Photo courtesy of Taste Of The Nation

Taste Of The Nation is one of the largest charity walk-around tastings, with all proceed going towards Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign; the non-profit is dedicated to ending childhood hunger in America. This year’s New York City event will be led by Honorary Chair Danny Meyer of the Union Square Hospitality Group along with Culinary Co-Chairs Anita Lo of Annisa and Bryce Schuman of Betony. Some of the participating chefs who will be preparing special bites for the event include Lalito’s Gerardo Gonzalez, Samesa’s Eli Sussman, Oddfellows Ice Cream’s Sam Mason, Atoboy’s Junghyun Park, and Maialino’s Nick Anderer. Special culinary programming — as including The Doughnut Derby, Rosé Garden and Candy Carnival — will also help to make 2017’s Taste Of The Nation a unique experience for all in attendance.

This year’s event takes place on Apr. 24 at 180 Maiden Lane, kicking off at 6:00 PM for event-goers with VIP tickets. Downtown spoke with chefs Eli Sussman and Gerardo Gonzalez to learn more. Further info can be found here.

How did you get involved with Taste Of The Nation?

Eli Sussman: I started as a volunteer with Taste Of The Nation in Los Angeles seven years ago. At that time I was working in marketing and was asked to help on that committee to promote the event. After I left the advertising world and moved to New York City to become a line cook, I continued volunteering with Taste of the Nation in New York City. As I’ve grown in my cooking career I was asked to be part of the chef host committee and have been helping with the event by asking chefs to take part and promoting it by doing guest chef appearances around New York.

Gerardo Gonzalez: I’ve worked with some of the organizers before, and I’ve been a big fan of the cause and mission behind the event.

What’s to be expected from your participation in this year’s Taste Of The Nation?

Eli Sussman: Samesa restaurant in Williamsburg — which I co-own with my brother Max — will be one of the participating restaurants. We’re excited to serve our organic chicken shawarma at the event.

Gerardo Gonzalez: I’m working on a special item that will be introduced on the new spring menu at the restaurant. I’m debuting the dish at Taste Of The Nation.

Otherwise, what’s coming for you and/or your restaurant?

Eli Sussman: This summer we’re opening up seasonal locations of Samesa restaurant and Ed and Bev’s — a Detroit style diner concept serving sliders and chili dogs — down at Jacob Riis Beach in the Rockaways. And at the end of this year we’ll be opening an all-day cafe in Detroit called Wida’s.

Gerardo Gonzalez: We’ll soon be launching new items and menus inspired by the changing season. Very excited to get back to the food that inspired the restaurant.

When not busy with food, how do you like to spend your free time?

Eli Sussman: I like to plan New York City adventure days for me and my partner. Usually we’ll go to a museum or see some art, hit two or three restaurants, go looking for good vintage shopping, and either sit in a park or when the weather is bad play try to hit a dive bar with old video games and skeeball. Basically just try to enjoy the city and cram a ton into one day.

Gerardo Gonzalez: Biking around the city, going to all the neighborhoods.

Finally, any last words for the kids?

Eli Sussman: It’s been an honor to play a small role in the Share Our Strength No Kid Hungry campaign to raise awareness for childhood hunger. I cannot wait for the day, hopefully in my lifetime, when we come together to eliminate childhood hunger once and for all. No child should be worried about where and when their next meal is. They should be playing and learning and just being a kid.

Gerardo Gonzalez: I’m really excited to be contributing to this event that provides such a great service.

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