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Sample bites from Seacoast-area eateries at this year’s Toast to the Coast. Courtesy photo.




Toast to the Coast

When: Thursday, May 12, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Ashworth by The Sea, 295 Ocean Blvd., Hampton
Tickets: $40 advance, $50 day of, $60 VIP
Visit: hamptonchamber.com




Celebrate the Seacoast
Toast to the Coast returns to Hampton

05/05/16
By Allie Ginwala aginwala@hippopress.com



 Don’t miss the chance to explore different tastes from Seacoast-region eateries all in one room as the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce presents the 14th annual Toast to the Coast on Thursday, May 12, at the Ashworth by the Sea. 

“It’s just kind of a kick off of the season,” Ginni McNamara, director of special events for the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce, said in a phone interview. “It’s spring, everybody is [thinking] let’s get out of the house, so let’s toast the coast.”
This year’s “tasting gala” features samples from over 30 Seacoast-area vendors, McNamara said, fulfilling the chamber’s goal of  promoting local restaurants, wineries, breweries, caterers, bakeries and specialty shops.
“We wanted to … bring them all together to offer a tasting gala as an arena to showcase their restaurants, and beyond that to distilleries and distributors,” she said.
Purple Urchin in Hampton, Epoch in Exeter, The Old Salt in Hampton, Smoky Quartz Distillery in Seabrook and Beara Irish Brewing in Portsmouth are among the vendors who will offer a mix of signature favorites and special samples, each hoping to earn the title “Best of Toast to the Coast.” A panel of judges will choose a “top chef” winner for the best hors d’oeuvres from the evening’s selection, McNamara explained, and a people’s choice award for best restaurant and best beverage distributor will also be given.
Drawing in businesses from a number of towns, the idea is to showcase food and drink throughout the region, making sure that there aren’t any duplicate offerings so guests have a wide range of choices. 
“We tell them to bring their best, and they usually do bring something that’s a fine cuisine,” McNamara said. 
Sometimes eateries will choose to highlight their newest features, like a number of years ago when the Old Salt brought out its chocolate fountain. 
“Now they move on and do other things, so whatever is new and exciting they bring, whatever they want to showcase,” she said. 
Guests are given a tasting program and a glass, then invited to “eat, drink and be merry” as they sample from table to table. New this year is the format of the VIP tasting, held an hour before the main event. Instead of enjoying exclusive, top-shelf items in a separate room, they’ll have access to the ballroom as vendors will display their finer products for the 100 or so VIP ticket-holders.
“They’ll have options for VIP treatment and goody bags, but now have they the ballroom to themselves,” she said.





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