Tastes of the ‘world’s borough’ on the menu
by Sara Krevoy
Mar 10, 2020 | 2723 views | 0 0 comments | 158 158 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Taste of the World 2020
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Our Lady Queen of Martyrs held its ninth annual “Tastes of the World” international food festival on Sunday, showing off the flavors of Forest Hills and beyond.

Residents sampled global cuisines from nearly 40 eateries throughout the neighborhood and adjacent communities like Maspeth to Briarwood.

Vendors included regulars like Portofino, Jack & Nellies, Knish Nosh and Manor Oktoberfest, in addition to festival newcomers such as La Rotisserie du Coin and Ivarone Brothers.

Noodlefan brought food for the event all the way from Staten Island.

Traders Joe’s, Young Chef Academy, TGI Fridays, Dinerbar, Austin Ale House, Austin House Diner, Aigner Chocolates, Station House, Shake Shack, Starbucks, Panda Express, Panera Bread, Queensbury Wines, Orchard Market, Woodhaven House, Nick’s Bistro and Queens Bully provided raffle prizes for the festival.

“Everyone is free to come and enjoy the food, so it’s a great way to bring the community together,” said Denise De Maria, who played a crucial role in organizing the event with OLQM administrator Father Francis Passenant and Bishop Paul Sanchez.

“It’s a little bit of everything,” she continued. “We have pretty much every kind of cuisine anyone could ask for.”

Guests received a “Taste of the World” card listing all the event’s vendors, and the goal is to see what restaurants get back from the festival.

“We help them and they help us,” explained Teresa Wong, who recruited five restaurants for last weekend’s festival and has been a volunteer at all nine iterations.

The origins of what has now become a neighborhood tradition trace back to 2012, when OLQM celebrated its 100-year anniversary.

Back in 1912, there was no church building, so masses were held in parishioners homes. Four years later, a chapel was built on the corner of Ascan Avenue and Queens Boulevard, which eventually burned down.

Under the leadership of OLQM’s founding pastor, Monsignor Joseph McLaughlin, a school was built in 1928 and a church in 1939, developing the vision of the parish into the property that stands today.

For its centennial, OLQM hosted a number of events to honor the occasion. One idea was to put on a food festival, which then featured just 15 restaurants and 10 raffle gifts. A success, the festival became an annual occasion, more than doubling in size over the years.

As much as the fundraiser is a benefit to OLQM, it was clear on Sunday that the returns of bringing the neighborhood together over a meal permeate further than that.

“The church is really an anchor of the community,” said a parishioner named Eddie. “That’s why we like it here.”

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