EDISON, NJ – More than 500 visitors filled the ballroom of the Pines Manor banquet hall  in Edison on Monday, as restaurants from around Middlesex County served samples of their menus at the 19th Annual Taste of Middlesex.

This year’s theme was “Eat, Drink and Be Charitable” as monetary donations were accepted for local food banks, pantries, and other local non-profit organizations.

“We hold the Taste of Middlesex every year as a way of showing off the great diversity of food that’s available in our area,” said Nathan Rudy, the president of the Edison Chamber of Commerce and event organizer.

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“We’ve got everything from Korean bar-b-que to American Standards to Asian Fusion to Indian to Tex-Mex to Latin American food,” said Rudy.

Local restaurants serving hot food samples included Edison’s Boom Boom Chicken, Inc American Bar in New Brunswick, The Food Architects in Piscataway, Kona Grill in Woodbridge, Inchin’s Bamboo Garden in South Plainfield, and Havana Central Restaurant & Bar and Seasons 52, both in Edison.

Dessert lovers could taste bakery and confectionary samples from businesses such as 2 Chicks with Chocolate of Metuchen, Cookie Rush in New Brunswick, Fajji’s Ice Cream of Perth Amboy, and La Bonbonniere Bake Shoppes of Edison.

“Basically if there’s a kind of food you like, it’s here,” said Rudy.

Volunteers from the business community and members of the Edison Chamber of Commerce helped plan the Taste, inviting not only food related businesses, but also participants from the beverage industry who served beer and wine samples as well as mixes of hard liquor.

“We have twelve different kinds of craft brewers and distillers who are out to show off what they can do,” Rudy said.

Radio personalities from WCTC and Magic 98.3 broadcast live from the event, conducting interviews with each restaurant to promote their specialties and services they offer.

And restaurants and other sponsors donated almost $5,000 in door prizes that included gift baskets and gift cards to the establishments and other types of services.

“This is known to be one of the best Taste events in Northern and Central New Jersey,” said Rudy.