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Taste of the Nation raises more than $245,000 to help local hunger relief efforts

The August Taste of the Nation dinner raised more than $245,000 to benefit local hunger relief efforts through the Coalition for the Homeless and Second Harvest Food Bank, according to spokeswoman Krista Zilizi. That amount is Zilizi the event's highest gross to date and it sets a high bar for Taste of the Nation's 25th anniversary event next year.

This year, I was in Colorado when the event occurred so my colleague Tod Caviness stepped in to cover for me. Here's his report:

"Cocktails and nightlife are my typical beat, but I was fortunate enough to attend this year’s affair, which offered an impossibly wide array of samples from over 30 area restaurants Aug. 10 at the Orlando World Center Marriott. Some observations from a first-timer:

  • Favorite bites? A tough call, but I was a big fan of the Creekstone Stout Braised Short Ribs from Rosen Shingle Creek’s A Land Remembered, Eddie V’s Ahi Tuna Tartare, and the Crabcakes with Lemon Caper Aioli and Wasabi Honey Mustard from Marlow’s Tavern. But special props to Orlando World Center Marriott’s beautiful dessert display, featuring chocolate strawberry trees and some first-rate macaroons. (My wife and I went back for seconds, which is saying something in a room with that much food.)
  • Closer to my wheelhouse, I was glad to see beers from Redlight Redlight, Orlando Brewing and Cigar City in the house. My favorite cocktail was the Orchard Manhattan at Marlow’s Tavern (again), and the “Make Your Own Mojito” setup from Straight Up Beverage Solutions was an interesting idea, even if the results didn’t quite warrant the novelty (or the wait)."
  • Kudos to World Center Marriott chef Lindsay Vandertoorn whose Creekstone steak dish won the chef’s cookoff against Cask & Larder’s Jared Thate. Something to be said for home field advantage, it seems
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