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Taste of the Nation features Charlotte's best restaurants

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One of the city's prime foodie events comes to the Wells Fargo Atrium on Wednesday, April 17. The annual Taste of the Nation showcases the culinary talents of two dozen of Charlotte's top restaurants and culinary schools in a night devoted to raising money for charity.

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The local event is part of the national Taste of the Nation campaign dedicated to goal of ending childhood hunger in America. The Share our Strength/No Kid Hungry organization is one of the most popular among chefs and restaurateurs across the country and receives great support for its signature Taste of the Nation events. Nearly 40 Taste of the Nation events are held around the country every year.

The need is great. Studies indicate that one out of five children in America go hungry on a regular basis. In North Carolina, the rate soars to 27.6% of children who are uncertain where their next meal is coming from, according to the No Kid Hungry website.

All funds raised through ticket sales and the impressive live and silent auctions held during the Taste of the Nation go to benefit the No Kid Hungry program and its local affiliates: the Second Harvest Food Bank and the Community Culinary School of Charlotte.

Participants enjoy bite-size servings of original dishes from each participating restaurant and culinary school - an array of food that is unsurpassed in variety, presentation, and quality. Offerings range from appetizers to dessert and you are guaranteed to have more than you can eat to choose from. The evening also includes complementary wine and beer, as well as cocktails at the Mixologist Bar. This year's featured mixologist is Stefan Huebner, a familiar face behind the bar at Heist and numerous other venues. Live music by Hot Sauce plays during the evening with dancing under the lofty dome of the atrium.

Participating restaurants at this year's event are a who's who of the city's top culinary venues, including BLT Steak, Brixx Wood Fired Pizza, Cantina 1511, Central Piedmont Community College, Chima Brazilian Steakhouse, e2 emeril's eatery, Enso, Gallery at Ballantyne Hotel, Harper's Restaurant, Johnson & Wales University, Mama Ricotta's, Mimosa Grill, Napa on Providence, Queen City Q, Savannah Red at Marriott City Center, Upstream, The Westin Charlotte - Ember Grille, Village Tavern, Vivace, Whole Foods Market, and Wolfgang Puck's Pizza Bar.

Tickets to the April 17 event are $85 for general admission, including food, beverages, and music from 7-10 p.m., and $100 for early-bird VIP preview admission beginning at 6 p.m. The VIP admission (well worth the extra bucks) includes access to an exclusive VIP lounge with free flowing wines and champagne, plus special culinary creations from Johnson & Wales University. Tickets are available through the Taste of the Nation website. A limited number of tickets are available at the door.

All (100%) of ticket sales go directly to ending the childhood hunger experienced by 80,000 young people in the Charlotte region.

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