Despite the threatening weather, more than 1,000 guests attended the 29th annual Taste of the Town event Sunday at Mann Biomedical Park in Valencia.
The charity fundraiser for the Santa Clarita Child & Family Center featured more than 40 restaurants, bakeries, caterers and beverage purveyors who donated all of the food and drink for the event.
Guests lined up to sample an abelskeiver play on chicken and waffles from Salt Creek Grille, several flavors of Rita’s Ice, ribs from Newhall Refinery, strawberry ice cream from Sweet Beams, chocolate-covered strawberries from Clarice’s, sandwiches from Jersey Mike’s Subs and a host of other gourmet delights.
Jennifer Gerard shows her auction winnings.
“We are so grateful to all the exhibitors who have donated all the food, drink and staff,” said Doreen Shine.
A Child & Family Center board member for the past four years, Shine said she was honored to chair the event.
“It is a wonderful organization that helps so many families and children,” she said.
The Santa Clarita Child & Family Center is the only nonprofit community mental health clinic in the Santa Clarita Valley. The center offers mental health, behavioral and education services to children, adults and families including counseling, school-based services, home-based services, crisis intervention, parenting classes and substance abuse recovery programs.
Sunday’s event featured silent and live auctions as well as the signature Diamond Drop and Princess Cruises opportunity drawings.
Tickets to the latter were $50 each (3 for $100) for a chance to win a Princess Cruises premium vacation package valued at $5,000.
Apo Yessayan welcomes guests to his Diamond Drop booth. Photos: Michele E. Buttelman
Apo Yessayan of Classic Designs Jewelry personally selected a more-than-1-carat diamond he hand-picked in Belgium and set in a pendant necklace. Raffle tickets were $25 each, and guests also received a glass of champagne.
“We are donating one of the biggest diamonds ever this year,” Yessayan said. “We try to support many charity events in the Santa Clarita Valley. We do business here, and we want to partner with the community and give back.”
The live auction featured a variety of travel and dining packages including a trip to Maui, resort travel, Mammoth Mountain, a Rattler’s catered party, wine pairing dinner for eight, Stonefire Grill catering and a dinner for 10 at Bridgeport Lake.
Jennifer Gerard, CEO of Whitening Lighting and Gerard Cosmetics as well as a “Top Chef” Taste of the Town sponsor, paid $2,100 for a Neil Diamond concert package donated by Mark LeVang and Neil Diamond.
LeVang’s band, Mark LeVang and Friends, has been the regular entertainment at Taste of the Town for several years. LeVang is currently on a world tour with Diamond.
“My mom was a big Neil Diamond fan,” Gerard said. “She had an 8-track that she would play over and over and over and over. So I know all the songs.”
Nanci Olmos of Clarice’s Cake & Candy Supplies has participated every year.
Food and beverage donors included An Indian Affair, Angel City Brewery, Anheuser-Busch, Bella Cucina, Bergies, BJ’s Restaurant, Bonefish Grill, Casa Canela Restaurant, Castaic lake Water Agency, Clarice’s Cake & Candy Supplies, College of the Canyons Culinary School, Fireman’s Brew, Henry Mayo Cafe, Honu Coffee, J. Lohr Vineyards, Jersey Mike’s Subs, Jill’s Cake Creations, Kona Ice, Larsen’s Steakhouse, Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ.
Also: Marstons, Nature’s Bakery, New Moon Restaurant, Newhall Refinery, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Olive Terrace Bar & Grill, Parashars’ Indian Kitchen, Pinot’s Palette, Pocock Brewing Company, Rita’s Italian Ice, Rubios, Salt Creek Grille, Shot Exchange, Signal Wine Club, Sisley, Solita Tacos, Sweet Beams, The Blaq Square, The Paseo Club, TPC Valencia, Valencia Country Club, Vines Restaurant & Bar, Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewery and Wood Ranch BBQ.
Volunteer Fred Gruchalla hands out wine glasses.
Nanci Olmos, owner of Clarice’s Cake & Candy Supplies, is celebrating 30 years in business this year.
“Myself and Jill of Jill’s Cake Creations were at the first Taste of the Town,” she said. “We are the only businesses here that have been at every Taste of the Town.”
Olmos said it is important to support the Child & Family Center.
“This helps the kids, and kids are going to be running the world one day,” she said. “The Child & Family Center helps so many people in our community.”
Attendee Marlee Lauffer of Valencia commented favorably on the weather and the cuisine.
“It’s a perfect day to support a great charity and to eat fabulous food,” she said.
Karen Beam of Sweet Beams Ice Cream spent the afternoon offering up strawberry ice cream cones to event guests who stood patiently in a long line to sample the treat.
“My husband and I have been doing Taste of the Town since it was held at the Piru Mansion,” she said. “This is really a great cause.”
Despite a forecast predicting cool temperatures and rain, the downpour held off most of the afternoon until most guests were leaving or had left the event.
“We just got to our car and the sky just opened up,” said Vanessa Wilk of Saugus.
For more information about the Santa Clarita Child & Family Center, visit www.childfamilycenter.org.
Karen Beam of Sweet Beams Ice Cream
Mark LeVang & Friends