April 12, 2011 > Taster's Showcase
Annual event presents a perfect pairing of community heart and fabulous food
By Julie Grabowski
Deciding what's for lunch has never been so appealing. At Kidango's 16th Annual Taster's Showcase you can have it all with tantalizing tastes from 30 local restaurants, caterers, food distributors and wineries, all in support of a great cause.
For more than 30 years Kidango has been dedicated to the well-being and success of children and families offering various programs and services through 41 centers throughout Alameda and Santa Clara Counties. Twenty-one of these centers are in the Tri-City area alone. Funds raised from Taster's Showcase will supplement Kidango's early education and child development programs including Head Start, Nutrition program, Early Education, Mental Health and Early Intervention Services.
More than a day care, Kidango looks at the needs in the community and works to provide kids with what they need to be prepared socially, emotionally and cognitively in every aspect of life. "It is so they can have the resources to be successful at school and at home and in their lives ultimately," says Grants Manager Marc Baker.
While individual centers do fundraisers to fulfill certain projects or needs, Taster's Showcase is the agency's main fundraiser. The event began as Tri-Cities Treats under a single organizer, with proceeds benefiting four different non-profit groups. When the organizer asked if Kidango wanted to take over the event, they happily agreed, renaming it Taster's Showcase and launching the most exciting and successful event of their year.
Whether a dessert lover, wine aficionado, carnivore, vegetarian, or coffee addict, Taster's Showcase has you covered with a variety of tasty offerings from a diverse group of vendors including BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse, Cosmopolitan Catering, DasBrew, Inc., Dessert Lovers, Federico's Tapas and Wine Bar, Fenestra Winery, Gelato Classico, Gerry's Grill, Jack's Brewing Company, Kinder's Meats Deli & BBQ, Massimo's, Ola's Coffee and Tea, Papillon, Super Suppers, Sushi Tango, Trader Joes (Fremont), The Prolific Oven, and Thomas Coyne Winery.
Professional chef, caterer, author and culinary educator Mary Chamberlin heads a panel of expert judges that will award honors in 12 food categories. She will be joined by Daniel Arias, chef instructor at Mission College; caterer Deborah Carpenter; Nolan Bourgeois, certified ServSafe instructor and caterer; and caterer Jeanne Miller. After sampling the best on offer the panel will distribute awards such as Best Appetizer, Best Meat Entree, Best Vegetarian Entree, Best Specialty Food, Best Rice/Pasta, Best Dessert, Best Homemade Dish, and Best Presentation and Table Decoration. A people's choice award will also be given to the best red and white wine.
Baker says the atmosphere of the event is fairly casual, very relaxed and jovial with everyone out to have a good time and all the vendors "putting their best foot forward." "They're there out of the goodness of their heart," he says.
In addition to the terrific selection of food, attendees will also experience the excitement of live and silent auctions with an impressive collection of items from over 60 generous donors. The auctions offer something for all interests, with themed gift baskets containing items from Asian Art Museum, Byington Winery & Vineyard, California Canoe and Kayak, Children's Fairyland, Cobb's Comedy Club, John Paulson Photography, Lake Chabot Golf Course, Lindsay Wildlife Museum, Q-Zar Laser Tag, Regan Nursery, SF Silent Film Festival, Strizzis Restaurants, and Winchester Mystery House. Families involved with Kidango have also created baskets; the money raised going back into their own specific center for books, fieldtrips or other needs.
The live auction ups the dazzle, featuring six items including vacation getaways, yacht charter, and skybox courtesy of the Oakland A's. Tickets purchased for the event grants attendees a commemorative wine glass as well as an entry into a raffle for 12 dinning certificates for two.
Kidango honorary board member Rick Geha of Keller Williams Benchmark Properties will serve as emcee alongside Fremont City Councilmember Anu Natarajan. The food and wine will flow throughout the afternoon with the live auction taking place at 2 p.m., and the silent auction closing at 3:20 p.m. Food awards will be presented at the end of the event.
Taster's Showcase has remained pretty consistent over the years according to Baker. "We continue to get the best restaurants in the Tri-City area, and the community continues to support what we do," says Baker. "It's getting the best food and wine and making sure people have a great time."
Over 200 people attended last year's event which raised more than $53,000, and organizers have high hopes for this Sunday, aiming for an increase of 350 to 400 people with a goal of $75,000.
"It's a wonderful way of supporting our communities," says Baker. "It's just a fun, fabulous time."
Taster's Showcase is the perfect opportunity to experience the great tastes available from our community's kitchens while helping to give kids a strong and healthy foundation for a bright future.
Tickets may be purchased in advance for $35 or at the door for $45. To buy tickets or to learn more call (510) 897-6912 or visit online at www.tastersshowcase.org. To learn more about Kidango's programs and services visit www.kidango.org.
16th Annual Taster's Showcase
Sunday, April 17
1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
46100 Landing Parkway, Fremont
Tickets: $35 in advance, $45 at the door