For several years, each August, I would tell you about the upcoming Taste of the Nation, the annual food and wine fundraising bash, and I would write, each time, that I hoped it would be the last year for the event. My reasoning was that if the goal of the benefit -- to eradicate childhood hunger -- could finally be attained, there would be no reason to have another one.
As it turns out, last year's was the last Taste of the Nation, but unfortunately not for the reason I had hoped. Childhood hunger, especially in Central Florida, is still a grave problem.
And it's still one worth fighting. So instead of TOTN, Taste! Central Florida is the new name of the event. It will take place on Saturday, Aug. 19, from 6:45-10 p.m.
Just about everything is the same as previous years: It's still being held at the Orlando World Center Marriott; it still features a bountiful bevy of the area's best restaurants serving samplings in the walkabout plan; and it still benefits Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. And just as in years past, all proceeds go to the cause.
What's different this year is that it is truly a local fundraiser. In previous years, Taste of the Nation was a function of a national organization called Share Our Strength. While Second Harvest and the Coalition for the Homeless did indeed benefit from the tickets you purchased, some of the proceeds also went to the national organization.
So this year, all of the money stays right here.
This event is always a well-run and genuinely high-class event, and I don't expect anything to be different this year. And I'm pleased that Scott Joseph's Orlando Restaurant Guide is one of the media sponsors.
Tickets are $150 per person, which gets you unlimited samples of the food, wine and spirits on offer. It's a walkabout event, so your culinary itinerary is up to you.
Among the restaurants that will be on hand this year are flog favorites The Whiskey, Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen, and Highball & Harvest.
Joining them will be Foodster winners Cress and Dragonfly Robata Sushi and Grill.
Who else? Lots -- 4 Rivers Smokehouse, newcomer Ace Cafe Orlando, the restaurants of Gaylord Palms, A Land Remembered and The Capital Grille, Canvas, Eleven, Raglan Road, Paddlefish and Ravenous Pig. You can see the full list here.
Also plenty of wine and several local brewers -- Crooked Can, Orlando Brewing, Orange Blossom Brewing among them -- and Tito's Handmade Vodka and Wild Buck American Rye and Whiskey.
This would be a good time to tell you that the Orlando World Center Marriott is offering a special room rate for attendees.
You can get that information as well as purchase your tickets at the Taste! Central Florida website.
I look forward to seeing you at the first -- and hopefully, the last -- Taste! of Central Florida.
Taste! Central Florida
Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017
Orlando Marriott World Center
8701 World Center Drive
Tickets $150 per person