Time again for the Celebration Exotic Car Festival, an event that on its own ordinarily wouldn’t get me all worked up. I mean, I appreciate a Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, Bugatti, McLaren, Lotus, DeLorean, Pantera, Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls Royce, or Spyker as much as the next guy, but as far as I’m concerned if you’ve seen one 1969 Chevron LeMans prototype race car you’ve seen all 23 that were ever built.
But what gets me excited about the CECF every year is that it brings with it a really terrific culinary event, Food & Wine at Portofino. This is the event that used to be held in a hangar at the Kissimmee Airport, except then it wasn’t called Food & Wine at Portofino because that wouldn’t make much sense. Last year it moved to the Loew’s Portofino Bay hotel at Universal, so it also didn’t make sense to keep calling it Jetport Food & Wine Party.
What didn’t change was the focus on great quality, with such restaurants as Bice, Sushi House, Primo by Melissa Kelly, Spencer’s for Steaks and Chops, Dragonfly, Seasons 52 and about 45 others setting up cooking stations at the resort’s Ligurian-style harborside.
Also cooking will be celebrity chefs from the Bravo television show Top Chef, including Kevin Sbraga and Kenny Gilbert, who will prepare their most famous dishes. They will also be joined by Hell’s Kitchen finalist Dana Cohen.
And there will be myriad wines and cocktails, live music and performance artists, and of course those exotic cars. Oh, and by the way, that 1969 Chevron LeMans Prototype race car that will be on display during the weekend is the one that Steve McQueen drove in the movie Le Mans.
Food & Wine at Portofino is Saturday, April 13, from 7 to 11 p.m. Tickets are $125 in advance through April 10; $150 after the 10th and at the door, if any are still available. (Be warned, this event usually sells out.) VIP tickets, with special seating and exclusive access to bars and celebrity chefs, are $200 in advance and $250 at the door. Proceeds go to children’s charities, including Make-a-Wish, Special Olympics and Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital. To date, more than $800,000 has been raised for the charities. Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide is honored to be a media sponsor of the event.
To order your tickets and for more information, visit the Celebration Exotic Car Festival website.