First-ever Taste of Rehoboth deemed a successEvent sells out, raises funds for Food Bank
When a handful of inspired chefs and an off-centered beer brewer got together in July and agreed to host a food, wine and beer festival for the Food Bank of Delaware the following month, it may have been divine intervention or the delirium of heat exhaustion that lead them to believe it was possible.
Fortunately, with the aid of participating chefs and bartenders, retailers, distributors, local farmers, a willing public and more than 60 volunteers, the event surpassed expectations.
"We decided to do this at the height of our season," Rehoboth Inspired Chef's Initiative President Jay Caputo said. "The people you see here are the people who shape the food of the town and the culture of our town in chef-driven restaurants."
Regardless of the already-ticking clock and seemingly off-the-cuff inception, most of the more than 500 who attended agreed, the last-minute plan succeeded in showcasing gastronomical talents of the area and raising money for a worthy cause.
Annapolis resident Matt Jacobs said he was pleased with the authenticity and preparation of the food offered at Taste of Rehoboth.
"These guys are really cooking from the heart," Jacobs said.
Caputo revealed this event is a starting point for future festivals the RICI hopes to host.
"What we want to do is grow this event to become a downtown food, wine and beer festival," Caputo said. "In addition to ticket prices and money spent for items in the live and silent auction, every penny you donate helps someone get food in Delaware."
For this event, unique tastes such as seared scallops and sweet corn maque choux with peaches from the Blue Moon and chicken masa cakes from Hobos were paired with original libations like white peach and mint martinis, also from Hobos, and prickly pear margaritas from Cabo, to wash down the creative cuisine.
In addition to more than 15 different restaurants and eateries, the event also featured face-painting, a silent and live auction and live musical entertainment from Paul Cullen, Chapel Street Junction and The Dug.
Chef Hari Cameron of a(MUSE.) organized much of the entertainment and said despite the time crunch, he was happy to help out.
"This has been a wonderful success from all of our sponsors and volunteers," Cameron said. "In the middle of our season it was a sheer joy to put on and fill the convention center to capacity."
Drawing guests from nearby metropolitan areas like New York City and Washington, D.C. and across the state, those who attended were typically happy to eat, drink and be merry for a good cause.
Dee Rivard of Harrington said she was happy to leave work early and head south for a finger-licking good time in support of the Food Bank, a cause close to her heart.
"We came especially for this to help out the food bank," Rivard said. "I've tried a lot of things. I even tried chicken liver mousse surrounding chocolate and wrapped in peppercorns. It didn't taste like chicken liver at all!"
Despite all the fanfare, bacchanalia and celebration of the first Taste of Rehoboth, the festival started off on a somber note, observing a moment of silence for Chef Leo Medisch, co-owner of the Back Porch Cafe, who passed Aug. 21.
"We lost one of our own," said Danielle Panarello, board member of RICI and pastry chef at Eden. "We wanted to take a moment to honor him."
According to members of the RICI, preliminary numbers show Taste of Rehoboth raised more than $20,000 for the Food Bank of Delaware, in addition to the non-perishables collected on-site.
"There has been an amazing response," Panarello said, as the first large container of non-perishables was rolled out for the Food Bank of Delaware before even an hour of the event had passed. "This event has risen above our expectations."