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Published: Saturday, 6/29/2002

Tempting offerings give taste buds a workout

Mary Sautter of Sylvania samples lemon pound cake prepared by chef Bill Yosses at the Taste of the Town. Mary Sautter of Sylvania samples lemon pound cake prepared by chef Bill Yosses at the Taste of the Town.

Two philosophies ruled last night Taste of the Town: the impulse eater vs. the calculating gourmet.

For some, the sixth annual food festival in downtown Toledo provided the chance to throw caution to the wind and purchase a little of anything that caught their eye and tempted their taste buds.

Others carefully carried their tickets - worth 50 cents each and used by all the vendors - figuring out how best to spend their money: Thai chicken or steak on a stick, soda or smoothie.

A proponent of the former philosophy, Tony Sloma, 33, of Temperance took the “it only happens once a year” approach and enjoyed himself and the food without tallying the cost.

Planning avoidance also was central to 28-year-old Chad Keeper's evening. As he finished a bite of taco, he explained his approach. “You're not supposed to figure out what to eat,” he said. “You're supposed to save for a little bit of everything.”

The calculating took a different tack, checking out all the options provided by the 25 vendors before choosing their feast.

Jerry Brown, 65, of Oregon made the rounds and decided that lobster bisque would be No. 1 on the list. However, he planned to buy more tickets if he ran out before his appetite was satisfied.

Andrew Bamford, 31, and Tamera Wales, 34, chose carefully, as they sought to make a meal of good drink and healthy eats.

Even those who splurged said they spent about as much as they would have if they'd gone to a restaurant for dinner.

“But you get to try more,” Mr. Keeper said. “Plus you get to hear live music. When you break it down, it's a good deal.”

Whether they were jumping into line to buy the first tempting bite or methodically checking out each option first, most people focused on the food.

The vendors circled the medians on Jackson Boulevard between St. Clair and Huron streets, creating a cornucopia centerpiece around which the hungry promenaded.

Profits from Taste of the Town, including 50 cents of every $5 ticket sale, and 10 percent of the vendors' profits, benefit United Health Services, Inc., an umbrella organization with member organizations that provide services for people with special needs.

A Taste of the Town tidbit earned some restaurants future customers.

Karen Fincher and Condrad Helton of Sylvania decided they'll head to Kotobuki, and Mr. Bamford and Ms. Wales said they'd never thought of eating at Ground Round until they shared the portobello sandwich, with its huge mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes on focaccia bread.

Although no single eater could agree on the best way to approach the wide variety of foods, Mr. Brown explained the true problem with so much variety.

“It's not just a matter of using tickets wisely,” he said. “It's a matter of using your stomach wisely.”

Taste of the Town continues today with eating and music starting at 11 a.m. Cooking lessons in The Blade Taste Kitchen start two hours later. The festivities conclude at 11 p.m.

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