Hundreds of local residents dined on the finest cuisine Santa Barbara has to offer at Share Our Strength’s Sixth Annual Taste of the Nation event on May 19 at the Montecito Country Club. The event raised $55,000 to fight childhood hunger locally and nationally.

More than 30 of the city’s finest chefs and restaurants as well as emcee Catherine Remak of K-Lite (KSBL) and honorary event chair and supermodel Tatjana Patitz participated in the gastronomic event. Along with David Reardon, executive chef of Bacara Resort & Spa, participating restaurants included Montecito Country Club, the Anchor Woodfire Kitchen, The Lark and Bella Vista at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore.

Additionally, guests enjoyed the region’s top winemakers and brewers, including Alma Rosa, Beckmen Vineyards, Brander Vineyard, Carr Vineyards & Winery, Municipal Winemakers, Pali Wine Company, Firestone Walker Brewery and Island Brewing Company.

In addition to fabulous food and drinks, the event featured a Community Chef Competition. The competition included three teams comprised of a chef, a prominent community leader and a junior high student (age 12 to 14) from Fairview Gardens’ internship program. The teams had 30 minutes to prepare a stellar dish of their choice with donated ingredients from Whole Foods and Fairview Gardens. In the end, the Bacara’s Reardon, Santa Barbara City Fire Department Capt. Michael Hoose and Fairview Gardens intern Druien Barton took home the top honors.

Area charities that benefited from this year’s event included the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County, California Food Policy Advocates and the California Association of Foodbanks. Since 1988, Taste of the Nation has raised more than $80 million, including more than $236,000 in Santa Barbara alone.

With more than 16 million children facing hunger in America (that’s almost one in five), and almost 22,000 food insecure children in Santa Barbara, Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation is more vital than ever. The event raises funds to end childhood hunger in America by connecting children with the nutritious food they need to lead healthy, active lives. Funds raised through Taste of the Nation events support No Kid Hungry, Share Our Strength’s campaign to end childhood hunger in America.

“An end to childhood hunger in the United States is within reach,” said Bill Shore, founder and executive director of Share Our Strength. “With all the participants in Taste of the Nation Santa Barbara sharing their strength, we are creating more resources to help the children of Santa Barbara and our great nation get the nutritious food they need to live healthy, active lives.”

Taste of the Nation is nationally sponsored by American Express, Sysco, Food Network and in select markets by ONEHOPE Wine, Emmi Roth USA, Cavit Collection Wines, OpenTable and S.Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water.

For more information about Taste of the Nation, click here or call 877.26.TASTE.

— Anne Stephany is the director of marketing and communications for the Bacara Resort & Spa.