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Delicious holiday fundraiser for Nourish NC takes place Thursday night

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Kelly Sweitzer won last year’s costume contest as Clark Griswold hanging from a gutter for 12 Tastes’ ‘Christmas Vacation’ theme; 2019’s is ‘A Christmas Story.’ Photo by Matthew Ray Photography


Say it with us: “Frah-gee-lay!” It’s Italian for encore’s 12 Tastes (or more!) of Christmas—the most delicious holiday event, featuring over 30 local drinkeries and eateries, set to theme of “A Christmas Story.”

It was only six years ago when Nina Bays Cournoyer and Katherine Clark launched a fundraiser that would amp up the holidays with lots of local flair (and fare). 12 Tastes of Christmas brought in 12 local eateries and drinkeries to Brooklyn Arts Center as a benefit for Cape Fear Literacy Council. Folks ate, drank, dressed up in holiday gear, and generally enjoyed the spirit of the season, usually set to a theme.

In 2017, when Cournoyer moved to L.A., the event went on hiatus. With permission from its founders, encore resurrected it last year to the theme of “Christmas Vacation” and to benefit DREAMS. We upped the ante to include 34 local eateries and drinkeries, all of whom vied for best bite, best sip and best decorated booth, as voted on by 12 Tastes attendees. 2018 winners were Board and Barrel for bite, Dram + Morsel for sip, and Island Beverage and Pine Valley Market for booth.

The rebrand of 12 Tastes (or more!) of Christmas was such a hit, we will welcome it back this Thursday, December 12, 6 p.m. – 9:30 p.m., at Brooklyn Arts Center (BAC). The 2019 event has a slew of bites and sips, paired at booths throughout the church and adjoining Annex, such as: mini al pastor tacos from Beer Barrio, paired with Pinchelada, a Mexican lager with jalapeño, lime and salt from Skytown Brewery; Trey Herring’s Carolina Bourbon hot apple butter drink, paired with Steam Restaurant & Bar’s vegetable fried rice with farm-fresh egg and fixin’s; Boombalatti’s homemade chocolate “Oh, Fudggggeee!” ice cream to go with Flytrap’s Belgian chocolate stout; or a glass of mulled wine from Palate Bottle Shop & Reserve to go with True Blue Butcher & Table’s pork and Peking duck rillettes, with salted plum, cucumber, and mandarin pancake (see all pairings at our Facebook event page).

As of press the event almost was sold out, with sales benefiting Nourish NC. The local nonprofit feeds children through numerous outreach programs in southeastern NC. According to its executive director, Steve McCrossan, “one in five children in New Hanover County struggle with food insecurity and hunger. Nourish NC mobilizes volunteers and resources to provide supplemental food assistance to these children who might otherwise go hungry. We do this because hunger wreaks havoc on children’s minds, bodies and spirits. [Nourish NC] programming reflects our vision to be anywhere and everywhere food insecure children need us.”

Their outreach includes a Backpack Program, designed to give more than 1,200 students from 50 schools nutritious food on weekends and school breaks, when they can’t get meals at school. They also host Farmer’s MarKid for 1,900 kids, by taking free fresh fruits and vegetables to food deserts, parks, playgrounds, afterschool programs, high-need schools and into area nonprofits. Nourish NC’s Food Farmacy screens upward of 400 kids for food insecurity at their doctor’s office.

“Children who are struggling with hunger are provided with a box of non-perishable food containing more than 25 strategic meals,” McCrossan says. “Each child also receives a ‘prescription’ for 15-20 pounds of fresh produce, meat, eggs and wheat bread.”

They also feed 400 younger children, ages 1-4, through Toddler Tummies. By partnering with other nonprofits, Nourish NC ensures healthy food gets to underserved kids. These children also receive “prescriptions” for fresh food and produce.

Monies raised at 12 Tastes (or more!) of Christmas for Nourish NC will allow their Backpack Program to reach 1,200 kids over holiday break. Students will get grocery boxes filled with enough meat, wheat bread, milk and produce to eat three meals a day.

“Children who rely on free meals in school struggle with food insecurity over long school breaks,” McCrossan says. “The break box ensures our kids are well-fed, happy and healthy while on break.”

As well as focusing on end-of-year needs for the nonprofit and for the kids they serve, Nourish NC already is looking toward the new year. Fundraisers and volunteer services (visit to find out how to help) will allow them to expand both their Food Farmacy and Toddler Tummies programs. “We also will announce a big surprise in 2020, but you’ll just have to wait for that,” McCrossan teases.

Aside from receiving all sponsorship money and ticket sales from 12 Tastes, Nourish NC will also get money from raffle ticket sales. 12 Tastes’ hosts, Pineapple-Shaped Lamps, will be selling tickets ($3 each or $10 for five) throughout the evening and announce winners twice an hour from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Items up for grab include lots of local restaurant gift certificates, handmade jewelry, a two-night staycation at Homewood Suites at Mayfaire, a membership to City Club of Wilmington, and more.

To add to the holly-jolly vibe of the evening, the Encore Carolers will sing holiday classics, plus the church stage, courtesy of lead sponsor OnQ Financial, will take on a scene from the Parker household from “A Christmas Story.” Chris Brehmer Photography will take photos of attendees on the stage with cutouts of Ralphie the Deranged Easter Bunny and the Old Man’s Major Award, and in front of the Christmas tree.

Attendees are encouraged to dress up to the theme for a chance to win the costume contest, held at the beginning of the 9 o’clock hour and voted on by audience applause. One male and one female will receive tickets to a Wilson Center Broadway-touring show. Audiences also vote through a QR code on best bite, best sip and best decorated booth, plus on our 2020 theme, with winners announced around 8:45 p.m.

Tickets to 12 Tastes (or more!) of Christmas will be open online through noon, December 13. If any tickets are left, they will be general admission only and available at the door for $60. Check the Facebook event page for pertinent sold-out announcements and updates.

12 Tastes (or more!) of Christmas
December 12, 6 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Brooklyn Arts Center, 516 N 4th St.
Ages 21 and over only!
Tickets: $50-$75 •


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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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