The flavor of Concord
Restaurants come together for the capital city’s Taste
By Linda A. Thompson-Odum firstname.lastname@example.org
Sample the best of Concord-area cuisine at the third annual Taste of Concord on Thursday, Oct. 16. More than 25 restaurants and food shops will participate in this food-themed evening to support the Concord Boys & Girls Club’s programs.
Each restaurant will set up a table at the Grappone Conference Center. Then, New Hampshire Distributors, Inc., which sponsors and organizes the event, and wine distributors Wineberries, MS Walker, Horizon Beverage Company and Southern Wine and Spirits will pair a beer or wine sample with each restaurant’s fare.
“It’s getting adults together to benefit a good cause,” president and COO Chris Brown of New Hampshire Distributors said. “Our company has a long history of ties to the Concord area and to charitable works. Three generations of the family that owns our business have been involved with helping the community.”
Arnie’s Place in Concord has participated every year, and this year’s event comes the day after the restaurant closes for the season. Owner Tom Arnold said he will serve the barbecue menu of pulled pork, St. Louis ribs, and hot Texas sausage. “Last year we went through 120 pounds of pork,” he said. “People said to us, ‘We love your ice cream, but we didn’t know you sold this.’ It’s a great event for the city and the Boys & Girls club, and it’s great exposure for the restaurants.”
The highlight of the evening will be the first annual Granite State Throw Down, where four area chefs will compete to see who can put the most creative spin on each other’s signature dishes. The first competition of the night will have Barley House owner-chef Brian Shea in a battle with owner-chef Scott Ouellette of Center Harbor’s Canoe restaurant. Next will be chef Matt Lee of the Granite Restaurant and Bar facing off with owner-chef Brian Mackenzie of the Inn at Pleasant Lake in New London.
For the competition, Viking Kitchens and Baron’s Major Brand Appliances will set up kitchens where the public can watch the chefs demonstrate their dishes. A celebrity judges’ panel will pick the winner of the two throwdowns.
The Barley House’s Shea has already begun to plan against his opponent. “I’m almost positive his signature dish is going to be their lobster mac and cheese,” he said. “Ours is the Guinness beef stew, but it has to braise and stew, so I’m not sure if it would work time-wise. We only have an hour. I might have to do our tequila-cilantro-lime sea scallops instead.”
Shea’s restaurant will serve the beef stew to the event’s guests. “It’s great to help out a local organization like the Boys & Girls Club,” he said. “We want to be a part of our community. I think the throwdown is a good idea and everyone’s going to have a good time.”
Along with the food and competition, there will also be live jazz music to set the mood. Raffles and a silent auction will feature items such as an original painting of the Statehouse by artist Bob Larsen, a weekend resort package, autographed sports items, and tickets to sports and entertainment events. Gift certificates to each restaurant will be available for purchase, with 20 percent of the price going to the Boys & Girls Club.
Anne Huff of the Boys & Girls Club said the money raised will go toward scholarships for children in need of financial assistance to attend their after-school programs in Concord, Hopkinton and Allenstown. The organization serves about 200 children each day, and about 40 percent of them live in households that make less than $30,000 a year.
“Last year we had around 400 people attend at the Capitol Center,” Huff said. “But because we have so many more restaurants participating this year, Chris Brown suggested we hold it at a larger event venue. It is not only a wonderful fundraiser for us, but it is a fun social event.”
The festivities are from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets cost $25 per person or $200 for 10 and may be purchased by calling 224-1061. For a complete line-up of the participating restaurants, visit www.tasteofconcord.com.