By Fiona Hurrell, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Friday, May 20th, the highly anticipated Taste of Rio event took place in the picturesque surroundings of Clube Federal in Alto Leblon. Hosted by the International Club (InC), an English-speaking community organization for those living in Rio, the event was attended by approximately 600 guests, up from 400 in 2008.
Visitors were able to taste offerings from a selection of the city’s best restaurants and bars, all of which are fully covered in the ticket price and present a wide range of cuisine from French, Spanish, German and American to Japanese, Mexican, Columbian and Brazilian. In turn, participating restaurants were given the opportunity to showcase themselves to guests.
Marinda Gerber from South Africa was responsible for the marketing and promotions of the event. She explained “A lot of the restaurants here tonight were at the event in 2008 plus a few new ones on the scene.”
The line-up included some well known favorites such as the Gringo cafe, Landhaus, Giuseppe Grill and Casa de Feijoada and some niche names, La Fabrique, Insolito, Chico & Alaide and As Claras. Drinks included locally brewed beer from Lapa Cafe, Caipirinhas courtesy of Cachaça Leblon and soft drinks from Coca Cola, one of the events many sponsors.
The Fantastic layout and superb live samba music shows the sheer amount of hard work and effort that went in to preparing this long awaited event. Louise Green, a Swedish member of the InC said “It’s been so exciting, we’ve been here all day getting everything ready, and to see it all now it’s finished is wonderful!”
However, the purpose of this night was more than just eating, drinking and making friends. It concerned the more serious agenda of raising money and greater awareness for a number of charities. Some of the organizations include Projeto Uere, Luta Pela Paz and Lar Maria Lourdes, which campaign for peace on the streets and greater aid for under privileged children, mothers and babies.
Through the Taste of Rio, the InC hopes to provide these charities with positive exposure to corporate and business guests who could boost the number of donations and sponsorships. Gerber explains: “Events like this also attract volunteers who would like to get involved on a personal level, visiting the organizations on a regular basis, rendering a service like teaching English for example or just arranging a birthday party for children who would otherwise never experience the joy of celebration!”
There were over 100 raffle prizes to be won including round-trip tickets to Europe courtesy of Lufthansa, Club Med vacations, Weekend Stays at exclusive bed and breakfast inns in Búzios and Teresopolis, high-end jewellery from the likes of Amsterdam Sauer and exclusive works-of-art.
The variety of guests provided proof of the event’s success and popularity as well as the hope of attracting new members to the InC. Marnie Collins from Canada says “Being a member of the InC is a great way to meet other foreigners living in Rio, particularly with events such as this.”
By midnight, the night began to draw to a close as the last of the raffle prizes were handed out and gift bags distributed to departing guests. The overall feeling was one of satisfaction at a thoroughly enjoyable evening that, with any luck, will become a permanent, annual event.