PORTSMOUTH — Lauren Gugliuzza, assistant manager of the Library Restaurant, was plating beef tenderloin and zucchini slaw appetizers, while Tim Sheehan, chef at The Rosa, spooned out meatballs.
Michael Couch and Krissy Perry, both of Kittery, Maine, were checking out the bacon covered chocolate spice cupcakes and Lindt chocolate-covered brownies from Clyde’s Cupcakes of Exeter.
With 50 area restaurants offering samples of their cuisine, local vineyards serving wine, and beer vendors, more than 700 guests had a lot to choose from during the Taste of the Nation fundraising event held Wednesday evening at Strawbery Banke.
Proceeds from the event benefited Share Our Strength Seacoast, part of a national organization that raises money to fight childhood hunger.
When it first started 21 years ago, Portsmouth’s Taste of the Nation event reaped $8,000. Wednesday evening, it raised more than $120,000.
“It is easy to forget that one in six children in New Hampshire struggles with hunger,” said event co-chairwoman Linda Plumer. “Coming together as a community here directly affects the state of hunger in New Hampshire and the rest of the country.”
With corporate sponsorship, generous silent auction items, ticket sales, the all-time total raised by Share Our Strength Seacoast was brought to $1.5 million. According to Share Our Strength’s national headquarters in Washington D.C., Portsmouth raises more funds per capita for this cause than any other city in the nation.
“Without all of the corporate and community support, along with our dedicated team of event volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to give 100 percent of ticket proceeds to support Share Our Strength’s ‘No Kid Hungry’ campaign,” said co-chairwoman Jessica Michaud.
Area organizations receiving the funds from this year’s event include End 68 Hours of Hunger, Seacoast Family Food Pantry, Footprints Food Pantry, Strafford CAP Summer Meals, S.N.H.S. Breastfeeding and W.I.C. program, Seacoast Eat Local, N.H. Farm to School, N.H. Kids Count, and the N.H. Food Bank.
The Taste also honored sustainability. Green ribbons adorned tables where chefs used ingredients from local farms, and zero-waste volunteers were guiding guests to ensure items were composted or recycled.
Dave Bilodeau of Somersworth was attending the event with Angela Quartararo of Sanford, Maine.
“My company (Advanced Design and Manufacturing in Portsmouth) usually buys a block of tickets and it’s like a nice company outing,” Bilodeau said. “I like the cause and the concept. It’s nice to see all the restaurants coming together to support this.”
Corporate sponsors for the evening were Liberty Mutual, Vault Systems, Strawbery Banke Museum, Graystone Builders, Advanced Design and Manufacturing, Pax World Investments, Smuttynose Brewing, Tom Hammer Construction, Portsmouth Harbor Cruises, GreenPages, Mortgage Network, Regency Mortgage, Keller-Williams, Marginista, Personal Nerd, Holy Rosary Credit Union, The Provident Bank, and Long Term Care Partners.
Share Our Strength Seacoast is part of the “No Kid Hungry” campaign, connecting kids in need with nutritious food and teaching their families how to cook healthy, affordable meals. To learn more, visit, http://ce.strength.org/events/portsmouth-taste-nation