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Taste! Raises Over $252K to Fight Hunger

Written By Scott Joseph On September 18, 2018

Taste overview

The numbers are in for this year’s Taste! Central Florida, help Sept. 8 at the Orlando World Center Marriott. Presented by Uncorked Gourmet, the eventraised $252,031 to support the childhood feeding programs and services of Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

Technically its 29th year, Taste! Central Florida was previously part of the national Taste of the Nation. The organizers decided to go independent last year, which means that all of the monies raised stay local.

Nearly 2000 people attended this year’s Taste!, which had competition from other charity events. Nevertheless, they sipped cocktails, craft brews and wines from 24 beverage vendors and sampled the food of more than 50 of the area’s top chefs and restaurants.

Among them were:

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Taste whiskey

The Whiskey’s owner Katie Walton and the Sand Lake Road restaurant’s new chef, Chastity Harvey. They were serving Tuna Poke paired with the signature Sand Lake Sour Whiskey cocktail.

Taste b resorts

American Kitchen from B Resort was there, too, represented by chef Venoy Rogers and sous chef Jacob Rios, who earlier that day had won my Sous Chef Challenge cooking competition at the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show at the Convention Center. At Taste!, they were giving tastes of Roasted Florida Corn & Poblano Soup (wonderful) and Florida Blue Crab with charred corn and garlic-thyme honey.

Taste big fin

Big Fin Seafood Kitchen served Shrimp Orleans, with blackened shrimp and crawfish parmesan grits. If you’ve had these at big Fin on Restaurant Row, you know why people were coming back for seconds.

Whisper creek Kitchen at the JW Marriott Grand Lakes had a delicious Ahi Tuna & Watermelon Taco, offered by chef John Janucik. Also Duck Confit Risotto and Braised Wagyu Beef Cheefs. From across the breezeway, Scott Pizzo and Sean Blanchette were representing the Ritz-Carlton with Pine-braised Veal Cheeks, Caribbean Conch Fritter and the always refreshing Doc Holliday highball from Highball & Harvest.

Taste tapa

Instead of chef Wendy Lopez, Francisco Galeano was fronting the booth at Tapa Toro. (We’d learn a couple of days later that Galeano had been promoted to executive chef when Lopez took over the kitchen at Reye’s Mezcalaria.) Galeano was dishing out Piquillo Peppers stuffed with chickpeas, potatoes and tomatoes, served with salsa verde.

Taste taverna

The crew from Taverna Opa were serving Keftedes, the well-spiced Greek meatballs in a dollop of tzatziki sauce.

Taste jailhouse

The event also afforded a first look at what we can expect from the Old Jailhouse when it opens in Sanford this fall. Chef Bram Fowler had prepared Low Country Gulf Shrimp and House sausage, served over Savannah red rice. He and his wife, Geraldine, also offered Creole Braised and Pulled Lamb Shank on an Antebellum style grit cake.

With all the sumptuous food it was easy to lose sight of the reason for the fundraiser: the plight of the many — one in four kids in Central Florida — who struggle with hunger.

Every year I hope this is the last one of these events because it would mean hunger had been eradicated — it’s something we have the power to do. But unfortunately, plans are underway for the 30th annual event next year.

We hope you find our reviews and news articles useful and entertaining. It has always been our goal to assist you in making informed decisions when spending your dining dollars. If we’ve helped you in any way, please consider making a contribution to help us continue our journalism. Thank you.

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