SOS To Fight Childhood Hunger in Central Florida

Written By Scott Joseph On August 7, 2014

darabianMelissa d’ArabianI hope you’ll join me this Saturday, August 9, at the 2014 Taste of the Nation, sponsored by Share Our Strength. Orlando World Center Marriott is the host for the two-ballroom-sized event; doors open at 6:45 and food and drink flow until 10 p.m. Follow this link to the Taste of the Nation website for ticket information.

I’m honored to once again be a judge for the evening’s cooking competition, the annual Chef Throwdown, where two chefs are tasked with creating a dish from a mystery pantry of ingredients. The event, wherein no one is actually pinned to the stage for a count of 10, is sponsored once again by Creekstone Farms, so I’m betting on beef as one of the ingredients.

And the two chefs going head to head this year are Alexia Gawlak of Siro: Urban Italian Kitchen right there at the Marriott and Kevin Fonzo of K restaurant in College Park. This puts me in a tough position: Both restaurants are SJO advertisers. And a tie is not an option.

Speaking of ties, dress is cocktail attire or semi formal. So in that case, a tie is an option (though plenty of men don’t wear one).

Special guest this year is Food Network personality Melissa d’Arabian, who is best known for her “Ten Dollar Dinners” series. Tickets are $150 per person — that’s just 15 $10 dinners! — and all proceeds go to Share Our Strength’s efforts to wipe out childhood hunger. Local beneficiaries are Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

And you’re definitely going to get a lot for the price of admission (I mean besides the good karma for helping do something about hungry kids in Central Florida). Some of the area’s top chefs will be there serving samples of their cuisine. And there’s plenty of wine, beer and cocktails all around the massive space, too. (See below for the list of participants.)

The Chef Throwdown gets underway at 8 p.m., and I hope you’ll stop by the judges’ table and say say hello. Here’s another link to Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation website.

Here’s the list of participants I promised you (note that two of them, Capa at the Four Seasons Resort and Soco in downtown Orlando’s Thornton Park, aren’t open yet, so attendees will be among the first to sample their food):

Bahama Breeze
BB Kings Blues Club
Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine
Cafe Tu Tu Tango
Capa at Four Seasons Resort Orlando
The Capital Grille
Captain’s Grille at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
Cress Restaurant
Crimson Tavern at Orlando Airport Marriott
Cuisiniers Catering
Eddie V’s Prime Seafood
Emeril’s Orlando
Emeril’s Tchoup Chop
Empress Sissi Cake & Pastry Specialties
Journeys Catering
JW Marriott Orlando – Grande Lakes
K Restaurant and Wine Bar
Kobe Japanese Steakhouse
LongHorn Steakhouse
Marlow’s Tavern
Pirate Chefs of Central Florida sponsored by Nestlé Professional
Orlando World Center Marriott
Red Wing Restaurant
Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld
SeaWorld Orlando
Second Harvest Food Bank – Culinary Training Program
Soco Southern Contemporary Cuisine
RA Sushi
Rosen Shingle Creek – A Land Remembered
Rosen Shingle Creek – Cala Bella Restaurant
Sushi Pop Restaurant
Taverna Opa
T-Rex Orlando at Downtown Disney

And for beverages:

Barefoot Wine & Bubbly
Bar Logistics I Smartenders
Cavit Wines
Coca Cola
Market-Fresh Mixology
Nestle Water | San Pellegrino & Acqua Panna
Onli Beverages
Opici Wines
Orlando Brewing Company
Prestige Wine Imports
Smuckers Coffee
Straight Up Beverage Solutions
Tito’s Handmade Vodka
Transatlantic Wine & Spirits
Vibrant Rioja
Winter Park Distilling Company
World of Beer
Cigar City Brewing
Due South Brewery
Engine 15 Brewing Co.
Funky Buddha Brewery
Shipyard/Seadog Brewery


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