Local foods were on display during the second annual Taste of the ’Ville Saturday as part of a fundraiser for an organization that promotes educational opportunities for women.
Hundreds gathered for the event, sampling foods from more than a dozen restaurants in Aggieville, including donut holes from Varsity Donuts, chicken skewers from Wahoo Fire and Ice Grill and meatball sliders from Rusty’s.
The event raises money to provide scholarships through P.E.O. (Philanthropic Educational Organization), a group that encourages women to pursue higher education by providing them with financial assistance.
Organizers said approximately 300 people bought tickets to this year’s Taste of the ’Ville, selling out the event. The tickets were $15 and gained participants access to each participating restaurant, where small plates of food were offered. For two hours, couples to groups as large as a dozen made their way through Aggieville, accepting samples from P.E.O. members, who were prominent in their bright-green aprons.
One of those members was Valerie Converse, who passed out ginger teriyaki chicken skewers on the patio of Wahoo Fire and Ice Grill.
Converse said that by 5 p.m., 200 people had already come through. “The local restaurants just outdo themselves,” she said. “It’s been a perfect day.”
Converse praised the sliders at Rusty’s and said the event has been fun for P.E.O. members. “It’s a terrific fundraiser,” she said.
And though organizers thought participants might save desserts for last, by 4:30 p.m., one hundred people had already shown up at Varsity Donuts to sample a cream-cheese filled donut hole and iced coffee, Shirley Taylor, a P.E.O. chapter president, said.
Taylor was assisted in handing out samples by her husband, Dean Taylor (who used to own the building Varsity Donuts occupies), and store employee Summer Senn.
“We thought everybody would save donuts for last,” Dean Taylor said, but as more participants filed in, Senn welcomed them, telling them the donuts were “hand-piped with love.”
The donuts were in a tie for the favorite dish for event first-timer Megan Neussbaum, whose mother, a P.E.O. member passed out cheesecake with chocolate ganache at Bluestem Bistro.
Neussbaum’s other favorite was a sample of “birthday cake” ice cream she tasted at Cold Stone Creamery.
Neussbaum, who is from Topeka, had made it to seven restaurants halfway into the event with her 6-month-old son strapped to her.
“I don’t think I can (sample) them all,” she said laughingly, having also eaten a small burger from Cozy Inn and mozzarella sticks and jalapeno poppers at The Goose.
The Goose filled in for Hibachi Hut, which had been slated as a participating restaurant before shutting its doors recently, much to the chagrin of a nine-person group gathered at Rusty’s who said they routinely had dinner at the restaurant every Wednesday. (As The Mercury reported, a new owner has bought the rights to the restaurant and plans to open it in a new location.)
The group’s unofficial leader, Shelly Lindsey, said its members were using the event as a way to find their new weekly dinner place. They came together after Lindsey suggested it would be fun after they had previously attended the Aggieville Chili Crawl.
To reach every restaurant, Lindsey said, the group calculated that they could only spend 8.2 minutes at each, though some lagging and socializing whittled that number down to five minutes.
“We’re having a blast,” she said.
Tasty China House, Buffalo Wild Wings, Coco Bolos, Kite’s Bar and Grill, Radina’s Coffeehouse and Roastery, Rock-a-belly Deli and Pita Pit also participated in this year’s Taste of the ’Ville.