Superlative food and super cover from the seemingly inevitable rain marked the 10th annual Taste of Boca Grande Monday at the Boca Bay Pass Club.
"It was a pip," said organizer Thor Johnson. "These restaurants have gone all out."
Unlike last year's event on the open grounds of the Pass Club where participants were drenched by a seasonal winter downpour, attendees this year were protected by a giant white big top that even enhanced the acoustics of the band. Some leakage came in through seams in the tenting but not enough to be truly bothersome.
The tent was the star of the 10th annual Taste of Boca Grande, which has been plagued by rains. This year, patrons were protected.
"We didn't sell the tickets we hoped but the evening itself was a success on all counts," said Blanche Johnson. "Word will get out that the tent was great and the food was the best ever."
For an event that once was content to serve hot dogs and hamburgers, the sophistication level of the food was remarkable.
Restaurants and talent
Boca Bay Pass Club
Chef Jimmy Searle
Boca Grande Club
Chef Greg Foos
Coral Creek Club
Executive Chef Myriam Glover
Eagle Grille & Miller's Dockside
Executive Chef Antonio Olivero
Farlow's on the Water
Executive Chef John Mazza
Libby's Caf and Bar
Chef Fran Casciato
Owners Jacques and Blanche Boudreau
Patrick's Thai Bistro & Sushi
Chef Patrick Vollmer
Chef Jimmy Turner
South Beach Bar and Grille
Chef Greg Beno
The Gasparilla Inn & Club
Chef Peter Timmins
Chef Patsy Kitchen
The Temptation Restaurant
Executive Chef Kevin Stockdale
3rd Street Cafe
Chef Tom O'Shields
Chef Debbi Castle
Taste of Boca Grande Committee
Blanche, Thor Johnson
Chef Greg Foos made a major splash in his first Taste of Boca Grande appearance. His jumbo lump crab and scallop galette was rich and luxurious and the presentation of his Boca Grande Club station was among the most elegant under the big top.
Lovely Chef Myriam Glover came with two innovative tapas-style items: a duck breast with red cabbage caraway etouffe and a pastrami salmon topped with Moroccan coucous topped with caviar and marinated seaweed.
The lively bunch at The Grapevine were fun and fine with a tasty chicken pot pie and chocolate truffles among their offerings. Lines were always forming and being served fast at this station.
Chef John Mazza of Farlow's on the Water served a lobster bisque chunked with meat and studded with a rich flavor.
Chef Antonio Olivero served a delicious ahi tuna nacho with seaweed wasabi cream that made you want to hang out at his station.
Chef Kevin Stockdale of The Temptation Restaurant, stuck in one of the leakiest wings of the tent, pulled off a trio of options that were among the best in the Taste of Boca this year. His shrimp bisque and oysters Rockefeller were gourmet-level but his mini crab cakes with lobster cream sauce were the real showstopper.
"There's nothing ordinary about my crab cakes," Stockdale enthused when serving up a portion.
All contributors helped make this event an unmitigated success despite the eighth rain in 10 years of the Taste of Boca Grande, Johnson said.
Last year's soggy soiree managed to raise $34,000. Thor 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. The exact amount raised for the Harry Chapin Food Bank will be released when all expenses are tallied.
Food stations were situated around the perimeter in the backyard of the Pass Club. Each chef made 600 servings and this year's smaller portions allowed patrons to visit more restaurant stations, Johnson said.
The Steve Chapin Band again provided entertainment. B&T Liquors & Fine Wines provided spirits.