Lots of big names were being tossed around at Share Our Strength's annual Taste of the Nation. However, those names didn't belong to any of the hundreds of guests. They belonged to what those guests were eating.
Mushroom gnocchi with a Gruyere fondue and truffle oil, slow-roasted pork rib marinated in lemon grass and ginger with seaweed salad and cucumbers, tenderloin of pork dusted with ground cumin served on a corn and quinoa salad with grilled onion and avocado relish, Kona coffee-crusted sirloin with caramelized shallot butter - those were just a few phrases being bandied about, courtesy of more than 20 local chefs. And each was now dishing out samples of those creations - as fast as possible - to a hungry and curious crowd.
In fact, hunger was the whole reason for the event.
All of the proceeds from ticket sales were going to three local charities that help fight childhood hunger: Garden Harvest, Maryland Committee for Children and Advocates for Children and Youth.
Writer Douglas Mattingly and his daughter, Collette Mattingly, were impressed by the special treatment they had received. Because they are vegans, they explained, several chefs modified dishes just for them.
That didn't surprise event chair Stacy Hurley. "Baltimore is full of amazing talent with chefs," she said with a knowing smile.
Sloane Browne takes you to the party with a calendar of coming events and video reports at baltimoresun.com/scene
A DRINK WITH Rudy Miller
Grey Goose Cosmopolitan at Tark's Grill at the Station
She is an Oklahoma native, but to many local folks, Rudy Miller is as Baltimorean as they come. She was a weathercaster, then news anchor for more than 20 years here - first at WBAL-TV, then at WMAR. She also has worked as a radio talk show host and was the founder and publisher of several magazines, including Maryland Family magazine, 50+, Oh Baby! and Jubilee, Celebrating African American Families.
Since 1999, Miller has been vice president of marketing and community relations for LifeBridge Health. She and husband Chuck Allen live in Lutherville. They have three children: Jake, 24, Luke, 23, and Hannah, 18.
What's your best quality and worst trait?
My best quality is that I'll try anything. And my worst trait is that I'll try anything.
What do you think might surprise people to learn about you?
Everybody pretty much knows everything about me. That's all the TV stuff. I never hid anything. ... [That aside] would it be fair to say that my whole career has been a detour from Broadway? Because that was my [original] dream. So, now I want Center Stage to say, "You can come do [Who's Afraid of] Virginia Woolf?"
When people meet you, what's the most common question?
"Do you miss TV?" ... No ... My general quick answer is, "It's not what I signed up for." The [television] business has changed. ... It's just different.
Read more of the conversation with Rudy Miller at baltimoresun.com/drink