‘Taste of LIC’ not just about food but fun too

| jlyons@queenscourier.com |

On Tuesday, June 9, a visit to the Taste of Long Island City (LIC) will not only show people the many different food options in the area, but it will also benefit a local cultural institution.

“The Taste of LIC introduces guests to local establishments while raising money to continue year-round cultural programming at The Chocolate Factory,” the event’s web site states. “Non-food businesses participate by providing auction and raffle awards of services or items from their shops to encourage a return visits by our guests.”

The Chocolate Factory is a theatre that was founded in 2003 and “supports the creation of new work in a variety of disciplines including theater, dance, music, multimedia and the visual arts.”

This marks the fourth year that the Taste of LIC has been held. The Chocolate Factory Theater co-founder and executive director, Shelia Lewandowski, explained that, when the theatre was first opened, many people who came to it would ask for suggestions on where they could go to eat drink or shop.

Being that Lewandowski and her husband already lived in the area, they were already patrons of the local business and were able to make recommendations. Lewandowski said The Chocolate Factory began having informal, on-going partnerships with some of the businesses.

When deciding what to do as an annual fundraiser, Lewandowski spoke to about a dozen restaurants and told them she was thinking of having an event and asked if they would like to set up a table. She was met with very positive responses.

“It just really took off from there,” Lewandowski said.

The first year, about 200 people attended the Taste of LIC, which grew to about 600 just last year. Each year, more restaurants have also been involved.

This year, there will be more than 40 food and drink participants. Lewandowski said that there will be a wide variety of foods to sample, including Italian, French, Mexican, Indian, and Dominican.

“It’s an event not to be missed,” she said. “It’s very, very diverse and delicious.”

In addition to the tasting, there will be a silent auction and raffle items. The participating food and drink participants have donated gift certificates. There are also many other businesses and organizations that have made donations, a list of which is available on The Chocolate Factory’s web site.

“It’s very, very gratifying,” Lewandowski said of the event. “In addition to being a great thing for The Chocolate Factory, it’s such a great thing for the community.”

Lewandowski said that the event brings many different people together and that it is “like a show piece for why people should come to Long Island City.” She said that, although the financial support received during Taste of LIC is “very much needed,” the sense of community felt through the event is also very important.

The goal for this year’s event, Lewandowski said, is to continue to build a sense of community while also raising money to support next year’s programming.

The 4th Annual Taste of LIC will be held on Tuesday, June 9 at the Gantry Plaza State Park, which is located at 50-50 Street in Long Island City. There will be a patron toast for the event at 5:30 p.m. and doors will open at 6:30 p.m.

For more information on Taste of LIC, visit The Chocolate Factory’s web site at www.chocolatefactorytheater.org, call 718-482-7069 or e-mail TasteofLIC@chocolatefactorytheater.org.