Among the 1,200 supporters of the Cleveland Foodbank were local residents at the annual Taste of the Cleveland Browns. Held at the Club Lounge, the fundraiser had a mixture of people of all ages. There were some youngsters in Browns jerseys, with balls and books to be autographed. Joe Thomas, six-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman, has been the honorary chairman for close to a decade. He was a strong presence, mixing with the guests. In fact, both current players and Browns alums did not retreat into the available VIP lounge, but spent time talking with impressed fans of all ages. Essentially they were working on a Monday, their traditional day off.
Other guests were individual and corporate supporters of the Cleveland Foodbank. In the six-county area served by the food pantry, over 52 million meals are served annually. Two dozen restaurants were strong enough supporters to each supply a thousand or more “small plates” that represented some of the best work of their kitchens. Executive chefs shared the complex preparations with the guests. It was impossible to sample everything. Rocky River’s Pearl of the Orient offered shrimp mousse in golf-ball-sized portions, with breading and coconut. Guests who saved room enjoyed chocolate-covered strawberries from Westgate’s The Melting Pot. Intriguing wine tastings were part of the evening. For guests whose tastes lie in other beverages, there were both beers and spirits mixed in creative cocktails.
Other events at Taste of the Cleveland Browns included a raffle. With tickets priced at “an arm’s length,” inventive guests asked Browns players such as Al “Bubba” Baker for the loan of a longer arm for more chances. A choice auction drew spirited bidding and a live auction was part of a short program. By the time everything was added up, Taste of the Cleveland Browns raised over $175,000 for the Cleveland Foodbank.