30 restaurants, one stop
This year’s Taste of Concord features a pumpkin-pork-scallops challenge
By Linda A. Thompson-Odum firstname.lastname@example.org
The best of Concord-area cuisine will be showcased at the fourth annual Taste of Concord on Thursday, Oct. 15. More than 30 restaurants and food shops will participate in this food-filled evening to support the Concord Boys & Girls Club’s programs.
The event is organized by New Hampshire Distributors, Inc., and last year the evening raised $30,000.
“Since it was our first year holding the event at the Grappone Conference Center, we didn’t know what to expect,” president and COO Chris Brown said. “We thought it would take a couple of years to fill the space, but then, boom, we couldn’t fit in any more. This year we’ve already walked through the space to plan ways to make the flow of people better. We will also set up a tent on the back patio for extra seating, and the restaurants will be set up in the entry hall as well as the main room. It will be more spread out.”
Many of the area’s top restaurants and shops will participate, such as Arnie’s Place, Cheers Grille and Bar, Butter’s Fine Food and Wine, The Red Blazer, The Inn at Danbury, and The Meat House. New additions this year include Nonni’s Italian Eatery, Boars Tavern, Constantly Pizza, and Beaver Meadow.
New Hampshire Distributors, Inc., MS Walker, Horizon Beverage Company, and Southern Wine and Spirits will offer beer and wine tastings throughout the event.
The highlight of the evening will be the second annual Granite State Throw Down, where two area chefs will compete for a panel of judges to see who can put the most creative spin on their dishes. Going head to head this year will be Barley House owner-chef Brian Shea in a battle against chef Matt Lee of the Granite Restaurant and Bar. Unlike last year, when the chefs tried to out-do each other’s signature dishes, this year they will try to be their most creative with three local ingredients — pumpkin, pork and scallops, all paired with beers from NH Distributors.
“I haven’t totally figured out the dishes I’m going to make,” Chef Lee said. “I plan to create dishes to put on a new fall menu.”
For the competition, Viking Kitchens and Baron’s Major Brand Appliances will set up a kitchen where the public can watch the chefs demonstrate their dishes. For now, Chef Lee plans to prepare a pumpkin, blue cheese and walnut crispy ravioli with a maple bourbon glaze, grilled pork tenderloin rubbed with a Latin spice, and scallops wrapped in apple wood-smoked bacon with a blue corn and cheddar polenta.
As for competing once again against Chef Shea, Lee said, “It will be interesting to see what he’s going to do. I bet he has a few things up his sleeve.”
Chef Shea likes the idea of using local ingredients. The hope is to have them sourced from New Hampshire as much as possible, and at the very most from within 100 miles away, which is a common definition for local. To date, he plans a menu of pumpkin curry apple bisque (from his current menu), a Barley House-made cheddar banger and mash in peppercorn gravy, and a new scallop slider.
Chef Shea said he likes to participate not only to help out a local Concord organization but also because Brown “has really supported us for any charity thing we’ve done in the past, so we’re happy to give back to something that is near and dear to his heart.”
Along with the food and competition, there will be music to set the mood. Raffles and a silent auction will feature items such as autographed sports memorabilia and vacation packages. Gift certificates to each restaurant will be available for purchase, with 20 percent of the price going to the Boys & Girls Club.
The fun and feasting last from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets cost $30 per person or $250 for 10 and may be purchased by calling 224-1061. For a complete line-up of the participating restaurants, visit tasteofconcord.com.