By Hutton Marshall
Tasting fundraiser returns for fifth year
On April 17, the Navajo area’s growing culinary community will once again convene in the picturesque Visitor Center at Mission Trails Regional Park to give locals a taste of what they have to offer.
Each spring, the Taste of Navajo event serves up an evening of small bites and drinks from the local restaurants, breweries and wineries of San Carlos, Allied Gardens, Del Cerro and Grantville. For $30 — or $50 for couples — guests can eat their fill from the area’s finest local fare.
The backbone of the event, however, is its charitable focus. Event chair Erin Liddell said the event originated back in 2011 as the inaugural event for the Green Elementary Foundation (GEF), which began a year earlier (the year before her daughter started kindergarten at Green).
Unlike Green Elementary’s PTA group, which raises funds for things like art and computer programs and other operational funding needs, the GEF seeks funding for infrastructure projects benefitting the school and the surrounding community.
“When we improve the infrastructure needs of our school — so that means putting in a new track, or putting in new plants or making things look nicer — it really benefits the neighborhood and community around us,” Liddell said.
The GEF’s first big ribbon-cutting came last year with the opening of Green Elementary’s state-of-the-art all-weather track. The new artificial rubber track was constructed to bolster its athletics magnet program and increase access for disabled students.
“It is said that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, and when I look at this beautiful track I see an incredibly welcoming grass field and a surrounding inviting track asking for us to walk and run on an all-weather surface,” said Green’s Principal Bruce Ferguson at the ribbon-cutting ceremony last year. “But what is just as beautiful is what you can’t see. What is so beautiful and equally as important is the universal access this track and fitness area provides for all students. We seek the day that the members of our community can use this field to support our mission of developing individuals who lead successful, healthy and physically fit lives.”
With the new track checked off GEF’s list, Liddell said the nonprofit’s sights are set on renovating Green’s lunch area, ideally for the 2016 – 17 school year.
Several communities throughout San Diego, from North Park to Little Italy, host “Taste of” events each year to showcase their area’s edible chops. Rather than attendees walking from restaurant to restaurant along a commercial corridor, Taste of Navajo hosts all the restaurants in a central location. Liddell said the Mission Trails Visitor Center holds much of the event’s allure.
“It’s one of the best kept secrets in San Diego,” Liddell said of the venue, which overlooks the park.
For attendees needing a pit stop from the gluttony, the San Diego Astronomy Association will be on hand with their high-powered telescopes. The rings of Jupiter are expected to be visible that evening. A silent auction will also take place.
This will be the first Taste of Navajo for AJ’s Fish Merchant, which opened in San Carlos last year. Owner Stephen Bennett said he’s excited to tie his restaurant to the community where he was raised.
“I grew up right here — I went to Green Elementary — so I’m trying to help out the community we’re in,” Bennett said.
Purchase tickets for the event online or at the door upon entry. Checks and major credit cards will be accepted. In addition to the Visitor Center parking lot, guests can park in an overflow lot at the intersection of Mission Gorge Road and Jackson Drive and be shuttled to and from the event.
Liddell also pointed out that time still remains for businesses to join the event. Those interested may contact her at email@example.com.
For tickets and more information, visit greenelementaryfoundation.com/taste-of-navajo.