Taste of Shelby hits the spot

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Crowd pleased with food, entertainment

By Lisa King


Too many cooks sure didn't spoil the broth Monday night, with delicious food, sparkling spirits, a great jazz band, door prizes and even cornhole.

Add to that a thoroughly mellow crowd, and you have the makings a great evening.

Everyone agreed that the 23rd annual Taste of Shelby, held at Claudia Sanders Dinner House, was unsurpassed in terms of the quantity and quality of the food, with 21 local vendors serving everything from boneless wings, to ribs, to tomato sandwiches and a four-cheese portabella puff, the latter whipped up by head chef Howard Saffel of Persimmon Ridge Country Club.

"Just a little something I put together," he said with a modest smile as everyone who sampled the puffs groaned with delight.

Lauren Just, president of Persimmon Ridge, said she was glad to participate in the event.

"It's been going great," she said, adding that if you like Saffel's dishes, Persimmon Ridge's dining room is open to the general public.

The theme of the 2009 Taste of Shelby, the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce's largest annual fund-raiser, was "Tasty Tailgating" and featured mascots and other school items from both the Kentucky Wildcats and the Louisville Cardinals.

Matthew Ellis, 9, portrayed "Jr. Scratch" and Lisa Bush of Persimmon Ridge waved a large, red glove bearing the word "Cards" at all who came to sample Chef Saffel's dishes.

Linda Romero with Fire Fresh BBQ, said this is her fourth year at the event.

"I just love doing this," she said, arranging "sticky ribs" on her table.

Among the many chicken dishes that abounded, Zaxby's had 10 varieties of boneless wings on hand, and Kentucky Fried Chicken brought, of course, breast strip tenders. Claudia Sanders Dinner House offered ribs dished up by server Evelyn Cravens, who said she has enjoyed working for the establishment since 2001.

Louise Riley, general manager of Claudia Sanders, said that though the turnout was modest, the event went well.

"It's a little slow this year, but that's just due to the economy," she said. "Altogether, we had good feedback from everyone, and we're pleased with how tonight is going."

Kim Patel and Danielle Jarrell with Days Inn, who came to "network," said they had a wonderful time.

"It's great. We just love the format," Patel said. "We're definitely glad we came."

In an adjoining dining room, patrons, including Brad Montell and his wife, Marla, enjoyed the music of the Shelbyville Jazz Ensemble.

State Farm agents Natalie Mudd and Mat Brooks drew applause as they ended their dance in a "dip."

"Great band," they both agreed.

Chamber Executive Director Shelley Goodwin, who arranged for the entertainment, said she did not have a figure yet on how many attended the event. 

"I would say that the turnout is similar to last year," she said.