Local restaurants show off their best at annual Taste of Johnson City event

Hannah Swayze • Oct 30, 2018 at 12:00 AM

This year marks 36 years of the the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce’s Taste of Johnson City event.

Each year, local restaurants, caterers and beverage distributors set up for the Taste of Johnson City to showcase some classic, experimental and surprise dishes. This year, everyone gathered in the evening under the twinkling lights of the Blackthorn Club in Jonesborough.

The event gives the Chamber of Commerce the opportunity to reach out to the local restaurant community members and catch up, Gary Mabrey, Johnson City Chamber of Commerce president, said.

“It’s a chance to go to places you haven’t been or places you like and you get to meet their chefs and the cooks and their management team outside the restaurant,” Mabrey said.

Guests enjoyed a taste of everything local. Participating vendors included a mix of local small businesses and chain restaurants.

Aubrey’s, a restaurant new to Johnson City with 11 different locations in East Tennessee, kept a busy booth serving up their filet bites in their signature farm-to-table Southern comfort style. Guests wandered around the space with empty bowls that once held the delicious filet dish served with warm gnocchi, asparagus, parmesan cheese and arugula tossed in the restaurant’s madeira wine sauce.

“We’re just excited to be in the area and this is really our first opportunity to really get out in the area and get our name out in a public setting so we’re very excited to be here,” said Justin Wright, manager of the Aubrey’s Johnson City location, located on Hamilton Place Road.

Also among those serving were some annual participants like the host, the Blackthorn Club.

James Allen, executive chef of the Blackthorn Club, created for the evening a braised short rib with Asian slaw on a steamed bun and a chicken tender filet to which guests could add sauce using a playful buffalo sauce fountain. In the outside tent, Blackthorn Club staff also served up tuna tartar and a sweet gold leaf opera cake.

While he mingled with guests, Allen also mentioned looking forward to the end of the event when all the chefs got the chance to share food and partake in the dishes themselves.

“Once this is all done, then we all kind of go around and give each other food and dig in. It’s really fun. It’s a great experience and we get to hang out and have fun and meet other chefs and kind of network,” Allen said.

Participants included Aubrey’s, Barberito’s Southwestern Grille & Cantina, Blackthorn Club at The Ridges, BoneFish Grill, Bronco Wine Company, Burger Bar at DoubleTree Hotel, Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop, Cherokee Distributing, Coca-Cola Bottling, Corinthian Bistro, East Coast Wings + Grill, Firehouse Restaurant & Catering, Holston Distributing, Johnson City Brewing Company, Johnson City Country Club, McAlister’s Deli, Olive Garden, Pepsi Beverages Co., Rainbow Asian Cuisine, Sodexo at ETSU/Millennium Center, Surf N Brew, Tennessee Hills Distillery and Universal Wine & Spirits.

For more information about the Chamber of Commerce and its upcoming events, visit www.johnsoncitytnchamber.com.

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