When looking for a new restaurant to try on date night, most people immediately think of San Francisco or Oakland. But there are plenty of wonderful eateries in your own backyard that are just as good. To help promote these local businesses and raise awareness of our hidden culinary culture, the Castro Valley/Eden Area Chamber of Commerce will be hosting its annual business expo, called “Eden Eats”, on March 18.When looking for a new restaurant to try on date night, most people immediately think of San Francisco or Oakland. But there are plenty of wonderful eateries in your own backyard that are just as good. To help promote these local businesses and raise awareness of our hidden culinary culture, the Castro Valley/Eden Area Chamber of Commerce will be hosting its annual business expo, called “Eden Eats”, on March 18.
With an average attendance of over 500 people, Eden Eats is a chance for people to try out food from a wide variety of businesses, all under one roof. From cupcakes, to Korean food, to soul food, to Filipino food – it’s a veritable international smorgasbord of gastronomic delights. Anyone can attend – just pay $10 at the door for a wristband, good for unlimited samples.
Originally conceived as a “Business Expo” where local business owners could network and exchange ideas, the event has evolved into a foodie’s dream. Says Ashley Strasburg, Executive Director of the Castro Valley/Eden Area Chamber of Commerce, “We’ve reinvented this event a few times. For over 30 years it was a business exchange night with maybe a few restaurants involved. More recently, people in the chamber world have been moving out of this business expo type model and doing more food and wine engagement opportunities.”
Four years ago they changed the name of the event to ”Taste of Castro Valley” and focused primarily on restaurants, caterers, and home based food businesses. But this didn’t accurately reflect the chamber’s community, which includes the Eden Area as well (San Lorenzo, Ashland, and Cherryland). So the name was changed again to “Eden Eats”. The venue has also changed due to growth, from the Moose Lodge to Our Lady of Grace Church.
The event is a chance for new businesses to see what dishes work best for big crowds. Says Strasburg, “It’s a test run for many who want to host a booth at our Fall Festival.” It’s also a way to meet potential clients. Case in point – one chamber member who attended later used one of the caterers for their own wedding. Says Strasburg, “It’s a great experience for everyone.” Three judges will vote on the best savory and sweet dishes. There is also a People’s Choice award.
Says Strasburg, “People don’t think of Castro Valley or the Eden Area as a food destination. We lack curb appeal. We’re trying to change that and bring awareness to all of the great businesses in the area.” Strasburg cites a few examples, from a Filipino restaurant run by an award-winning chef with a cooking show, to Aroma Cuisine, which won the 2016 A-List Award for Best Indian Restaurant in the Bay Area.
Eden Eats showcases about 20 local businesses. And while the focus is mainly on the food, there are still a few non-food businesses in attendance. The event is almost entirely run by chamber volunteers.
For more information:
Wednesday, March 18
5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Our Lady of Grace Church
3433 Somerset Ave, Castro Valley
Photos courtesy of Breslow Imaging