Rotary event helps Food Pantry

Mary-Glenn Smith
Food Fest patrons stop at the Chef John Folse and Hilltop Inn booths during the Rotary Club of Gonzales Food Fest Tuesday.

Hundreds of people came out to the Gonzales Civic Center Tuesday night for the 2010 Food Festival presented by the Rotary Club of Gonzales.

For $20 a ticket, guests to the event sampled a variety of food and beverages provided by local vendors.  Area restaurants, caterers and organizations made up the 51 vendors that prepared a signature dish for tasting.

“This is the eighth year we have had the food festival and for the past three or four years it has been very successful,” said Committee Chairman Gary Laiche. “We had several new vendors come in this year and really help to make this event a success.”

The proceeds from the event benefit the St. Theresa of Avila Food Pantry and other charitable organizations.

In addition to money raised through ticket sales, for each canned good brought by a guest, Blue Runner foods donated two canned goods to the food pantry to help serve needy individuals in the area.

“The motto of the Rotary Club is ‘Service above self,’ and that’s what we are doing here,” said Rotarian Johnny Berthelot, chairman of Ascension Economic Development Corporation. “The Food Fest is the best event the Rotary Club puts on the whole year.”

The variety of food brought in by vendors ranged from Louisiana classics like jambalaya, etouffee, and gumbo to desserts like ice cream, bread pudding and cakes, smoothies, coffee, wine, and much more was also available to sample, thanks to the generous vendors.

“Participating in this event is a way of saying thank you from us to our community,” vendor Candy Sheets said.

Sheets and her husband, Todd, own Sno’s Seafood and Steak. The popular Gonzales restaurant served crawfish and corn chowder, prepared by Chef Ben Jarreau, to Food Fest go-ers.

“We try to give back to the community what they have blessed us with for 40 years,” Sheets added.

The social aspect of the event appeared to rank just as high among the guests as the delicious food. Friends and neighbors enjoyed talking and visiting with others while they sampled food and beverages.

“I think it was unbelievable and very well worth the money,” said Vickie Seal about the event.

“There was a great variety of foods to try and the servers were exceptionally nice; the entire event was a sign of true Southern hospitality.”

Seal attended Food Fest with her husband, Johnnie and friend Jackie Simm, whose husband Jimmy helped put on the event as a member of the Gonzales Rotary Club.

“I enjoyed the eclectic mix of people and food,” Simm said. “From the salty to the sweet, it was all savory.”