By D. Channing Muller Posted April 7, 2011, 9:10 AM EDT
WASHINGTON Nearly 1,500 people headed to the National Building Museum on Monday night for Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation fund-raiser. The 23rd annual event brought together 80 restaurants for a night of food and wine tasting and cooking entertainment. Organizers added a new element this year with the inaugural Chef's Competition between three local chefs.
“At the event people walk around, eat, and get full, and we wanted to do something fun and entertaining to engage the chefs in a different way,” said Emily Byram, mid-Atlantic regional director of Taste of the Nation for Share Our Strength. “We thought this would be a fun way to give [guests] a break from eating as much and highlight a few chefs who’ve been really supportive of Share Our Strength.”
Sponsored by Creekstone Farms, the 30-minute cook-off pitted Bibiana's Nicholas Stefanelli, PS 7's Peter Smith, and Victor Albisu from BLT Steak against one another in the preparation of a dish incorporating Creekstone's black Angus beef. Stefanelli walked away the winner, and had $5,000 donated to the organization in his name. Thermador also sponsored a live kitchen with two chefs preparing shrimp and artichoke tortellini throughout the night.
About 400 people purchased $150 V.I.P. tickets to gain access to the event an hour early. Previously held in a smaller room on the second floor of the museum, the reception moved to the center of the grand atrium to minimize overcrowding and keep guests visiting all the stations throughout the night, instead of retreating from the second floor to the main event area when the latter opened for general admission.
Byram estimates the night raised nearly $200,000, about $30,000 more than last year. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to three local food banks—Mary’s Center, Capital Area Food Bank, and DC Hunger Solutions—and other programs to further the organization’s mission of ending childhood hunger.