HARTFORD, Conn., July 13, 2010 – Nine Hartford-area restaurants are participating in the 2010 Taste of the Visa Championships, which is part of the Go Hartford! initiative of the 2010 Visa Championships, scheduled for Aug. 10-14 in Hartford, Conn. The cook-off is a joint effort between the Greater Hartford Convention and Visitors Bureau, USA Gymnastics and St. Vincent Sports Performance, a national sponsor of USA Gymnastics, to promote healthy eating. The winner will be announced on Aug. 14 during the Visa Fan Fest at the Old State House.

Each restaurant will create a special, healthy entrée that will be featured during Visa Championships week. The goal is to produce a tasty, but nutritionally sound meal that will dazzle a panel of judges led by legendary gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi. On Aug. 12-13 from 3-5 p.m., Karolyi and his team will visit each restaurant to sample its special entrée, and they will report on the restaurants they visited at that evening’s gymnastics session. On Aug. 14, Karolyi will officially announce the gold, silver and bronze winners of the Cook-off during the post-competition Visa Fan Fest at the Old State House.

“Eating nutritionally balanced meals is an important factor in maintaining a healthy lifestyle,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. “I can’t wait to see what each of the restaurants creates for the Cook-off, and this is a fun way to emphasize the importance of healthy eating.”

Ralph Reiff of St. Vincent Sports Performance said, “Healthy meals can be both tasty and nutritious. Our team is looking forward to working with USA Gymnastics and Bela Karolyi in evaluating some innovative and mouthwatering dishes.”

The judges will critique the entrees on taste, presentation, nutritional value, creativity and “gymnastics tie-in,” which means name, presentation, etc.

The nine restaurants (in alpha order) are:

  • Black Bear Saloon, 187 Allyn St.
  • Carbone’s Ristorante, 588 Franklin Ave.
  • The Dish Bar and Grill, 900 Main St.
  • Feng Asian Bistro, 93 Asylum St.
  • Mayor Mike’s, 283 Asylum St.
  • Morton’s the Steakhouse, 852 Main St.
  • Salute, 100 Trumbull St.
  • Spris, 10 Constitution Plaza.
  • Trumbull Kitchen, 150 Trumbull St.

The Taste of the Visa Championships is a part of the Go Hartford! program for the 2010 Visa Championships, also a joint program between the Greater Hartford Convention and Visitors Bureau and USA Gymnastics. Through the Go Hartford! plan, many restaurants and local attractions are putting together special opportunities for Visa Championships fans and attendees. Complete information is available at www.gohartford2010.com.

Background information

St. Vincent Sports Performance. St. Vincent Sports Performance is the first and largest hospital-based program of its kind in the United States, which includes 19 physicians, 47 nationally-certified athletic trainers, 12 certified strength and conditioning specialists, two sport psychologists and one sports dietician. The Indianapolis-based program currently provides comprehensive care to professional teams and athletes in an array of sports including: USA Gymnastics, U.S. Diving, USA Track and Field, Indy Racing League (IRL), NFL, NBA, and WBNA. St. Vincent Sports Performance also provides support for three universities and 30 high school and middle school athletes in central Indiana.

2010 Visa Championships. The Visa Championships determine the U.S. champions and the national team for each discipline for both the junior and senior elite levels in four disciplines. NBC Sports and Universal Sports will broadcast and webcast the action from the men’s and women’s gymnastics competitions. Tickets are on sale now and available through Ticketmaster.com. For more information, go to http://www.usagym.org/visa. The USA Gymnastics National Congress and Trade Show, held in conjunction with the Visa Championships, will be conducted at the Connecticut Convention Center. The USA Gymnastics National Congress and Trade Show is the annual gathering of professional members that offers educational and business sessions, a large exhibitor’s hall and other business and educational opportunities.

Greater Hartford Convention & Visitors Bureau. The award-winning Greater Hartford Convention & Visitors Bureau works in partnership with Hartford’s businesses, institutions, nonprofit organizations, and surrounding communities to market the entire region – all convention and meeting venues, hotels and attractions – as a premier destination for national, regional and statewide conventions. The Greater Hartford Sports Commission, a division of the GHCVB, focuses its efforts on attracting and serving international, national and regional sporting events. The Bureau’s staff has been working with USA Gymnastics for several years, providing a wide range of convention services and marketing support to ensure that the Visa Championships and the Congress are successful. This includes the development of: business, community and restaurant partnerships; special events, tours and promotions; and a variety of print and on-line outreach and welcome materials for the athletes and their fans.

XL Center. The XL Center, which was built in 1975, will host two days of competition for both men’s and women’s gymnastics. The XL Center is home to the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League, and the home away from home for the University of Connecticut men’s and women’s basketball programs. In addition to the resident teams, the XL Center entertains millions of visitors annually with a variety of concerts, family shows, ice-skating spectaculars, consumer events and trade shows throughout the season. The XL Center has been the proud host of the Big East Conference Women’s Basketball Championship for the past five years and has extended its contract until 2011.

Chase Arena. Chase Arena, located at the University of Hartford, will host the rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline and tumbling competition. Chase Arena, which seats 3,500, is part of the Reich Family Pavilion in the University of Hartford’s Sports Center and serves as the home of the university’s basketball teams and other intercollegiate programs, as well as a variety of special events. Located in West Hartford, the university enrolls more than 7,000 students.