Food is the focus of most social gatherings and it's also a great way to raise money for charity.
"Great Food, Great Drink, Greater Cause" was the theme of Share Our Strength's 16th Annual Taste of the Nation Toledo last Sunday at the Toledo Club. Nearly 1,000 people visited about 40 food booths provided by local restaurants and caterers who donated their time and gourmet foods.
But the event was more than a giant tasting for foodies because everyone came together to support the cause. The action started under a giant tent and moved into the stately club for the raffle run by Melissa Pollack. Prizes were impressive: Nick Hall won the Taylor Automotive Group six-month lease; Jean Lovejoy won the black onyx sheared beaver coat from Toledo Furs; and Vince Toma won the diamond earrings from Licata Jewelers.
All smiles were event chairmen Gus Mancy, of Mancy's Restaurants; Moussa Salloukh, of La Scola Italian Grill/Hungry I, and Burger 419; Marla Schecht, volunteer; and Terri Thompson, of ProMedica, who planned the event.
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The steering committee included Labib Hajjar, of The Beirut, Byblos, and Poco Piatti restaurants; Craig Joseph, of Equity Planning Group; Ty Szumigala, of Maumee Indoor Theater, and Toledo Share Our Strength founder Dean Kasperzak, of Dean Enterprises. Honorary chairmen were Diane Larson of WTVG-TV, Channel 13; Kathy Rennels, of Kathy Rennels Design, and Mark Rodriguez, of Hickory Farms.
There were committees for the pre-parties, food vendors, finance, sponsorships, ticket sales, decorations, entertainment, and more. Among the estimated 200 volunteers were Heather Allen, Miguel Cutero, Mike Jacobs, Sue Hague-Rogers, Pat Scheuer, Mike Szuberla, Alli McMaster, Mindy Romanoff, Claudia Vercellotti, and many more, including James Caldwell, the top ticket seller. Mo Devany said she started as a water gal and is now a raffle ticket assistant.
The estimated $120,000 that was raised benefits Aurora Project, Inc., Toledo Day Nursery, Toledo Grows, and Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank.
Folks of all ages were there in all sorts of dressy attire. Many younger ladies sported stilettos with skirts up to here and tops down to there. The ever dapper Frank Unkel, wore a white suit.
Seen were Marcia and Steve Pisanti, Tim and Angie Thetford, Steve Roberts and Pat Nowak, Jeannie Hylant and Tom McHugh, Sandra Hylant, Susan and David Strup, Candy and Mike Tauber, Jan and Doug Martin, Brian and Beth Bucher, Mark and Gretchen Zyndorf, Dave and Ann Marie Quinn, Mary Beth Schoen, Nancy Robon, Martha and Duke Wheeler, Mona and Yazeed Qaimari, Nancy Kulmor, and Joey and Garrett Begeman.