Monday, Jul 25, 2016
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Taste of the Nation Toledo does its part to put food on kids’ table

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  • Moussa-Salloukh-Melissa-Pollock-and-Gus-Mancy
  • Karyn-and-Labib-Hajjar-of-The-Beirut-an
  • Shrimp-and-rice-from-last-year-s-event

Shrimp and rice from last year’s event.


None of us wants to think of children being hungry, and yet nearly one in five — as many as 16 million children in the United States, according to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign — goes to bed each night without having eaten sufficient food.

Sometimes the problem seems so overwhelming that we don’t know where to start to solve it. One way to help, though, is to raise money to support local charities which address the issue directly.

At Taste of the Nation Toledo, one of the premier fund-raisers for No Kid Hungry, an array of the city’s finest chefs and restaurateurs will contribute their talents to combating the problem of childhood hunger, offering samples of unique and delicious items for guests to sample. All proceeds will go toward providing grants to Toledo GROWs, the community gardening outreach program of the Toledo Botanical Garden; Toledo Day Nursery; Aurora House, a transitional housing shelter for homeless women and children; and the Toledo Northwestern Ohio Food Bank.

“Toledo Taste has been one of the most successful events nationally because of the caliber of national chefs we bring every year, as well as the best local chefs,” says Labib Hajjar of The Beirut, Byblos, and Poco Piatti, who serves as one of the event’s chairpersons.


Coriander dusted scallops with a blood orange puree from Poco Piatti.


Taste of the Nation will take place at Health Care REIT on Sunday, and the list of participating area restaurants is extensive: 5th Street Pub, Avenue Bistro, Bar 145, Barry Bagels, Burger Bar 419, Byblos, Cake in a Cup, Caper’s, Ciao Ristorante, Dégagé Jazz Cafe, Element 112, Eston’s Gourmet Creations, Evans Street Station, Georgio’s Cafe International, Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream, Health Care REIT - Chef Marcel, House of Eats (Bier Stube), Java Sensation, Koto Buki, La Scola Italian Grill, La Scola Tuscan Grill, Mama La Scola’s Italian Kitchen, Mancy’s Bluewater Grille, Mancy’s Italian Grill, Mancy’s Steakhouse, Manhattan’s, Mulvaney’s Bunker Irish Pub, Poco Piatti, Premier Catering, Rachel’s Popcorn, Real Seafood Co., Registry Bistro, Revolution Grille, Rockwell’s, Rosie’s Italian Grille, Social, Stadium Salsa, Stella, Swig, Tea Tree Asian Bistro, The Beirut, The Toledo Club, Two Seasoned Chicks, and Zia’s.


Moussa Salloukh, Melissa Pollock, and Gus Mancy.


Another chairperson, Marla Schecht, says “We can not do this event without the support of these amazing restaurants .... They work tirelessly along side each other to try and end childhood hunger.”

On a local level, Taste of the Nation has raised more than $1.5 million since it began in 1996. Others who serve on the Steering Committee to produce this major fundraiser along with Mr. Hajjar and Ms. Schecht are Terri Thompson, Ty Szumigala, Craig Joseph, Gus Mancy, Dean Kasperzak, and Moussa Salloukh. Diane Larson of Channel 13 ABC; Mindy Romanoff, a long-time event committee member; and C. Jeff Kesler, M.D., of Arrowhead Plastic Surgeons, are this year’s honorary co-chairs.

Two nationally recognized guest chefs will also be in attendance, in addition to the array of local participants. Dan Kluger, of ABC Kitchen in New York City, has worked under such iconic chefs as Danny Meyer and Tom Colicchio. He now works with Jean Georges Vongerichten, and has been nominated this year for Best Chef: New York City by the James Beard Foundation. David Posey, of Blackbird in Chicago, is a graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, and worked with famed chef Grant Achatz before rising up the ranks at his current restaurant. He is noted for combining simple farm-fresh ingredients with cutting-edge culinary technology, and has also been nominated for a 2014 Beard Award, for Rising Star Chef of the Year.


Karyn and Labib Hajjar of The Beirut, and their son Elias Hajjar of Poco Piatti.


Mr. Mancy says, “I do have a passion for this event.” He says that each of the individuals committed to No Kid Hungry “share the same passion for doing something that has a positive impact on our community.” Taste of the Nation, according to Mr. Mancy, is “Toledo’s finest food and wine event for a cause,” to which “all the chefs bring their A-game,” sharing their talents rather than competing. “It’s about the cause, not about any one individual.”

Although tickets to Taste of the Nation sold out at an astounding pace, given the popularity of the event and the importance of the cause, supporters of Share Our Strength can make a contribution to or directly to the local beneficiaries. We can all help put a stop to childhood hunger.

Contact Mary Bilyeu at or 419-724-6155 or on Twitter @foodfloozie.

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