Taste of the Nation 2017
From left: Chef Andy Husbands, Taniya Nayak and Share Our Strength founder Billy Shore. Photo Provided

HGTV and Food Network regular Taniya Nayak will bring her star power to the Cruiseport on June 6 when she hosts this year’s Taste of the Nation.

The annual food and beverage event — which donates 100 percent of its proceeds to end child hunger — features offerings from more than 60 chefs for a delicious evening in the Seaport. Nayak, a prolific designer who also co-owns several popular local restaurants like Lower Mills Tavern with her husband Brian O’Donnell, hopes to raise awareness for the cause by serving as this year’s emcee.

“It ties into my world in so many different ways,” says the Boston-raised star. “To see it all come together for a cause like feeding children and helping end hunger in our own state is really special.”

In addition to previewing the foodie fest, the 44-year-old designer and restaurateur also gave us some summer tips for how to spruce up our dining spaces like contestants on "Restaurant: Impossible."


Any chefs you’re excited to see at this year’s Taste of the Nation?

The chefs from Alden & Harlow, Myers + Chang, Row 34 — we’ve just got an incredible lineup. I get more geeked out by meeting someone like [Boston-based chefs] Jamie Bissonnette and Jody Adams than I do meeting movie stars.

Since you’re known for designing restaurants, both in Boston and abroad on “Restaurant: Impossible,” have you noticed any new trends?

More organic elements. A lot of texture. Whether it’s woven textures, natural wood, lighter, brighter, fresher — that’s the direction I see a lot of the restaurant design going into.

Are there any design lessons from your experience working with restaurants that everyday people can incorporate into their homes?

All the years of “Restaurant: Impossible,” I was always thinking about the viewer watching. All those millions of people did not own restaurants. How could they watch the show and get a takeaway from it? Basically, there are elements of color palates. There’s lighting, how to utilize lighting to create spaces. We see often now, in homes, the whole open floor plan concept. Nobody wants to be tucked away in a closed off kitchen anymore. There’s seems to be a shift to open floor plans. And using lighting to identify spaces, like light fixtures to identify the dining area, or a great fixture to identify a cozy little reading nook, whether it’s hanging from the ceiling or a floor lamp. 

What about things people should avoid when considering new home dining designs?

Don't over do it. My best advice to anyone doing any rennovations to their home, particularly for new home owners, limit the space a little bit. Don't over-design it and over-plan it before you get in. Get in, get the bare bones minimum of what you need — your bed, your couch, whatever — but really limit it to that space. You're going to find that the spaces are not what you may have thought before living in it. Give yourself a break. I think people stress themselves out too much over being too particular. 

Do you have any summer décor recommendations for Bostonians this season?

We're lucky that we're New Englanders and can experience the seasonal changes, so for me, I love to advise people to keep the base furniture, like the big pieces, keep that somewhat neutral. That could be gray, white, something that's like a blank slate. They bring in pops of color or your seasonal changes to the accents. So it could be drapery, it could be an area rug, it could be a throw pillow. Those things that you can change out easily.

If you go:

June 6, Cruiseport Boston, 1 Black Falcon Ave., Boston, $95-$150, ce.nokidhungry.org/events/boston-taste-nation

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