'Taste of Tulalip' celebrates love of food, wine and community

From left, David Olive, Holly Sinn and Jerome Sauer check out the selection of wines at the fifth annual
From left, David Olive, Holly Sinn and Jerome Sauer check out the selection of wines at the fifth annual 'Taste of Tulalip' in the Tulalip Resort Hotel and Casino on Nov. 8.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

TULALIP — The fifth annual "Taste of Tulalip" at the Tulalip Resort Hotel and Casino on Friday, Nov. 8, and Saturday, Nov. 9, kicked off with expressions of passion for food, wine and community, as the six-course Celebration Dinner of food and wine pairings on the evening of Nov. 8 whet the appetites of more than 400 seated guests for the Grand Taste to follow on Nov. 9, which drew the event's remaining 2,000-plus attendees.

Lisa Severn, food and beverage director for the Tulalip Resort Hotel and Casino, served as the emcee for the Celebration Dinner in the Orca Ballroom, which featured the return of Carla Hall, the co-host of ABC's "The Chew," who rose to fame as a competitor on Bravo's "Top Chef."

"Our team has done an outstanding job of balancing their artistic expression with Tulalip's brand and culture," Severn said. "Please join me in recognizing not only Chef Perry and Tommy, but also the many other chefs and team members who have worked diligently this whole past year to plan this weekend."

"I love this event," said Perry Mascitti, the executive chef for the Tulalip Resort Hotel and Casino, who oversees seven dining venues and in-room meals for the four-star hotel, as well as catering for the entire casino. "As I was trying to come up with a one-word description for how I felt about this event, the one that stuck out most to me was 'lust.' Of course, as soon as I'd written it down, my 9-year-old came up behind me and asked me what 'lust' meant, so I knew I had to tell him before he Googled it," he laughed.

Mascitti told his son that "lust" means "a strong love of something," and he credited his fellow chefs, as well as the wine experts and culinary team members who contribute to the Taste of Tulalip, with demonstrating "a lust for excellence" in the artistry and creativity of their work.

"When I told him that, he shrugged his shoulders and asked me, 'Okay, so what's for dinner?'" Mascitti laughed. "He brought me right back down to earth, but he also reminded me that, as chefs, we're not only creating food, but we're also building memories for friends and families, as they gather together to enjoy our meals, because if we do it right, they'll be able to hold onto those experiences for a long time."

Mascitti then led the crowd in applause for the visiting chefs in attendance, which included not only Hall and Kristen Kish — the winner of Bravo's "Top Chef Season 10: Seattle," who serves as the Chef de Cuisine of Menton in Boston — but also Dr. Lois Frank of the Kiowa Nation, a culinary historian and anthropologist who's spent more than 25 years documenting the foods of Southwest Native American communities.

"She mentored my chefs on cuisines that are indigenous around the country, talking about how they've been impacted by available ingredients and trade routes," Mascitti said. "She's just such an inspiration."

After Mascitti led the ballroom in a closing chorus of "Lust!" in honor of the sentiment that he felt that all in attendance shared about the Taste of Tulalip, Tulalip sommelier and wine buyer Tommy Thompson marveled at the fact that he was addressing 400 diners in the first night of the event's fifth year.

Thompson explained that he carefully selected more than 120 wineries and breweries to be represented at what the Washington Wine Commission deemed "the event of the year," as well as to add to the Tulalip Resort Hotel and Casino's extensive cellar, which had garnered one of only 16 Wine Spectator Awards of Excellence in the state for 2012.

"I'd also like to thank the staff that had to deal with me, as they prepared courses to complement each of the wines," Thompson said.

Severn wrapped up her own remarks with what she described as one of her favorite parts of the Taste of Tulalip, as she presented an oversized check for $5,000 to Megan Karch, CEO of FareStart, a culinary job training and placement program for homeless and disadvantaged individuals.

"Since 1992, FareStart has provided opportunities for nearly 6,500 people, while also serving more than 5.5 million meals to disadvantaged men, women and children," Severn said.

"Like all of you, we believe that food is a powerful thing, that has the ability to transform people's lives," Karch said.

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