Some of the area's best chefs from Naples to Fort Myers will apply their talents deliciously to a regional fundraiser for children's medical needs, the annual Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest Feb. 22 and 23.
This year they're joined by a guest chef from Venice, Italy, and they're directing vintner dinners in Naples and Bonita Springs homes as well as in Fort Myers. The annual event features chef-vintner dinners at private homes located throughout Lee and Collier Counties on Friday evening, and a grand tasting and auction on Saturday afternoon at Miromar Lakes Beach Club.
The Wine & Food Fest benefits local children's charities. The Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida is this year's beneficiary and secondary beneficiaries are Edison State College's pediatric nursing program and Florida Gulf Coast University's music therapy program. Since its inception, the fest has raised $5.25 million for its charities.
"We endorse the ideas espoused by wine merchant and writer Andre Simon — 'Wine makes every meal an occasion, every table more elegant, every day more civilized,' " said Steve Machiz, M.D., Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest founding chairman, in a news release about the festival's choices. For this reason, he said, the fest seeks out the best vintners and chefs, "with each participant bringing a unique culinary style and perspective to our tables."
Marshall Hanno, wine committee chairman, said the fest makes a point of selecting boutique wineries with extremely limited production: "We're privileged to offer wines that are highly rated by wine connoisseurs and yet rarely available to the general public."
The chefs preparing chef vintner dinners on Friday night include:
■ Andy Hunter, the Bay House, Naples, partnered with Myriad & Quivet and hosted by Liz and Jeff Allbritten with Janet and Blake Gable in the Moorings, Naples.
If you go
Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest
Where: Chef-vintner dinners at homes throughout Southwest Florida; grand tasting and auction at the club at Miromar Lakes
When: Feb. 22 and 23
Ticket: $1,000 for both dinner and tasting/auction; $500 for tasting/auction only
Information, reservations: www.swflwinefest.org or call 239-278-3900.
■ Jeremy Houston, Capital Grille, partnered with Round Pond Winery and hosted by Wilson G. and Jo Anna Bradshaw and Lynn and Jim Knupp in Mediterra, Bonita Springs.
■ Mauro Domenico Lucivero, Venice, Italy, a colleague of Fabrizio of Sea Salt, partnered with Ornellaia and hosted by Lori and Marsh Hanno with Pat and David Gibbons, Mediterra.
■ Brian Roland, Crave Culinaire, Naples, partnered with Silver Oak Cellars and hosted by Shirlene and Bob Elkins, Port Royal, Naples.
■ Jon Phillips, CaterMasters, Naples, partnered with V Madrone winery, hosted by Heather Fitzenhagen and Richard DeBoest with Christin and David Collins, Fort Myers.
■ George Fistrovich, The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, partnered with Von Strasser Winery, hosted by Ute and Franz Rosinus with Phil & Irene Anderson in Bay Colony, Estero.
■ Greg Scarlatos, Angelina's Ristorante, Bonita Springs, with Husic Vineyards, hosted by Gemma and Mark Wilson with Kathy and Larry Courtnage in Miromar Lakes, Estero.
■ Jason Grasty, Roy's, Bonita Springs, and Stephen and Domaine Drouhin, hosted by Kathryn Cutler with Fred and Elaine Hawkins, and Dr. Gary and Marlene Price, Fort Myers.
■ Gloria Cabral-Jordan, La Trattoria Café Napoli, partnered with Marques de Caceras, hosted by Luis Insignares and Dwayne Bergmann, Fort Myers.
■ Harold Balink, Cru, partnered with Benovia Winery, hosted by Dave and Cheryl Copham with Mary Dewane and Joe Anderson, Fort Myers.
Saturday's grand tasting chefs include, from the above list, Grasty, Scarlatos and Singer.
Other chefs creating the grand tasting, all from Fort Myers and Estero, include:
■ Roger Chastain, Sunshine Grille; Marbin Avilez, Firestone's; William Murray, the Veranda; Neil Griffin, Il Cielo; Robert Brown, Miromar Lakes;
■ Nathaniel Reid, Norman Love Confections; Billy Mak, Blu Sushi; Andre Gratesol, Lush French Bakery; and Christian Vivet, Blue Windows French Bistro.
A limited number of seats are available, at $1,000 for both the Friday dinner and the Saturday grand tasting and auction Feb. 22 and 23, or at $500 for the grand tasting and auction only Feb. 23.