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Kids from the Boys & Girls Club award participating restaurants with a plaque at the 2012 Taste of Concord. Courtesy photo.




 Taste of Concord

When: Thursday, Oct. 10, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Where: The Grappone Conference Center, 70 Constitution Ave., Concord
Cost: $30
Visit: tasteofconcord.com or concordkids.org




Capital City tastes
Annual restaurant showcase benefits local Boys & Girls Clubs

10/03/13



Sliders, a cooking throwdown between local chefs and a tunnel of high-fives — it’s all happening at the annual Taste of Concord, and it’s all for a good cause.
“There’s no place you can go to sample the best fare of each restaurants,” Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Concord Executive Director Christopher Emond said. “If you go back eight years ago, Taste of ‘blank’ events didn’t exist. The template wasn’t out there at the time, and now you have one in every local community.”
New Hampshire Distributors Inc. and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Concord teamed up to showcase Concord restaurants eight years ago to help benefit Boys & Girls Clubs’ programs.
“One difference-maker truly is when you walk in at the beginning of the event and there’s kids from the club that are giving you high-fives,” Tyler Kelly, New Hampshire Distributors vice president of marketing, said. “The fact that everything you’re doing there, in terms of your contribution of your ticket, silent auction, additional donations you can make throughout the evening, is all going back to the Boys & Girls Club. So it’s that feeling that you’re socializing while giving back. To me, that’s what makes this one different.”
The 8th annual Taste of Concord is on Thursday, Oct. 10, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Grappone Center. Thirty restaurants are participating, including Alan’s of Boscawen, CC Tomatoes, Granite State Candy Shoppe, Newick’s, O Steaks and Seafood and more. 
“There’s been a cross-section [of foods],” New Hampshire Distributors President Chris Brown said. “Most of the time we have stuck to local independent restaurants and really have kind of let them pick their items. Some of them do new menu items, some of them do seasonal items.”
Each restaurant offers one to two appetizer-sized items, and Brown said there can be everything from Mexican cuisine to sushi, deli-style dishes, steak, salsa, salad and dessert.
“From a consumer point of view, it’s just the variety — you’ve got 30 plus restaurants, just some of the best dessert, plus the beer and wine samples. I’ve just never seen anything like it that’s all in one place,” Emond said. “It’s at a time of year you’re looking for something to do and it’s festive. For a place like Concord — all your buddies are there — this is the one event that everybody seems to go.”
Last year, the Taste of Concord challenged participating restaurants to create their own sliders, which are miniature burgers. Attendees sample sliders and vote on their favorites with a text or on a ballot. 
“You’ve got people putting crab cake sliders, fish sliders, hamburgers. Basically the only rule was it has to be on a smaller sized roll,” Brown said.
The Top Chef Competition features a live throwdown between local chefs. Baron’s Major Brands Appliances and Viking Kitchen supply a kitchen set-up, and each chef has about an hour to prepare and cook his item.
“It’s more of a competition to entertain people,” Brown said. 
“There’s obviously a lot of elite chefs in New Hampshire,” Kelly said. “They’re front and center on these premiere stages, and everyone can see them.”
Scott Ouellette from O Steaks and Seafood, Brian Shea from The Barley House and Corey Fletcher from The Centennial Hotel and Granite Restaurant have all competed in the past.
Aside from the high-fives, kids from the Boys & Girls Clubs play important roles during the evening. Students involved in the cooking program have their own booth, and others hand out plaques with plates designed and created at the Boys & Girls Clubs, a favorite of the restaurants, a “badge of honor,” Emond said.
“It’s some of the coolest moments for these people,” Kelly said. “They all have relationships with their local Chamber [of Commerce], but they don’t have relationships with these kids.”
Funds raised by the Taste of Concord benefit scholarships to send kids to the Boys & Girls Clubs. Emond said that because of the fundraising, they are about to send about 10 kids to their local club with a full-ride scholarship for the entire school year. Many of the students are recommended to the Boys & Girls Clubs for scholarships by The Friends Program and school counselors.
“Parents are so relieved their kids can go,” Emond said.





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