The 3rd-annual Chefs Table charity fine dining dinner will feature a record 11 local restaurants and about 500 guests on Monday, November 5 in Gulfport.
“It’s sold out,” said Pia Goff, owner and chef of Pia’s Trattoria, 3054 Beach Blvd. Goff is also the organizer of the annual event.
This year, the proceeds will go to the non-profit Michael J. Yakes Foundation then to a Gulfport family who lost their home on Tangerine Avenue South due to a fire, said Goff.
In addition to new restaurants, this year’s event will also provide live music featuring the Urban Gypsies of Florida and the Lounge Cat band, who are sponsored by the Gulfport Merchants Association.
Last year, 10 restaurants hosted 360 guests and raised $17,538.75 to help fund a new playground at Gulfport Elementary School.
“I’m excited. I can envision the table being all ready with the vegan-vegetarian-seafood options and really cool plates for everybody,” said Wendy Ohlendorf, owner and chef at Vintage Small Bites and Wine Lounge, 2914 Beach Blvd.
This will be her first year participating in Chefs Table.
“The way I do it, it’s got to be fashionable,” she said. “It’s also got to be what each person can enjoy completely.”
The theme of her table is inspired by and named after a 1963 children’s book, “Where the Wild Things Are.” It was the favorite of her business partner who recently died, within a week of when the menus were due. Her restaurant also has a regular menu item of the same name that is a sampling of all her foods.
“I read through the book again and started getting ideas for menu items regarding how each would look and how to make them be very forest-like and harvest-like,” said Ohlendorf. “I have made a gold crown for each one of my 32 guests to wear” just like Max, the book’s protagonist.
In addition, “all of the centerpieces will be edible” with a forest nuance, she said. “I know most of the people who are coming and one has a birthday. We’ll all have a good time.”
Another newcomer this year is Debbie Amis who, along with her husband Mark, is a co-owner of Little Tommies Tiki, 5519 Shore Blvd.
“It’s such a beautiful event and it’s for a good cause,” said Amis.
For the menu, “we tried to offer our most popular dishes with a twist on a couple of things to make it a little different but still familiar,” she said.
Look for a unique pairing of her husband’s special Key lime pie with another popular dessert that includes chocolate.
Also new this year will be the Police Explorers students in uniform from Boca Ciega High School led by Gulfport Police Officer Jason Motte, who is one of the school’s resource officers, said Gulfport Cultural Facilities Events Supervisor Justin Shea. The students will be helping direct traffic at intersections.
Fine dining tables will be set up along a closed area of Beach Boulevard from south of 30th Avenue South to just north of Shore Boulevard, said Shea. The street parking will be cleared beginning at 9 a.m. on Monday, November 5 to accommodate the arrival and set up of the tables and chairs.
Traffic moving east and west along 30th Avenue South and Shore Boulevard will not be affected by the closure, he said.
The other eight restaurants participating are: El Chapo Taco, 3038 Beach Blvd; Isabelle’s at the Historic Peninsula Inn, 2937 Beach Blvd; Manatee’s on the Bay, 3128 Beach Blvd; Neptune Grill, 5501 Shore Blvd; O’Maddy’s Bar & Grille, 5405 Shore Blvd; Smokin’ J’s Real Texas BBQ, 5145 Gulfport Blvd. S; Stella’s, 3119 Beach Blvd. and The Artisan Art & Food Collective, 2832 Beach Blvd.