The Taste of the Nation event that was held at the Orlando Marriott World Center a couple of weeks ago was a big success. And there’s one more event planned that is looking like it will put some more money in the coffers to help end childhood hunger in America.
The main event raised $167,500 from the more than 2000 who attended. They nibbled, noshed and sipped on foods and wines that were donated by top restaurants and wine and spirit distributors. There was so much and it was all so spread out over the vast ballroom space that I wasn’t able to visit all the stations, but I didn’t leave hungry. Some favorites were the spicy Durban chicken from Sanaa and the tempura lobster tacos from the host hotel. They also had a tripletta sandwich, which was a bit daring for one of these events, but pretty darned tasty.
If I started to name them all I would miss some of the chefs, but they — and their staffers who came along to help cook and serve — deserve your recognition and your patronage. Take a look at the link to Share Our Strengths website and the next time you’re looking for a place to eat, consider choosing one of these restaurants as a way of saying thanks.
By the way, I was honored to be a judge, along with Mayor Buddy Dyer and WFTV’s Bob Opsahl, or a two-chef throw-down beef cookoff on the event’s main stage. The participants were Jerry Moynihan of Orlando Marriott World Center and Dan Nester of A Land Remembered at Rosen Shingle Creek. Both had to cook an entree in just 20 minutes using certain ingredients. Both cooked valiantly, but in the end there was one clear winner: Nester took the prize, which was another $5000 donated by Creek Stone Farms, who also supplied the beef for the cookoff (and which was also pretty tasty). Nester signed over an oversized check and didn’t even try to fill in the “cash back” entry on the deposit slip.
There is one final event planned for the Taste of the Nation benefit, and it’s an impressive dinner that is nearly sold out. (When I last checked only two seats were still available.) Hari Pulapaka, chef/owner of Cress in Deland, has assembled his fellow James Beard Award nominees — Kevin Fonzo of K, Scott Hunnel of Victoria & Albert’s and James and Julie Petrakis of the Ravenous Pig — to cook a dinner Monday, Aug. 29 at his restaurant. If you can grab one of the last seats, the entire $275 charge for the seven course dinner with wine pairings will go to Share Our Strength. Give a call to the restaurant at 386-734-3740.
And another big thanks to the chefs for all they do to give back to their community.