Heart of Florida United Way Chef’s Gala is May 16

Written By Scott Joseph On April 3, 2015


Chefs Gala Logo 2015 TWMD BlueThe 23d annual Chef’s Gala is May 16, 2015, at Epcot’s World Showplace. Benefitting Heart of Florida United Way, Chef’s Gala is one of the best food and wine events all year, one that I always look forward to.

This really is a grand event, and it’s special from the get go. Guests are bused from a special area in the Epcot parking lot through the backstage area behind the country pavilions right up to the entrance of the World Showplace. Inside, the setup is similar to the popular Party for the Senses events during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, except in this case there are chefs from throughout Central Florida who have donated their time, talent and resources. Last year nearly $300,000 was raised, and thanks to the largesse of the chefs and other sponsors, more than 95 percent went directly to support Central Floridians in need.

I’ll have a full list of the participating chefs after the jump.

chefgala vegel

I attended a media preview luncheon at Primo by Melissa Kelly at the JW Marriott recently. There, five of the chefs demonstrated the dishes that they’ll be serving at the gala. Primo’s newly appointed chef de cuisine and de facto host for the afternoon, Mariano Vegel, presented a small sandwich of duck confit with foie mousse and kumquat that turned out to be my favorite (I had two).

K restaurant’s Kevin Fonzo offered root vegetable gnocchi and pork ragu with house-made ricotta and some flash-fried basil from the K garden.

chefgala gross

We had a first look at what they’re doing at Urban Tide, the newly renamed restaurant at Hyatt Regency Orlando (the former Peabody hotel) previously known as Napa. Chef Jared Gross whipped up some Florida rock shrimp escabeche with creamed parsnips, chicharrones and burnt onion jam. (It was burnt on purpose; it’s a thing.) Yummy. Can’t wait to get down there and see the full menu.

chefgala krueger

Anthony Krueger was on hand to represent blu on the avenue, which I’m pretty sure is a first-time participant in the gala. Krueger had Illy crusted beef tenderloin with roasted bone marrow mousseline and a Hog Island Oyster.

chefgala lauder

The dessert course was from Amanda Lauder, pastry chef at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Bakery. She had a Ghanaian chocolate passion fruit milk tart. I noticed some of the media attendees taking multiple passes at Lauder’s station.

The other chefs who will be there that evening are officially on notice to outdo the food we previewed. It’s going to be a terrific evening.

Tickets for the event are $275 per person or $500 for a pair. They can be purchased at the Heart of Florida United Way Chef’s Gala website. The evening will get underway at 6:45 and conclude at 10 p.m. A silent auction and live entertainment are also involved.

Here’s that list of chefs and restaurants I promised:

  • 4 Rivers
  • Artist Point
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Bice Ristorante
Loew’s Portofino Bay Hotel
  • blu on the avenue
  • California Grill
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Citricos
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Cress Restaurant
  • Emeril’s Tchoup Chop
Universal Orlando
  • Jiko – The Cooking Place
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • K Restaurant
  • La Luce by Donna Scala
Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
  • Le Cellier Steakhouse
  • Narcoossee’s
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Primo by Melissa Kelly
Grande Lakes Orlando
  • Raglan Road Irish Pub
and Restaurant
  • Urban Tide
Hyatt Regency Orlando
  • The Hollywood Brown Derby
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Thornton Park Restaurant Group
  • Trattoria al Forno
Disney’s BoardWalk
  • Tony’s Town Square Restaurant
  • Tusker House Restaurant
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park
  • Desserts
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Bakery
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort Bakery
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Fatto in Casa
  • Coffee
  • Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company

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