Tastes of Homer to be celebrated this month

The culinary celebration of the community will take place the second week of May

From May 10-18, more than 25 of Homer’s top chefs and culinary creators will unite to offer a range of special menu items, cooking classes, food pairings with interactive workshops, according to a news release from the Homer Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber Marketing Director Mina Gherman and Jim Anderson, chair of the events committee for the chamber board, held a preliminary meeting at the end of March. The original Taste of Homer event plan was used as an invitation to as many local restaurants as they could find with the intention to start collecting ideas and brainstorming how the Taste of Homer event might look and what kind of events might be included.

Gherman said they’re hoping for participation from 40-50 restaurants. As of last week they had about 25 confirmed for the agenda. “But, that will include pop-up events, food truck owners, full blown restaurants, cafes, breweries, even some growers who are collaborating with private chefs,” Anderson said.

“The message were trying to send this year is not to recruit more chamber members, though there are perks to that, but Homer is known as the culinary destination for Alaska. People drive right through Soldotna and Kenai to get to Homer for food and we want to promote that, work through the challenges the industry faces together and see what we can do to make a stronger culinary community here,” Anderson said.

Anderson noted that the restaurant scene had some challenges coming back from COVID and that there is a true shortage of staffing available in the community. He said, “we all know there is also an official poaching season that happens before the height of summer tourism in order to recruit employees.”

Housing is also an issue for staff. “A lot of people would love to come and work seasonally in Homer but it’s difficult to find somewhere to stay short term for a reasonable cost,” he said. “So, the goal is to support each other and drive more traffic into everyone’s venue and send the message out that Homer is the cultural arts destination for Alaska and the culinary arts is a huge part of that; it is as important as the visual and performing arts.”

He referred to the restaurant scene, a good meal, as the icing on the cake to a cultural visit to the community. “If someone has a smash up meal, that’s what they’ll talk about and that really elevates Homer.”

“If we can raise the whole tide of restaurant business by bringing everyone together with the Taste of Homer, we can help make everyone into a better business and that’s where the chamber is taking the lead. This is going to benefit us as a community,” he said.

The Taste of Homer will start off with a food truck event at the Baycrest KOA on May 10 and 11 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. On Monday, Gherman said she was still working out the details for the final program scheduled for the event and will be available to pick up at the Chamber of Commerce next Monday. The Chamber is located at 201 Sterling Highway in Homer.

Some of the confirmed participating food providers are The Kannery, River Cafe, Chugach Wild Salmon Co, Siren Seafood and Streetfood, Grace Ridge Brewing, AJ’s Old Town Steakhouse, Alibi Bar and Grill, Fat Olives Restaurant, Don Jose’s Mexican Restaurant, Land’s End Resort, Mike’s and Bubbles, Tickled Pear and Johnny’s Corner.