25 Years of Exceptional Taste
April 16, 2008 – NAPLES, FLA.— It’s hard to believe that 25 years ago, a small group of restaurateurs started this annual tasting to showcase their culinary skills while raising money for local charities and scholarships. Today, the Taste of Collier is a much-anticipated, community-oriented event where thousands can enjoy samples of tasty treats from 30 area restaurants and more.
The Taste of Collier will be held from noon – 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 4 at Bayfront, which is located off Goodlette-Frank Road and 5th Avenue South. Presented this year by Saturn of Naples, the Taste of Collier is the showcase event for the Collier Chapter of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association.
Admission is $5 per person, while children five and under are free. Tasting portions from each restaurant range from $2 to $5 per portion. In the event’s history, over $650,000 has been raised for local charities and scholarships. Free parking, courtesy of Antaramian Development Group, will be available on the former Grand Central Station site.
The “founding couple” of this event, Ray and June Singer, started Taste of Collier as the local restaurant association’s way of thanking the community for their support and marking the end of season.
That very first year, Ray Singer said, included just a handful of restaurants and a few hundred attendees. Each year, the Taste of Collier has grown, adding events, entertainment and support for local high school artists and area charities.
Each year, Collier County high school art students enter the poster contest. For this special anniversary event, Nora Butler, one of the original artists for the event, created the design for this year’s event. Scholarships were awarded to two area high school students for their designs. Second place went to Diane Castillo, a sophomore at Golden Gate High School, and third place went to Cayson Gary, a senior from Palmetto Ridge High School.
Posters and t-shirts will be available to purchase at all Orion Bank locations prior to the event, and during the Taste of Collier.
While enjoying tasty treats, there will also be a center stage of live music, and an ice carving demonstration. At 1 p.m., it’s the Waiter-Waitress race, a competition that pits teams navigating an obstacle course while balancing a bottle of wine and glasses on a tray.
This year, proceeds will provide restaurant and hospitality scholarships, and benefit two area charities: The Collier County Chapter of the American Red Cross and St. Matthew’s House. Gold sponsors for this year’s event are: Bayfront, Beasley Broadcast Group, Inc., ExploreNaples, The Lutgert Companies, Lutgert Insurance, Mona Lisa Graphic Design, n magazine, Naples Daily News, Orion Bank, Premiere Properties of Southwest Florida-Realtors, Talent! The Agency of Choice, and WordPlay, Inc.
Participating restaurants will include: Bella Maria, Chrissy’s Wildside Café, Flemings, Foxboro Sports Tavern, Greek Gourmet, Grill Club, HB’s on the Beach, Kiko’s Catering, Kona Grill, Moe’s SW Grill, Noodles Saigon, Old Florida Key Lime Pies, Outback Steakhouse, Pincher’s Crab Shack, PJ Skinny’s, Planet Smoothie, Ruth’s Cris, Salad Creations, Sam Snead’s, Scene’s on the Bay, Shula’s, SMH Catering, Stoney’s, The Tropical Reef, Trulucks, U Food Grill, and Zizi’s.
And, to get your taste buds revved up and ready, here are some of the items you’ll find: crab cakes, chicken kabobs, hot & crunchy grouper, shrimp cocktail, sliced tenderloin, stone crabs, grilled lamb chops, cowboy steaks, sushi rolls, grilled pork salads, yellow fin tuna, island style roast pork, Szechuan baby back ribs, Greek salads, chopstick chicken bowl, vegetarian three-bean chili bowl, bay scallops, lobster salad, Fenway franks, grouper tacos, ahi tuna, and sirloin with burgundy mushrooms. For dessert, you’ll have a choice of refreshing ice cream, fruit mousse, baklava, key lime candy and key lime pie slices dipped in chocolate.