Nearly 200 attendees sampled food from diverse restaurants such as Banter, Bareburger, Knish Knosh, Reef, Shake Shack, Matiz, Don Alex, Jack & Nellie’s, Rove, Brooklyn Cupcake, La Dolce Italia Bakery and Martha’s Country Bakery.
Event coordinator Denise De Maria said for the first time in the festival’s history, the list of participating restaurants expanded to 30, which is ten more than last year.
“The people who come here are able to enjoy cuisines from a lot of different countries,” said Teresa Wong, a volunteer who handed out food with Shogun Restaurant.
The festival is an opportunity for local restaurants to showcase their food and receive new customers and support. With younger entrepreneurs opening bakeries and restaurants, De Maria said, the community would like to see them succeed.
“We like to eat out a lot and since I do shop in this neighborhood, this is a great opportunity to try the food in the area,” said Joyce, a Brooklyn resident attending the event for the first time.
The event is also a fundraiser for Our Lady of Queens Martyr School, which hosts the tasting.
In the past, participants were selected by a committee. This year, however, parishioners were able to go to their favorite restaurants and sign them up.
“With the new process, we got about four or five wonderful, dedicated people who went out and got places that we’ve never had before,” De Maria said. “We went out of Forest Hills and thought out of the box.”
Caribbean culture was a new addition to the festival, as mother and son Keisha and Craig Newton dished out samples of phoulorie, a type of fried, spiced chickpea dough balls that are served with a chutney.
To represent the ethnic diversity of the church’s parishioners, such as their family’s Trinidadian background, she said they sought out more West Indian and Caribbean flavors to be incorporated into the festival.
Ozone Park restaurant Trinciti, featuring foods such as black pudding and roti, participated in the festival for the first time.
“I’m very proud that this shows the diversity of our neighborhood,” De Maria said. “They say music and food are the universal languages, and this is really like a United Nations.”