David Griggs of the MetroHartford Alliance said one of the easiest questions he’d ever been asked was what he likes most about Hartford.
“The food,” Griggs said during a ceremony Wednesday to announce the inaugural Hartford Taste Festival that will be held at Constitution Plaza June 10 and 11.
“The food of Hartford is what makes us unique. We’ve got every cuisine you can think of brought to us by immigrants to our community,” Griggs said. “It’s what makes us who we are. For us, to come around an event that will celebrate Hartford and help Hartford feel great about who we are, this is the easiest thing ever to get behind.”
The Hartford Taste Festival, which runs both days from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., is more of a full cannonball than a toe-dip into the pool of full-scale events following more than two years of pandemic-related closures, cancellations and limited gatherings.
The festival will feature the cuisine from at least 30 Hartford-area restaurants, two stages of entertainment, cooking contests, cooking demonstrations, and more according to organizer Marc Sherer.
“People are excited about this event coming back to Hartford,” said Sherer, who started planning the event back in 2019 — before the pandemic struck — as a way to benefit Connecticut Foodshare.
Restaurants will have their fees to participate in the event waived, according to Sherer, thanks to The Hartford and the Hartford Chamber of Commerce, which are sponsoring the event.
In addition to serving as a much-looked-forward-to entertainment vehicle, the event will benefit Connecticut Foodshare, which combats food insecurity throughout the state.
“I know this is hard for some people to wrap their head around, but there is somebody who is food insecure in all 169 towns” in the state, Foodshare President Jason Jakubowski said. “There is not one town in Connecticut that is immune to hunger.”
There are more than 400,000 Connecticut residents who are food insecure, Jakubowski said.
Mayor Luke Bronin said the event is an excellent opportunity to get people together, showcase the myriad restaurants, popular local favorites and hidden gems, that populate Hartford and benefit a good cause.
“We have some amazing restaurants in the city,” Bronin said.
The mayor added that he’d attended a budget presentation with the city council the night before, and “I went out with a few of our council members for a drink – some old-fashioned, in-person catching up.
“For about an hour we talked about our favorite restaurants in the city. And what was amazing about that – we’re all folks who get around the city quite a bit,” Bronin said. “But each of us learned about a spot we hadn’t tried yet. …This is a chance to celebrate those restaurants. … This is going to be a great spring and a great summer in the city of Hartford. There’s a lot going on.”
Griggs shared in the enthusiasm other speakers had in the Hartford Taste Festival and the momentum surrounding the city itself.
“This is an opportunity for all of us to grab Hartford, raise it up and make this community as great a version of itself it could be,” Griggs said.