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In The Pipeline: Put those taste buds to work

April 20, 2011|By Chris Epting
  • The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory was one of more than 50 businesses taking part in the Taste of Huntington Beach last year.
The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory was one of more than… (KENT TREPTOW, HB…)

In more than 10 years, the Taste of Huntington Beach festival has become one of the city's most successful — and satisfying — traditions.

Last year, I was asked to be a tasting judge at the festival, and it was one of the most fulfilling experiences I've had since I lived here, both figuratively and literally.

The cause is great, the food is great, and the people behind the idea are as tireless and dedicated as it gets.

Some background: The Taste of Huntington Beach is sponsored by the Huntington Beach Restaurant Assn. and benefits the Children's Department of the Huntington Beach Public Library by providing funds for books and learning enrichment programs. The event is cosponsored by the nonprofit Friends of the Children's Library.

First held in 1999 at the Huntington Beach Public Library with about five restaurants participating, the event soon grew and was moved to the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort, then the new Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa, the largest indoor space in the city. Since 2008, the event has been at the Huntington Central Park Sports Complex to accommodate the demand. More than 3,000 people are expected to attend.

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"The Taste of Huntington Beach is unique in several ways," said Dan Page, one of the event organizers. "Unlike most similar 'Taste of' events, customers pay a single flat entry fee and then are able to sample as much food and drink as they wish, without further charge. This creates a festive party atmosphere that reminds guests of Huntington Beach's 'Surf City' lifestyle. Live entertainment and auctions add to the fun."

And this year, Dean Torrence and his Surf City All-Stars will be performing.

Dan's wife, Gail Page, is also one of the chairs of the event and has been for years. I interviewed her about the event, coming up May 1, for this week's column.

What is it about the event that inspires you to put so much into it?

The short version that's more about the library than the Taste: When I was younger, I loved to read. Back in the days before we had 500 channels on the TV and four computers in our house, books were the only way to learn about interesting people and discover exciting new worlds. I would open a book — and I'd become Nancy Drew or one of Victoria Holt's heroines. Sometimes my "character" would rewrite the ending to match my moods, or I'd plan a sequel in my mind. Those books became a part of me, and I loved not only what I learned from reading, but also how those books made me feel.

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