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Heart of Florida United Way 22nd Annual Chef’s Gala (Media Preview)

A Top 5 Gala for 2014 here in Central Florida!  Some photos by our very own @JenVargas!

 

Media preview of 22nd Annual #ChefGala benefitting @HFUW! Photos by @JenVargas

Media preview of 22nd Annual #ChefGala benefitting @HFUW! Photos by @JenVargas

Recognized as the region’s premier food and wine-pairing event, Heart of Florida United Way Chef’s Gala on May 10 features exquisite cuisine from more than 20 of Central Florida’s top chefs, along with thoughtfully paired fine wines, live music and a silent auction. Chef’s Gala is historically United Way’s largest fundraiser for education, income, health and basic needs programs, which serve thousands of Central Floridians in dire need. 

Epcot® World Showplace WALT DISNEY WORLD® Resort  

 6:45 p.m.: Silent Auction, Sparkling Wine and Martini Bar Reception 7:30-10 p.m.: Main Event

(Get your tickets today!)

President & CEO of Heart of Florida United  Way Robert H “Bob” Brown invites you out to #ChefsGala! via Instagram by @JenVargas

Slow-braised Pork Shank on Parmesan Grits! Photo by @JenVargas

Slow-braised Pork Shank on Parmesan Grits! Photo by @JenVargas

From Primo @JW_Marriott: Poached Maine Lobster Roll on a Truffled Brioche Garlic Aioli, Primo Garden Chives, Crispy Buttermilk & Malt Vinegar Marinated Shallots. Photo by @JenVargas

From Primo @JW_Marriott: Poached Maine Lobster Roll on a Truffled Brioche Garlic Aioli, Primo Garden Chives, Crispy Buttermilk & Malt Vinegar Marinated Shallots. Photo by @JenVargas

Banana-Toffee Mousse on Cocoa Crunch w/ Strawberry-Banana Pearls from @DisneyParks' Chef Born. Photo by @JenVargas

Banana-Toffee Mousse on Cocoa Crunch w/ Strawberry-Banana Pearls from @DisneyParks’ Chef Born. Photo by @JenVargas

Also from @DisneyParks' Chef Born, a Milk Chocolate Crémeux w/ Mojito Concoction on Almond Rocher. Photo by @JenVargas

Also from @DisneyParks’ Chef Born, a Milk Chocolate Crémeux w/ Mojito Concoction on Almond Rocher. Photo by @JenVargas

Heart of Florida United Way (HFUW) is Central Florida’s most comprehensive health and human services charity and the largest provider of funds to the region’s most critical health and human service programs.  Last year it raised and managed $25.3 million throughout Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties.  HFUW is working to advance the common good by focusing on education, income, health and safety.  It also operates United Way 2-1-1, Central Florida’s community crisis and suicide hotline and information and referral helpline; a Volunteer Resource Center; a Gifts In Kind Center; a Stewardship program that works with agencies to provide emergency assistance; and the Ryan White Part B program, which administers more than $2 million to provide HIV/AIDS services and referrals.  HFUW impacts more people annually than any charity operating in the tri-county area and partners with local businesses, government, other charities and individuals to increase awareness of local health and human service issues and to inspire hope, provide options and create possibilities for people in need. In 2011, HFUW was awarded Charity Navigator’s highest “Four-Star Rating” for exceeding industry standards in fiscal management and outperforming other charities in its area of focus.  Visit www.hfuw.org

(Tickets are still available! )

Orlando’s 48 Hour Film Project 2013 Winners

The winners of this year’s 48 Hour Film Project awards were announced last Saturday at Cue Phoria Billiards and Cafe in Winter Park. Congratulations to all the winners!

The Best Film for Orlando, TechSquad, was created by our own Media Producer, Jen Vargas, and the team at Creative Inlet Films! TechSquad advances to the 48 Hour Filmapalooza, March 6-10th, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Ten of the best films of the 2013 Tour will be screened at the Cannes Film Festival‘s Short Film Corner, also in 2014.

www.48hourfilm.com/orlando

Best Costumes/Wardrobe (tie)

  • Chixor – ReD Arrow
  • The Wendigo – Team Awesome

Best Choreography (tie)

  • Chixor – ReD Arrow
  • La Venganza – The Presidium

Best Musical Score (tie)

  • The Grand – DM Productions
  • TechSquad – Creative Inlet Films

Best Special Effects

  • TechSquad – Creative Inlet Films

Best Graphics

  • The Grand – DM Productions

Best Use of Dialogue (tie)

  • Private Eyes – Spark Studios
  • TechSquad – Creative Inlet Films

Best Use of Prop

  • Private Eyes – Spark Studios

Best Use of Character

  • The Grand – DM Productions

Best Sound Design

  • Psychosis – O Town Posse
  • TechSquad – Creative Inlet Films (Runner Up)

Best Cinematography

  • Psychosis – O Town Posse

Best Acting (Ensemble)

  • Psychosis – O Town Posse

Best Editing

  • The Grand – DM Productions

Best Writing

  • Another Day – Potato

Best Direction (tie)

  • TechSquad – Creative Inlet Films
  • Psychosis – O Town Posse

Best Film Runner Up (tie)

  • Another Day – Potato
  • Private Eyes – Spark Studios

Best Film

  • TechSquad – Creative Inlet Films

Florida Buzz: Bollywood Oscars to make US debut in Tampa 2014

Sharing this exciting blog from our pals at Indie Cinema Showcase!! (Guest poster: Jen Vargas)

For the first time in their history, the International Indian Film Academy will debut the 15th Annual Tata Motors IIFA Awards in the United States. What makes this event even more exciting is the fact that the glamour of the GREEN CARPET will be coming to Tampa Bay! According to the official announcement (below) the awards show boasts 800 million viewers globally, in over 110 countries and is anticipated to bring valuable impact to the area. (JenSideNote: I LOVE how active the IIFA is on Social Media!! Facebook, TwitterMirror, Google+ Hangouts, YouTube… awesome!)

Only time will tell the actual numbers of its impact however, Mike Salinero of the Tampa Tribune writes, “The International Indian Film Academy awards ceremony is expected to draw 30,000 visitors to the Tampa area next June and create $100 million in economic impact.” Instrumental in bringing the awards to Tampa and also quoted in Salinero’s story, businessman Chetan “Jason” R. Shah says, “This is a major, major attraction that’s going to boost the economy like anything.” We at ICS hope so. You’ve already seen ICS on the Red Carpet and the Blue Carpet… maybe the Green Carpet is in our future?

If Florida hosted more big (film) industry events like this – domestic and international – MAYBE it would capture Governor Rick Scott’s attention enough to see the value of investing in our film industry in Florida… one can only hope.

Coca Cola Freestyle: Soda Machine of the FUTURE!

[Guest Post by Jen Vargas]

I love Coca Cola. I also love its tasty incarnations, Cherry Coke and Vanilla Coke. All of these flavors, swishing around together make for a Cocapalooza in my mouth – this make me VERY happy! Enter, Coca Cola Freestyle. We have history…

My first discovery of this smile dispensing soda machine happened during the IAAPA Expo at the Orange County Convention Center here in Orlando. My curiosity began in 2010. [I wanted to go back in 2011 but our Relay For Life in Hunter’s Creek was happening the same weekend and I couldn’t make it.] But I never forgot about ‘the Freestyle Machine.’ I walked into the exhibit hall, saw a HUGE line and wondered, “What’s that all about?”

I came back two hours later and the line had gotten LONGER! “Ok, I HAVE to find out what the fuss is all about here,” I thought. So I waited… and waited… and waited in the line. After an hour or more of looking at the backs of other people’s heads, I saw it. This standalone, shiny, red touchscreen of awesomeness. A gentleman demoing the machine handed me a small, paper Coca Cola cup and asked me what I wanted to try. Baffled by all the choices (and flashy lights!), I asked for recommendations based on what I knew already. He recommended two flavors; Raspberry Coca Cola and Orange Vanilla Coca Cola. The thought of both sounded gross, to be honest, but I tried them anyway. I figured the guy knew what he was talking about, him being a seasoned mixologist and all. 106 (at the time) flavors to choose from… I needed more time to taste!

To my surprise, the Raspberry Coke was pretty good! The Orange Vanilla Coke however… WOW! That was my favorite! I wanted to try some more flavors, I was so stoked!! Then I looked behind me. It’s like the line never moved! The Coke booth was the place to be at IAAPA 2010! At the time, I still had a few hours left to roam the floor and chat with vendors, so I did. About 30 minutes before the event closed, I took a chance and hopped back in the Freestyle line to sample more flavors. The line was shorter but not by much. Others in line behind me didn’t want to wait and left. The people running the booth were cleaning up while the end of event announcements played over the PA system. As they continued to close, they kept the line moving, allowing people to try samples. I was literally the LAST person that year to Freestyle! I had to try another Orange Vanilla Coke! This time I was recommended to try Grape, Vanilla and Strawberry Sprite. Strawberry Sprite was tasty. I wasn’t a fan of the Sprite Grape or Vanilla flavors but they were worth a shot. After closing, I grabbed a Vanilla Coke for the road, I left IAAPA wondering when I’d see one again (outside of Disney or the other theme parks).

In 2011 and 2012, Coca Cola Freestyle machines started showing up in Burger King, Firehouse Subs, Moe’s Southwest Grills, Hess Gas Stations, even my local Pei Wei Asian Diner! Convenience, thy name be Freestyle!!! Now, I can’t walk a mile or so without seeing one, or even two, in my favorite local restaurants. My next hope is that Sweet Tomatoes (Souplantation for you Left Coasters) gets a Freestyle machine. Perfection on top of perfection… all would be right with the world. More nerdiness? I also love the Push + Play app for my iPhone! You can find a Freestyle machine near you AND play Coke’s snazzy version of Simon!! (Just don’t PUSH!+Play and drive, please.)

 

 

 

If you get a chance, you should check out the Coca Cola Freestyle webpage and Facebook page. They are very active on Twitter too, if you are so inclined (and I know you are)! Maybe I’ll see you at a local watering hole soon?
OMG! #CCFreestyleTweetup! Can we Brian, can we!?