MONTCLAIR, NJ - Rain or shine, it appeared as if no one missed Taste of Montclair. Not even when it was held in West Orange.

Taste of Montclair, presented by The Rotary Club of Montclair and Verona, was held Monday evening at the Manor of West Orange where VIP Chefs, Restaurateurs, and Food Crafters offered a delightful tasting of select gourmet dishes.

Ilson Gonçalves owner of Samba in Montclair is well known for his Brazilian cuisine, served a new delicacy fit for vegans and gluten-free diners as well. The stew was perfect for a rainy night. Gonçalves told us he was not trying to steal any Italian thunder with their yucca gnocchi creation, but wanted to make a hearty dish that worked well with or without meat.

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Ricardo da Costa, owner of Yoga Chai had a new set up. His innovative coffee machine pours nitro cold brew coffee like Guinness on tap. But unlike other nitrogen coffee makers he also served hot coffee and chai.

The Stuffed Burger was cooking up a flavorful seasoned burger stuffed with mushrooms. Last year they were voted Best of Essex. Joe Campeas, the owner's dad told us with a wide smile that he was born and raised in Montclair. He shared that although new establishments were being touted for their grass fed beef, grass fed is all that Stuffed Burger has served for two years now.

Dolce Federica's locally handmade indulgences had a unique display. From chocolate Easter eggs to mimic Northern Italy's tradition to merging Belgian chocolate with Italian flavors, there was a line of tasters with chocolate hearts in their eyes patiently waiting their turn to sample.

Other tables included S.O.F.I.A asking we save the date for the walk against domestic violence on September 10 in Canterbury Park, Chyna Fisher who was raising money for SADD (students against destructive decisions), and Rocky from the new Uptown Art who told us his grand opening was last week where you can paint and sip while supporting living artists.

Amy from Toast said "We've done this twice. The location worked great, people are coming back for seconds."  Kimmy Kakes, Two Men from East Hanover, Jeff Enright owner of Oil and Vinegar and many more made the night a tremendous success.

We asked tasters what they thought of the evening. Lawrence Poster from Glen Ridge said, "I love eating and the food is fantastic. A particular pork dish stood out for me from a catering company, it was scrumptious.”

Diana Russell, a realtor for Stanton Company told us, “The food was delicious. It’s been great to try new places I wouldn’t otherwise know about.”

Norman A. Feinstein, Vice Chairman of The Hampshire Companies, stood prominently at the event entrance under a chandelier with screens displaying the coming development of the MC Hotel joint venture between the Pinnacle and Hampshire Companies.  He said, "We are looking to commence construction in the next 45-60 days and hope to complete by 4th quarter 2017."

Feinstein added, "Everyone has been terrific and welcoming and looking forward to the opening of the hotel." We asked how tonight's event was impacting the dissemination of information.

He said, "There have been a great number of people come by wanting to hear more about the hotel."

Paul Metcalfe from the Montclair Rotary Club could not yet confirm how much was raised. He said, "I don't know how many total tickets we sold this year but it's going as well as can be. We hope to do the same thing as we did last year.”

Metcalfe told Tap into Montclair that last year they raised over thirty thousand dollars, most of which went to food banks, and the remaining went to local Montclair charities and non-profit organizations.

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