A ‘Taste’ of success: A crowd of 450 diners gives fundraiser five-star praise

If the 450 diners at the Fifth Annual A Taste of Columbus fundraiser could have turned into restaurant critics, they might have gushed their way through a five-star review of the fare from 27 eateries and related businesses. From appetizers to entrees to desserts, attendees found the smorgasbord sampling to be nothing short of delectable at The Commons in downtown Columbus. And they mentioned two dishes repeatedly as the ones that made their taste buds go crazy. One was The Savory Swine’s chicken cordon bleu casserole. Tasters couldn’t quite explain it the way a chef might. But they knew what they liked. “The cheese and the proteins are mixed in so nicely,” said Nick Jones, who added that he planned to stop in to the Washington Street establishment for the specialty or other offerings. The second most-mentioned item in merely casual chats with diners was The Garage Pub and Grill’s new hot goat cheese artichoke dip. It was so popular, in fact, that attendees were scurrying servings to restaurant workers at other booths so they could enjoy it while they were working. Some who tried it even mentioned that they didn’t usually even like dips. Chef Troy Gates smiled graciously as he continued ladling it out to one person after another so even more could flip over his dip. “It’s my own recipe,” Gates said. The recipe for Taste, coordinated by the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, is simple: Cook up a way for a mix of restaurants, cafes, caterers and others to share their newest menu creations under one roof to later attract new and old customers alike to their specialties at their locales. And use the booth and tickets proceeds to help fund an entire range of chamber programs. So what’s not to like amid such gastronomical goodness? Amy Allen rated the event and progressive-style dinner as “the best $20 ticket around.” Sure, she loved the fact that it was popular enough to be fairly crowded especially during the first 90 minutes. But she also liked that there was “room to breathe,” as she put it. Husband Chris Allen specially love The Savory Swine’s items, including the aforementioned “super creamy” chicken cordon bleu casserole, to say nothing of the chicken enchilada. “This is good to support the local area, and just to see what everyone has to offer,” he said. Cindy Frey, Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce president, said she was pleased with the turnout, with about 75 percent or more of tickets being sold before Thursday. “I think we’ve done about as good a business as we did last year,” Frey said, calling the event another success. A number of attendees mentioned that this marked a first visit to A Taste of Columbus, and that they would return next year. It was the same for Kim Knapp, who was manning a vendor booth as owner of Tropical Smoothie. She and her staff sold out of their chipotle chicken flatbread about two hours into the gathering. And the acai berry-boost smoothies and the kiwi quencher were hitting the spot. “We have seen a lot of people here today who say they never have been to Tropical Smoothie,” Knapp said. “So we’re trying to make some converts.”

If the 450 diners at the Fifth Annual A Taste of Columbus fundraiser could have turned into restaurant critics, they might have gushed their way through a five-star review of the fare from 27 eateries and related businesses.

From appetizers to entrees to desserts, attendees found the smorgasbord sampling to be nothing short of delectable at The Commons in downtown Columbus.

And they mentioned two dishes repeatedly as the ones that made their taste buds go crazy. One was The Savory Swine’s chicken cordon bleu casserole.

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Tasters couldn’t quite explain it the way a chef might. But they knew what they liked.

“The cheese and the proteins are mixed in so nicely,” said Nick Jones, who added that he planned to stop in to the Washington Street establishment for the specialty or other offerings.

The second most-mentioned item in merely casual chats with diners was The Garage Pub and Grill’s new hot goat cheese artichoke dip. It was so popular, in fact, that attendees were scurrying servings to restaurant workers at other booths so they could enjoy it while they were working.

Some who tried it even mentioned that they didn’t usually even like dips. Chef Troy Gates smiled graciously as he continued ladling it out to one person after another so even more could flip over his dip.

“It’s my own recipe,” Gates said.

The recipe for Taste, coordinated by the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, is simple: Cook up a way for a mix of restaurants, cafes, caterers and others to share their newest menu creations under one roof to later attract new and old customers alike to their specialties at their locales. And use the booth and tickets proceeds to help fund an entire range of chamber programs.

So what’s not to like amid such gastronomical goodness?

Amy Allen rated the event and progressive-style dinner as “the best $20 ticket around.” Sure, she loved the fact that it was popular enough to be fairly crowded especially during the first 90 minutes. But she also liked that there was “room to breathe,” as she put it.

Husband Chris Allen specially love The Savory Swine’s items, including the aforementioned “super creamy” chicken cordon bleu casserole, to say nothing of the chicken enchilada.

“This is good to support the local area, and just to see what everyone has to offer,” he said.

Cindy Frey, Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce president, said she was pleased with the turnout, with about 75 percent or more of tickets being sold before Thursday.

“I think we’ve done about as good a business as we did last year,” Frey said, calling the event another success.

A number of attendees mentioned that this marked a first visit to A Taste of Columbus, and that they would return next year.

It was the same for Kim Knapp, who was manning a vendor booth as owner of Tropical Smoothie. She and her staff sold out of their chipotle chicken flatbread about two hours into the gathering. And the acai berry-boost smoothies and the kiwi quencher were hitting the spot.

“We have seen a lot of people here today who say they never have been to Tropical Smoothie,” Knapp said. “So we’re trying to make some converts.”

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”By the numbers” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

5 – Years for the event

27 – Number of food/drink vendors

450 – Attendance

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