Taste of Care Showcases Culinary Talents of NWI

Then annual Taste of Care event took over the Porter County Expo Center on Thursday June 19. The event is a huge celebration, put on by Prompt Ambulance Service, of the culinary expertise that lies in the senior healthcare facilitates in Northwest Indiana. Founded in 2009, Taste of Care has highlighted many facilities and the work that they do for their residents and their communities.

 The night began with an Invocation and then everyone was welcomed and then things started to cook...literally. 

"Chefs from 11 different healthcare providers are competing to see who has the best dishes among five categories," Ron Donahue, Director of Business Development for Prompt Ambulance said. "They plate their dishes, bring them to the judges, and the judges fill out score cards after trying each dish. It's done in an Iron Chef kind of way. We really felt it was important that these chefs get the recognition that they deserved."

Healthcare facilities in the competition were: Avalon Springs Health Center, Life Care Center of Michigan City, Rittenhouse Senior Living of Valparaiso, VNA of Porter County - Meals on Wheels, Golden LivingCenter Fountainview Place, Portage, Life Care Center of the Willows, Valparaiso, Rittenhouse Senior Living of Michigan City, The Waters of Duneland, Chesterton, Golden Living Center of Valparaiso, Life Care Center of Valparaiso, and Rittenhouse Senior Living of Portage.

Judges for the Taste of Care were: Chris Marolf, proprietor of Old World Market; Philip Potempa, food and entertainment columnist for The Times; Jonathan Ikeda, Sous Chef at Strongbow Inn and Bow Bar; Aco Sikoski, Campus President for Ivy Tech Community College; and LaVeta Stephens, owner and chef of Parkside Urban Bistro. They tasted each dish presented to them and carefully decided on which ones they thought were best. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place awards were given for Best Theme and Food Presentation. In the end, The winners were: 


 The People's Choice Award was just as the title suggests; guests were able to buy voting tokens for a dollar and then vote for their favorite dish by dropping that token in the jars that stood at the booths of the various healthcare facilities that lined the room. Funds raised during the event were split between Honor Flight Chicago and the Porter County Triad. The Triad plans to use the funds for Project Life Saver, by giving money to local seniors, building wheelchair ramps, and for other initiatives.

"Since we transitioned these events into a fundraiser, the response from everyone involved has been outstanding," Donahue said. "The funds raised from the Porter County Taste are split between Honor Flight Chicago and The Porter County Triad. Both these organizations do tremendous things for our community and the individuals helped are our neighbors. It is amazing to me how many WWII veterans live in our region and Honor Flight gives them a well deserved once in a lifetime opportunity."

Guests had a wonderful time trying all of the delicious food and checking out the fun themes that each healthcare facility chose for their booth decorations. Along with food, around 40 WWII veterans showed up to represent Honor Flight Chicago. A special Prompt ambulance with Honor Flight distinction was revealed that evening. The design for the Ambulance was done by Courtney Anderson and it was a partnership between Prompt Ambulance Services and Ivy Tech Community College. The Emcee for the evening was Porter County Sheriff David Lain. He did a neat presentation on Smartwater CSI which was developed in the United Kingdom 17 years ago. This handy liquid can be applied to objects like jewelry, electronics, and other valuables. If stolen, these valuables can be traced using an ultraviolet light and then returned to the owner. 

The very first Taste of Care competition was held in Merrillville at Prompt Ambulance base. About 200 guests showed and seven participants showed off their skills. Since then, Taste of Care events now pop up in multiple counties and the initiative continues to grow. In 2013 a Taste of Care Board was formed to oversee the different aspects of the Taste of Care events. Different Committees for each county head up individual events.

The members of the Porter County 2014 Taste of Care Committee are:

  • Betsy Cuellar- VNA Porter County
  • JoElla Depra- 1st Source Bank
  • Ron Donahue- Prompt Ambulance Service
  • Cathy Ellis- Life Care Center of Valparaiso
  • Deb Grant- Prompt Ambulance Service
  • Kathleen Kish- Prompt Ambulance Service
  • Rick Lohmeyer- Anderson Insurance
  • PJ Maxwell- Generations the Magazine
  • Len Sherwinski- Honor Flight Chicago
  • Jeff Zielinski- Prompt Ambulance Service

Save the dates for the next Taste of Care events coming up later this year! Find out more about the Taste of Care at www.tasteofcare.net 

Lake County -Lake County Thursday, September 25, 2014 Avalon Banquet Center 3550 E Lincoln Hwy Merrillville, IN 4:30pm - 7:30pm

St Joseph County Thursday, October 2, 2014 Location TBA 4:30pm - 7:30pm

Greater Lafayette October 2014 Location TBA 4:30pm - 7:30pm

Sponsors for Taste of Care: Prompt Ambulance Service, Generations the Magazine, Kauffman Chiropractic, Anderson Insurance, Southlake Limousine Service, Inc., Anchor Home Health Care, ComForCare Senior Services, Porter Regional Hospital, Residences at Deer Creek, Moses Caregivers.

Click here to view more photos from the event!

Photos courtesy of Caroline Albers and Bella Photography.