We were greeted at the entrance by two lovely belly dancers, who kindly slowed their shimmies so I could get a shot. If I had already sampled the cocktails inside, I might have jumped in and shimmied with them...maybe.
Here's Chef Walter Staib from City Tavern. At the 2010 Taste of the Nation, I took one of my most favorite pictures of him. If you look closely here, you'll see he has a little pink syringe in his right hand. He was injecting big, beautiful strawberries with Cointreau and then dipped them in chocolate. Oh. My. God. Incredibly good. Walter, you can inject my strawberries anytime!
A delicate little cupcake, that had the most delicious frosting I've ever tasted, courtesy of Mugshots Coffee House & Cafe.
Salted caramel cheesecake with mocha sauce and a cookie crust by Belle Cakery. I know you want one.
One of my MOST favorite treats of the night: coconut rice pudding with mango, black sesame and cilantro, from Fish. Who would have thunk to put all these different ingredients together but, seriously, it worked. My mouth is watering right now remembering about how good it was.
The Hubs really liked this beer -- I think he went back for seconds, heehee.
A chef from DiBruno Brothers carefully slicing to plate. I stood and watched him for a few minutes -- it takes mad skills to slice meat that thin, people.
Tee hee! Caught ya in mid bite! I was joking with the woman -- we agreed that one can still be classy while eating with your fingers. Who needs a fork? Not me!
Here's Chef Guillermo Tellez from Square 1682 and his lovely assistant -- don't you love how she wore purple to match her table's decor? They were very nice and offered a refreshing spin on short ribs...yum! Thanks for posing, guys!
Pumpernickel donut with smoked salmon creme by Fish . I bit into this expecting it be sweet, but it wasn't. It was hearty and salty; a great compliment to the smoky salmon flavor. The Hubs loved this one.
Mexican ceviche served in a fried tortilla cone by El Camino Real. I could have eaten the whole display...
Gumbo from Verdad Restaurant & Tequila Bar. They cooked this in an enormous pot just behind the plate table. Spicy, rich and flavorful. Southern food at its best.
"Bourbon Southside" courtesy of The Farmers Cabinet.
One of my favorite things the event offers: being able to actually engage with some of the best chefs in Philadelphia; these men and women are practically celebrities -- we Philly folk love our food! They will not only create amazing dishes for you, but they'll explain what's in it, how they created it and answer questions. I loved watching the interactions. Here's Chef Chair, Kevin Sbraga chatting with a guest.
Guests bid on one of the many items offered at the silent auction....
This was my absolute favorite dish of the entire night: striped bass ceviche by 10 Arts Bistro & Lounge by Eric Ripert. Honestly, I came back so many times for more that I made friends with the chefs...and they were so nice that they agreed to a picture (below). Thanks for your charm and hospitality, guys -- I will be stalking you and your ceviche at 10 Arts Bistro shortly!
2012 Chef Chair, Kevin Sbraga, accepts his gift from Share Our Strength -- it was exciting to have him there!
100% of ticket sales go towards feeding Philadelphia's children, and Share Our Strength was able to raise more than $40,000 during this year's Taste of the Nation -- think of how many kids that will help! Thanks to everyone who offered their time, energy and foodie love to this amazing organization. Want more Taste of the Nation? Visit their website or "like" them on Facebook.
I hope you enjoyed the show (that's me!). If you attend next year, we can spoil our tongues and tummies together (hint hint). Many thanks to Taste of the Nation for allowing me to cover one of my most favorite evenings of the entire year...cheers!