The delicious scent of a modern cornucopia of culinary delights wafted through the Porter County Expo Center Thursday evening for the 24th annual Taste of Valparaiso. Almost 40 restaurants, 100 Tri Kappa members, and more 1000 community members came together for this decadent fundraiser.
Families enjoyed small portions from Valparaiso’s eclectic but universally phenomenal dining scene while socializing with many of Valpo’s most prominent community members. Doctors, pastors, journalists, local business owners, and many more came out for this fun-filled evening of food and culture. With each bite, Valpo citizens raised money that goes directly back to the community.
Each year, local service sorority Tri Kappa organizers the Taste to raise money that goes back into the community in the form of scholarships and grants.
“We give back to the community, to so many different organizations,” Kaye Frataccia, a Tri Kappa member and Program Manager at Empower Porter County. “We are a philanthropic organization. We have lot of fun, we really do, but really give back to the community.”
All of the profits from the Taste go directly back to the community in a variety of ways.
“We support charity, culture and education,” said Leslie Plesac, president of Tri Kappa. “Including a lot of non-profits in our area who receive funds through our grants and allocations process. There are very few organizations in Valparaiso that haven’t been touched by Tri Kappa in some shape or form. We have a lot of passion in our organization. We support each other and the causes that are important to us.”
The Taste of Valparaiso not only raises money for charity, but also garners a lot of publicity for local restaurants.
“We care about our community,” said Plesac. “We want all of the restaurants and other businesses to do well. We give them a lot of exposure. They donate their food, their time, and their labor. They help us do a wonderful job of raising funds. It’s really a win-win for everybody.”
On their end, restaurant workers enjoyed the taste immensely.
“This year’s Taste was a great success,” said Carmen Henderson of Don Quijote. “I look forward to attending next year!”
Tri Kappa members Jodie Peller and Julie Collins were co-chairs for the event, working together to plan all the details of the Taste.
“It’s great for our community because 100% of our profits go back into the community,” said Peller.
“It brings people together,” added Collins. “It really brings the community together. I think of lot of people look forward to the Taste all year long. Many people find new restaurants – we have restaurants say that for a few weeks after the Taste they get an influx of new customers.”
People may come for the food, but they stay for the community engagement.
“It was great to see so many members of the community in one place, especially given the charitable cause,” said Dana Khabbaz, a current student at Indiana University who came to the Taste with her family. “It was also an excellent opportunity to check out some of the restaurants in Valpo that I haven’t had a chance to try, as well as to learn about some of the newer restaurants.”
This year’s taste included AFC Chefs of NWI, Asparagus, Birky Family Farms Country Gourmet, Blackbird Café, Bon Femme Café, Campbell Street Café, Chili’s, Culver’s, Designer Desserts, Don Quijote, Family Express, La Cabana, It’s Vegas Baby!, Main + Lincoln, Margarita’s Bar & Grill, Miller Bakery Café, Parea, Noodles & Company, Pestos, Pikk’s Tavern, Popolano’s, Qdoba, Roots, Semento’s Napoli Café, South Bend Chocolate Co., Strongbow Bakery and Inn, Suzie’s Café, T-Bones Pier 11, T.J. Maloney’s. Tommy B’s, Town and Country Market, Valpo Velvet Shoppe, Valpo Viennas, Wildflour, and Yats Cajun Creole.