10/19/10 — Tasting Wayne's best

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Tasting Wayne's best

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on October 19, 2010 2:45 PM

Mary Benton, her two daughters and a friend decided to make this year's annual Taste of Wayne County a girls' night out. The four women hung up their aprons, left the men at home and enjoyed all kinds of food while a live band played dinner music.

Mrs. Benton, 63, said they had fun, just the four of them.

Although she tasted a little of everything from several eateries, her favorite was Uncle Yammy's. She even voted for it for the People's Choice award.

It wasn't Mrs. Benton's first year of attending the United Way fundraiser. She has gone for the past three years. "That first year, Brooklyn Pizza was the best," she said. "But this year Uncle Yammy's had them beat with really good brisket and ribs."

"It's a lot of fun. You get to come out and see people you haven't seen for a while. We got here when it first started and now we're going home -- two hours later -- because we're full."

It was the 25th anniversary of the Taste of Wayne County, the official kickoff for the United Way campaign. Although it's usually held in August, organizers changed it to October this year, hoping the cooler weather would draw more vendors and tasters. Then it had to be postponed from last week until Monday night due to rain.

But Whitney Jansta, community engagement manager, said that didn't hurt the turnout at all. Crowds packed Wayne Community College to see what local restaurants had to offer, visit with friends and listen to music -- all for a good cause.

"People love it," she said. "More people want to come out and eat in the cooler weather than in the 100-degree temperature."

One of those was Marvetta Grady. It was her third year of attending the event. This year she also took her daughter, son-in-law and grandson.

"I like to eat out, and came to see what the restaurants had to offer," she said. "I tried ribs, chicken, cheesecake, everything. But my favorite was ribs from Los Fogones."

The 41-year-old said the Taste of Wayne is "just something we do here in our town, and I enjoy being a part of it. That's why I keep coming."

It was her military son-in-law's first time of going to the Taste of Wayne. Lakendric Powell was impressed with the event, and said it was a good experience.

His 9-month-old son, Gavin, even got to taste pizza, donuts and juice.

"It's a great event," Lavonda Powell said. "It's nice to see everybody get together."

Melissa Smith agreed. She got to visit with old friends and meet new people. And she tasted some new foods including a fried green tomato sandwich with pimento cheese on it from Brown Bag Café. "I was real tickled that they made such a good sandwich," she said.

"I would have never ordered something like that from a restaurant. But trying it at the Taste of Wayne has made me want more. I also tried artichoke dip for the very first time and it was wonderful."

Tina Benton tried lots of new things, too, and kept going back for more. Her favorite turned out to be Uncle Yammy's beef brisket.

Apparently it was a hit with lots of people attending the event because Uncle Yammy's walked away at the end of the evening with the coveted People's Choice award.

Owner and operator Ryan Williams said he was surprised to win the award. It was the restaurant's first time participating in the Taste of Wayne.

And although he didn't get his paperwork in time to know when to have his food ready for judging, which made the process a little rough, the People's Choice award meant more to him. The food was such a hit that Ryan had to go back to the restaurant twice to replenish his supply.

"We're going to display it proudly," he said of the award.

Also winning People's Choice awards were Brown Bag Cafe, second, and Brooklyn Pizzeria, third.

Also winning awards at the Taste of Wayne were Torero's, hometown favorite; Los Fogones, special occasion dinner and barbecue; Murphy's Place, pub grub and appetizers; Brown Bag Cafe, fast food; Zaxby's, healthy foods; J.J. Ashley Bakery, desserts and breakfast, breads and pastries; Coca-Cola, drinks; and Brooklyn Pizzeria, pizza.

Overall, the event was a huge success, according to Ms. Jansta. She said 27 restaurants participated and there was a huge crowd of tasters.

"We had new restaurants that had never been out before," she said. "Even the rain date didn't change anything. We couldn't be happier with the support we got from the community when we had to change the date due to rain.

"We're just happy we can provide an event to the community that both benefits United Way and is a lot of fun, too, and a family event."

The campaign is now at 51 percent of its goal.

"We wanted to be at our halfway mark by this event and we've done that," Ms. Jansta said. "Now we're really excited to make it to the 100-percent mark so we can change all those lives."