The 3rd annual Taste of Montclair was a fantastic food-alicious event, packed with not only inspired chefs but also adventurous diners.

With 38 chefs, food and liquor vendors and even live cooking on hand, this was the very best of the three annual Taste of Montclair's to date.

The event is hosted by the Rotary Club of Montclair, a non-profit all volunteer organization. This year, I had the pleasure of being the chair of the event.

Over 430 guests showed up, including our sponsors and press.

Fairway Market proved you really can go from their high-end shop right to table with gourmet food, and brought along not one but two well known and local beloved chefs: Chef Jesse Jones and Chef José Velez each manned a large side of the tables set up for Fairway Market, and went to town offering incredible dishes. Chef Jesse served up a lovely shrimp dish, Harissa Shrimp with honey buttermilk corn bread served with Harissa sauce. This was a dish that popped, with the incredible sweet corn bread and the shrimp in a sauce you can purchase at Fairway - now on my shopping list. Wow. It was out of this world.

Chef Jose served a sirloin thinly sliced and cooked medium-rare, served with a spice rub. The meat from Fairway was tender, had a very addictive seasoning and served with polenta.

They also did a wine tasting, and after the very busy night, donated all of their on display items - 3 large crates - to the Human Needs Food Pantry, brought over yesterday Montclair Rotary president Bob Rinklin.

Le Salbuen offered an incredible salmon stack that was beyond my imagination, and also a very simple and organic butternut squash soup.

Upstairs raised the creative notch as well, proving you can love your veggies. The dish was a a wild and fantastic offering of fresh beets, roasted red beet tatare, with black truffles, chives and sea salt served on a thin sliver of crustini. I admit I ate about 7!

There was too much to eat, but I did my darndest. Escape offered a soup that blew my mind, made with duck. The soup was a butternut squash puree, made with duck breast, black truffle mushrooms and sage oil. Oh my goodness - you cannot get a better tasting soup than this one. Ever.

Since I had to work the event as the chair, I did not get to eat everything or drink everything - but next year I promise to get more help so I can do more in depth reviews.

Another major hit at the Tasting was the incredible Olive Oil and That, who paired up with Montclair Bread Company. Talk about creative pairings! Another beyond the pale to-die-for pairing was The Chocolate Path with Java Love. This was pure heaven!

One new vendor among many at the Taste of Montclair was the vodka company, Punzone Organic. Fairway carries their liquor, and I have to admit I am planning a trip to Fairway to buy some of their blood orange drink today! They also had a lemon flavor, and I really could just drink it all night - but with this deadline, of course, I cannot indulge!

With over 430 guests; a great space at the Conference Center at Montclair State University and every ticket sold putting money into the Rotary Club of Montclair foundation for donations to feeding programs and also other non-profits, this was just a magical night.

As seen in - March 11,2014Image