Taste of the Nation Orange County - Raising Awareness and Money

Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation made its fourth annual trip to Orange County on Friday night giving the packed house at the Island Hotel a chance to enjoy some of the finest chefs in the area, while also helping a great cause.

Bill Bracken (L) and his Palm Terrace staff

Taste of the Nation in not only one of the best fundraising events in the country, it is simply one of the best events for any foodie out there. Orange County is a very underrated spot for fine cuisine and this event not only brings out some of the best restaurants in the area, but it also brings together all of the chefs that head up each restaurant. Getting a chance to try all the amazing food is a treat all by itself, but how often do you get to meet the chefs that create the food face-to-face.

Azmin Ghahreman (L) and his Sapphire Laguna staff

Since 1988, Taste of the Nation has raised more than $70 million for organizations in the United States, Canada and abroad, including more than $50,000 in Orange County alone. This night turned out to be a huge success not only with a near sellout, but also a portion of the proceeds from an amazing silent auction. The auction featured items from a number of restaurants, sporting events, travel items and many more great items. What might have been the hit of the night was a table of wine donated by the Beachcomber Cafe. You were able to buy a key and if your key opened a locked door, you walked away with over $2,000 in wine.

“It is amazing what people are willing to do when they are asked, sometimes people just need to be asked,” said Judy Walker, Taste of the Nation Orange County director.

Wine donated by Beachcomber Cafe

Unlike a number of charity events that can only donate a percentage of proceeds to a charity due to expenses, Taste of the Nation donated 100% of ticket dollars to the following organizations in Orange County: Community Action Partnership of Orange County, Second Harvest Orange County Food Bank and Father Serra’s Food Pantry. This is not meant to put down other charity events, but a statement as to how impressed I was with the Taste of the Nation and all of the amazing restaurants and chefs who donated their time and food. There were so many volunteers who donated their time or companies that donated beverages along with everything else that went with putting this event together.

Chef Steve Samson

If you would like to help Taste of the Nation reach its goal of ending childhood hunger by 2015, visit the website for upcoming events or you can make a donation right on the website. If you are looking for a great cause and a great time, Taste of the Nation is one event you should mark down on your calendar every year.

Tasty treats from "Just A Bite"


Finlandia Vodka


The participating restaurants included:
Marabella Country Club (Darren Denny)
Montage Laguna Beach
The Loft
(Casey Overton)
K’ya Bistro Bar (Craig Connole)
A Restaurant (Vartan Vbgaryan)
Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine (Yves Fournier)
Bluefin Fine Japanese Cuisine (Takashi Abe)
Brasserie Pascal & Tradition by Pascal (Pascal Olhats)
Break of Dawn (Dee Nguyen)
crow bar and kitchens (Scott Brandon)
Golden Truffle (Alan Greeley)
Il Barone Ristorante (Franco Barone)
Island Hotel, Palm Terrace (Bill Bracken)
Hush (Ronnie Arnold)
Just a Bite Cake Pops (Mindy Himmel)
Nirvana Grille (Lindsay Smith)
Pizzeria Ortica (Steve Sampson)
Sage & Canyon Restaurant (Richard Mead)
Sapphire Laguna (Azmin Ghahreman)
Aquarium of the Pacific (Andrew Gruel)

Stella Artois Beer

The Gas Company
Claim Jumper Restaurants
Smith Micro Software
American Express
Food Network


Off White Band

Music: Off White Band for more information on this fantastic band, visit: http://www.myspace.com/offwhite

For more information on Taste of the Nation, visit: www.taste.strength.org


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