Sunday, September 9, 2012
Share Our Strength’s 23rd Annual Taste of the Nation was a huge success, raising $248,785 to fight childhood hunger! Local beneficiaries are Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, along with the statewide Florida Impact. More than 2,300 people enjoyed delicacies prepared by 37 of Central Florida’s leading restaurants, bubbly and other beverages from 18 top providers, and live music by local band, Crash Reality. The night included a silent auction presented by Neiman Marcus, chance drawings for Jet Blue tickets and an island getaway, a live auction, and an instant “wine cellar” of 100 prime bottles to the lucky person whose key opened the lock. Emceed by DJs Scott McKenzie of MIX 105.1 and Paco of 1059 SUNNY FM, the event featured the Creekstone Farms “throw-down” cooking competition rematch. Honorary Event Chair Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orlando Restaurant Guide’s Scott Joseph, and WFTV anchor Bob Opsahl were the judges. Winning for the second year, by just two points, chef Dan Nester of Rosen Shingle Creek Resort had the privilege of signing a generous check to Taste of the Nation Orlando from Creekstone Farms.
Terry and I arrived an hour early and my sketch was blocked in before the crowds grew thick around the Orlando World Center Marriott's food stations. I worked from a round table while Terry scouted out all the food choices. Waves of couples joined me at the table as I worked. I noticed that if I sketched someone in line for food, they would invariably walk to my table to eat. When the sketch was finished, I looked for Terry and started sampling the amazing food offered. After several small meat dishes I was already full. I knew from last year's event, that Chef Jean-Louis of the Royal Plaza Hotel served an amazing Bananas Foster. The line was long but I braved it since I knew it was worth it. Fresh bananas were sliced length wise in half, coated with a fine mist of nuts and fried in butter. The chefs worked with amazing speed keeping the line moving. A scoop of vanilla ice cream topped off the fried bananas along with a rich glaze. I asked for a second serving for Terry. That single serving made my evening complete. I washed it down with a Magners Irish cider.