We had the opportunity and privilege to volunteer at this year’s Share our Strength’s Taste of the Nation event in LA this past Sunday, thanks to our friends Hong & Kim from Ravenous Couple blog for letting us know about this amazing event that raises money to fight child hunger. Located at Media Park in Culver City, Taste of the Nation rounded up over 40 restaurants that offered tasty bite-sized portions of some of their signature dishes. From Nobu to Sprinkles, the selections varied from savory to sweet and did not miss out anything in between. A few hours of our efforts as volunteers really paid off when we got to enjoy the last couple of hours at the park feasting on whatever we can get our hands on – not to mention all the fancy cocktails, wine, and freshly-brewed coffee that was also available for our desire. It was definitely a spectacular event that went to a remarkably wonderful cause. We also ran into our friends Chris & Betty from Corque (a blog about the love of wine & beer) and they had a great recap of the event, so visit them here to read more about their experiences. Below are some photos we captured of the day’s volunteer work, as well as all the delicious tastings we got to try from these participating restaurants.
This year's logo of an eaten apple - but look closely and you'll see the silhouette of an adult and a child. All the volunteers got a T-Shirt with this design.
We came early to set up the auction table, which is a silent auction for various things like vacations, gym memberships, kitchen gadgets, gift certificates, etc.
Kim & Hong are setting up the auction table in the VIP tent. These items are a bit pricier, like $5,000 towards a wine cellar or a 7-night stay in the Caribbean.
The gates opened at 1pm for the general public who bought tickets to the event, which goes for $100 regular admission to $150 VIP admission. And yes, it was a beautiful day in Southern California!
After our volunteer shift was over, we took off our T-shirts and walked around the park to sample the many many offerings.
Presentation was also an important factor for these restaurants, as they showcased their dishes in very unique ways. Patina Restaurant provided this spoonful of marinated hamachi, cucumber vinegar, avocado, and Granny Smith apple.
Preparing simple dishes for this event was not on any of these restaurants' agenda. They really went all out on pairing different flavors together and blending them quite nicely. We tried this 'horseradish dusted braised short rib on smoked potatoes' from Hatfield's.
Sprinkles did not disappoint with their selection of beautifully crafted cupcakes. I took this photo as they were still setting up, and by the time I went to their booth to get a cupcake, they were completely out! What a bummer.
One of my favorite tastings was from Nobu Restaurant. Their 'miso marinated black cod with butter lettuce' was right up my alley in terms of flavor and texture. We've prepared their miso cod before at home, but never thought about wrapping up a cubed piece of fish in butter lettuce. I think I went back for 2nds and 3rds.
Don't worry about leaving the park hungry! You will be so stuffed and sad that you didn't get to try everything. These are the 'lamb burger with wild arugula, spicy tomato chutney and melted Wisconsin hook’s baby blue' from Ford's Filling Station Restaurant.
Here we have the 'Cumin spiced skirt steak on roasted tomato and arugula' from Simon LA.
We captured this photo of Roberto Maggioni, the Executive Chef at Lago. He and his staff prepared Parmesan Gelato (this was an interesting flavor) and Lingua in Salsa Verde (Braised Beef Tongue with Fresh Parsley Pesto). I actually liked the braised beef tongue!
Desserts were abundant at almost every other booth! Of course, your stomach can only handle so much variety in such a short amount of time. So eat wisely and save room for these chocolate bites sprinkled with gold!
As much as I’d love to show you everything we ate, it just won’t be feasible! Our day in the park was fun, fulfilling, and of course, rewarding. We are so proud to be a part of the volunteer staff for such a generous event. Hats off to Taste of the Nation for planning and executing such a well-organized fundraiser. Thanks Hong & Kim for inviting us to be a part of this event. We definitely shared a lot of good laughs with you guys, from being bossed around by other volunteers to being scolded for eating too early. There was never a dull moment and we enjoyed every bit of it!