It was shoulder-to-shoulder, plate-to-plate and cup-to-cup at Wasabi’s on Saturday for the first Taste of Homer, with 19 participating vendors offering tastes of everything from Jakolof Oyster Company’s fresh oysters to the delicate rosewater and cream cheese-filled pizzelles created by Red Bird Sweets.
“This is a way to promote Homer,” said Colt Belmonte, who, along with his wife Dali Frazier, owns Wasabi’s. In the midst of the crowd, Belmonte was stopped by guests thanking him for opening up the East End Road restaurant for the event.
The evening was organized by Amy Martin of Vagabond Café, with the help of Zen Kelly.
“It was full all night long, I am so pleased,” said Martin, estimating that 250-300 guests enjoyed the sampling of menus and beverages offered at local businesses and the silent and live auction benefiting Homer Farmers’ Market. “It was a beautiful thing. You could see new faces constantly coming in.”
Momentum began for Taste of Homer when Martin held a meeting to assess the interest in an evening spotlighting Homer’s culinary community. From the six businesses represented at that meeting, the involvement continued to grow. On Saturday, the Wasabi dining room was ringed with smiling vendors serving samples to equally smiling guests.
“There was one point where I was standing in the center of the restaurant and there was a hum of energy you could feel in your flesh, in your bones,” said Martin. “It was a super positive evening. Flawless.”
The restaurant’s doors opened at 4 p.m. The upper and lower parking lots soon filled, with more guests arriving by Homer Trolley. The red and green trolley provided transportation throughout the evening between Wasabi’s and the Farmers’ Market parking lot.
The auction, coordinated by Dave and Marianne Aplin, offered a wide range of treasures and “came off beautifully,” said Martin.
The amount of what was raised for Farmers’ Market was still being totaled on Monday and plans for the second annual Taste of Homer already were being considered.
“We had some people ask if we could do this every month,” said Martin, laughing. “Everybody has to wait for it and who knows what next year will be. The committee will come together and talk about future prospects and if there’s anything that could be done differently.”
Riding on the success of the first Taste of Homer, the goal is to repeat it every year.
“Whatever we need to do to reach that goal, we’ll do,” said Martin.