WEST ORANGE, NJ — Ticket sales for the annual North Essex Chamber of Commerce (NECC) Taste of Essex, which was held on Monday at The Manor in West Orange, increased by about 60 percent since 2016, according to board member Mike Daniels.

The 2017 Taste of Essex invited dozens of local restaurants and other food and drink purveyors to share their finest cuisine for all to try with a portion of the proceeds goes to the North Essex Chamber Scholarship Fund. Holly Kaplansky, president of the NECC, said this was the best Taste of Essex event to date.

“Almost double the amount of attendees, more vendors and definitely more fun,” she said. “We are very proud of this event, the Taste of Essex committee did an outstanding job. And of course, we couldn’t do it without our sponsors.”

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NECC board member Kaitlin Kurdyla echoed Kaplansky, stating that the board was extrenely pleased with the “sensational turnout” and that “having the space to create different elements to the event was a big goal this year.”  

“It was the chamber's 17th year hosting the event and we couldn't be more proud that it continues to grow each year because a portion of the proceeds from the event go to the Chamber's Foundation, which benefits the local community through outreach and scholarships,” she said.

In addition to the tasting, the event featured live music from Dave “Bop with the Beas” Beasley as well as a video booth, interactive game, tricky tray prizes and massages by Elements Massage of Nutley for guests to enjoy in between food and beverage samplings. Entertainment was also provided by Any Excuse For A Party of Fairfield.

“This year’s Taste of Essex event was a huge success,” the vendor said. “We really enjoyed participating and being the entertainment vendor at this event.”

For the first time ever, a team of judges electronically judged the participating businesses in three categories, including sweet, savory and beverage. In the past, the judging was done on paper only. The beverage category was new this year as well.

The winners included:

Sweet:

1st: Miss Nicky's Gourmet Toffee

2nd: The Gauc Spot

3rd: Mark & Julie's Homemade Ice Cream

Savory:

1st: Frank Anthony's

2nd: Ah Pizz

3rd: The Manor

Beverage:

1st: Bom Bom

2nd: CATB Liquors

3rd: Claremont Distilled Spirits

"This was my first time experiencing The Taste of Essex,” said Old Bridge resident Chris Danaher, an attendee and employee of works Pershing LLC in Florham Park. “It was an outstanding way to connect with local restaurants that are new to me. I can't wait to attend next year.”

Vendors at this year’s event included:

Above Restaurant & Bar
Ah' Pizz
Ani Ramen

Applegate Farm Homemade Ice Cream
Bagelwich Bagel Bakery

Baked Bouquet
Benji's Taqueria Mexican Grill
BOM BOM
Brick Lane Curry
Caldwell Market Place
Claremont Distilled Spirits

Cricket Hill Brewery

Frank Anthony's Gourmet Italian Restaurant
Greek Taverna Montclair

Green Point Juicery LLC
Horseneck Tavern

Jerry's Vodka
Jersey Charm

Jersey Spirits Distilling Co.
Just Jakes'

Kona Ice of East Essex
Laboratorio Kitchen
Luigi Meats of Wood-Ridge

Luna Wood Fire Tavern
Mark and Julie's Homemade Ice Cream
Mesob Ethipian Restaurant

Miss Jennie Mae's
Miss Nicky's Gormet Toffee

Narda's Ginger Punch, LLC
Oil & Vinegar
Organic Vintages Wine Company
Pig & Prince Restaurant
Sandwiches Unlimited
Solar Do Minho Restaurant

Sunrise Kitchens / ShopRite of West Caldwell

Thatcher McGhees
The Guac Spot
The Spot
Verona Inn
Vital

Event sponsors included:

Imperial Room Sponsor:

  Lifelong Investments

Gold Sponsor:

   Lakeland Bank

Silver Sponsors:

   Spencer Savings

   Horseneck Tavern

   Koko FitClub of Caldwell

   K. Macken Landscaping

   Nick Cafaro, CPA

   Van Dyk Healthcare

   Kearny Bank

   CycleBar Livingston

   Absolute Rehab (Nutley)

Bronze Sponsors:

   Catcom Computers

   Park Street Auto