Chefs from dozens of restaurants, bakeries, breweries and other culinary establishments in Montezuma County go to Taste of the Seasons every year to show off their craft. This year, about 18 vendors served between 250 and 300 guests, in addition to the restaurants that provided food but didn’t set up their own tables. With a $35 advance entry fee for each guest, the event raised more than $10,000, with the proceeds going to United Way.
Gail and Vic Vanik, who own Four Seasons, started the event as a way to support organizations that help children in their community. Proceeds from the first Taste of the Seasons went to the Dolores Clubhouse for Youth, a new organization that didn’t end up surviving long. For the last 11 years, they’ve raised funds for United Way of Southwest Colorado instead.
“We like being with United Way because we know that we can hit a lot of kids that way,” Gail Vanik said.
United Way works with numerous organizations in Montezuma and the surrounding counties to bring educational, financial and medical help to children.
Vanik said that, since the greenhouse started hosting Taste of the Seasons, the event has raised more than $200,000 for the community. Although she didn’t have the final numbers on Friday for how much they raised this year, she guessed it was about $12,000.
Most of Montezuma County’s most popular eateries were represented at this year’s event, including The Farm Bistro, The Pie Maker, Main Street Brewery, Dolores Brewery and many more. But some of the vendors were a little more unexpected, like the Montezuma-Cortez High School culinary arts program, which made its second appearance at the event. Last year, when the vendors competed for votes from guests, the high school students won second place. This year there was no competition, but their table was still busy all night. Senior Alyssa Utley said the new high school building, which has a fully functional kitchen, has opened up many more opportunities for students to practice their culinary skills.
“It was a lot of fun,” she said of last year’s Taste of the Seasons. “It was a good experience.”
The MCHS students were among the newer vendors at the event, but several had been coming for years. Mark Youngquist, of Dolores River Brewery, has been a regular attendee since the beginning.
“It’s a real community gathering,” he said. “I love the fact that it’s between Dolores and Cortez, because I get to see a lot of people from Cortez who might not make the drive to Dolores all that often.”
In addition to food and drink, Taste of the Seasons also included a silent auction with items donated from local businesses and individuals.