It’s easy to stay in the Delray-Boca orbit, especially when it comes to after-hours events. My first Taste of the Nation at the Kravis Center in West Palm was an eye-opener. West Palm Beach and North County are buzzing with celebrity chefs and up-and-comers who are making great innovative food. James Beard award finalist and tri-restaurant owner Clay Conley, past “Top Chef” contender and owner of The Regional Kitchen Lindsay Autry, and Rick Mace of Café Boulud, had booths beside Little Moir’s, Cholo Soy Cantina, Avocado Grill, Max’s Harvest and everything in between.
More than 40 restaurants, chefs and bartenders represented their names at the organized event and included prominent signage that showcased each chef and venue. A VIP Lounge in the center was a comfortable respite with plenty of high-tops for easy tasting. A live saxophonist and DJ kept the mood light. I can’t list everything I tasted, but Jardin’s crispy deviled eggs were stellar, as was the venison summer sausage from Coolinary Café. Chef Autry’s boiled peanut hummus with local spring veggies and deviled ham was another hit.
Wine, beer and spirits flowed. Participants slowly circled the room trying various libations. Saltwater Brewery, Funky Buddha Brewery, Twisted Trunk Brewing and Tequesta Brewing Co. brought beers. Virginia Philip Wine Shop and Academy chose wines. My new favorite wine is a wonderfully light, dry rosé—perfect for pairing with fish, chicken or salad. Patrons had the opportunity to win a wine cellar by purchasing the correct key to unlock it.
Taste of the Nation, hosted by No Kid Hungry is dedicated to raising funds for Florida Impact, Feeding South Florida and FLIPANY (Florida Introduces Physical Activity and Nutrition to Youth). The underlying cause? One in four children in Florida struggles with hunger. Last year, Taste of the Nation in Palm Beach raised enough money to help give more than 760,000 meals to children in need. That’s a good reason to go next year; the more self-serving reason is to experience the county’s most exciting restaurants.
I know I’ll be there.