With 300 tickets sold in advance, 19 vendors, 35 silent auction items and 7 live auction items that included exotic trips on the Kenai Peninsula and hunting rifle, the Kenai Peninsula Tourism & Marketing Council’s (KPTMC) 4th Annual Taste of the Kenai was the most successful ever. With visitors and participants from across the Peninsula and Anchorage it was Homer’s turn to go home happy. A deliciously unique Elk Meatloaf with Potato Pancake and mushroom cream took the People’s Choice award for favorite entrée, prepared by the chef from The Chart Room at Land’s End in Homer. “I’ve been there not quite two years now and the Elk Meatloaf was the first thing that I brought to the menu there and we’ve had a great response from it,” said the chef, “I was just great being here around a lot of other cooks, we shared a kitchen with all the other restaurants that were here and it was fun to get out of my own kitchen at the restaurant and be here at an event that supports a great cause while hanging out with other great cooks of the Peninsula,” he told the Dispatch in an interview.
The other two People’s Choice Awards for best dessert and best beverage both went to repeat winners from last year’s event; Cakealicious in the dessert category and High Mark Distillery for the best beverage. “I’m just so excited to have won two years in a row,” said Cakealicious owner Andie Bock, “Cakealicious is a dangerously delicious dessert! It’ cakes that are made with sinfully delicious ingredients. My mission is to make fresh, one of a kind edible pieces of art that not only look fantastic but taste incredible and I’m so glad for the support that the people have shown me the last two years,” she said. Also taking her second straight Taste of the Kenai People’s Choice Award for the best beverage was Felicia Keith-Jones owner of the High Mark Distillery in Sterling. “I studied for five years before I was able to open the doors after obtaining 29 licenses and permits to be able to distill hard alcohol here in Alaska and it’s been quite an adventure, including studying in Ireland with the infamous Jameson family distillery of Dublin, ” said Jones who was once an elementary school teacher here on the Peninsula. “We really have a fantastic group of wineries and craft breweries here on the Peninsula and any one of them were worthy of the People’s Choice Award here tonight they are all gold medal quality and take their craft seriously, I just happened to be the lucky one again tonight,” she said.
All proceeds from the Taste of the Kenai benefit the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council in its mission to market the Kenai Peninsula as a world class, year round vacation destination, “A special thanks to our safe driving sponsor Stanley Chrysler and of course a special thank you to all our volunteers who truly make this event possible and Bob Oaks of CBC Rentals and the Sterling Community Center for their great service and of course our auctioneer for the evening Eric Price and emcees Mark Gage and Robyn Sullens,” concluded Shanon Hamrick.