What would Taste of Lakes Region be without Hector's & Chef Peter's stuffed mushrooms?

LACONIA — For some of the new businesses on the local culinary landscape, the annual Taste of the Lakes Region event is a chance to make an impression among local diners. Yet, even for Hector's Fine Food & Spirits, a landmark Laconia eatery that opened 29 years ago and has been part of the event for all but two of those years, the event is still the owners wouldn't miss.
This year's Taste of the Lakes Region is being held from 3 to 5:30 p.m. on April 7 at the Conference Center at the Lake Opechee Inn and Spa. Because there is a cash bar at the event, no one younger than 21 will be admitted.
Each of the more than 20 restaurants participating in this year's event provide their food and time without any direct remuneration. All the money raised through ticket sales goes to the charitable efforts of the Laconia Altrusa Club, which promotes literacy and provides scholarships to local students. Tickets cost $25 per person and can be purchased at Hart's Turkey Farm in Meredith or in Laconia at Hector's or at the Coldwell-Banker Residential Brokerage.
"It's a way to give back to the community, you get to see a lot of your customers, and it's fun," said Carl Peterson, who along with his wife Carla owns Hector's. "It's something different to do, out of the ordinary. It's fun to get out there," he added.
Although Hector's has been on Beacon Street West in Laconia for nearly three decades, Peterson said he'll meet several people at each Taste event that haven't set foot inside his restaurant. "You do run into new people, people that are new to town, people who aren't familiar with downtown."
At almost every one of the Taste events, Hector's has brought its seafood-stuffed mushrooms. The one year they decided to break tradition, diners at the event nearly staged a demonstration. So, Peterson said, he and chef Peter Cullen will be sure to give the people what they want, and will bring mushrooms among their offerings.
Cullen, who has worked at Hector's since it opened, said the event gives him the unusual opportunity to see how diners react to his food, rather than simply watching plate after plate disappear into the dining room. "You get to see people that you don't usually get to see, see our patrons," he said, adding that he also likes to see what his competitors are serving. "You get to see what everybody else has to offer, and raise money at the same time."


Peter Cullen, chef at Hector's Fine Food and Spirits in Laconia, is one of the many who will be preparing dishes to impress diners at the Taste of the Lakes Region, to be held on April 7. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)