Inaugural My Hometown Fest serves up craft beer, food and nostalgia.
They say scent is the strongest sense tied to memory. But taste has to be a close second.
Certain meals are just intertwined with nostalgia — one bite has the ability to take you back to another time or place.
That’s the idea behind the inaugural My Hometown Fest, taking place Saturday, April 9, at the Premier Sports Campus at Lakewood Ranch.
“Everybody’s from somewhere,” says Tim Self, event chairman and co-founder. “And people’s hometowns have foods they’re famous for — whether it’s barbecue, or pizza or hot dogs — every region has its own thing. We thought we could put together an event to showcase the signature foods and beers of different areas.”
The event benefits the Sertoma Club of Sarasota County, a local nonprofit organization that works to assist area children with speech, language and hearing needs. When planning the organization’s fundraising event, Self, a board member, was looking to do something a little different. Along with John Saputo, of Gold Goast Eagle Distributing, they came up with My Hometown Fest.
The event will include 24 local vendors and local restaurants serving up food and drinks from five American demographics: the West Coast, Southwest, Midwest, Southeast and Northeast and Atlantic regions.
Saputo says Florida has a reputation for its residents all being from somewhere else, which was the starting point for the event.
“I’ve been wanting to do something outside the box like this for a while,” he says. “It’s going to remind you of home — the things you know and love — but it will also remind you of why you fell in love with Florida and decided to stay here.”
Chef Jeanette Scott, of the White Buffalo Saloon, says she was immediately interested in getting involved. For the event, she’ll prepare something that reminds her of her own hometown of New Jersey: clam chowder. Also wanting to incorporate Sarasota’s southern roots and White Buffalo’s comfort-food focus, she’s paring the chowder with bite-sized hush puppies.
“It sounds funny to say, but you kind of start to miss the cold,” she says. “I miss those snowy days, when my feet were freezing and all I wanted to do was rush into the house and eat my mom’s soup.”
She says she loves to cook, not only for the creative enjoyment, but also because of food’s nostalgic qualities.
“Every day when I cook something, it brings back some sort of memory,” she says. “Any time I cook this chowder, it brings me back to those cold days up north. It makes you feel good, and I think that’s all any chef really wants to do.”