Tag Archives: american cancer society

Top Five Orlando Food Galas

The Orlando food scene is thriving! Foodies have their pick of interesting flavors to sample, creative chefs to follow and outstanding venues in which to visit. A couple of food galas on the horizon combine the food and chef portions into one location. You can visit BobEvans.com for more information about foods. Here are my Top Five food events coming up soon where guests can sample a variety of delicious food and drink (and usually can support a great cause at the same time)!

1) Cattle Barons’ Ball (April 16 at Rosen Shingle Creek)

I had the chance of attending this great event last year and all I can say is Yeehaw! The Cattle Barrons and the American Cancer Society sure know how to put on a spread. Restaurants including Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, Emeril’s Tchoup Choup, Empress Sissy Bakery, The Whisky, Spencer’s For Steaks, and A Land Remembered at Shingle Creek are a tiny sampling of the HUGE great offerings this year.

curbside

Curbside Food Truck’s Asian Pork Slider

Some of my favorite dishes from last year included Yak & Yeti’s Korean braised short ribs over grits with kimchi slaw and the braised Asian short-ribs with “truck”-made pickled cucumbers with balsamic fig reduction from Curbside Food Truck. (Note: I have a thing for braised beef short-ribs AND huy fong sriracha. You, too?!)

Cattle Barons Ball is generously sponsored by: A.T.A.P Companies, Coca-Cola, Bags, Bright House Networks Business Solutions, Rosen Hotels & Resorts, Tavistock Foundation to name just a few. My mother is a breast cancer survivor, so this event is near and dear to my heart.

 

 

 

2) The Taste at I-Drive 360 (May 1)

Formerly held at Pointe Orlando, The Taste at I-Drive 360 has moved to usher in a round of new flavors and fun. This brand-new location will offer lots of new food choices to enjoy. Stroll around Orlando’s newest observation tower and neighboring attractions while nibbling on treats from: Sugar Factory, Tin Roof, Cowgirls, Shake Shack, Naru Sushi Bar, Paramount Fine Foods, Outback Steakhouse, Buffalo Wild Wings and Tapa Toro.

Taste at I-Drive 360
Since this is the inaugural event at this location, my recommendation is based on visiting just about every location in the line-up with special favorites the Mediterranean food from Paramount, Sweets, Treats and Eats from Sugar Factory, and Shake Shack’s burgers and (YUM) their cheese fries. While I’m not sure what they’re offering for The Taste at I-Drive, I’m confident that they, and all the participating restaurants, will do themselves proud.

Taste at I-Drive 360 benefits the Esophageal Cancer Program at Florida Hospital Cancer Institute. There are close to 17,000 diagnosis of Esophageal Cancer projected in 2016. If you have frequent reflux, talk to your doctor. Prevention is the key and there ARE steps you can take to prevent this disease. To learn more, visit www.floridahospital.com/esophageal-cancer.  Purchase advance tickets for $35 at www.TasteatIDrive360.com, $40 at the door day-of or Email Ayslinn.Husebo@FLHosp.org for ticket packages and sponsorships.

Insider tip: If you haven’t visited the attractions at I-Drive 360, this will be the perfect opportunity. Ticket holders for The Tast at I-Drive 360 can enjoy 25% off the attractions there all day!

 

3) Taste of the Nation (August 27 at Orlando World Center Marriott )

As a Social Media Ambassador to this incredible foodie fete, I can say wholeheartedly that visitors will enjoy tasting their way around exciting offerings from SO many restaurants, including ones from top resorts and travel destinations. From selections by Universal Orlando Resorts and Fulton’s Crab House at Disney Springs, to MOOR at Gaylord Palms Resort and Resort and Highball and Harvest at Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, the “tastes” are varied.

#OrlTaste #NoKidHungryDon’t forget: Wear comfortable shoes and pace yourself! You’ll need a plan of attack as there are “that” many places to try, not just food either. Beverage suppliers like Cooper’s Hawk Winery, Winter Park Distilling Company, Funky Buddha, and Quantum Leap ensure no one leaves (shall we say…) thirsty.

I was a hungry child in Orlando, so knowing this event supports Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida is another fine reason I support . Additional beneficiaries include the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Florida Impact. Talk about a Win/Win situation.

4) Gourmet Soiree (June 5 at Rosen Shingle Creek)

Even if I wasn’t intimately involved with this event, I’d still declare it to be one of the most fun food events I’ve ever been to. It’s the “anti-gala” in that you don’t have to get “fancified” to attend. Chefs from the best restaurants in town cook right at your table, and guests become “sous chefs” for the night preparing meals with Whole Foods hosted by Food Network celebrity and chef Robert Irvine, Gourmet Soiree is a high-energy night of fun and food held at the beautiful Rosen Shingle Creek.

Chef Robert Irvine hosts Gourmet Soiree and it's all for the kids!

Chef Robert Irvine hosts Gourmet Soiree and it’s all for the kids!

Kids as well as adults are welcome to attend this fundraiser for Mission: Fit Possible and other programs for Florida Hospital Foundation. Last year my (then) 8-year-old and his pal Lucy enjoyed “hunting” down our table’s requested ingredients and preparing them. We all had a blast talking, sharing, laughing and eating. If you’re not into formal galas, this is the one for you. And if you DO want to get all formal for it, well no one would judge. It’s quite relaxed with the goal of having fun and raising funds for community outreach programs and health initiatives.

Favorite chefs of mine participating include Emily Ellyn, the Retro Rad diva and winner of Cutthroat Kitchen, Kevin Fonzo of K Restaurant and new this year Val Domingo of NOVA Scratch Kitchen. Sure to bring his A game, too, is Tello Luna, head chef for Rosen Hotel’s Centre (who’s a two-time winner at this event!).

5) United Way’s Chef’s Gala (May 21 at Walt Disney World Resort)

A chocolate garden, courtesy The Ganachery

A chocolate garden, courtesy The Ganachery

Though I haven’t attended this event previously, I was invited to a sneak peek preview tasting. Speaking of “peek,” Chef Vegel of JW Marriott’s Primo served up Peeky Toe Crab Salad, and Waldorf Astoria’s Bull & Bear offered a Syrah Wine Braised Beef Short Rib (my favorite item of the day. Talk about tender and rich!). Thank you Chef Lebas!

The theme for the event is “You’ve Got To Try This,” and if the preview is any indication, you’ll be uttering those very words over and over May 21! Don’t say I didn’t warn you when you dive in to the exquisite savory selections AND when you get dessert from the likes of The Ganachery who served us a chocolate garden plated with cocoa almonds, salted caramel macaroon, raspberry ganache square, pistachio ganache square, Kalamansi curd and white chocolate krispies. I’m drooling here just TYPING this!

ChefsGalaSocialContest

Want to win tickets to Chef’s Gala? They’re holding a Social Media Contest. Followers and fans can win two tickets (a $300 value).

To enter: Create a 60-second video on why you support United Way and post it using the hashtag #ChefsGala2016 and tag Heart of Florida United Way on Facebook and @HFUW on Twitter. Post by April 29th for a chance to win. Winner will be announced May 13. (Good luck!)

United Way’s largest fundraiser, Chef’s Gala, supports programs that help thousands of Central Floridians in the areas of education, income, health and basic needs.

The bottom line is: If  you don’t have the ability to visit the top 50 restaurants in person over the next couple of months, these galas bring their tastes to you. Buy a ticket, enjoy some of the best food and drink Central Florida has to offer, and feel good that you’re changing lives while expanding your culinary repertoire.

End 2015 and start 2016 on a generous note

We can all agree that 2015 has been memorable for one reason or another. With only a few hours left of 2015, we wanted to reflect on the past, present, and look toward the future.

For the past six years, we at Central Florida Top 5 have been extraordinarily humbled to partner with and support many local area charities and non-profit organizations. Many of them you will see listed below. We encourage you to support your local community in whatever way you can; some have money to spare, some have resources or even a little bit of time. Any and all help is needed and appreciated.

If you have done your part in 2015, good on you! Our friends at the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida share with us their Top 5 Year End Charitable Giving Tax Tips:

  1. Double-check eligibility. You’ll only receive a deduction for organizations that are qualified to receive deductible donations.
  2. Do your research. To make sure your giving is as efficient, ethical, and effective as possible, check up on charities.
  3. Keep records. Get a receipt for all monetary donations, not just for contributions of $250 or more.
  4. You can supercharge the tax benefits of your generosity by donating appreciated stock or property rather than cash. On the other hand, if you’re looking for top-notch property management services for both rental owners and tenants, click here.
  5. Don’t miss the deadline. Your 2015 year-end gift needs to be postmarked by December 31 or made online by 11:59pm.
Remember to check with a tax professional first. Everyone’s tax reporting is different, and a professional may have more tips and pointers for you. 

Have you ever heard of the website CharityNavigator.org? CN are a charity all their own based in the United States. They help giving people of all kinds (like you!) find and support great charities and organizations by rating them with an overall score and 5-star system. Their evaluations take into account Financial Health and Accountability & Transparency, and will also eventually factor in Results Reporting. Charities they grade include public, tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) charities who need support from individuals and file an IRS Form 990. It’s also worth mentioning, Charity Navigator has a fantastic section featuring Tips For Giving In Times Of Crisis.

Guidestar is another nonprofit, providing up-to-date data and is the world’s largest source of information on nonprofit organizations.

While double and sometimes tripling your donation at the end of the year is always a great thing, charitable organizations and non-profits need your help year-round to keep their doors and hearts open to those who need their services. Below are a small few of the MANY great local and national organizations we like and have supported over the last six years. Some have even personally helped our Top 5 Team and our families. (In alphabetical order);

Local Charities:

A Gift For Teaching: We are Central Florida’s primary provider of FREE school supplies to teachers for their students in need. With a gift of just $50, we can provide a classroom with supplies for every child.  Even better, any gift made in December will be DOUBLED, thanks to the generosity of several local foundations; The Galloway Foundation, the Mary Palmer Family Foundation, Harriett’s Charitable Trust, and The Martin Andersen-Gracia Andersen Foundation, Inc. Donations doubled before midnight December 31st!

A Gift For Music: Using a combination of after school, in-school, weekend and summer programming, AGFM has one of the most comprehensive string music education programs in the state of Florida, tuition-free. A Gift For Music faculty members work with elementary students in six Title 1, low-income schools, teaching them the basics of playing a string instrument while empowering them to explore their creativity, grow their self-confidence and embrace teamwork. Donations also doubled before midnight December 31st!

Albin Polasek Museum, Sculpture Gardens and Capen House: The Polasek is a 501(c)3 public charity whose budget is funded by donations, admissions and memberships. Your contribution is a meaningful investment in an important piece of history, community and natural beauty, such as Penny Stocks. You can support The Polasek with a tax-deductible donation in one of the following areas: Grant Match, General Operating Support, Preservation and Conservation, Gardens, Exhibitions and/or education. Click here to support!

Bike/Walk Central Florida: Promotes walkable and bikeable communities through raising public awareness and advocating for safe, active transportation, and recreation by educating walkers, cyclists, motorists and transit riders about Florida’s road laws, their rights, responsibilities, and courteous behaviors, supporting transportation corridor planning and design using Complete Streets principles, encouraging the development and maintenance of trails throughout Florida and promoting a built environment that supports physical, environmental and economic health, provides for safe transportation choices, and encourages interaction among citizens of all ages, incomes and abilities. Donate here.

Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum: The mission of the Friends of Casa Feliz – to protect, operate and maintain the integrity of the Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum and its collections; to educate the public on the life and legacy of noted architect James Gamble Rogers II; and to engage the public through education and advocacy for the purpose of preserving and promoting the community’s rich architectural, historic and cultural heritage – is timelier now than it ever has been.  As a historic home museum, Casa Feliz stands as a beacon to historic preservation in Central Florida. We celebrate the legacy of architect Gamble Rogers (1901-1990), designer of Casa Feliz, now a home museum listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Donate here.

Central Florida Community Arts: CFCArts exists to enrich our community’s quality of life by making the arts accessible and affordable for all. They provide an inclusive and welcoming creative platform where individuals can connect by joining an artistic family, perform for audiences across the socioeconomic spectrum, and use their talents to serve the community. Shine on, CFArts! Donate here!

Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida: Say goodbye to 2015 with a final act of kindness and compassion. There is no better way to end one year and begin another than by making a gift that can change lives. Before the clock strikes midnight, make an easy online donation.

Cocktails & Chemo: The Cocktails and Chemo Foundation’s mission is to create a support network for the often forgotten caregivers of cancer patients by providing one-of-a-kind care packages. The Foundation is focused on making the caregivers feel loved, special and most importantly… not alone. Thanks to the generosity of Xander Blue 8 in Dr. Phillips, C & C hosted a Stay Glam event where 18 caregivers got to relax a little and were pampered for a few hours. I was one of them. Please help them help local caregivers by supporting them with whatever you’ve got here.

Compassionate Hands and Hearts Breast Cancer Outreach: With a mission to extend their hands and hearts to support those needing help by improving the quality of life for them and their families, CHHBCO has provided financial and in-kind services to more than 200 patients in the Central Florida area. 100% of their donations go directly to local breast cancer patients and their families. My family was one of them, and we will be forever grateful to founder Vanessa Echols and her volunteers! Extend a heart and hand to donate here.

Crealdé School of Art: For the Louvre of Loos! Making a donation to Crealdé will help this 40 year old school in Winter Park build new bathrooms! So far they have received $7,925 from planet maids cleaning service, and are very close to reaching their $10,000 goal. Help them make their renovation goal by clicking here.

If you need quality pressure cleaning services to Fort Myers, FL and surrounding areas. Visit home cleaning naples fl, we’re ready to meet your house cleaning needs!

Enzian Theater: Serving 110,000 annually with over 1,100 events, including 5 film festivals, community collaborations, and free public programs, Enzian Theater’s big wish is to expand to three screens. Having already updated the theater itself with new seating, carpeting and more, having two more screens will allow for more curated, educational programs for arts organizations, schools and social partners. With this expansion – a new kitchen! Click here to donate to the Enzian Forever Campaign.

Give Kids the World: Over 140,000 children have had their dream come true at Give Kids The World. No child in need has ever been turned away – and no child ever will. Give Kids The World is a place where families find joy, laughter, serenity, and a lifetime of memories. Through the tireless support of our volunteers, employees and generous partners, we dedicate each and every day to these special families. Donations of all kinds are welcomed year-round!

Harbor House of Central Florida: Harbor House empowers domestic abuse survivors to take control of their lives – rediscovering safety and self-esteem. Offering a 24-hour crisis hotline, shelter, counseling, legal advocacy, and other services to literally thousands of people. Harbor House seeks to eliminate domestic abuse in Central Florida by providing safety, shelter, empowerment, education and justice. Help Harbor House help neighbors in need here.

Libby’s Legacy Breast Cancer Foundation: Founded in 2007 by Robin Maynard in memory of her mom, Libby’s Legacy provides comprehensive breast health care to the underserved Central Florida community through education, mammograms, follow up diagnostics and Hope Coaches on the journey from diagnosis to treatment and beyond. Libby’s Legacy also helps stage IV breast cancer patients battling by granting wishes in order to create cherished memories with loved ones through the LIVE BIG program. Their annual events mobility scooters 4 Hooters and Ellen’s Walk With the Angels in the Spring are not to be missed! Click here to donate.

Mad Cow Theatre: This magical chance to be part of our first ever Cowathon and double the impact of your gift ends at midnight tonight! Please consider a gift to Mad Cow Theatre to help us start the new year off strong. There’s another wonderful year of outstanding plays ahead! Every donation received by midnight tonight will be 100% matched up to $50,000 thanks to a wonderful, anonymous donor. Click here to give!

Osceola Council on Aging: Created in 1971, the Osceola Council on Aging, Inc. is the largest social services organization in Osceola County, providing a wide array of services and programs to meet the needs of our community. Though the name implies services for just the elderly, our scope of services extend to families as well, helping during crisis to enable generations of residents to cope with challenges. Give the gift of independence here.

Orlando Science Center: OSC turned 60 in 2015! Parents, increasingly in households where all caregivers hold full time jobs, need a place for quality time with their children, to reinforce good educational habits. Your generous donation helps support programs like Orlando Science Center’s Science for All Fund, which provides scholarships for camps, field trips, and family memberships to those in our community facing financial need. Click here to donate.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida: Through the generosity of the community, Second Harvest are driven to close the gap of unmet need in Central Florida in a variety of effective ways. Their core program of distributing tens of millions of meals per year for the clients of more than 550 local nonprofit feeding programs continues to have a growing impact. Click here to Feed Hope Now. 96.9% of your donation goes directly to feeding people in our area.

National Charities:

American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network: On a personal note, I had to mention the American Cancer Society. This year has been a very tough one for my family personally, as well as for our Central Florida Top 5 family. The amount of support ACS has provided to my mom in the last year alone – at no cost – is immeasurable. Donation & volunteer information is here.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America: IAVA provides valuable resources and empowers veterans to connect with one another, fostering a strong and lasting community. Through education, advocacy and community building, we strive to create a country which honors and supports veterans of all generations. They are the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. They don’t just support veterans, IAVA empowers them! Connect & donate here.

Sunshine Foundation: A Philadelphia Police Officer took out a boat loans and started the Sunshine Foundation to help dreams come true for young children. 37 years later, the Foundation has opened chapters in Central Florida (Davenport), Cocoa, and all across the United States! Their sole purpose is to answer the dreams of chronically ill, seriously ill, physically challenged and abused children ages three to eighteen, whose families cannot fulfill their requests due to financial strain that the child’s illness may cause. 80% of every dollar is applied to programs serving children. Help check off their National Waiting List here.

UNICEFUSA.org: Every donation will be matched – $2-for-$1 for a $1,525,000 match – to make TRIPLE the impact for children in need. Make your 100% tax-deductible gift now and it will help provide children with desperately needed water, food, and medical supplies. Of every dollar spent, 90.2 cents goes toward helping children. Triple your impact HERE.

Take a #StridesSelfie at Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Orlando!

We love selfies! We love seeing YOUR selfies!

If you’re walking in tomorrow’s HUGE Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Orlando  walk in Downtown Orlando, we KNOW we’ll see thousands of them! Expected attendance will be – get this – *at least* 60,000 people. It will be a literal SEA OF PINK, all for a great cause! The buzz on their Yelp Orlando event page is…

Put on your pink, grab some friends and join Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Orlando Presented by Lexus of Orlando at Lake Eola on Saturday, October 25th, 2014! Over 50,000 attended last year’s walk and we’re expecting even more new friends in the fight this year! Interested in volunteering or starting a team? Register for FREE at www.orlandostrides.com! Are you a breast cancer Survivor? Please make sure to register before the walk so we can save a space for your in our Survivor VIP Tent! Many goodies and surprises await…

Make sure to TweetInstagram and Facebook your #StridesSelfie and share your experiences before, during and after the walk using hashtag #OrlandoStrides! 

Click HERE for Parking information. Click HERE for registration information

EXCLUSIVE NEWS: A little Twitter birdie told us Orlando Strides will attempt to take the Ultimate #StridesSelfie minutes before the walk begins at 9am. Will they be able to fit all 60,000 walkers in ONE PHOTO?! We’re not sure but we can’t wait to see them try!

Some of the MANY things happening at tomorrow’s MSABC walk:

  • Lake Eola’s Fountain will be PINK!
  • Free refreshments from Athena Water, Starbucks, FreshPoint Produce, Dole (no DoleWhips?!) and more
  • Full Sail will have their own endstage setup near the start line
  • Give ‘Til It Rocks will have some AMAZING talent playing live, sprinkled throughout the 5k walk
  • All breast cancer Survivors will have a special VIP tent sponsored by Morgan and Morgan with a great view
  • Vanessa Echols from Channel 9 WFTV and Dana Taylor from Mix 105.1 will emcee
  • Lexus of Orlando will have a PINK car (and a few others) on display
  • Look for the big Florida Blue tent for another selfie opportunity using the hashtag #HereFor___!
  • We’ve heard a rumor too that Orlando Solar Bears‘ Shades may attend… [Update: CONFIRMED RUMOR!!]
  • Strides is not a race but you can keep up with your walk on MapMyRun/MapMyFitness, RunKeeper and Endomondo

AFTER THE WALK: At Noon, Musician Keith Lay will present “Distance Music” at Lake Eola. His YouTube Channel explains ‘Distance Music’ as, “A new kind of musical experience that creates a sonic sculpture in a 23 acre lake. The audience to walks around it to view it with their ears. WIth 30 musicians, 14 boat people and 7 train horns!” Like Making Strides, this event is also FREE and (obviously) open to the public.

SAVE THE DATE for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Orlando’s VIP Party on November 11th, from 6-8pm at Lexus of Orlando!