Wednesday, Sep 19, 2018
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Dan Neman


Top chefs join Taste of the Nation lineup


According to the discriminating diners of the Zagat restaurant guide, the most popular restaurant in New York last year -- again -- was the Gramercy Tavern. That is the sixth time in the last 10 years the hot spot has taken the top spot.

Reservations can be hard to come by and you have to be in New York to eat there, which means dining at the Gramercy is only a dream for most northwest Ohioans and southeastern Michiganders. Until now.

The Gramercy Tavern's executive chef, Michael Anthony, will cook at the 16th annual Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation Toledo event on May 22. The other guest chef, no slouch in the kitchen herself, is Celina Tio, the 2007 James Beard Foundation Award winner for the best chef in the Midwest, and the 2005 Chef of the Year from Chef magazine. She runs the Julian restaurant in Kansas City.

And these two guest chefs will be joining the chefs from 37 area restaurants to create one of the biggest food events in town. From Barry's Bagels and Grumpy's to Rockwell's, Revolver, and Evans Street Station, the chefs will be providing their own special, signature foods (and The Beirut and Ciao! Ristorante and Georgio's Cafe International and all the Mancy's restaurants and Stella's and…).

It's all for a good cause: helping to end childhood hunger. Locally, the event has raised more than $1.2 million over the years; recipients this year will be Aurora House, Toledo Day Nursery, Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank, and Toledo GROWs.

The Taste of the Nation will be at the Toledo Club, 235 14th St., beginning at 5 p.m. Dining continues until 8 p.m., when the Bridges Band will take the stage until 10 p.m. Tickets are $150.

For tickets and information, call 419-705-6635.

Grape news

Wine tastings are great, as far as they go. You try a little bit of this wine and a little bit of that wine, and you leave somewhat more educated about wine and grateful to have a ride home.

But wine connoisseurs know that wine doesn't meet its full potential until it has been expertly paired with food.

Now you can sample a selection of wines the way the were meant to be enjoyed, with a meal. Walt Churchill's Market in Maumee is offering a three-course cafe-style lunch complete with the fruit of the vine.

At 1 p.m. on May 28, the store's patio will be open for a meal consisting of seasonal vegetables with gastrique (a sweet and sour sauce), a choice of duck breast with Belgian fries or steamed mussels with Belgian fries, and a dessert of strawberry shortcake. Each course will be paired with a specially chosen wine.

The cost is $50, which includes tax and tip. Seating is limited to 30, and tickets must be bought in advance.

But what of the other wine tastings this month at Walt Churchill's? The ones without food?

Saturday's has been canceled, but there will still be one May 21, from noon to 5 p.m. The attention that day will be on big reds from Bordeaux, which the store's wine manager calls "the world's most important wine region." Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlot-based wines will be featured. Information: 419-794-4000.

Say 'cheese'

A food contest from Food & Wine magazine caught our eye because it has nothing to do with recipes.

It's a photo contest. The idea is to submit a photo that exemplifies your favorite food moment. It could be cooking, gardening, eating with friends or family -- anything that says food to you..

The contest runs through June 8. Five finalist photos will be voted on by members of the Food & Wine online community. To enter and see the rules, visit

Big-time chili

Sixteen salsas. Seventeen green chilis. Twenty-one red chilis.

And that was just on one day. No wonder at least one judge was spotted in the antacid aisle of a nearby grocery store.

The Buckeye Regional Chili Cook Off, held last weekend in Port Clinton, was a serious affair, with serious chili cooks and serious judges and seriously large amounts of chili. The winners all qualify to go to the world championship chili cook-off in Manchester, N.H., in the fall. And the winner of that gets a serious chunk of change: $25,000.

The first-place winners on April 30 were, in the salsa category: Julie Netser of Seymour, Ind. Green chili: Georgia Weller of Rocton, Ill. (Ms. Weller is a two-time world champion in the red chili category). Red chili: Maureen Barrett of Willow Springs, Ill. (Ms. Barrett is the 2009 world champion in the red chili category). On May 1, Gary Ray of Livonia, Mich., won both the salsa and green chili categories, and Ms. Netser won for red chili.

Items for Morsels may be submitted up to two weeks before an event to

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