By Naeisha Rose
The Queens Economic Development Corporation found a very tasteful way to celebrate its 40th ruby anniversary this year.
On Tuesday the non-profit, which supports the growth of Queens-based businesses, held its annual Queens Taste event at the New York Hall of Science in Corona. The affair helps to draw attention to new and old food, dessert and drink vendors from across the borough.
“This is a great opportunity for restaurants from all over the borough to show their fare. We have 130 languages and 120 countries,” Borough President Melinda Katz said. “Each one brings their own culture, and food, and tradition. All of that gets melded into this event here.”
Later she thanked the organizers of the event, the more than 600 guests who came out to support the local businesses and asked that everyone continue to ensure the progress of Queens.
“People want to come to Queens,” Katz said. “The reason is because of all of you that have made investments in our borough. Diversity is an honor to have in this great borough of Queens and the United States of America.”
One of the older businesses to appear at the event was Schmidt’s Candies, which has been around for four generations and is 50 years older than the QEDC.
“We are over 90 years this year,” said owner Margie Schmidt. “My grandfather started it in 1926.”
Scmidt spends seven months a year and 16 hours a day making candies in Woodhaven. She uses natural ingredients and they are preservative free.
“The candy that I’m making, the dark chocolate, the caramel with the almond – that’s with 60 percent dark chocolate. The centers are handmade, like the jellys and the creams,” Schmidt said.
One of the newer installments at the venue is the ecommerce business Little Pleasures, which makes platters from recyclable goods and specializes in desserts and appetizers, like the cucumber slices with goat cheese, basil and bruschetta they brought to the event.
“We started this company two years ago and ever since then we’ve been a high end caterer with specialized platters,” said owner Scott McCullough. “All of these platters are made by us from hand. They are all made of post consumer restaurant equipment. Nothing more than $50 for all of them.”
Pleasures has heated platters, pool platters, platters with music devices and indoor fireworks platters for every type of event.
Giving everyone a taste for Cyprus was Harry Ioannidiis, the manager of Zenon Taverna in Astoria.
“We are a Greek and Cyprian restaurant,” Ioannidiis said. “There are very few places out there where you can find influences of Cyprus. It’s a small island on the Mediterranean sea, but it has a lot of influences from the Middle East, and other parts of Greece as well.”
The food that Ioannidiis served included fried Halloumi cheese, Sheftalia (char-grilled meatballs), and Cyprian Souvla (meat barbecued over charcoal). He also cooks his food in rosewater, which is one of the Middle Eastern ingredients, and uses cilantro in his meals, something “a lot of Europeans do not.”
Getting some of the attendees a little tipsy was Pat Lao, an ambassador for Chang beer.
“It’s a pale lager from Thailand,” Lao said. “This is premium quality. We use barley and hops. The finest. Its’ very crisp, and citrusy with a slight sweetness to it.”
Although the beer has been in U.S. markets for a decade, Lao hopes that events like this will bring more attention to the brand.
As hundreds of guests circled the room sampling food, treats, beer and wine the borough president made an announcement.
“This is a proclamation of honor for QEDC,” Katz said. “ May 2nd is now Queens Economic Development Day in the borough.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose