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Eat Boston feeds the hungry masses with Bacon and Beer Week

Posted by Alex Pearlman  April 23, 2012 09:46 AM

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bacon and beer week festival.jpgBy Bethany O'Meara

Eat Boston co-founder Aaron Cohen once daydreamed about hosting an event in a large building across the street from his office. He wondered what could draw enough people to fill the space -- perhaps bacon and beer would do the trick?

Three years ago, Cohen started a Twitter account to discuss restaurants and food in the Boston area. Tweeting turned into hosting food-related events, including pop-up restaurants in hair salons and Taza Chocolate’s Somerville factory. But the mainstay of Eat Boston’s events is the Bacon and Beer Festival, coming up this Saturday, April 28.

This year’s third annual festival sold out within minutes of its on-sale time, so those of us who weren’t lucky enough to score a ticket will only be able to sit at home that night and drool while we imagine the crowds sampling delicious beer and inspired, bacon-filled snacks at the House of Blues. However, there is a little bit of hope: Since Eat Boston anticipated an increased number of eager participants this year, they worked with their advisors at BostonChefs to extend the festival into Bacon and Beer Week, featuring other bacon and beer-themed events, like a karaoke harbor cruise and an art show.

“The art show is still open, and I think it’s a good deal, because you can try three restaurants and three breweries for a good price,” Cohen said.

Those of us without tickets can also satiate ourselves with the knowledge that proceeds from the event benefit local hunger relief organizations Lovin’ Spoonfuls and Community Servings.

“I don’t promote this event as a fundraiser, but that’s what it is,” said Cohen. “In the last two years, we raised a total of $43,000, and we’re hoping to clear $20,000 this year.”

Lovin’ Spoonfuls puts the money they receive toward food rescue; the organization “rescue[s] wholesome food from supermarkets, produce wholesalers, bakeries, farmer’s markets, hospitality companies,” and so on, according to their website, and delivers it by the truckload to people in need.

“The demographics of hunger are changing so much, so the conversation of hunger relief needs to change along with it,” said Spoonfuls founder Ashley Stanley. “Non-perishables are an outdated approach to a current problem. [Lovin’ Spoonfuls] is a way we can talk about [hunger] directly, with transparency, and say, ‘We can make a difference! There is enough food out there -- let’s go get it!’ Let’s get rid of the idea that hunger is this beast that cannot be tamed or prevented. We can achieve something on a local level.”

Stanley based her organization on similar successful endeavors in San Francisco and New York City and teamed up with local chefs and restaurateurs who know the ins and outs of food production, like Christopher Myers and Joanne Chang.

“I’ve been incredibly lucky with the chefs and restaurateurs who want to help,” Stanley said. “They want to see Boston being able to contribute to this effort in a broad way.”

Spoonfuls also partners with TLC’s Andrew Zimmern, who offers a unique perspective on food production and the lack of distribution around the world.

“There’s more than enough food being produced in the world, especially in the United States,” Stanley said. “Here we are in this country with the opportunity and resources to help our neighbors, so we have to do it.”

And speaking of helping neighbors, that’s exactly what Cohen and Stanley are doing for each other. The pair grew up together in Wellesley, but it was a stroke of luck -- or rather, the keyboard -- that led to their organizations’ partnership. After finding each other again through the social networking site, they learned about each other’s organizations.

“[Cohen] said, ‘I love what you’re doing, and I want to support your mission. How can we work together?” Stanley said.

Because Spoonfuls is in the midst of an aggressive fundraising campaign to raise money to help the organization expand its efforts across Massachusetts, it made sense for Eat Boston to help out.

“[Cohen] and Will [Gilson, co-founder of Eat Boston] always do a phenomenal job of bringing people together and keeping it mission-focused,” Stanley said. “Everyone’s there for a great cause and having a great time. The restaurants are so generous!”

While Cohen couldn’t disclose the details of any future Eat Boston projects, he said that previous successful events like Guacaholics Anonymous and the Ice Cream Showdown may be on the organization’s agenda again this year. If, however, you’re one of the chosen few attending the Bacon and Beer Festival, don’t forget to tweet pictures of those tasty bacon dishes so the rest of us can live vicariously through you.

About Bethany -- I graduated from Northeastern not too long ago and decided to stick around Boston, but I'd like to continue traveling the world. In the meantime, I'll be checking out local bars, markets, and festivals. My expertise lies in Trader Joe's products and MBTA survival skills, among other things. Plaid catches my eye, French catches my ear, and videos of baby animals capture my heart. Twitter: @bethopolis

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