In ONE night! Can you believe it??
Featuring the area’s most accomplished chefs, brewers, wine purveyors and spirit vendors, Taste! Central Florida invites the community to enjoy an evening of tasting portions of signature dishes accompanied by fine wines, craft beers, and specialty cocktails.
This annual celebration of the community’s culinary excellence is a volunteer-driven event with local chefs, brewers and distilleries donating their time, talent and creations to make this event one of the largest fundraisers of the year for Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida.
An all-volunteer steering committee, more than 300 day-of event volunteers, tremendous in-kind support from a variety of local business partners, and the generous backing of Orlando World Center Marriott who donates the event space each year allows them to direct every dollar raised to their beneficiaries while generating profound awareness and relief for the children of Central Florida who face hunger on a daily basis.
This was my second year attending as an ambassador and once again it was amazing! With over 40 restaurants and 20 beverage vendors participating, there was something for everyone. I can honestly say that the only problem with this event is not knowing where to start and running out of room before trying all the amazing food and drink.
Media was let into the event about 45 minutes early so that we had a chance to take some photos and talk with the chefs before the crowds arrived. This was wonderful because once they opened the door there were SO many people!
We decided to pick a corner of the room and start from there. We grabbed a cocktail from Tito’s Vodka first thing because they make great drinks and always end up with a long line. From there we alternated between savory and sweet bites as we made our way around the room. So. Many. Options.
My favorite cocktail of the night was the Pina Expreso made with Flor de Cana rum, citrus, pineapple, cinnamon, and smoke. They put the cinnamon on top of the pineapple wedge in the drink so you smelled it every time you took a sip. It was a very smooth cocktail that packed quite a punch in the taste department.
Picking a favorite savory bite was WAY harder than picking a favorite cocktail. But in the end I went with the Build Your Own Bowl from Satu-Li Canteen at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. While you didn’t really get to build your our bowl at this event, the one they were serving was amazing. It had quinoa, crunchy slaw, Halibut, and was topped with a creamy herb dressing. This was the one thing I ate that I REALLY thought about going back for seconds of.
I must admit that I definitely had my share of desserts at Taste! Alternating back and forth between savory and sweet bites gave me more of an opportunity to try things out without getting overloaded with sugar. My favorite though? The Twinkle Milkshake from Universal Orlando. Their setup this year was based around their new Toothsome Chocolate Emporium restaurant that recently opened at Citywalk. They are known for some crazy milkshakes and the Twinkie Milkshake is one of them. The yellow cake milkshake was topped with buttercream, sprinkles, and a slice of Twinkie. It was amazing!
Checking out pictures on Instagram after the event had me saying things like “How did I miss that?!” and “Why didn’t we try that?!” With over 60 stations to chose from, it is definitely easy to miss things. But that’s okay, just means that you have to go back again next year!
I want to say thank you to all the chefs, brewers, wine purveyors, spirit vendors, sponsors, volunteers, and attendees for making this another amazing event. Did you know that the money raised on this one night will provide over 1.2 MILLION meals to children in our Central Florida community?
*Disclosure: As a Social Media Ambassador for Taste! Central Florida I was given 2 complimentary tickets in exchange for social media coverage before, during, and after the event. As always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.