The New Hampshire Distributors, Co., a Concord-based beer distributor, has continuously worked to support a city non-profit in need — the Concord Boys & Girls Club.
“Obviously in the business were are in, to find an event we could create to raise money for the Boys & Girls Club is pretty difficult,” said Chris Brown, New Hampshire Distributors president.
The business, he said, came up with the idea for an event that would benefit both the charity it serves and the city businesses and restaurants that it has developed relationships with over the years.
“That is how it began,” Brown said. The “it” being the Taste of Concord, which will be held for the fifth year in a row on Thursday, Oct. 14, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Grappone Conference Center. All event proceeds benefit the Boys & Girls Club.
“I think a lot of people would take a look at Concord and think it is a sleepy little town,” Brown said. “There is a really great core of restaurants in this town, independently owned restaurants that put out great food.”
This year’s event has drawn the participation of 38 city restaurants and food-related businesses. “Get there early and make sure you’re hungry,” Brown said.
Last year’s event raised more than $30,000 for the Boys & Girls Club, Brown said. “For us, the event gives us an opportunity to get in front of almost 700 people and let them know a little bit about what we do,” said Carol Morse, Boys & Girls Club of Concord development director.
Money raised, Morse said, will be put directly toward scholarships for children unable to afford to access the club’s programs.
“For $30 a ticket — you are probably going to spend that much if you go out to dinner — you get to try a lot of things and feel like the money is going to a good cause — which it is,” she said.
For restaurants and beer and wine distributors, Morse called the event an outstanding opportunity to showcase different aspects of their business. “Some people will say ‘I didn’t know you had this, you should put it on your menu’ and the restaurant will say ‘It is on our menu, you should come eat it,’” Morse said.
Corey Fletcher, Granite Restaurant & Bar executive chef, said he will be serving apple cider and sage-braised pork mixed with apples, butternut squash and fennel at the event.
“It’s great to support the Boys & Girls Club in such a great way,” Fletcher said. “It’s just a great way for Concord businesses, especially the restaurants, to really get out there and support the community in ways that we usually don’t get to because we’re so busy.”
Brown said organizing the events each year gets easier and restaurants are eager to participate.“It is easy for them to cut back on these things but we are lucky — our event has not been cut back,” Brown said. “They it is as a great opportunity to market themselves.”
And while getting his restaurant’s name out there by appearing at the Taste of Concord does not hurt, Bruce Parrish, owner of Hermanos Cocina Mexicana, said it is not the reason why his eatery has participated in the event since its inception five years ago.
“I don’t go out and do anything with hopes it will help my business. We just go out and participate for the cause itself,” Parrish said.
Parrish said Hermanos will be serving up a few kinds of chili with their fresh made tortilla chips for the tasting. “There is more food than you could ever eat,” Parrish said of the event’s offerings. “It is an endless array of food. You keep making the rounds and run out of room to try more.”
New Hampshire Distributors will dole out samples of more than 25 beers throughout the event alongside three wine distributors. In addition to each restaurant and its offerings, the program given to guests at the door will list beer and wine pairings for each food sample.
New to the event this year is a Taste of Concord discount card, available for purchase at the event for $20, which grants the cardholder discounts at an estimated 10 to 15 city restaurants and businesses. All proceeds from the discount card will also be given to the Boys & Girls Club.
For a third year, the event will also feature the “Granite State Throwdown” an Iron Chef-like competition pitting chefs from O Steaks and Seafood and Angelina’s Ristorante Italiano against each other. Each chef will have 45 minutes to produce a dish made with the same soon-to-be-chosen New Hampshire-made food item and present it to a panel of judges. “It’s all in good fun,” Brown said.