Big Brothers Big Sisters benefits as Fort Worth welcomes back Big Taste event

Big Taste of Fort Worth (Photo by Amber Shumake)

Three years can make folks pretty hungry and thirsty – and ready for a good time, especially one that benefits a worthy cause.

So it was no surprise that the Barrett Havran Memorial Big Taste of Fort Worth was a resounding success when it returned May 22 at the Worthington Renaissance Fort Worth Hotel. The event benefited Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS).

“After a three-year hiatus due to COVID-19, we were very grateful to be back!” said a delighted Rachel Pillar, Vice President for Advancement and Community Engagement for BBBS. “Since 1979, the Big Taste of Fort Worth has been honored to highlight some of Fort Worth’s best restaurants, wineries and distilleries, and we were so grateful to be able to do so again.”

The event drew more than 350 attendees, including guests, celebrity judges, chefs and volunteers, Pillar said.

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“We could not have asked for better support, and our guests included some of the most influential names in Fort Worth,” she said. “We are excited to build back up to pre-COVID levels at next year’s Barrett Havran Memorial Big Taste of Fort Worth, which will be held on Sunday, April 30, 2023.”

At the time of his passing in 2011, Barrett Havran was an active Big Brother in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. In addition to serving as a volunteer mentor, he was also a member of the board of directors in Tarrant County. His parents, Bob and Joy Ann Havran, partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters after his death to continue his legacy of philanthropy and community service, naming this fundraising event in his honor.

“We are so grateful for our committee, especially Joy Ann Havran, Chair Emeritus, and our many sponsors, restaurant and wineries and distillery partners and our volunteers,” Pillar said. “Without these wonderful supporters, our event could not have happened.”

The top award of the night, Best of Taste, went to Toro Toro. Other winners included: Best Wine, Paul Autard Cote du Rhone, poured by Dan Miller with Local Source Beverages and available at Magnolia Wine Bar; People’s Choice for best savory, Bonnell’s Fine Texas Cuisine; People’s Choice for best sweet, Nothing Bundt Cake.

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More than $100,000 was raised at the event, Pillar said. All proceeds will go directly to funding the BBBS one-on-one mentoring program, helping to take 100 children off the program’s wait list and place them with an adult mentor.

The event featured a live auction that included: a John Legend-autographed guitar; box tickets to both Steely Dan and Koe Wetzel’s upcoming concerts at Dickie’s Arena; a custom whiskey-making experience at Blackland Distillery; dinner for eight at the Clay Pigeon, with chef-selected wine pairings; a Ladies Day Out package, including lunch, spa services, and shopping credit for two, from Neiman Marcus; signed sports memorabilia from Jordan Spieth, Jason White, and Baker Mayfield; an autographed chef’s jacket, signed by all the night’s celebrity attendees.

Former NBC5 Sports Director Scott Murray returned as the fan-favorite Master of Ceremonies.

The panel of celebrity food judges included: Hal Brown, owner, publisher and editor of Fort Worth Magazine; Eric Nelsen, Emmy and Tony-Award winning actor and producer, most recently known for his character Ennis on the Paramount Plus series 1883; Sainty Nelsen, three-time Emmy Award-winning actress and producer; former Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief and his wife, philanthropist-community volunteer Rosie Moncrief; and Trey Chapman of Trey’s Chow Down.

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Wine judges were: Jon Bonnell, award-winning chef, restaurateur, author and owner for Bonnell Restaurant Group; former Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and community-business leader Tom Price; Richard King, owner of Ellerbe Fine Foods; Chester Cox, founder/winemaker of Montagu Wines; and award-winning sommelier Weston Edison.