In all, 95 caterers, restaurateurs, pastry chefs, and chocolatiers, as well as some of New England’s biggest brewers and beverage distributors, served up their finest to a sellout crowd on the evening of June 12 at the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust’s signature social event, The Taste of the Vineyard.
Under huge tents on the lawns of the Daniel Fisher House, 850 attendees (at $150 a ticket) sported handsome — at times outrageous — examples of cocktail attire. Plaids, salmons, limes, and aquamarines were common tones. Posh jewelry was profuse.
Hors d’oeuvres, desserts, wine, spirits, beer, and a wide and eclectic array of culinary samples continued to be served well into the night as The Sultans of Swing energized a packed dance floor. When the event wrapped up at 10 pm, the sidewalks of Main Street went thick with sequined dresses and crisp blazers as many guests streamed into The Port Hunter, The Wharf, and other establishments and kept the revelry going.
Vendors shared their impressions:
“It’s a fun annual event that kicks the season into high gear. It’s great to see the restaurant and catering community coming together to support this important and historical Vineyard event.”
– Annie Foley, owner of Annie Foley Catering
“I’m not sure how many years we have played the Taste, but to see our community dressed up and smiling and so many familiar faces mingling, smiling, and enjoying themselves never ceases to inspire my appreciation of the Vineyard. Musicians that I can barely get to move all bug me to play the Taste, and that says it all. It’s just great fun and the official start of summer for me.”
– Jerry Bennett, founder of The Sultans of Swing
“I would say this is one of the best culinary events that we at Bombay Sapphire participate in all year. Our Sapphire Blueberry and Green Tea Collins was a huge hit and was perfectly paired for a summer night with great food and fabulous people. Cheers to Martha’s Vineyard.”
– Alyson Carr, Bombay Sapphire representative
“I always think of The Taste of the Vineyard as the season’s kick-off party. It’s a great place to connect with old friends, discover new businesses, try new beverages, and taste the cuisine of the new chefs. I just love it. For Lola’s, it was a wonderful opportunity to announce their re-opening, and I thought the Gumbo was super tasty. The band was amazing this year! I just wish it would have gone on at least another hour. How does the song go? ‘I could have danced all night!’”
– Eniko DeLisle, Team Lola’s
“It was one of the best years at The Taste. It was a great crowd of folks tasting, catching up, dancing, and having a jolly time. The vendors were terrific. There was loads of great food and interesting drinks. I heard that over a 1,000 oysters were shucked. I know I ate three.”
– Jan Buhrman, owner of The Kitchen Porch
“The taste is an interesting event. I think as a grand dinner party it’s great with a few of the guests getting a little out of hand. People were happily surprised I was at the Home Port and most reactions to the food were that they really liked it. The scallop ceviche was a big hit, but I imagine in an actual restaurant setting [it would be] a harder sell. The event itself is very loud and frenzied. The only other comment I have is regarding the commando style security. I was expecting a visit from the president.”
– Josh Aronie, chef at Home Port Restaurant
“It was so much fun – lots of people – a sea of faces eating and drinking.”
– Dee Smith, owner of Tea Lane Caterers
“My first time there. I loved it. Great food, fun people, fantastic music. Lots of Edgartown brightly colored clothing.”
– Chrissy Kinsman, owner of Pie Chicks
“Always a tremendous party. A rare chance to hang out with other restaurant folks.”
– Greer Thornton, owner of Atria
“We had a wonderful time as always. People are always so complimentary and happy at this event. Hard to find anyone who isn’t in the best of moods. That is part of why I love the Vineyard so much. We will be back again next year and expect it to be another great event.”
– Mathew Perry, president of Turkey Shore Distilleries
“We always love to claim our spot near the dance floor. If I can swing it, I try to sneak out onto the dance floor. It’s such a great party! The Preservation Trust does a knock-out job organizing this event. When I was little, summer started when school was out. Now summer starts with the Taste.”
– Jessica Buckley, owner of Buckley’s Gourmet Catering
Some thoughts from patrons
“So the Taste was amazing. It’s really incredible to see it unfold every year. I think one of the most interesting things about it is the hype it seems to get a month or so in advance. I must have been asked by 20 different people if I was going or, ‘do you have your ticket to the Taste yet?’”
– Weston Halkyard
“The Taste of the Vineyard is my favorite event of the year. I anxiously wait to save the date and then anxiously wait for the date tickets go on sale. Then comes the hunt for the perfect dress. The food was amazing. At the Taste I decide which restaurants I must go to this summer. This year top of my list is the Lambert’s Cove Inn. Once again it was a fun-filled night with everyone looking their best.”
– Lidia Lopes
Auction a success
On Saturday, June 16, the Preservation Trust held its regal Patron’s Party and Auction. Inside tents adjacent to the Dr. Daniel Fisher House, 300 guests enjoyed wine, cocktails, canapés, and dinner by V. Jaime Hamlin and Sons Catering.
“I love working with Janet [Heath] and Chris [Scott],” Ms. Hamlin said. “I love supporting the Preservation Trust. I truly believe in its mission.”
The subsequent live auction raised $274,600 while the silent auction yielded $31,400. As always, the ever-charismatic Trip Barnes served as auctioneer. Two highlights of the live auction were a 1931 Model T Roadster, which fetched $35,000 and a painting by the late Ray Ellis that soared to $185,000.
“Ray was always a great supporter of the Trust, as is Teddy, his wife. She literally took this painting off her wall,” said Mr. Scott, executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust.
Mr. Scott said the proceeds of the Taste, the Patrons Party, and the auction grossed about $600,000, and will help with ongoing restoration projects of trust properties: Most notably, the Old Whaling Church, where two boilers were recently replaced and an underground oil storage tank was removed. Significant and costly steeple repairs are slated for this year.
Also top priorities for Mr. Scott this year are the Flying Horses Carousel, which sees heavy seasonal use, and the Union Chapel, which is undergoing a $2 million restoration process.
For more information on the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust, call 508-627-4440 or visit mvpreservation.org.