Plagued by rainy weather on its traditional date of the first Monday in February, the Taste of Boca Grande will now afford patrons and vendors tent coverage while still offering brilliant views of the Gulf of Mexico.
Organizers are taking no chances with Mother Nature during the 10th annual Taste of Boca Grande Feb. 6, 2012.
Tents will be raised to offer shelter should nasty weather blow in as it has in other years the event has been held, including last year's squalls. Tent costs forced organizers to raise prices to $85 but organizer Thor Johnson said it's still a ticket with considerable value since it covers all food and drinks, including alcohol.
"Everybody can come," Johnson said. "Everybody can afford it. The food is fantastic and it's always a lot of fun."
Capacity will be 500 people to sample the wares of at least 16 restaurants, including newcomer Waterside Grill of the Gasparilla Marina.
Two contributors from last year, The Reef Grill, which has closed, and Trattoria 13 have bowed out of the event.
What: Taste of Boca Grande
Where: Boca Bay Pass Club
When: 5:30 p.m. Feb. 6
Why: To benefit the hungry of Southwest Florida through the Harry Chapin Food Bank
On sale: At the Boca Bay Pass Club, Boca Grande Club, Boca Beacon, BRC Group, and from Thor Johnson and Brian Corcoran
Last year's crowd, estimated at more than 500 people, had an inkling of what was in store as they filed into the Taste of Boca Grande in humid, cloudy and breezy weather with gusts topping 25 mph. Squalls splashed almost everyone at some point in the evening but it didn't dampen the spirits of the partiers whose entry fee benefits the Harry Chapin Food Bank.
Last year, a record $35,000 was raised for the needy bringing the nine-year total to more than $200,000, Johnson said.
Contributing island restaurant staffs had to battle winds threatening to blow tents into the Gulf of Mexico while still whipping up food worthy of the Taste of Boca Grande. Standouts included the lobster pot pie by Chef Peter Timmins of the Gasparilla Inn & Club; grouper Rockefeller by Chef Marco Meola of South Beach Bar & Grille; ahi tuna nachos by Chef Kenny Young of Eagle Grille and Miller's Dockside; beef stroganoff by Chef Patsy Kitchen of the Grapevine; and sushi by Chef Patrick Vollmer's Thai Bistro.
Restaurants and talent expected in 2012:
Boca Grande - Boca Bay Pass Club, Chef Jimmy Searle; Boca Grande Club, Chef Ethan Snider; The Grapevine, Chef Patty Kitchen; The Gasparilla Inn & Club, Chef Peter Timmins; Loose Caboose, owners Jacques and Blanche Boudreax; Patrick's Thai Bistro & Sushi, Chef Patrick Vollmer; PJ's SeaGrille, Chef Jimmy Turner; South Beach Restaurant, Chef Marco Meola; The Eagle Grille & Miller's Dockside, Executive Chef Frank Colton; The Pink Elephant, Executive Chef Michael Katz; The Temptation Restaurant, Executive Chef Kevin Stockdale; and 3rd Street Cafe, Chef Alex Herrmann and Kitchen Manager Tom O'Shields.
Cape Haze - Coral Creek Country Club, Executive Chef Myriam Glover; and Prime Time Steak and Spirits, Chef Richard Drumgool.
Englewood - Farlow's on the Water, Executive Chef John Mazza.
Sarasota - Libby's Cafe, Owner Steve Seidensticker.