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A taste of philanthropy at Taste at Fitger's

A plate of goodies at the Taste at Fitger’s including Stella Artois beer, key lime pie from Midi Restaurant and pulled pork from GB Schneider & Company. (Bob King / 1 / 4
“It’s gooo-ooood!” said Brian Hannah of Cambridge after finishing the last of his mahi mahi enchilada from Little Angie’s Cantina & Grill on Friday night at the annual Taste at Fitger’s. The event is a fundraiser for Second Harvest. (Bob King / 2 / 4
Kevin Ilenda, executive chef at Restaurant 301, uses a torch to toast the marshmallows on the s’mores brownies he made for the crowd to enjoy at the annual Taste at Fitger’s fundraiser for Second Harvest on Friday evening. (Bob King / / 4
Jorge Gomez, who works at Mexico Lindo, moves quickly to prepare chile verde for a long line of participants of the annual Taste at Fitger’s on Friday evening. (Bob King / / 4

When Sue Skaudis walked to into Fitger’s on Friday night, it was like walking into heaven.

There were sweet champagne truffles, flavorful fish tacos, cheesy spinach pizza and white chocolate mousse topped with strawberries.

“I don’t know where to start,” Skaudis said. “There is delicious food absolutely everywhere. My expectations have definitely been exceeded.”

More than 500 hungry patrons filled Fitger’s for the 20th annual Taste at Fitger’s event, the proceeds of which go to benefit Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank. Participants could sample food from more than 40 regional restaurants. The endless variety of wine, spirits, special non-alcoholic drinks, desserts and exquisite entrees caused some people to leave the building feeling 10 pounds heavier.

“I just want to eat everything in here, this is such a cool event,” Kevin Schanning said. “Lots of good beer and good food equals a great time.”

Managers and chefs were working quickly to pass out samples to the growing crowd. Beth Sullivan had her two sons cooking while she invited guests to try their homemade barbeque ribs.

“We make everything from scratch: our pie crust, our bread, our barbeque sauce … everything,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan is the co-owner of the Rustic Inn Café. This is their fifth year traveling from Two Harbors to Duluth for the Taste at Fitger’s event.

“This event is just wonderful; we meet a lot of nice people every year,” Sullivan said. “I recommend everyone to come again next year.”

Pizza Luce manager Paige Doty had to call employees at the restaurant to bring more artichoke dip.

“The event just started, and we are already running out of food,” Doty says “A lot of people keep giving us compliments on our food; I love it.

“It feels good to be here tonight, I’m glad everyone wants to try our food,” Doty said. “It’s good for everyone to come out and support the food bank.”

Over the past 20 years, the event raised more than $400,000 for the Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank. This year, there was a silent auction to raise more money. People could bid on Kevin Love’s autographed basketball shoes, Joe Mauer’s autographed baseball or a Hanson brothers signed T-shirt.

“This is an incredible event for a great cause,” said Tami Tanski-Sherman, chairwoman of the event. “We are so thankful for everyone’s support year after year.”