22nd Annual Taste of the Nation

Share our Strength’s 22nd Annual Taste of the Nation® Orlando
on Saturday, August 6, 2011 at the Orlando World Center Marriott was a huge success, raising $167,500 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.

Close to 2,000 people enjoyed delicacies prepared by 36 of Central Florida’s leading restaurants, bubbly and other beverages from 12 top providers, and live music by local band, 3 Bucksworth.  A silent auction of unique items, chance drawings for far-away trips, and an instant “wine cellar” of 100 prime bottles to the lucky person whose key opened the lock added to this fun evening with the very serious purpose of feeding hungry children.

Emceed by DJs Scott McKenzie of MIX 105.1 and Paco of 1059 SUNNY FM, the event featured on-stage excitement as never before with the Creekstone Farms “throw-down” cooking competition between two fantastic chefs, amid much cheering, as well as a birthday carrot cake for Honorary Event Chair, Mayor Buddy Dyer.  Mayor Dyer, along with Orlando Restaurant Guide’s Scott Joseph and WFTV anchor Bob Opsahl, had the delicious duty to choose the winning “throw down” chef, their every savory bite being photographed by many onlookers and taped by WFTV.  Winning 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.

Presented by Darden Restaurants, the fundraiser was organized by a 36-person volunteer steering committee representing a variety of local businesses and organizations. Committee co-chairs were Michele Byington of Regions Bank and Bill Sullivan of I. Wanna Distributors, Inc.

Ensuring that 100% of ticket sales would go towards ending childhood hunger, all the food, drink, silent auction items, entertainment, etc., and the beautiful venue at the Orlando World Center Marriott were generously donated.  Progressive Communications donated all printing services; and Frank Mitchell and Brion Price Photography donated their time and talents as the official event photographers.

Other major local sponsors included Walt Disney World, Regions Bank, Hilton Grand Vacations, Randy Schimmlpfennig of Morgan & Morgan, Neiman Marcus, Jet Blue, CBS Radio’s MIX 105.1 and 1059 SUNNY FM, WFTV Channel 9 Family Connection, and Fields Auto Group.  Fields displayed a shiny new Fiat and Mini Cooper, the latter packed with 900 pounds of canned goods to represent the amount food a $150 VIP ticket to the tasty event will purchase for hungry children.  National Taste of the Nation sponsors are the Food Network, Sysco, Brown Forman, and American Express.

Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation is the nation’s premier culinary benefit dedicated to ending childhood hunger in America. Each spring and summer, national celebrity chefs and mixologists donate their time, talent and passion at nearly 40 events across the United States and Canada with one goal in mind: to raise critical funds needed to help end childhood hunger.

Last year, Coalition for the Homeless provided over 302,000 meals to homeless individuals and families, including over 220 children each night with an average age of under 10 years old; Second Harvest Food Bank distributed more than 30 million pounds of grocery product, the equivalent of over 20 million meals.

Click here for a slide show of photos from the Coalition’s Flickr page.