots of them. Everywhere you wander there’s food. Lots of it. All you have to do is show your wristband and those tasty morsels are forked over to you, no questions asked. You eat, you wander, you eat, you wander, you eat, and you wonder if you can eat again after all you’ve eaten. I’ve pretty much described to you my perfect evening. You can make this food fantasy your very own reality by attending this year’s The Taste at the Lincoln Park Commons on Thursday, Aug. 30 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.

The crown, hands down
Dayton is teeming with food festivals and events, but The Taste stands out as the king for many reasons: easy, free parking; its held at a spectacular venue; you listen to live music as you stroll and eat; there’s an AMAZING silent auction and raffle items (we’re talking a complete kitchen and a hot air balloon ride to name two); it benefits local business development; there are NO port-a-potties, thank you very much; and there’s no messing with tickets or cash to purchase food from more than forty food vendors. This, my friends, is why I give The Taste the crown.

Ann-Lisa Allen, president of the Kettering-Moraine-Oakwood Chamber of Commerce gave me some history and background of the 32-year-old event that she’s been at the helm of for nearly 17 years. First, I wanted to know who benefits from ticket sales. “The Taste benefits the chamber of commerce and supports local business development with everything we do here at the chamber. When you buy a ticket, you’re helping the community thrive and grow.” And how do you buy a ticket, or wristband in this case? Wristbands are available for $25 in advance at the chamber office (937.299.3852) at 1563 East Dorothy Lane or at etix.com through the Fraze Pavilion website. The price for a wristband at the event is $30. Tickets for children under 10 are only available for $10 at the event. As I mentioned, the wristband is the ticket (well, not literally, but you get the idea).

It’s a date
Allen shared her thoughts on why The Taste is unique. “It’s a great after-hours networking event. It’s a perfect date night and a fantastic way to meet people and find out about new places to eat. We’ve got well-known restaurants and newer ones, caterers, and even a few food truck folks. Our restaurants love us, so we have no trouble attracting them. We provide the booths and all the set-ups including electricity and lighting. We even pay for their health permits. And we provide them with exactly what they are looking for—exposure to their target market: people who love good food, wine, and music—people who dine out, order catering, and buy gift certificates.” And speaking of music, The Chris Bowman Band, the night’s entertainment, is a return act. So grab your honey and dance a bit between bites—the band won’t mind!

Allen told me they’ve got a substantial number of restaurants that have been with The Taste since nearly the beginning. She mentioned that one of the longest associations is with Christopher’s Restaurant & Catering, a perennial Kettering favorite known for its great food. I asked Holly Park from Christopher’s about the event. She says, “It’s such a cool event. It’s crazy how many people we feed and how many are regulars at our restaurant and our catering business. And it’s our chance to shine and show new people what we’re known for. We love seeing folks from our favorite restaurants there too. I love taking a break myself and walking around to taste.” What will Christopher’s be offering this year? “We put together three vegetarian favorites, since there’s quite a lot of meat served up at The Taste. We are starting with a cream cheese and cucumber dill canapé on rye toast and our famous mushroom bisque. We are also doing our ever popular, made-from-scratch, brownies. We always have quite a few folks who come back for seconds on those. And on everything, really,” laughs Park.

I asked another longtime participant, Bill Castro from El Meson, his thoughts. Castro was excited. “We love The Taste at the Fraze! It’s such a wonderful event. The whole community comes out to participate. That social element that combines the best in people surrounded by food and wine—it’s great! We haven’t quite settled on what we will be serving this year, but we do know it will be influenced by our most recent culinary trip to Europe.” So folks, here’s your chance to try some cuisine with a continental flair from one of my all-time favorite Dayton dining spots.

Pastry-palooza
Another longtime Taste favorite is Ashley’s Pastry Shop. Even if you’ve never been to Ashley’s Oakwood shop, chances are you’ve eaten their bread, buns, and rolls at many of Dayton’s leading restaurants including Table 33, Lily’s Bistro, the Oakwood Club, and Mudlick Tap House. My personal fave is the salt sticks at The Pine Club. Theresa Hammons of Ashley’s says, “This is our tenth year! It’s our opportunity as a business to provide a ‘taste’ of what we’re known for to everyone. We’ll be serving samples of our deliciousness! We will certainly be doing Oscar-winner and Oakwood native Allison Janney’s favorite Sand Tarts. There will also be our Glazed Croissants, which have been rated best donuts in Dayton, Fruit Tarts, Éclairs, and Florentine Cookies.” I am not an Oscar-winner, but the Florentine Cookie is MY personal favorite. If you’ve never had one, think chewy, crunchy, delicate lacy disks of pure ambrosia. You want this cookie, trust me. “We are going to do
gift bags with all the samples!” says Hammons. All those cookies? I will most likely be hanging out right in front of Ashley’s vendor tent if anyone is looking for me that night.

Feeling Lucky?
At The Taste, you can go home with a lot more than a full belly. You can also go home with a refrigerator. Allen explains, “We always come up with some of the most amazing silent auction and raffle items, and this year is no different. We’ve got 10 silent auction items and 5 raffle baskets. Our raffle baskets are each valued at over $1000.” We’ve all been to events with fancy baskets that are chock full of stuff you don’t need and can’t use. These are not those baskets.

Here’s a sneak peek at what’s in The Taste baskets:

A hot air balloon experience
Compliments of CircuitPak, this basket provides a romantic and thrilling opportunity to treat yourself to a unique experience. (You might want to wait for a few days after all the food you’ve eaten at The Taste wears off to redeem this so the balloon will actually be able to lift off).

“A Splash Of Color” Basket
What’s that? It’s paint, folks, for your house just in time to spruce it up for fall. You can get creative with paint for a fun fall make-over at your home. This basket is donated by Sherwin Williams in partnership with Lowe’s. Their raffle basket will surely inspire your inner DIY’er.

A Bengals Tailgating Bash Basket
This package includes tickets to the Cincinnati Bengals vs. Oakland Raiders on Dec. 16 at 1:00 p.m. courtesy of Goldshot, Lamb & Hobbs, Inc. This raffle package also includes fun fixings for football tailgating. Food AND football? I’m in!

The Dining Out Basket
Did The Taste leave you wanting more? Gift certificates to local eateries will satisfy your appetite for good food! Take a chance on winning more delicious tastes.

The Kitchen Galore Basket is a raffle worthwhile for any level of chef! This basket will encourage the culinary genius or inspire the cooking novice. Whether you’re a pro or an average Joe in the galley, there’s stuff here you want.

Silence Is Golden
Then there’s the silent auction. Have you ever driven past that rambling white house with an observatory on Stroop Road? That’s Moraine Farm, home to Col. Edward Andrew Deeds, chairman of NCR’s board, who assisted Charles Kettering in inventing the first automobile self-starter. The original home was built in 1912, and was later converted to about a 45,803-square-foot structure that is sort of a hybrid farmhouse and English manor. Col. Deeds projected vacation photographs from the observatory onto the grounds for guests. Its music room has a walnut Steinway piano, said to be one of the largest in the country. One room’s wood paneling, furniture, and fittings all come from Deeds’ yacht. These are some cool things you can see and learn about when you and five friends get your own private tour with a local historian AND a dinner for your group at a local restaurant.

Are you more of a gambler than a house tour type? The Taste has you covered. How about an overnight stay for four at Rising Star Casino Resort in Indiana? You can try your luck, and try your golf game after breakfast, all included.

If you’re the type of person who prefers not leaving the house, there’s an auction item with your name on it. How about a mobile home theater event? I asked Allen to explain. “This is so much fun! Audio Etc… will provide a giant trailer with a state of the art surround sound movie experience. They bring it right to your driveway. There are these big cushy seats that actually move along with the movie!” And, what movie night is complete without food? Far Hills Catering provides everything you need to round out this sensational cinematic and gustatory soiree.

Then there’s basically a whole new kitchen. Lowe’s is donating kitchen appliances from their Black Stainless line, including a stove, refrigerator, microwave, and dishwasher. As if that’s not enough, this INCLUDES delivery and installation! Shut up and take my bid!

Thinking Inside The Box
Now, here’s a pro tip for those of you who’ve never Tasted. Bring a box, a shallow one to accommodate all the plates of food you get from each vendor you visit. Think of cigarette girls in old movies—if you’ve got one of those with a strap you’re really in business. I’ve seen and envied folks who had them in years past. You can also strategize with friends to each pick a line and get food for all, meeting up at a designated point for a sit down meal. Or you can take the taste and stroll approach. You’ll get full and happy either way!

I hated to mention it, but we live in southwestern Ohio so the question is obligatory. What about weather? “We are a rain or shine event. If it does rain, remember the Fraze doesn’t allow umbrellas. We have been extraordinarily lucky in the past, and no matter what happens, we will be putting on the best food event of the year!” says Allen. I couldn’t agree more.

The Taste takes place Thursday, Aug. 30 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Lincoln Park Commons, 695 Lincoln Park Blvd., Kettering. Wristbands for the event are $25 in advance, or for $30 at the event and can be purchased at the Kettering-Moraine-Oakwood Chamber of Commerce or through the Fraze Pavilion website via etix.com. Tickets for children are only available at the event for $10.

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Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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