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Taste Of Oakdale Draws Healthy Crowd
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Kristy Tyrrell, left, and Kim Sinclair of Raley’s chat with a patron at the first Taste of Oakdale event where local vendors offered samples of their wares. Raley’s brought a variety of cheese and wine to the event, hosted Thursday at the FES Hall. - photo by Kim Van Meter/The Leader

For the first time out of the gate, the Taste of Oakdale event held at the FES Hall on Thursday, Sept. 17 drew 200 people to sample and discover the local culinary talents available at their disposal when it comes time to choose a company or caterer for their events.

Mary Guardiola, Oakdale Chamber of Commerce CEO, heralded the event a success with a great turnout and many positive comments received by the attendees.

“We had a lot of people who were very happy we had it,” Guardiola said. “We received nothing but positive feedback and no one went away hungry.”

According to Guardiola, the event was all about showcasing what the businesses could do or offer and one of the things Guardiola suggested to the vendors was that they bring items that would surprise people.

And it was a suggestion that worked.

For example, many people were unaware the Oakdale Country Club made a tasty ceviche, which was one of the food wares they brought to the event, in addition to wild boar sausage with a spicy mustard.

“The ceviche was a big hit,” Guardiola said.

There were 15 different beers and five wines to sample, pizza, bacon-wrapped shrimp, prime rib, cheesecake, energy drinks, and live demonstrations by the Institute of Technology culinary department to keep patrons busy as they milled around, chatting, discovering and filling up on delicious bite-sized wares.

“It’s important to promote Oakdale vendors and keep the business in Oakdale,” said Amy Erwin of Jonathan’s At The Almond Pavilion.

She added of attending the first-ever tasting event where they offered a variety of tasty samples such as a Greek salad, “It’s good to get out there and show what we can do with fine catering. A lot of people think all we do is barbecue.”

SaveMart brought the sweet stuff, offering their everyday cakes, such as chocolate, cheesecake, and strawberry shortcake while Raley’s, which also sponsored the plates and sample cups, brought in a variety of specialty cheeses and wine.

The Institute of Technology culinary department provided live demonstrations as well as education on what is available in the realm of culinary training in the valley.

“When people think of culinary school they think they have to go to the Bay Area,” said Jenny Dove, Institute of Technology instructor. “But they only have to go as far as Modesto.”

A group of patrons from the Oak Valley Community Bank had high praise for the House of Beef and the Oakdale Country Club for their delicious samples.

Patrons selected their favorites of the evening and the results were:

Non-Alcoholic Beverage: 7up Bottling Company of Modesto - Neuro

Alcohol Beverage: Most Wanted Wine Company

Catering Company: House of Beef

Local Restaurant/Deli: Cafe Bravo

Pizzeria: Pizza Plus

In all, the evening was a huge success, said Guardiola.

“It’s nice to hit a home run like that,” she said. “Next year, we hope to have more vendors. Already people are asking about the next one.”