For the past six years I have watched and attended “A Taste of Covington” (ATOC) on the west side of the parish, noting a very fun and well-attended event that has only grown and grown.
Earlier this year in the April ATOC gathering for five days in downtown Covington there were thousands of people who took part in the many different events—all of which can be described as simply “a lot of fun.”
Now Slidell gets its chance and it will be interesting to see how well the first annual “A Taste of Olde Towne” is supported. There is no doubt the five-days of food, music and wine is put together with the same level of expertise as ATOC was—I know that since Cliff Bergeron is the founder and organizer of “A Taste of Covington” and he is the same person who is doing it here.
Starting next Wednesday, Oct. 25, Olde Towne will be the center for “A Taste of Olde Towne” and will begin with a very unique event that Covington has not yet tried—a farm to table dinner in the 2200 block of Carey Street where five great, local chefs will prepare a five-course meal. There will be music and great wines paired with the different courses and I think it will be something quite special.
On Thursday, four local restaurants will host Vintner Dinners, which will include some great food that is again paired with perfect wines for the meal. You can still get reservations at most of the locations where the dinners will be held: Restaurant Cote, Chateau Bleu, Michael’s and the Southern Char Steakhouse.
On Friday there will be the “Grand Tasting Under the Tents” at the Chamber building and parking lot at 1808 Front Street. This is one of the most popular events in Covington and I cannot see how it won’t be the same here. For only $40 you get to sip dozens of different wines, sponsored by mayoral candidate Bruce Clement, and enjoy a great party that also includes music and light bites of food.
Saturday follows at the new Wine Garden in Olde Towne, located in the former Dubuisson’s Cleaners building that has been completely renovated and turned into a cool, new place for Slidellians. A premium wine tasting event will be held from 5 to 7 p.m.
Then on Sunday, Chateau Bleu will host the Champagne Jazz Brunch that starts at 10:30 a.m., again with live music and also with terrific food from Kathy and Allen Little, who have operated their catering and restaurant business there for decades.
Sharon DeLong, director for Olde Towne Main Street Slidell, said they decided to become the main group to coordinate the first ever “Taste of Olde Towne,” doing so to give Olde Towne a boost and also to raise money for historic street signs that will be going up at over 60 locations in that area.
There does seem to be a new buzz in Olde Towne, especially hearing from Restaurant Cote owner Jeremy Reilly, who I talked to last week. He has been there four years and has made it with his restaurant, never an easy thing to do with any kind of food service business. But he said he made up his mind awhile back that he is “here to stay” and has become very involved in doing anything that will give Olde Towne a boost.
The big event is a great effort to begin a new push for Olde Towne. It’s something I’ve wanted to see happen for years and maybe it will be happening now that Jeremy and Sharon both told me there are a lot of new, younger business owners starting to add to the business world there.
With a mayoral race for Slidell coming next year I made it a point to ask each of them in recent interviews what they had in mind for Olde Towne, and whether we could finally turn our historic district into something as wonderful as Covington, Mandeville or Ocean Springs.
I heard a lot of good ideas and do believe our new mayor will make Olde Towne a priority.
What I would like to see is for the historic beginnings of Slidell to already be making a move by the time a new mayor takes over next summer. It seems Olde Towne just needs the right jump start—the key, of course, being for businesses to make the decision to go there.
At some point that momentum will kick into high gear and I think we could see a great entertainment district for the city, and one that also supports many different kinds of businesses during the day.
Perhaps “A Taste of Olde Towne” will be the event that will be looked back on as the motivation to make that happen. It will only become reality if we see a huge turnout for the local businesses getting involved this year so I hope you join me in spending a lot of time there next week for the 1st annual “Taste of Olde Towne.”
Tickets for all the events are online at: atasteofoldetowne.com.
Kevin Chiri can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.