MASTERS OF TASTE Helping Homelessness

Last night I dined inside the Rose Bowl Stadium locker room for a preview of the 5th annual MASTERS OF TASTE. This premier outdoor food and beverage festival will once again be on the field of the iconic Rose Bowl Stadium on Sunday, April 5, 2020.

Food and beverage enthusiasts have the opportunity to enjoy a spectacular array of savory and sweet culinary items, and variety of non-alcohol and alcoholic beverages for one price.


This is the #yearofthewoman, as the Master Chef Host is Chef Vanda Asapahu of Ayara Thai. She is the first woman ever to host this successful fundraiser for Union Station Homeless Services.


Culinary host Billy Harris was the emcee of the evening introducing chefs, Union Station members and the great people behind the scene providing creative fare and beverages.


Last year’s host Executive Chef Michael Hung of Faith & Flower prepared the first course of the evening – an exquisite bite-sized, baked choux pastry stuffed with a savory mornay made with béchamel sauce with Gruyère cheese and truffles. He told a crowd of 85 guests, “We raised half a million dollars at last year’s Masters of Taste. He said he is putting his best foot forward to raise more than $500,000 for Homeless Services in 2020.


The second course was a smoked Icelandic cod Smorrebrod, prepared by chef Lene Flemming Houck from Open Face Food Shop. It was served with the most delicious housemade pickled vegetables.


Harris introduced Anne Miskey, the Chief Executive Officer at Union Station Homeless Services (USHS). She shared that “USHS permanently housed 1,200 homeless people in 2019 and that 97% are still housed and haven’t turned back to homelessness.”

She gave advice of how we can end homelessness – EAT. “Eating together connects people,” said Miskey. “Food is a common denominator all around the world. When you break bread with people, you touch and connect a fellow human being.” Miskey believes food has the power to welcome those in need.


Next chef Vanda Asapahu came out to talk about the third course she made with her mother – Nam Ya. “This is one of the most loved dishes in southern Thailand, and we used to eat it every weekend.” It’s a slightly spicy fish curry made with coconut milk and rice vermicelli, Dungeness crab, cilantro and fried basil.  Vanda may be tiny in stature, however this talented chef is fierce in the kitchen. Each dish she makes is prepared from scratch and enhanced with herbs and spices to ensure the boldest, most genuine flavors.


With each course a different pairing of OBVIOUS WINES was poured by Kristen Walters and team. These Estate wines are crafted through sustainably farming practices across vineyards in California, Chile, and France. What makes them distinctive is their labels. You don’t need to be an oenophile to understand the nuances of each wine.


Other beverages served were PATHWATER reusable/refillable purified water, and Petal Sparkling Beverage Blends. Around the table we selected one of each of the six flavors for taste tests. The tall and slim cans have a beautiful label and are packed with powerful antioxidants. There is Original Rose, Mint Rose, Lychee Rose, Elderberry White Tea Flower, Peach Marigold, and Lemongrass Dandelion.


The fourth course was a Ragout de Boeuf by Chef Kimmy Tang served with a taste of dark and bold Obvious #1 wine. Like a slow cooked beef stew, it was served with tender potatoes, carrots and a round slice of bread.


Over the last 4 years, Masters of Taste has raised over $2 million dollars to benefit Union Station Homeless Services in Pasadena. 100% of ticket purchases and upgrades are used to combat homelessness and rebuild the lives of families and individuals that are experiencing homelessness.

Click here for a list of the MASTERS this year participating. Click here for information on tickets for the April 5, 2020 culinary extravaganza to help those in need move into a permanent home.

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