The Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council (KPTMC) held its 5th Annual Taste of the Kenai Food and Spirit Tasting Event Saturday, February 28th at the Sterling Community Center. The event sold out 300 tickets an entire week in advance for the third year in a row.
“KPTMC created ‘The Taste’ to highlight the unique culinary experiences on the Kenai Peninsula, connect with the community and encourage residents to get out and enjoy their own back yard,” said KPTMC executive director Shanon Hamrick.
This year 20 food and spirit vendors participated from Seward to Homer that included winner for people’s choice best dessert 1 Crazy Cupcake: A variety of mini Crazy Cupcakes, “Cupcakes make everything better!” said Sierra Lehl who started her business last fall, “It was just a hobby that I liked to do, my grandma taught me how to cook and in September I became so busy I had to quit my job and do this full time. It was a thrill for me to win, I never imagined I’d be leaving with the plaque,” she said. 1 Crazy Cupcakes are available at Tammy’s Flowers in Soldotna.
Other entries included Alaska Berries: Alaska Berries wine, vanilla ice cream with Haskap berry syrup. Bear Creek Winery: Various Bear Creek Winery Wine. Cakelady in Sterling: Various specialty cupcakes. Chinooks: Specialty sliders, turtle cake, el jefe cocktail. Fine Thyme Cafe: Quiche, grilled cheese, wraps, bread pudding & Russian cream. And the winner of the overall People’s Choice award and the Best Entrée went to Terry Johnson and his wife Michelle for Brisket, pulled pork and ribs. Terry and his wife recently moved to the Kenai from Texas, “We only opened 7 months ago so we’re ecstatic!” he told the Dispatch. “The secret is all in the rub. We do a slow smoke barbeque with lots of love, I use mesquite wood that I ship up from Texas. Texas is a nice place I learned a lot down there, but Alaska is beautiful. We came up to visit for vacation, went home and sold the ranch and two months later moved here and we’re lovin’ it and we’re here to stay,” said Terry, a retired firefighter.
Other offerings that filled the capacity crowd included: Golden International: Sushi samples and Chinese appetizers, Homer Brewing: Red Knot Scottish, Iced & Sliced: A variety of gourmet cupcakes and macaroons, Kaladi Brothers: Drip coffee, Italian sodas, coffee samples and take home samples, Kenai River Brewing Co.: Various Kenai River Brewery Beer, Mykel’s Restaurant: Cranberry gorgonzola pecan pita bites with fennel slaw, Odie’s Deli: Homemade soup and cookies, Sweet Nothings Bakery: A variety of gourmet cake samples and glittering cake pops, The Chart Room Restaurant: Alaskan Bouillabaisse, The Flats Bistro: Bratwurst w/house sauerkraut & The Flats whole grain mustard, The Restaurant at the Porterhouse Grill: Ribeye & New York strip steak bites with potatoes. According to Hamrick this year 18 food and spirit vendors participated from Hope all the way to Homer including Veronica’s Café who offered Soup and Brownie Bites. When it came down to the best brew award it was St. Elias with various St. Elias Beers who won the people’s choice for Best Brew. “A popular aspect of The Taste each year is the People’s Choice awards,” said Hamrick, “It means a lot to everyone especially the winners. In addition to the food and drink samplings attendees enjoyed a live and silent auction full of great items and activities and several raffles. New this year was the use of eco-friendly food service products provided by Loopy Lupine Distribution out of Homer. We extend a huge shout out and thank you to everyone who participated in making this a record breaking year for KPTMC. The Taste is our major fund raiser of the year,” said Hamrick.
All proceeds from the event go to support the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council to promote The Kenai Peninsula as a world class vacation destination. A great place to visit is a great place to live, work and do business.