The courtyard area outside Temecula’s City Hall building was filled with the smell of food as multiple restaurants and wineries set up shop for a good cause.
The fourth annual Taste of Temecula Valley Event ran from 11 a.m. through 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 26 and more than two dozen restaurants, six wineries and 10 microbreweries were giving out samples of their culinary creations. Guests could also dance and groove throughout the course of the day as local bands performed a number of hits from the ‘70s and ‘80s.
The event’s proceeds went to benefit the Temecula Valley Excellence in Education Foundation (TVFEE), which provides mini-grants to teachers at area schools who may not be able to complete certain projects or get students necessary supplies without supplemental funding, according to Event Chair Mark Katan.
Katan has been involved with the Taste of Temecula Valley festival since its very beginning. He was one of the people that devised the idea for it five years ago when the TVFEE members were trying to come up with a good fundraiser to benefit students. In that initial year that he devised the idea, he wasn’t able to get the support he needed to make it a reality, but he was able to the following year.
Since that time the event has been going strong and growing, according to Katan.
He said that one of the positives has been the ever-increasing variety in terms of food and beverage choices. “The increasing variety is probably the biggest thing,” Katan said. “There’s a diverse group of restaurants that’s just amazing; there’s sushi, there’s African food, there’s Indian food and the major wineries are here, too.”
Many of the restaurants and wineries that attended the event were there for the very first time. Mama’s Cucina Italiana represented Pala Casino at the event and Lead Chef Luciano Cibelli was whipping up a variety of culinary creations to tantalize taste buds such as lobster ravioli.
In addition to the pasta, Cibelli concocted a three item dessert menu which consisted of classic European treats like pana cotta, crème brulee and macaroons.
The restaurant’s menu was keeping their booth at the festival extremely busy as people flocked to get a taste of classic Italian cooking, according to
The festival didn’t just provide a chance for established area businesses to show off their culinary chops, it also allowed the new kids on the block to show what they’re made of.
Panini and Hops, a restaurant which had its grand opening the same day as the festival, was sharing its menu of several different panini choices.
Owner Sam Macaluso said he was inspired to start a restaurant because of a trip he took to Hawaii. He was looking in his fridge, he said, and there were a loose scattering of ingredients that included chicken breast, pear, pesto and ciabatta bread.
“So I decided to make a sandwich and got a brick and took it out to the barbeque outside and pressed it,” Macaluso said. “And everyone in my family was like, ‘what did you put in this?’ and that’s how we created the Pesto Chicken which is on our menu.”
But in spite of its high end culinary appearance, the event was still very much about area students and finding ways to help and honor them.
There were a number of presentations that took place, but in one of them students were awarded for their effort to be environmentally conscious.
American Residential Services’ Think Green Competition asked students from grades four through twelve how people could be more green and eco-friendly in their daily lives.
Area students Paisley Trent, Matthew Schork and Miranda Schulz all took home awards for their green project or proposal.
Now with the conclusion of the event, Katan said he’s already starting to plan for next year.
“We start as soon as this one ends,” he said. “We’re already making contacts today.”