ELIZABETH, NJ--The Rotary Club of Elizabeth, celebrating its 100 year of service to the greater Elizabeth community, held its annual Taste of Elizabeth XI on Monday evening at the Renaissance Hotel.

Over 30 restaurants, bakeries, food manufacturers and beverage vendors filled the exhibit space along with over 300 foodies from all over the Union County area.

Doug Harris, chairman of this year’s Taste of Elizabeth said, “Each year, the Taste combines the greater Elizabeth area’s newest and most exciting restaurants, together with many popular traditional eateries.  To have so many tempting selections all in one location, on one night, is truly outstanding.”

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Many different cuisines greeted guests as they entered the space looking for their favorite restaurant and considering all the new foods to sample.

Two diners, Ruth Kawko and Carol McConnell work in Colonia for Jacobson and Company. Each year the Jacobson family gives Kwako and McConnell tickets to the event. “It’s our sixth year here at The Taste of Elizabeth. We like the variety of food and finding all the new restaurants.” Kwako said.

Chefs, sous chefs and representatives of restaurants, breweries, wine merchants and more served a variety of dishes from teriyaki chicken to sliders. Pasta sauces from Nicastro’s Gourmet Sauces were served over cavatelli and paired with beers from Beach Haus Beer. Diners had many cuisines and styles of food to choose from. Offerings included dishes from bar-b-que to Thai inspired foods, wines, craft beers, coffee and teas.

The students of the Elizabeth High School Culinary Program at Thomas Edison Academy, under the direction of Paul Conte, were busy serving a long line of guests. A culinary student and representative for the program, Maressa Bento, said the program prepares students for careers in culinary arts, restaurants, catering and business ownership within the food space.

They served a low-country boil with thyme dish that incorporated shrimp, lobster, corn and lemon and a seared lamb with yogurt sauce. “The Taste of Elizabeth gives us the opportunity to experience a real-life situation. It also offers us the ability to cook right alongside professional chefs.' Bento said.

The event provides a forum for new and existing eateries and merchants. In its first year at the event, the restaurant at the Warinanco Sports Center’s head chef, Chester Rivera and his sous-chef, Marcus served a teriyaki chicken dish. “The Taste of Elizabeth helps promote my business and shows the quality and presentation of our dishes. We opened one month ago at the beautiful, new building at the ice skating rink.” Rivera said. “It’s a place where families can sit and have a good meal.”

During the event guests were able to participate in a 50/50 raffle. Funds raised from the event will enable the Rotary Club to continue to provide financial grants to local non-profit agencies and to provide college scholarships through the Albert & Louise Davis Scholarship Fund of the Rotary Club of Elizabeth, Inc.

Since 1986, the Davis Fund has granted $538,000 in scholarships to promising Elizabeth High School students. In addition, the Club is fulfilling a $10,000 pledge to the new Emergency Department at Trinitas Regional Medical Center.

Founded in 1917, The Rotary Club of Elizabeth is comprised of 45 business and professional leaders who work locally to further the ideals of Rotary International, a world-wide service organization.  Rotary International’s 1 million members provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build good will and peace. 

For information about becoming a member of the Rotary Club of Elizabeth visit www.ElizabethRotary.org.

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