By: Lauren Walleser/ TRT Assistant Editor—
BOSTON, Mass. — The 19th Annual Taste of the South End — a fundraiser for AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts (AAC) — will take place March 4 at the Boston Center for the Arts Cyclorama in Boston’s South End. Those who attend will have the chance to sample small plate culinary creations from at least 40 South End restaurants, enjoy live cooking demonstrations, a silent auction and raffle, wine tasting and beer sampling.
“Taste of the South End raises critical money that pays for the programs of AIDS Action Committee,” said Rebecca Haag, CEO of AAC. “At any given time, AIDS Action Committee is providing services to at least one-in-six of the 18,000 people living in Massachusetts with a diagnosis of HIV, giving them the resources and support they need to stay healthy. Public investment in HIV prevention and support services continues to decline. Since 2000, state funding for HIV/AIDS has decreased 38 percent while the number of people living with HIV/AIDS in Massachusetts has increased 40 percent.”
According to Haag, AAC expects to raise more than $125,000 for AIDS Action programs and services through Taste of the South End, an increase of about 25 percent from five years ago. She went on to explain who benefits from the funds raised. [pullquote]“Taste of the South End also serves as a public awareness and education event around HIV,” said Haag.[/pullquote]
“AIDS Action connects people with healthcare, peer support, counseling, free HIV testing, housing, nutrition, fuel assistance, and legal services,” Haag said. “As a result of this work, Massachusetts has reduced new HIV diagnoses by 52 percent since 1999. This means that approximately 6,400 people who might otherwise become HIV positive have remained negative, which will save the state more than $2.4 billion in HIV-related healthcare costs. We also work with those who are vulnerable to HIV infection to develop strategies that keep them and their families safer. Gay and bisexual men are at least 44 times more vulnerable than the general population to HIV infection. Transgender women, meanwhile, are 49 times more vulnerable to infection.”
Haag also shared why she believes this particular event is so important.
“Taste of the South End also serves as a public awareness and education event around HIV,” said Haag. “There is still a tremendous amount of stigma associated with HIV. It is impossible to overstate the importance of any event that raises awareness of the ongoing need for support for those living with HIV, as well as the need for prevention and outreach to help those who are vulnerable to HIV infection remain free of the disease.”
This year’s principal sponsors are Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Macy’s. Other sponsors include Eastern Bank, AEW, Eaton Vance Investment Managers, Whole Foods Market, Whitney Towers, ASF, Martignetti Companies, Samuel Adams, and Clarke. A partial list of 2013 participating restaurants include: Cinquecento, Metropolis Café, Aquitaine Bar a vin Bistrot, Gaslight Brasserie du Coin, Union Bar and Grille, Hamersley’s Bistro, Flour Bakery + Café, Five Horses Tavern, Stella, The Gallows, DaVinci Ristorante, Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse, Stephi’s on Tremont, Summer Shack, Tremont 647 & Sister Sorel, Picco, Mela, Back Bay Harry’s, Petit Robert Bistro, Formaggio Kitchen South End, and Haley House Café.
“The Taste of the South End is the event we most look forward to all year,” said Joanne Chang, pastry chef and owner of Flour Bakery + Café. “The positive energy among attendees and participating restaurants is contagious. It’s inspiring to see so many people supporting AIDS Action and its mission.”
The Host Committee for the Taste of the South End includes Gordon Hamersley, Andy Long, Bill Emery, Bryan Rafanelli, Jasper White, Chris Primiano, Ciara Hunt Francis, Devan Dewey and David Gagne, Douglas Spencer, Greg Welch, Harry Collings, Jay Philomena, Karen DeTemple, Kathy Burns, Kevin Bernier, Andy Husbands, Kevin Powers and John Wolfarth, Michael Wong, Rebecca Haag and Mary Breslauer, Nancy Farrington, Rachael Goldfarb, Eain Williams, Scott Beane, Joanne Chang, Shagha Tousi, Shaunya Thomas, Wendy Goldstein Pierce, and Felicidad Hochmuth.
“Tremont 647 and Sister Sorel have been participating in the Taste of the South End since it began and we couldn’t be prouder,” said Andy Husbands, executive chef and owner of Tremont 647 and Sister Sorel. “We love the community, seeing all of our friends at the event, serving and eating tasty food, and as a double bonus we get to join the fight against AIDS by supporting the AIDS Action Committee. Charity is a core principle for Tremont 647 and Sister Sorel. I decided that we would focus primarily on the fight against AIDS, as well as hunger relief, with our charitable beliefs. This focus has not changed for the last 17 years, nor will it. It is important.”
Taste of the South End takes place from 6 to 9:30 p.m. on March 4. Tickets are $100; VIP admission is $150. For more information on AAC, visit www.aac.org. To purchase tickets, visit the Taste of the South End website.