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Susan Axelrod

Susan Axelrod's food writing career began in the kitchen; she owned a restaurant and catering business for 15 years before turning to journalism. By day, she is the social media editor for Portland Press Herald. To relax, she bakes, gardens and hikes with her husband and their two dogs, preferably followed by a cocktail or a Maine beer. Susan can be contacted at 791-6310 or saxelrod@mainetoday.com On Twitter: @susansaxelrod

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Posted: June 24, 2014

Taste of the Nation 2014 will feature local breweries paired with chefs

Great weather is predicted for the ninth-annual event at Fort Williams Park on Sunday, which raises funds to feed hungry children in Maine.

Written by: Susan Axelrod

Chef Jeff Landry and Heather Sanborn, co-owner of of Rising Tide Brewing, at Taste of the Nation 2013. Photo by Ted Axelrod for Share Our Strength

Even when they offer sensational food and drink, support an important cause and draw a fun crowd, annual charity events can be a challenge for organizers to keep fresh. One way Share our Strength Maine keeps its Taste of the Nation fundraiser marked in ink on June calendars is the venue, which is stunning — and different — each year.

For 2014, committee chair John Woods, a Cape Elizabeth resident, secured Fort Williams Park, where on Sunday guests will gather under a huge tent on the rise by the parade grounds, overlooking Portland Head Light and a sweeping expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. Just last year, Cape Elizabeth, which owns the park, opened it to public rentals for the first time. Woods jumped on the chance to host the event there; his proposal was unanimously approved by the park advisory board and the town council.

An important note: Unlike 2013, when rain kept guests from appreciating the full beauty of Wolfe’s Neck Farm in Freeport, the weather on Sunday is supposed to be spectacular.

Another new element this year is the addition of nine local breweries, whose beers will be paired with food from 16 of the more than 30 participating chefs and food businesses. “I have wanted to involve Maine breweries in the event,” said Woods, who credits Heather Sanborn, co-owner of Portland’s Rising Tide brewery, with getting even new breweries, such as Banded Horn, on board. “Heather championed the effort of bringing the Maine breweries together with the chefs. Without her help, it would not have been possible.”

The pairings are not all finalized, but here are a few tasty examples:

Hungry yet?

Taste of the Nation provides vital support for the mission of Share Our Strength, Maine — ending childhood hunger in the state. Thanks to event sponsors (including The Portland Press Herald and MaineToday.com), participating restaurants and food businesses, and the all-volunteer committee (of which I am a member), the cost to produce the event is low, allowing the majority of the proceeds to be distributed to four local organizations working to feed Maine’s food-insecure kids: Opportunity Alliance, Good Shepherd Food Bank, Cultivating Community and Preble Street Teen Center. Despite the rain, last year’s Taste of the Nation raised $170,000, Woods said, and this year’s proceeds are projected to top $200,000.

Tickets for Taste of the Nation 2014 are $125, $200 for VIP, and are available at tasteofthenation.org/maine. Find more details and a full list of participating restaurants HERE.

Hope to see you there!

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