By Beth Treffeisen
On a cold, windy evening Wednesday September 28, wafts of grilled, BBQ, and sautéed food filled the air as crowds of people streamed in to eat, socialize, and enjoy live music at Fenway Park area on Van Ness Street.
Filled with food and drink tastings from over 20 restaurants from the Fenway area, guests eagerly walked up and down Van Ness Street to try some of tasty delights on display.
“Here we have with us all these great top chefs in the neighborhood,” said Leah Camhi, the executive director of the Fenway Community Development Corporation. “And we wanted to acknowledge all of them.”
The Fenway Community Development Corporation (Fenway CDC), a non-profit that works to improve the lives of low and moderate-income residents by providing affordable housing, social support and more, hosted the event.
This is the first since the 1990’s since the Fenway CDC hosted an event of this kind. The last time it was held, Camhi said, none of these restaurants where here.
“It’s been pretty crazy,” said Camhi. “There used to be nothing here.”
But, over the past decade or so, Camhi said there has been a lot of development in the area that has lent itself to play host to a lot of new restaurants.
“We wanted to highlight all the great food that Fenway has to offer,” Camhi said.
One restaurant, El Pelon that has been in the Fenway for 17 years was handing out small chicken chimichangas.
“It’s fun – it’s good to come out and see your neighbors,” said Jim Hoben the owner of the restaurant. “We all eat at each other’s places all the time.”
Brian Reyett from the Citizen Public House & Oyster Bar said his restaurant was one of the first in the area.
“I watched this area grow over the past years and am excited to see it grow,” said Reyett.
At the event his restaurant was showcasing oysters from Cape Cod.
“It highlights the flavors of the sea,” Reyett said.
Over at The Lansdowne tent, Shepard’s Pie was being served to passersby’s. Art Welch the corporate chef behind the cooking has been working in the Fenway area since 2005 and has watched a lot of residential buildings go up in the area.
“There are a lot of opportunities for local businesses and restaurants,” said Welch. “This event is great because it includes everybody and you get to see people from the community support local businesses.”
Down the line, FoMu was handing out chocolate and coconut flavored non-diary ice cream for those looking for a sweet treat. The store that has multiple locations throughout the city has been holding a pop-up in the Fenway area since the beginning of summer.
Store manager Angie Riccio said they have been trying to learn the area that tends to have spurts of customers from nearby events such as at Fenway Park.
“We are just trying to get people to know who we are,” said Riccio who said their pop-up has been getting a lot of working people along with fans after a baseball game.
She continued, “People after a game are fun because they are enthusiastic and excited. We definitely do not have that anywhere else.”
Across the way, Neighborhood Coffee & Crepes who is new to the area was serving Sweet Simplicity, a crepe made of strawberries and a fair trade chocolate hazelnut spread.
“We are happy to here and happy to make new friends,” said owner Betsy Hill. “It is nice to see people we know as well as getting the community together.”