Taste! Central Florida presented by Wine Hawks celebrated its 30th year by raising $277,154 to support the childhood feeding programs and services of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida.
Forty-one of the area’s most distinguished chefs along with 30 premier brewers, distilleries, wine purveyors, and specialty beverage vendors came together at the Orlando World Center Marriott on Sept. 14 to tantalize more than 2,000 guests with sips and samples to help ensure no child grows up hungry in Central Florida. And this year I was lucky enough to share this great event with three friends who had never attended.
Beyond the culinary and beverage offerings, guests enjoyed live music provided by LUVU, Orlando Saxophone Project and Quiet Riot, as well as an exciting silent auction featuring signed memorabilia, stays at upscale resorts, dining experiences, rounds of golf on area courses, and exotic adventures and getaways.
This year’s Taste! Central Florida delighted guests with many of the hallmark entertainment and fundraising games guests anticipate each year, plus exciting new experiences to mark the event’s 30th year.
The Instant Wine Cellar game, which has been part of Taste! Central Florida for the last decade, awarded more than 150 bottles of wine valued at $4,400 to one person who purchased the winning key that opened the wine door. Keys were $25 each.
The Giving Tree, sponsored by Edible Orlando, rewarded participants with a taste of Orlando’s most popular dining and drinking establishments. For a $50 donation, each participant walked away with a gift certificate ranging from $25 to $250 in value.
The Ring Toss for Wine fundraiser was met with enthusiasm by hundreds of guests who tried their luck at winning fine bottles of wine valued up to $50 by landing rings around the neck of a wine bottle.
The Liquor Locker awarded a stock-the-bar set to one lucky winner, which included dozens of bottles of premium liquors, mixers, bar-themed accessories, and cocktail recipe books, valued at a total of $2,500.
The Silent Disco debuted at this year’s event inviting guests to dance to their own beat through wireless headphones that offered a private listening experience of their own choosing in exchange for a suggested $10 donation.
The Wine Pull was another new addition to this year’s event that offered guests a chance to win a bottle of wine by selecting a wine cork at random for a $15 donation.
Since making the decision to operate as an independent event in 2017 to advocate solely for hungry and homeless children in Orlando, Taste! Central Florida has been able to make an even greater impact to assist the one in five kids locally who struggle with hunger.
This year’s proceeds translate to more than 1 million meals to feed families throughout Central Florida in the coming year. Each $200 Taste! Central Florida ticket provides 800 meals to kids in the community. Every dollar raised funds four meals.
Each year, Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida provides 250,000 meals to children in Central Florida and serves 140 children every day.
More than 500,000 individuals throughout Central Florida turn to Second Harvest Food Bank’s food pantries and meal service programs each year. The organization’s Meals for Good program produces more than 40,000 meals a week over the summer months to feed local children.
One of the region’s longest-running food and beverage fundraising events, Taste! Central Florida is a volunteer-driven event organized each year by an all-volunteer steering committee representing a variety of local businesses and organizations, supported by more than 300 day-of event volunteers, and made possible by the in-kind support of a variety of local business partners.
“Taste! Central Florida represents 30 years of incredible chefs, restaurants, sponsors and volunteers who have united with a collective strength, energy and passion to build an event that has woven a huge heart for the most vulnerable in our community,” said Michele Byington, co-chair for Taste! Central Florida.
Disclosure: I am a Taste! Central Florida social media ambassador. Due to this partnership I am given two complimentary tickets to the event. All thoughts and opinions regarding the event, charities, and restaurants are completely my own. I love this event!