By Mason Lerner
Killeen Daily Herald
Meredith Viguers, owner of cafe and catering service Let Us Do The Cooking, summed up why the fourth annual Flavors of Central Texas is important to her restaurant in three words.
"It's great advertising," she said.
Let Us Do The Cooking was one of more than 20 local restaurants, caterers and bakers from Killeen, Harker Heights, Copperas Cove and Temple handing out samples at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center on Tuesday.
For Viguers, it was an opportunity to connect with her community.
"It lets people know there are options beyond the chains on restaurant row," Viguers said.
Not that chains weren't well represented. Walmart in Killeen handed out samples of sheet cake, Freebird's World Burrito offered a taste of its burritos, and McAlister's Deli gave away its famous tea to eager visitors. According to Jason's Deli manager Amanda Underwood, the event is not all about marketing.
"This is very important for building relationships with other restaurants," Underwood said. "I think when the restaurants are mingling and coming together, it helps all of Killeen come together."
For Jaime Briggs, the event is an affordable night out with her four children. And with her husband deployed to Afghanistan, she said that is a big deal.
"It's good to get out of the house and have something like this to go to," Briggs said. "It lets you get to know the community, and the kids can try new things."
Flavors of Central Texas is nothing new for Ethel and Leroy Flammang. The couple attended the gathering for the third year in a row.
"It's just fun," said Ethel. "You get to mingle with a lot of people, and if you don't like cooking dinner every night, it is a chance to go out."
For her husband, it was a chance to try new things.
"Sometimes you get stuck in a rut," Leroy said. "So it's nice to go out and discover new places."
Hupply Pupply owner Kalynn Tindall-Azim said the event is an important vehicle for helping local businesses gain exposure.
"When it comes down to it, a lot of people value small business and the hard work that goes into them," Tindall-Azim said. "Being at Flavors of Central Texas means a lot because people are able to taste foods they wouldn't normally go out looking for."
The evening concluded with a People's Choice Award and a Top Chef Competition. Attendees were given a score card for the People's Choice award and cast their votes as they sampled. The categories included best entrée, best side dish and best dessert.
Copperas Cove resident Joy Rice shared another aspect of the event that brought her back for the third time.
"I just love the experience," she said. "And of course I love the drawings and give-aways."
Contact Mason Lerner at email@example.com or (254) 501-7567.