Taste of Catonsville

Sean Dunworth, co-owner of both Catonsville Gourmet and Regions on Frederick Road, shows off a tempura tuna roll at Regions. Regions will be among four area restaurants that will be making their first appearance at the annual Taste of Catonsville this year. The event featuring signature dishes from 18 area eateries will be held Monday, April 16, at the Rolling Road Golf Club. (Staff photo by Sarah Pastrana / April 5, 2012)

No refrigerator. No fryer. No problem?

For 16 years, Catonsville area restaurants have had the challenge of serving their signature dishes at the annual Taste of Catonsville event with many of the conveniences of their home kitchens missing.

Yvonne Hadaway operated her nearly five-year old restaurant, Caffe Di Roma, efficiently in the afternoon on April 4 as she juggled her phone and orders from customers at her base at 1719 Edmondson Avenue.

But less than two weeks before the Taste, the Pasadena resident had no idea how or if she could show off one of her most popular products at Monday night's two-hour event, which kicks off at 5:30 p.m. April 16 at Rolling Road Golf Club.

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"I'd really like to bring (gelato), but I'm trying to figure out how to keep it frozen," Hadaway said.

"If I can figure something out — " she said. Then, after a pause, she finished the thought, "Don't count me out yet."

Though gelato is up in the air, Hadaway will have several of her restaurant's other signature dishes, such as chicken and tuna salad sandwiches, and Maryland crab and chicken-and-dumpling soups.

Hadaway will prepare two gallons of each soup the day before the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce event because "soup's usually better the next day" and keep it in warmers during the event.

Despite the inconvenience of not having all her usual amenities at her fingertips, Hadaway, who joined the chamber a couple of months ago, said the event is worth it.

"It's a good way to get your product out there for people to taste and I heard it's a really nice event," Hadaway said. "I want to see what everybody else has and (is) bringing to the table."

In addition to Caffe Di Roma, this year's other first-time participants are El Nayar Mexican Restaurant, Regions and The Breadery.

Longtime participants G.L. Shacks Grill, Chef Paolino Cafe, Jennings Cafe and Ships Cafe Restaurant, however, will not be among the 14 Taste veterans at this year's event.

Jennings Cafe and Chef Paolino Cafe appeared at the Taste as early as 2001 and 2007, respectively.

G.L. Shacks debuted at the Taste in 2002, a year before Ships Cafe.

The fact that the event drew 280 people last year is a testament to the participating restaurants' preparation and ingenuity.

Technically a rookie to the Taste of Catonsville, Regions restaurant will be piloted by lifelong Catonsville resident Sean Dunworth.

Dunworth, co-owner of Regions and Catonsville Gourmet, has been a Taste participant since Catonsville Gourmet opened four years ago.

"We were open for like a month when we did the first one," Dunworth recalled. "We were so new, it was a lot to do. Now that we've done a couple, it's kind of like doing a trade show."

Preparation is key for the two restaurants based at 803 and 805 Frederick Road, who will share a table at the Taste.

Dunworth said he plans to have two or three people with him to serve the customers and will offer a seared tuna dish, a watermelon, crab and feta salsa and a third dish still to be selected by the chefs.