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July 17, 2005 - Taste of Nation

When: July 17, 2005

Ticket Prices: Only $65 for all you can taste

Beneficiary: Food Bank of the Rockies, Women's Bean Project, Operation Frontline, and Volunteers of America

Founders: Noel Cunningham of Strings Restaurant, and Pat Miller

Sponsors: National Sponsors include: American Express, Jenn-Air, Sysco, Brown-Forman, illy, and Samuel Adams

Menu: Sorted and varied

Attendance: 4,000+


Blacktie Photos by: Chelsea Wyatt

 	Stephen, Wendy, and Scott Shek enjoy sushi from Sonoda's
Stephen, Wendy, and Scott Shek enjoy sushi from Sonoda's

Chelsea Wyatt

The steak was sizzling and the chocolate fondue fountains were flowing at the Convention Center on July 17, 2005. Share our Strength’s Taste of the Nation is the nation’s preeminent culinary benefit supporting the fight to end hunger. Now in its eighteenth year, Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation, presented by American Express and Jenn-Air®, has raised more than $55 million, supporting 450 groups working to end hunger and poverty.

Colorado definitely did its part, with over 100 restaurants and wineries offering up their best "tastes" in an effort to eliminate hunger and malnutrition in Denver. There are 33 million hungry Americans, nearly 37 percent of those are children under 18 and 80 percent of those live in working households. Over 27 percent of Denver’s children are living in poverty and at risk of hunger (Kids Count in Colorado! 2002). Denver’s Taste of the Nation is a unique opportunity for the community to come together to eat, drink and be charitable, contributing their talents and strengths to fight hunger and poverty.

Over 4,000 people this weekend got to enjoy appetizers, dinners, desserts, and fine wines from over 50 restaurants, and all in one afternoon! Every one had their favorites, and the Convention Center didn't seem like there were thousands sampling the savory dishes, the 4,000 Denverites were too busy eating.

The sweet items are like nothing most would dream of cooking up, including: blueberry soup, as well as the traditional chocolate fountain at Johnson and Wales' station that had a line around the corner. And the dinner items tantalized the taste buds as well as sticking to your ribs. My favorites included: Balsamic glazed quail with figs from The Sparrow restaurant, a filet of lobster skewer with white truffle saffron sauce drizzled on top, Tataki tuna from Mao Asian Bistro Lounge, and nuevo shrimp with jalapeño salsa in a philo cup from Tuscany Restaurant.

There was no shortage of wine either, with some of the special wines in the auction contributing thousands to the fight against hunger. Frontier Airlines even donated round-trip tickets for the live auction, presided over by Pete MacKay from 99.5 The Mountain. The food and drink were plenty, and a favorite for many were the specialty martinis from Martini Ranch Denver, including their Mango Tangos, the Traditional Cosmopolitan, and their Appletini.

The real treat for many, however, was getting to see a live version of the Food Network when David Rosengarten emceed a cook-off with two local chefs, Lisa Givens and Heather Carroll. The chefs cooked up secret gourmet ingredients. The battle of the shrimp dishes was so close that David himself had to jump in to break a tie, which he says often, happens. Lisa, the winner, took home $5,000 worth of kitchen supplies from Jenn-Air®.

The professional chefs got to try their hands at a cook off as well; Elise Wiggins from Panzano battled Jaime Feder from LoLA. Each only had 20mins to create as many inspiring dishes as possible, and locals from the crowd got the best job- the taste testers!

Overall, the event was a dining delight, and I know everyone that attended now has a new favorite Denver restaurant. Or at the very least, they had their eyes opened to the possibilities, dozens of them!

Every spring, thousands of leaders donate their time and talents at more than 60 events throughout the United States and Canada. The events, which include food and wine tastings, seated dinners, brunches, and barbeques, raise both funds for and awareness of anti-hunger efforts. Each year, Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation attracts more than 55,000 guests.

National sponsorships of Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation, combined with local sponsorships and contributions from participating restaurants, chefs, and volunteers, ensure that 100 percent of ticket proceeds from each event supports anti-hunger efforts.

With funds raised through Taste of the Nation, Share Our Strength awards grants to the most effective anti-hunger, anti-poverty organizations on the local, state, national and international level. Since 1988, Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation has raised more than $55 million, providing support to more than 450 groups working to end hunger and poverty.

Share Our Strength is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization that has raised and distributed over $74 million to hundreds of anti-hunger organizations here and overseas. Through benefits and other projects that are as much fun as they are worthy, Share Our Strength inspires people and companies alike to work toward a common goal: stable communities that have enough to eat.

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