The day after Taste of Montclair 2015, the Montclair Rotary unanimously agreed, they had outgrown Montclair State University. Taste director John Lee had more than just a venue change in mind. He was already crossing borders and building bridges. He spoke to the Montclair Times the week before Taste:
"It's a pivotal year," added Lee, "because we're moving Taste of Montclair to someplace bigger, and we're hosting at least two Restaurant Weeks this year..That is our thank-you to the restaurants that are participating in Taste," said Lee. "It takes a lot of money on the part of the restaurants to pay staff and buy food for the event, and for taking their Monday, which is usually a day off, and giving it up for charity. So what better way to thank them than to run a Restaurant Week in the spring."
There John Lee stood, at the doors of the Manor as the line of patrons seemed endless, awaiting entrance into one of the largest charity food events in North Jersey. The Manor, just a few miles from the center of Montclair was a perfect location, large enough to hold 53 food crafters, over 400 patrons, sponsors, journalists, including journalism students from Montclair State and William Paterson Universities and representation from benefiting charities, most of them hungry with anticipation.
For the first time in their five year history Taste of Montclair featured a "VIP Discovery Lounge", a beautiful glass enclosed room where crafters new to Taste of Montclair shared their talent and treats with VIPs an hour before the doors opened. Montclair's Laboratorio and just opened Gelotti whose, by the way blueberry basil sorbet is almost as legendary as the story of Michael Guerriero himself; delighted diners. Catering & Market dynamic duo, across the border in East Hanover, Two Men And An Appetite served up General Tso Meatballs next to the incredibly talented cake artist Kimmy's Kakes. Her red velvet kake pops made the night sweet and were definitely a favorite.
In the main room some of Taste's faithful supporters made the night complete. Anthony's Cheesecake, Jams by Kim, Ah'Pizz and Spice Thai Cuisine never disappoint. Special appearance by inventor Hipatia Lopez and her time saving pastry tool known as Empanada Fork shared some space with Kitchen A la Mode, reminding all of us that there is joy in preparing food as much as tasting it. All of these fine folks along with Señor Sangria, Chocolate Covered Goodness, Jersey Barnfire, and many more are located outside the city limits, but gave of their time to support the Rotary charities.
The tireless efforts of Rotary could not have been made possible with out sponsorship supporters. Patrons were welcomed by presenting sponsor and soon to break ground, The MC Montclair , a joint venture of The Hampshire and Pinnacle Companies; and what will be Montclair's first service luxury hotel since the Hotel Montclair closed in 1938. The visual display and renderings of the project had folk buzzing along with local business owners, one of whom also sponsored Taste and also broke some new ground. Java Love Coffee Roasting Company, long time supporter and sponsor opened their third location on Church Street just hours before the doors opened for Taste and brought some of their cold brew best.
Beyond the beauty of the Manor and the plated delights are the charities Montclair Rotary supports. S.O.F.I.A a non profit organization that provides advocacy, supportive services and referrals for temporary housing to “at risk” women and children affected by domestic violence were present along with The Montclair Inn, a historic building now refurbished and creating affordable independent housing for seniors. Other charities supported by Rotary include Toni's Kitchen and The Human Needs Food Pantry.
It is said that nothing brings people together like the fork and spoon. We'd like to think The Montclair Rotary club did an even better job, as sponsors, vendors, members of the press, photographers, and an endless line of patrons came together at the finest location in New Jersey to share their time enjoy the fruits of the food crafters labor and support local charity and of course, secure the location of Taste of Montclair 2017.
For more information on Monclair Rotary, click here
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