Reno Bites is widening its bite mark.
To mark its fifth anniversary, this annual celebration of Reno food culture is expanding to 10 days this year, Oct. 7-16, up from the seven days the event ran in each of its first four outings. (Scroll down for an image of many participating chefs "in traffic.")
Why the bigger chomp?
“Demand,” said chef Clint Jolly of Great Thyme Catering, who founded Reno Bites with Natasha Bourlin, a principal in the Biggest Little Group, a Reno communications firm.
“It has taken us five years to really get established. Now, restaurants come to us and tell us they have been thinking of an event all year long that they’d like to do for Reno Bites.
And chefs, Bourlin added, “have seen what we’ve done in other years and feel comfortable that if they want to do something, they will have our event marketing behind them.”
Added days don’t just mean an increase in participating restaurants. This year, Reno Bites is debuting a charity component that makes the event more than a welcome opportunity to loosen your belt and let loose your appetite.
Three good causes
That charity component is called the Charity Checkbill, and here’s how it works.
Nearly 30 food establishments are taking part in Reno Bites — either by offering, $10, $20 or $30 specials, or a signature event, or both.
When you dine at a participating restaurant (see www.renobitesweek.com for a list), Checkbills should be at the counter to grab or presented in the check folder. Select one charity listed on the Checkbill stub, indicate your server’s name and restaurant, then give the stub to the server.
The charities are Evelyn Mount Community Outreach (food donations), the St. Vincent’s Programs (food, clothing, shelter, other basic needs), and the Food Bank of Northern Nevada.
“The top vote-getter receives a $4,000 donation from Sysco,” the food service distributor, Bourlin said. “The server who turns in the most Checkbill stubs receives a prize that we’re still determining. So, you really are dining for a good cause.”
New and returning
According to organizers Jolly and Bourlin, eight spots this year have signed up for the first time for Reno Bites: Chomp salads, GourMelt Grilled Cheese Shop, Liberty Food & Wine Exchange, Mellow Fellow GastroPub, Rawbry juice bar, Roundabout Grill, Urban Roots tarm and Wedge Cheese Shop.
Chomp is featuring a $10 post office salad, a communion of baby spinach, arugula, beets, apple, quinoa and goat cheese. GourMelt is grilling jack and blue cheese UNR melts for $10.
At Liberty Food & Wine, look for a housemade Liberty dog and draft beer, also for 10 bucks, or a $30 rebel platter of cheese and meats. Stop by Mellow Fellow for a daily stuffed burger with draft pint; they’re $10, too.
RENO BITES 2016
What: Fifth annual celebration of Reno food culture
When: Oct. 7-16 at various venues around the city
Highlights: Nearly a dozen signature events and nearly 30 participating establishments
Rawbry is pouring strawberry cashew milk spiked with sea salt, for $10. Fork into Roundabout Grill’s $10 roasted vegetable risotto with gusts of basil.
Wedge Cheese Shop? Owner Laura Conrow is serving a platter of moan-worthy truffled burrata and bacon marmalade for swiping across grilled baguette slices.
Returning participants doing $10, $20 or $30 specials (or a combination thereof) are: the Cheese Board, Chez Louie, Moo Dang, the Mustard Seed, Noble Pie Parlor locations, SoDo, SouthCreek Pizza, Süp and Zozo’s Ristorante.
Urban Roots, the eighth new participant, is closing out Reno Bites on Oct. 16 by hosting a signature event, a fundraiser for its school and on-site farm-education programs. Five local chefs are preparing dishes; cost: $75 per person.
The signature events begin Oct. 7 with the kick-off to Reno Bites. Starting at 5:30 p.m., six restaurants around the city, including Bistro 7, Brasserie Saint James and Wild River Grille, are supplying sips like a sparkling wine and Aperol cocktail and bites like lamb bourguignon bruschetta.
Between Oct. 7 and Oct. 16, signature events range from German sausages, sides and brews at Pignic Pub & Patio to an OktoberFeast Israeli dinner with bottomless beer from Blend Catering to a 1970s-inspired tasting menu at Rapscallion Seafood House & Bar.
Other signature events range rrom a Mangia Tutti Pasta menu prepared by chef David Holman at Campo Reno to the Caravan to Casablanca blend of food and music at Homage Bakery to Feed the Camel’s food truck competition at the McKinley Arts & Culture Center in which mobile cuisinistas compete using a secret ingredient.
On Oct. 15, Tournant is presenting a “Hannibal”-themed pop-up showcasing cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and “Silence: The Musical” at Good Luck Macbeth Theatre, followed by three courses at Crème Café.
Oct. 15 also sees the annual Chef Showdown cook-off at Czyz’s Appliance with, for the first time, an Oktoberfest Beer Garden. Follow Reno Bites on Facebook for opportunities to win one of 100 seats to free beer and food.
This year, yours truly is head judge for the Chef Showdown. I can already taste the dishes.