There’s no question that the East Bay food scene is on the upswing, especially in Oakland where there have been several prominent new openings. And many of them were featured Sunday night in the annual Taste of the Nation East Bay fund-raiser.

The event, which puts on similar fund-raisers in cities across the country including for years in San Francisco, benefits the No Kid Hungry organization that works to feed children across America. The event is also a great showcase for the area’s popular restaurants. It was my first time attending the event, which was held at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley.

I was really impressed by the small bites offered up by such popular restaurants such as A16 Rockridge, Box and Bells, Brown Sugar Kitchen, FIVE, Flora, Haven, Hawker Fare, Lungomare, Shakewell and Wood Tavern — all found primarily in Oakland and Berkeley. But there were a few East Bay representatives such as Corners Tavern in Walnut Creek and the Cooperage in Lafayette.

Some were plated beautifully, like FIVE’s tuna with soba salad, while others were just perfect in its simplicity like the home-made burrata by Flora.

And then there were tables of cocktails, beer, and wine to make it a festive party.

The night really made it clear that there are some amazing talents in the East Bay, and the Taste of the Nation East Bay event was a fun night of eating and drinking.

Chef Jen Biesty of Oakland's new Shakewell served up a cute paella cake (top right).

Chef Jen Biesty of Oakland’s new Shakewell served up a cute paella cake (top right).

A16 in Rockridge had a seasonal beet and persimmon dish with cheese and arugula.

A16 in Rockridge had a seasonal beet and persimmon dish with cheese and arugula.

Hawker Fare fed the crowds with this spicy rib and cole slaw.

Hawker Fare fed the crowds with this spicy rib and cole slaw.

Two tasty soups: (top) curry butternut squash from Box & Bells in Oakland, and (bottom) a cauliflower leek soup from Hutch in Oakland.

Two tasty soups: (top) curry butternut squash from Box & Bells in Oakland, and (bottom) a cauliflower leek soup from Hutch in Oakland.

Wood Tavern of Rockridge served up a popular meatball

Wood Tavern of Rockridge served up a popular meatball

A chef from Homestead in Oakland prepares the pork ciccioli with pickled onions on a sesame cracker.

A chef from Homestead in Oakland prepares the pork ciccioli with pickled onions on a sesame cracker (top right); below is a photo of a refreshing curry oil poached shrimp with a chilled fennel and apple soup from Corners Tavern.

This tuna dish with soba salad from FIVE in Berkeley had a lot of different ingredients for a tiny plate.

This tuna dish with soba salad from FIVE in Berkeley had a lot of different ingredients for a tiny plate.

One of the more creative drinks was this pomegranate margarita with salted air (or foam) from Does Ojos Hospitality.

One of the more creative drinks was this pomegranate margarita with salted air (or foam) from Does Ojos Hospitality.

More food and drinks, including a potent Rye drink (top right ) from Dogwood Bar of Oakland.

More food and drinks, including a potent Rye drink (top right ) from Dogwood Bar of Oakland.

Chef Charlie Hallowell of Haven at Jack London Square prepares an elegant seared albacore bite with jalapeno cream cheese.

Chef Charlie Parker of Haven at Jack London Square prepares an elegant seared albacore bite with jalapeno cream cheese.

Blistered brussel sprouts (above), a Greek pork bite (bottom left) and Flora Restaurant's beautiful home-made burrata (bottom right)

Blistered brussel sprouts (above), a Greek pork bite (bottom left) and Flora Restaurant’s beautiful home-made burrata (bottom right)

Meritage of the Clairemont Hotel offered up a grilled Spanish octopus dish with coco bean and oxtail cassoulet.

Meritage of the Claremont Hotel offered up a grilled Spanish octopus dish with coco bean and oxtail cassoulet.

Brown Sugar Kitchen of Oakland made an amazingly moist spiced cake that really had me thinking of the holidays.

Brown Sugar Kitchen of Oakland made an amazingly moist spiced cake that really had me thinking of the holidays.

Most tables could handle the crowds but one place with a line later in the evening was, of course, Naia Gelato who was scooping up flavors for guests.

Most tables could handle the crowds but one place with a line later in the evening was, of course, Naia Gelato who was scooping up flavors for guests.

It was my first time at Taste of the Nation East Bay and I had a blast.

It was my first time at Taste of the Nation East Bay and I had a blast.

3 Responses to East Bay Shines in Taste of the Nation

  1. Row says:

    I attended the local Taste of the Nation a couple of years ago and had a fun time. Glad to hear that it’s just as fun over there. 🙂

  2. foodhoe says:

    you crack me up, this is the event from the twitter thread I asked you about… and you claimed to have no knowledge what I was talking about, and then you end up being the only one who attended it! Looks like a good time, lots of delicious looking bites and sips!

    • Ben Ben says:

      Sandy, I still don’t know what Twitter thread you were talking about. I think you’re having conversations on Twitter with some other Ben. Anywho, I made a last-minute decision to go after I saw a special discount ticket. So I might not have planned to go early on. … Or I’m a big fat liar. LOL