Sure, they knew that a similar event was held in Hoboken to rave reviews and strong turnouts, but there was still some uncertainty about doing such an event in a small town like Weehawken.
Those tentative moments are now a thing of the distant past, because "A Taste of Weehawken" has evolved into the second biggest community-related event in the township, next to the annual Weehawken Day Festival in September.
Every year, the event, which will take place Tuesday night at the Food Court in the UBS Financial Services building on Harbor Boulevard, gets bigger and bigger.
Last year, more than 600 people attended and they expect an even bigger turn out this year.
George Politis, a native of Weehawken whose family has owned and operated GP's Restaurant in Guttenberg for the last 30 years, said that he looks forward to the event every year.
"I love giving back to the community and Weehawken is my home," Politis said. "It's an opportunity for me to see the finest chefs and restaurateurs from Hudson County and it brings all the people of the community together."
Fellow Weehawken resident Paula Frazier, who owns Paula's at Rigoletto on Park Avenue in the township, agreed.
"This library is the heart of the community," Frazier said. "I'm a strong community supporter and truly believe in events like this. One of the reasons why I opened my business is because I wanted to feed the people of my neighborhood. Giving back in an event like this is what it's all about."
New outdoor facility for library
In the past, the funds raised by "A Taste of Weehawken" have gone to provide the library with a host of different programs, such as children's events, author talks and computer equipment upgrades.
This year, the library plans on building an outdoor facility for its more than 5,000 card holders. The structure will include a garden, benches and game tables, so that patrons can go outside to read, play games or just enjoy the area.
"When there's good weather, we want people to be able to enjoy the front yard more," Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner said.
Turner greeted about eight of the 40 different chefs who will participate in this year's event at a press conference to promote "A Taste of Weehawken" at the library Tuesday afternoon.
"The event would not be a success if not for the commitment of the restaurant owners and chefs," said Turner. "The library doesn't have a budget to handle special programs and events, so the support we receive from this one night goes a long way. The library has turned into a magnificent place for our residents and we want it to continue."
Library Board President Leona Nersesian echoed the sentiments of the mayor.
"We want to be able to continue to give our patrons everything we can," Nersesian said.
Crab cakes and meatballs
Paul Dillon, the associate professor at the Culinary Arts Institute at Hudson County Community College and the former host of the Comcast Network's popular "Let's Cook" television show, said that the HCCC is proud to be involved with the event once again.
"Chef Barbara Konig and Chef David Gonzalez, a Weehawken resident, will be there representing us once again," said Dillon. "It's real important for us to be involved, not only because of the cause, but because Hudson County Community College is part of the community. It's important because our students get out there and get experience in dealing with the public."
Dillon said that there's a consistency now after all these years.
"I think people look forward to it now and expect us to be there," Dillon said. "A lot of the same people come back looking for the same thing."
So not to disappoint, the students from the HCCC Culinary Arts Institute will once again provide their famous crab cakes.
"We do like making the crab cakes," Dillon said. "A lot of people don't know much about the school, so this is good publicity for us."
The Weehawken High School Culinary Arts program will also have a table with their special dishes.
Politis said that he will prepare the GP's specialty house Greek salad, chicken scarporella and meatballs.
Frazier said that she will make flavored poletta and different bruschetta, but also promised some surprises.
"They're highly guarded secrets and if I told you, I'd have to kill you," Frazier said with a laugh.
Other area restaurants participating include: Amanda's of Hoboken, Houlihan's, Ruth's Chris Steak House, the Chart House, Arthur's Landing, the Harbor Bar and Brasserie, Porto Leggero Ristorante, and Lorraine's Table.
Vigneto of Weehawken will sponsor a wine-tasting seminar as part of the festivities.
In addition, the Weehawken High School Jazz Ensemble and Webster School music teacher Piero Romano and his band will play.
Several prizes have been donated to be raffled off during the course of the evening.
Tickets are priced at $60 for an early tasting at 6:30 p.m. and $30 to attend from 7:30 through 9:30 p.m.
"It's a great way to raise money for an institution that serves everyone," said Turner. "It keeps getting better. We've already had 150 people sign up for it this year. The entire community gets involved. People do look forward to it. We have the great restaurants, the fantastic crowd. People should plan on getting there early, because the food goes."
For more information about tickets and other matters relating to "A Taste of Weehawken," call the library at (201) 863-7823.
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at either OGSMAR@aol.com or email@example.com