More than 35 food and beverage vendors from throughout Evanston gathered on the lawn of the Charles Gates Dawes House to raise money for Connections for the Homeless and Reba Place Development Corporation.

Maudlyne Ihejirika, Taste of Evanston celebrity emcee, and Mayor Daniel Biss. Credit: Wendi Kromash

The annual fundraiser, now in its eighth year, was organized and hosted by the Evanston Lighthouse Rotary Club.

There were about 450 guests, 100 Rotarian volunteers as well as the chefs and culinary assistants who were cooking, plating and explaining their prepared dishes to attendees interested in sampling delicacies. Nearly every proprietor serving food offered a vegetarian or vegan option.

To help quench thirsts, there were stands for locally brewed beer, red and white wine, sparkling water and pop. Dunkin’ Donuts parked a truck on Greenwood Street offering coffee. There was even a portable display that provided a faucet for fresh water and suggestions for how to reduce one’s water consumption. (Showers of less than 5 minutes is one.)

Mayor Daniel Biss was introduced by emcee Maudlyne Ihejirika, who was hosting the event for the third time. The award-winning Chicago Sun-Times reporter and columnist (“The Chicago Chronicles”) lives in Evanston. She encouraged the attendees to support three related goals: the fundraiser’s silent auction; the restaurants, breweries and food establishments at the event, and support those in need of housing assistance to keep Evanston a diverse community. 

The silent auction was organized by three Rotarians: Helen Oloroso, Kelly Fidei and Bryant Wallace. Nearly 50 items were featured including antiques, health and fitness, personal development, gift certificates, tickets and travel.

Some of the items provided the opportunity to enjoy unusual experiences: dinner with a monk (mental health from a Buddist); a private bourbon whiskey tasting; dinner at Koi Fine Asian Cuisine followed by private mah jongg lessons; several trips to Europe at exotic locales.

At 5:30 p.m. the silent auction ended. This part of the event grossed more than $21,300. In addition, the event raises funds through sponsorships, ticket sales, a raffle and direct donations. Altogether, the club expects to raise more than $40,000 for local and international charities.

Ihejirika said she especially looks forward to trying the new restaurants that are participating for the first time. Since she’s been involved as an emcee (2019, 2021 and 2022) the “Taste” seems to get bigger and better each year. 

Wendi Kromash

Wendi Kromash is curious about everything and will write about anything. She tends to focus on one-on-one interviews with community leaders, recaps and reviews of cultural events, feature stories about...

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