METHUEN — Hopefully the crowd at the Exchange Club’s Taste of Methuen showed up with their appetites.
For just $15 per person, they had the opportunity to taste samples from 18 vendors, including Neve’s Casa Vecchia Express, Rosario The 1859 House, Borelli’s Italian Deli, Simply Elegant Catering, Shadi’s and many, many more.
The event raised $7,500, which goes straight to the charity account of the Exchange Club, which helps families and children in the Merrimack Valley.
Rice balls, steak tips, chicken, broccoli, ziti, shrimp and scallops were just a few of the dishes available for the crowd to devour.
For dessert Jay Gee’s offered ice cream, Piro’s offered every type of Italian cookie imaginable along with tiramisu and fresh baked Italian buns, while Mann Orchards offered their famous apple pie. Edible Arrangements had fruit for those without a sweet tooth. The cash bar was open and Heav’nly Donuts supplied the coffee.
Colleen Frati, an employee of Rosario’s, said being a part of the Taste of Methuen is an important community activity.
“We are right in the center of town,” Frati said. “We are trying to build up the sense of community.”
For chef Mike McMurray, it’s a generational thing.
“We have four to five generations of one family from Methuen sitting at our tables,” McMurray said. “From grandparents to the little ones sitting in high chairs. That’s how great Methuen is.”
Michael Condon, owner of the Sweetheart Inn, served his “famous” chicken pot pie.
“It’s an old family recipe,” Condon said. “It tends to be a favorite.”
Ricky Brown is co-owner with his brother Jeff of Brown and Budnick Meats. Located in Dracut, it was the only vendor taking part not from Methuen. Ricky Brown said being a part of this event is the best advertising.
“What better way for people to try your meats than here?” Brown asked. “Until someone tries it, they never know.”
Brown said that while most meat vendors use the same meats, it’s the marinade that captures the taste.
“Most of our marinades are made from scratch and are dry,” Brown explained. “A lot of people say to me, ‘what does a 25-year-old kid know about marinades?’ But to be honest, with most of the other marinades, you have to add water. When you add water, you lose flavor, in my opinion.”
There was something for everybody. El Andariego offered chicken quesadillas and enchiladas, while Applebee’s offered wraps and cheesecake. Greater Lawrence Technical School was even on hand with a variety of desserts and a display of a beautiful wedding cake.
Ken Willette, Exchange Club president and councilor at large, said this year’s event, held at the Guesthouse Suites, was much bigger than last year’s.
“We have a record crowd of close to 500 people,” Willette said. “This is amazing. It’s much larger than last year.”
On top of all the food, sweets, fruit and beverages available, there was even a 50/50 raffle and gift-basket raffles.
All proceeds of the event go straight to the charity account of the Exchange Club, which helps families and children of the Merrimack Valley.
All the restaurants, eateries and catering companies donated their time and food for the event.