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Legendary Local: Mastermind Behind Taste of Ladera
by: Debbie L. Sklar
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Paterson has helped raise $100,000 for the local schools.
Paterson has helped raise $100,000 for the local schools.

If it wasn’t for Ladera Ranch resident, Michelle Patterson, there might not be the annual Taste of Ladera.

Patterson, co-owner of an outsourcing company that works closely with Ladera Ranch business owners in need of support for their accounting, finance and human resources needs, is also founder of Taste, which has raised close to $100,000 for the local schools and hospital.

“After 11 years of working as a VP in Corporate America, I was ready to build something from scratch and work to help the organizations within my community. They always say do what you love – which is exactly what I did when I started Taste of Ladera in 2004. It has truly been a labor of love for the last 6 years,” Patterson says.

Taste of Ladera has become one of the largest events in Southern California with 35,000 in attendance. Nonprofits can sign up for a booth and generate funding for their organization through their booth activity. They are given a booth and a venue to create awareness about their cause, increase volunteerism and raise money.

“The people involved also make it special, like the businesses and restaurants who are our heroes for coming out and working for days to prepare for the event,” she says.

On May 1 and 2, 2010 Taste of Ladera celebrates its 6th year and in that 2-day period held in Founder’s Park, Ladera Ranch.

“The first year, we supported two charities - today we support 22,” she says. “Last May, headlined Sugar Ray and more than 125 booths representing local businesses and restaurants participated bringing 25,000 attendees. We even had a family fun zone which had everything from a Ferris wheel to a dunking machine.”

To her knowledge she adds that there are only two “Taste” events that are structured as a 5013c in the Western United States: Taste of Ladera and Taste of Vail, Colorado.

In addition to heading up Taste, she is the CEO of Event Complete, which produces many well known events within Southern California and is a full service event management company. To name just a few – Taste of Ladera, The Giant Orange Festival, Muscle Car 1000 and many more all of which are charity events.

Event Complete supports local and international events ranging from Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation KTQ at their annual function, to Muscle Car 1000, an event where the most luxurious collector cars are brought together for once in a life-time experiences all benefiting Hero, the hunger relief organization to the Giant Orange Festival held at the Great Park in Irvine in July.

“Taste of Ladera has been wonderful for the community and branded Ladera Ranch – Feedback has been tremendous for what Event Complete has been able to achieve for the community – attendees have shared that they didn’t even know the community existed until they heard about Taste of Ladera,” Patterson says. “One resident bought her home after attending the event and visiting the community.”

Taste of Ladera as a nonprofit supports local charities such as Laura’s House, which launched their stop national domestic violence campaign recognizing May as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“They have made Taste of Ladera their official venue for the West coast,” Patterson says.

Another example is the community Talent Show – Ladera’s Got Talent - auditions happens several months prior to the event. Last year’s winner went on to perform at America’s Got Talent.

“It’s a great way to pull the local schools into the program plus all proceeds go to the Unforgettables Foundation, an organization benefiting families who cannot afford to bury their child,” Patterson says.

When she busy with these events and businesses, Patterson likes to spend time with her husband, Eric Patterson of 10 years and their two children, Jaclyn and Chase.
 


Debbie L. Sklar is a 20+year journalism veteran residing in Southern California, where she is a writer, columnist and editor for many local, regional and national publications. Sklar may be reached via e-mail at DebbieSklar@cox.net
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