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Tasting helps kids

Event featuring restaurants is a fundraiser for two nonprofits.

May 13, 2010|By Max Zimbert

Brand Boulevard was more carnival than business district Wednesday as hundreds of people swung through restaurants and shops in the ninth annual Taste of Downtown Glendale.

Organizers said about 1,100 tickets were sold to the event, which offers participants wine and food samplings at scores of restaurants throughout downtown. It is one of the biggest fundraisers for Glendale Healthy Kids, a nonprofit that finds low-cost and free health care for low-income and underinsured children.

“Events like this pay for things like the health fair we had a month ago, where there were three kids diagnosed with early-stage glaucoma that’s hereditary,” said Camille Levee, executive director of Glendale Healthy Kids. “If we hadn’t had that health fair, who knows what might have happened with those kids.”

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Taste of Downtown Glendale provides the nonprofit with about 10% of its budget, and Levee said she expected the event to raise $40,000.

A record 46 restaurants participated this year, and Levee said a partnership with the Glendale Assn. for the Retarded is another record-setting occasion.

“It’s the first time, I think, that two nonprofits have come together to help the community,” she said. “We collaborate on programs, but this is the first time we’re fundraising together.”

Volunteers from throughout Glendale Unified School District campuses guided pedestrians to participating restaurants and offered a few recommendations.

Jackie Kershner, a sophomore at Crescenta Valley High School and repeat volunteer for event, said her experience has made her roots grow deeper in Glendale.

“It’s a great experience meeting new people,” she said. “I didn’t know Glendale much, and now I can brag to my family I know where the best restaurants are.”

Six-year-old Alyssa Miyamoto finished bread from El Morfi Grill, and her parents Julie and Mica Miyamoto said they were regulars.

“This is a way to try a lot of restaurants we haven’t tried before,” Mica Miyamoto said. “And we get to see a lot of faces from the community.”

Rene Vildoza, owner of El Morfi, said he had participated in the Taste of Downtown Glendale since its inaugural year.

“It’s a good thing to do for the kids,” he said. “As much as you give, it’ll all come back.”

The event was also a good way to introduce customers to new food, said Jimmy Vanavi, whose family owns and operates Sed Thee, a Thai restaurant entering its third month on Brand Boulevard.

“We’re introducing Thai food and Thai flavor to the city of Glendale,” he said. “There are a lot of people out here, a lot more than we expected.”

Glendale resident Martha Belmonte sees many patients from Glendale Healthy Kids in the dentist’s office where she works.

“It’s nice to see the restaurants participate,” she said. “It gives kids an opportunity to see a dentist.”


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