At Taste of the Wasatch, Utah restaurants show off for charity
Solitude • Christina Miller couldn't help but smile to have played a part in this year's Taste of the Wasatch.
Thanks to her, owner of Christina's Cakes, about 10,000 sweets landed in the "Baker's Dozen" row at the 14th annual fundraiser.
And, it wasn't just that she'd had a hand in wrangling Pago's Grown-up Smores, Montage's melty caramel truffles, La Bonne Vie's pina colada French macarons and all those other sweet treats to the appreciative throngs that gathered at Solitude Mountain Resort.
For Miller, the best part of it was the bottom line: it will help hungry Utahns.
"I have two kids of my own, and to imagine they don't have the food they need...." she said, presiding over the lively carrot and orange cookies she'd made for Taste. "This is our contribution to the community."
This year represented a big change for what has become an important annual fundraiser for Utahns Against Hunger, the Utah Food Bank and the Ogden-Weber Community Action Partnership. It's the first time the new nonprofit 3 Squares Inc. put on the event, said organizer Karen Zabriskie.
Three years in the making, 3 Squares was created to ensure that all of the money raised stays in Utah, rather than being shared with a national organization.
"It's 100 percent volunteer we put our heart and soul into this, and the restaurants outdo themselves every year," Zabriskie said. "And now all of it, 100 percent, stays in Utah."
For every five children in Utah, one doesn't know if there will be enough to eat or when he or she might get their next meal. And, with as many as 1,800 buying tickets for Taste on Sunday, 3 Squares expects to top the nearly $100,000 raised last year.
Gina Cornia, the director of Utahns Against Hunger, helped with logistics at Sunday's event and applauded the contributions of participants, restaurants and volunteers.
"It's huge," she said, calling the Taste donation "a good chunk of our budget." "It's money we can use to focus on the advocacy work we do."
Many of the 60 Utah eateries that donated time and culinary creations to Sunday's event were pleased to take part in the fundraiser, not just for the chance to contribute to the community but to mingle with the restaurant community, too.
Restaurateur Mark Eaton, the former Utah Jazz center, said he looks forward to trying what other great restaurants have to offer, especially innovative dishes. (His Franck's offered a beef and strawberry ice cream sample, while his Tuscany served house-smoked pork belly and polenta.)
"For restaurants," he said, "it's one of the premier events."
Steven Rosenberg, of Liberty Heights Fresh, called it a privilege to be part of something so important to the community not just his store but all those contributing to the tasting menu.
"We're here because too many of us in Utah don't have enough food on the table," said Rosenberg, who's store served a tangy heirloom tomato gazpacho. "It's really about the cause."
Olga Gifford, her husband and a friend stretched under an umbrella. They'd brought plates of particolored macarons, mini cupcakes and other treats yet to be eaten.
Surrounded by the music of a live rock and roll band and a brilliant summer afternoon in the Wasatch Mountains, happily filled with delicious food and drink, they commented on how they were happy to be back for Taste after some time spent in California.
"It's much better," said Eric Gifford, "than the Malibu Calabasas wine and food festival."