15th Annual Taste of N.H. supports local restaurants amid pandemic

  • The Taste of New Hampshire event has long brought together foodies and restaurants to help raise money for the Boys and Girls Club. This year’s event is going virtual as a way to help local restaurants in addition to helping support services for local children. Courtesy Taste of NH

Monitor staff
Published: 6/14/2020 8:07:19 PM

At a restaurant long cherished by locals, owner Richard Dennison moves swiftly about Angelina’s Ristorante Italiano in Concord as he gets ready for the commotion that accompanies dinner rush hour.

Even these days amid COVID-19 related restrictions, he remains perpetually busy, with few around him to help. Dennison, like the heads of many local food establishments, is working feverishly to keep up.

Everyone is suffering in this time, he said, and “Angelina’s is no different.”

But he and more than 40 other area restaurants now have some measure of relief on the horizon.

Since 2005, Taste of N.H. is an annual festival where local restaurants pile together, allowing attendees to sample their food. Not only does this allow foodies to try new restaurants, but all proceeds go to the Boys & Girls Club of Central New Hampshire. Combining both excellent food and generous donations, Taste of N.H. has been a hit for 14 years.

Usually, “we have about anywhere from 700 to 900 people attend,” said Taste of N.H. coordinator Tanya Frost. “It’s quite a massive undertaking.”

This year, like many events, Taste of N.H. will have to change its focus. From June 15-19, Taste of N.H. will be hosted virtually.

Although the “focus is still the Boys & Girls Club, this year (we are) trying to help those (restaurants and businesses) that have helped us in the past,” she said.

All proceeds made through donations and the silent auction will still be donated to the Boys & Girls Club, but organizers have added a twist to help struggling restaurants like Angelina’s Ristorante Italiano – gift cards and donations.

“We wanted to make sure that we are helping those restaurants while still benefiting the Boys & Girls Club,” Frost said. “We didn’t want to lapse a year. We wanted to stay in front of it.”

There will be $25 gift cards sold for $20, and $50 gift cards sold for $35. Thanks to its sponsors, restaurants will be paid the money in full (either $25 or $50).

Frost said this directly supports participating restaurants, because it’s a way “to put the money in their pockets now.” And, if people “are not comfortable going out,” the gift cards can be used “when things open back up.”

Frost and the other organizers of Taste of N.H. wanted to thank the restaurants and businesses that have supported the event for the past 14 years.

“We just want to show them how we’re appreciative,” Frost said. “And we want to help them in return for everything they’ve always done for us.”

Dennison said these Taste of N.H. gift cards will help alleviate the current financial strain, allowing him to continue doing what he loves.

There will be other event changes as well this year. For example, the event usually includes live entertainment. This year, however, there will be videos of “local talent” that will be featured on the Taste of N.H. website every night at 6 p.m. Additionally, throughout the week, Taste of N.H. will host a live silent auction. The Monitor is among the sponsors of this year’s event.

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