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December 19, 2014

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21st annual Taste of the Nation at Rain combats childhood hunger in Las Vegas

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Alex Karvounis

Carlos Guia of Country Club at the Wynn.

2010 Taste of the Nation at Palms

Rick Moonen and his kitchen crew at 2010 Taste of the Nation at Palms Pool on June 2, 2010. Launch slideshow »

Top chefs from across the Strip will collaborate for a cause Thursday night at the 21st annual Taste of the Nation culinary fundraiser at Rain in the Palms, offering up an array of choice food and drinks to benefit Share Our Strength, a nonprofit combating childhood hunger in Las Vegas and nationwide.

While Las Vegas is renowned for its dozens of decadent restaurants, less known is the fact that 1 of 6 households in Nevada struggles with hunger, one-third of which include children younger than age 5.

“Because hunger is what we call ‘the invisible disease,’ I think people would be surprised to learn that it’s their next door neighbor,” said Judy Walker, regional director of culinary events for Share Our Strength.

Local charities benefiting from this year’s event include Three Square Food Bank, Catholic Charities of Las Vegas, UNCE Chefs for Kids and Project MANA. Since its inception in 1988, Taste of the Nation has raised more than $82.5 million toward ending childhood hunger, including nearly $1.1 million in Las Vegas.

Walker says Las Vegas’ high profile as a culinary destination has helped double attendance at the event in recent years, allowing them to upgrade the event from the Las Vegas Convention Center to a more posh experience at Rain. She hopes the hipper, intimate, indoor event will help meet this year’s fundraising goal of $100,000 (last year’s event raised $75,000).

“As the consumer and our guests become more aware of good food in Las Vegas and more events popping up, it challenges us to raise the bar,” she said. “These chefs put their time and labor into the events because it’s something they can be proud of, which is why I think we’ve been able to raise the caliber of the event.”

This year’s event will include select dishes from more than 35 of the city’s top chefs and restaurants, as well as wine pairings and mixology offerings, all of which are overseen by Taste of the Nation Las Vegas Restaurant Chairman Carlos Guia, head chef of Country Club at Wynn.

Guia will be preparing a creole-spiced prime rib chop with sweet potato puree, roasted garlic mojo sauce and cilantro. Other offerings include pan-seared diver scallops with Mexican squash, serrano chili and tomato water from Fleur at Mandalay Bay; tuna and crispy rice with pickled jalapeno and spicy mayo from Andrea’s at Encore; a surf and turf plate with grilled tenderloin and lobster mashed potatoes from N9NE at the Palms; and Morro Bay oysters on the half-shell and green tea panna cotta from Rick Moonen at Mandalay Bay’s Rx Boiler Room.

The event also will feature live and silent auctions, as well as a DJ and live music.

“It’s a representation of the community. From the chefs to the guests to the recipients, we drive it together,” Walker says.

Tickets for Taste of the Nation Las Vegas are $100 for general admission and $125 for VIP and may be purchased by calling 1-877-26-TASTE or visiting TasteoftheNation.org.

Follow Andrea Domanick on Twitter at @AndreaDomanick and fan her on Facebook at Facebook.com/AndreaDomanick.

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