The 10th annual Taste of Boca Grande will feature four chefs relatively new to premier island eateries.
Chef Greg Beno of South Beach Bar & Grille;
Chef Antonio Olivero
Chef Debbi Castle of new participant Waterside Grill in Gasparilla Marina;
Chef Antonio Olivero of Eagle Grille and
Chef Greg Foos of the Boca Grande Club.
What: Taste of Boca Grande
Where: Boca Bay Pass Club
When: 6 p.m. to 9 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, Nick Kaiser and Kathy Hawken.
Restaurants and talent
Boca Bay Pass Club
Chef Jimmy Searle
Boca Grande Club
Chef Greg Foos
Coral Creek Country Club
Executive Chef Myriam Glover
Farlow's on the Water
Executive Chef John Mazza
Libby's Caf and Bar
Chef Fran Casciato
Owners Jacques and Blanche Boudrea
Patrick's Thai Bistro & Sushi
Chef Patrick Vollmer
Chef Jimmy Turner
South Beach Bar and Grille
Chef Greg Beno
The Eagle Grille & Miller's Dockside
Executive Chef Antonio Olivero
The Gasparilla Inn & Club
Chef Peter Timmins
Chef Patty Kitchen
The Temptation Restaurant
Executive Chef Kevin Stockdale
3rd Street Cafe
Chef Tom O'Shields
Chef Debbi Castle
Taste of Boca Grande sponsors
Boca Bay Pass Club
B 'n' T Liquors and Fine Wines
BRC Group LLC
Coral Creek Club
Gasparilla Properties Inc.
Grande Aire Services Inc.
Gulf to Bay Sotheby's International Realty
Gulf to Bay Tree & Landscape Service
Italiano Insurance Services Inc.
McHugh-Porter Builders Inc.
Michael Saunders & Co.
Safety Harbor Builders
Statewide Pest Control Services Inc.
Thoroughbred Golf Carts
Wells Fargo Private Bank
Taste of Boca Grande Committee
Blanche, Thor Johnson
Also new to the venue will be tent protection against the possibility of rain, which has been a regular Taste of Boca acoutremont. Three tents will be connected with covered walkways in an effort to keep attendees and the food out of the elements.
"These are rain-preventing tents," cracked organizer Thor Johnson.
Complaints poured in after last year's soggy soiree but it still managed to raise $34,000. Johnson said a similar take this year would bring the Taste of Boca's fund-raising total to a tidy $250,000 over 10 years.
"A lot of people really are grateful," Johnson said.
Organizer Nick Kaiser marveled at the growth of the event.
"We started with about 100 people around a swimming pool," he said.
Food stations will still be situated around the perimeter in the back of the Pass Club as usual. Each of the 15 participating chefs is asked to make 600 servings and portions will be smaller this year.
"We've never really served small portions," said Boca Bay Pass Club Chef Jimmy Searle. "Some of our patrons said they got halfway around and they'd be too full to keep going."
The Taste of Boca Grande will once again have a Sarasota-based eatery in its fund-raiser for the Harry Chapin Food Drive with the second straight appearance of Libby's Cafe, 1917 South Osprey Ave. Libby's is s family owned caf with island connections. The restaurant is named after Libby Seidensticker, who inspired her son, Steve Seidensticker, to pursue a hospitality career.
Steve Seidensticker lived in Boca Grande with his first wife, Patty, and worked at the Gasparilla Inn & Club. He started as a bartender and waiter before graduating to general manager and eventually vice president and part owner.
Libby spent her winters in Boca Grande with her family. Grandsons Joe and Patrick followed in their father's footsteps working at the Gasparilla Inn in the summers. The Seidenstickers opened their present site in 2008.
The sad side story of this year's event is the disappearance of all the Placida Road entrants. Reef Grill, a site that had its greatest success as the former Palmetto Grill under Chef Gene Marra, failed to last a year under new owners. Tratorria 13 and fabulous Chef Babette Golden sold out last year and the new owners will not participate.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is the absence of Prime Time Steak and Spirits, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this season.
That means there will be three fewer than the record 18 restaurants that contributed to the Taste of Boca Grande in 2010.
The Steve Chapin Band will once again provide entertainment. B&T Liquors will provide spirits.
Restaurants and talent in 2012:
Boca Grande - Boca Bay Pass Club, Chef Jimmy Searle; Boca Grande Club, Chef Greg Foos; 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 Greg Beno; The Eagle Grille & Miller's Dockside, Chef Antonio Olivero; The Temptation Restaurant, Executive Chef Kevin Stockdale; 3rd Street Cafe, Chef Tom O'Shields; and Waterside Grill, Chef Debbi
Cape Haze - Tratorria 13, Chef Babette Golden; Coral Creek Country Club, Executive Chef Myriam Glover;; and the Reef Grill, Frank DiMatteo.
Englewood - Farlow's on the Water, Executive Chef John Mazza.
Sarasota - Libby's Cafe, Chef Fran Casciato.
The Harry Chapin Food Bank feeds families in need through a network of more than 150 nonprofit agencies in Lee, Collier, Hendry, Charlotte and Glades counties. It provides more than 1 millions pounds of food to more than 30,000 people monthly. Last fiscal year, The Harry Chapin Food Bank distributed 12.5 million pounds of food and other grocery products - a 31 percent increase over the previous year.