An event in good taste

22 restaurants donate food and expertise to raise $500,000 for Hospice of Howard

October 19, 2007|By Karen Nitkin | Karen Nitkin,Special to The Sun

Derek Reese, owner of TBonz Grille & Pub in Ellicott City, plans to take 60 pounds of grilled meat Sunday to the annual Taste & Auction at Turf Valley Resort. He'll offer the filet mignon in bite-sized portions, alongside a salad of field greens, crumbled blue cheese, candied walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette, he said.

Joe and Mary Barbera, owners of Aida Bistro & Wine Bar in Columbia, will serve a goat cheese antipasto roulade on grilled crostini. Alexias Sharoky of Trapeze in Maple Lawn will contribute 25 pounds of Cajun-spiced, seared tuna, served with a cucumber wasabi and sesame-ginger sauce.

Remarkably, all the food will be donated to the event, which is expected to raise about $500,000 for Hospice of Howard County. Twenty-two restaurants, including Cafe de Paris, Eggspectations, Greystone Grill and Jordan's, will participate by preparing and serving some of their most popular dishes.

Taste & Auction, in its 22nd year, is the major fundraiser for the hospice, which has been providing end-of-life care and bereavement support since 1978, said Lee Wildemann, its assistant director of development.

The organization was started by a group of volunteers with support from the Family Life Center, the Howard County Memorial Foundation and the Columbia Foundation. It is a division of the Hospice of Baltimore.

More than 700 participants are expected to pay $75 each to wander around the Grand Ballroom and adjacent spaces at Turf Valley, sampling some of the best food in the county. Silent and live auctions will provide opportunities for them to win items including golf clubs, homemade quilts and a trip for two to the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

This year, the event will be chaired by Howard County Executive Ken Ulman and his wife, Jaki Ulman. The theme will be "Caribbean Dreamin'," which means participants can look forward to fruity rum drinks and colorful tropical-themed decorations.

In the early years, Taste & Auction was held at the Spear Center, said Cliff Hughes, general manager at Crab Shanty and one of the event's organizers. About five years ago, it was moved to the larger Turf Valley as crowds swelled from about 150 the first year to the expected 700 this year.

Participating restaurant owners say they are happy to provide food for so many because the event benefits a good cause and because it gives them a chance to showcase their best dishes.

"It's one of the premier events in Howard County," said Joe Barbera of Aida. In past years, Aida has donated mussels and ravioli, he said, always trying to offer a dish that is representative of the restaurant.

"We always bring something different and fun," he said, "something that makes an impression on people."

Crab Shanty has been participating for 20 years, said Hughes, and this year will provide a smoked salmon appetizer and a bread pudding dessert.

Hughes, who is in charge of recruiting restaurants for the event, said most return year after year.

Trapeze, which opened in Howard County two years ago, will be participating for the second time. Owner Sharoky said she is invited nearly every day to donate food to various events. "You have to pick and choose what you support," she said.

She likes Taste & Auction because "it's supporting an organization directly in our community," she said, and "because it's getting our name out."

As a bonus, she said, the organizers make things easy, supplying warming dishes, electrical outlets and whatever else is needed.

Reese, who said TBonz will be participating for the fifth time, said he typically sets up in the morning, then returns about an hour before the event for the finishing touches. The event is well worth the effort, he said.

"It definitely puts me out there," he said. "It's a who's who of Howard County."

Taste & Auction


Taste & Auction of Howard County


Sunday, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.


Turf Valley Resort, 2700 Turf Valley Road, Ellicott City


$75 per person, $85 at the door


For more information or to purchase tickets, call 410-730-5072 or go to the Hospice of Howard County Web site at .html

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