NOTE: List of participating restaurants and menus follows story.
IF YOU GO:
Noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, June 27
Charleston Civic Center Grand Hall
Tickets: 50 cents each. Tastes cost between 50 cents and $3.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Taste-of-ALL Charleston, the perennial favorite food fest formerly known as Taste of Charleston, takes center stage from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Charleston Civic Center. A casualty of the Sternwheel Regatta, which was canceled in 2008, the food-lovers' event took a year hiatus before being resurrected as Taste-of-ALL Charleston, a FestivALL event.
Along with a new name, the event features a renewed emphasis on local restaurants and food vendors, rather than larger chain restaurants.
Richard and Anne Arbaugh, owners of South Hills Market & Café, will man a booth for the first time. They were drawn by a desire to participate in as many community events as possible and by the emphasis on local, independent restaurants.
Taste-of-ALL, presented by Verizon, features 32 local restaurants, caterers, chefs, bakers, ice cream shops and beverage centers. More than 10,000 people are expected to attend. They'll pick and choose items to sample and pay for with tickets, which are 50 cents each. Tastes cost between one and six tickets. Most entrée tastes cost between $2 and $3.
"We plan on feeding 2,000 to 3,000 people," Arbaugh said. "We're happy to participate and to give people a chance to try food made by independent restaurants like ours."
The event's previous two-day schedule stymied some smaller restaurants whose owners couldn't afford to cut loose cooks and staff members for two working days. A single-day, Sunday event is a more reasonable commitment.
"A lot of restaurants that had drifted away are back, and we're excited to have them," said Michael Hensall, Taste-of-ALL chairman.
Organizers also introduce a Beer Nest, sponsored by Proud Eagle Beverages. The beer garden features micro brewed and specialty class beers and ales. The Liquor Company/The Wine Shop will sell varieties of wine for $3. Moxxee Coffee will serve coffees from Bolivia, Rwanda and Columbia.
Food plays the starring role in Taste-of-ALL with cuisine representing Greek, American, Chinese, Cajun, Japanese, Southern, Caribbean, Mexican, Appalachian, Thai and Asian cultures, as well as extensive desserts and pastry.
Visitors vote for the People's Choice awards in the categories of appetizer, entrée, dessert and beverage.
In addition to local vendors, Taste-of-ALL features two out-of-town restaurants, listed as guests of the chairman. The Blennerhassett Hotel in Parkersburg will serve a roma tomato brochette on asiago crostini and smoked salmon on spinach flatbread while Huntington Prime will offer tastes of lamb meatball tagliatelle and trout and braised greens.
"It's a fabulous opportunity for them to introduce their food to the Charleston market," said Henshall.
Chefs Robert Wong of Bridge Road Bistro, Duane Legg or US Foods, Rich Arbaugh of South Hills Market & Café, Gary Needham of Bluegrass Kitchen and Michael Bowe of Huntington Prime will conduct food demonstrations. Demos start every hour between 12:30 and 4:30 p.m.
Tickets for Taste-of-ALL are available at the Civic Center. Call Henshall at 304-767-8959 for more information.
Reach Julie Robinson at jul...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1230.
Participating restaurants and menus
Best of Crete: gyros, hummus and pita, grape leaf rolls and baklava.
Whitewater Grille, Charleston Marriot: braised short ribs, apple pie a la mode.
Main Kwong: General Tso's chicken, crispy chicken, roast pork lo mein, roast pork fried rice and teriyaki chicken.
Bake 4 U: triple chocolate pound cake with raspberry sauce, cherry scone, magical peanut butter brownie and million-dollar babe cookie.