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Amy Scherzer's Diary

Amy Scherzer's Diary: Joshua House Foundation dinner and Lights, Fashion, Hope

Circle of Friends of Joshua House dinner

Co-chairs Anita Shuler and Melanie Bavol hit all the high notes Saturday at the annual Joshua House Foundation dinner, tying the theme to hosts Christel and Mark Yaffe's love of music and the unusual antique music machines in their 29,000-square-foot Avila mansion.

"Magical,'' said guest Judge Tracy Sheehan, describing "moonlit, manicured grounds the size of a couple of football fields." The estate, modeled after a 17th century British palace, has been for sale since 2008.

Opera Tampa vocalists serenaded 100 guests dining poolside beneath 6-foot chandeliers suspended from trees. Shuler joked about their Phantom of the Opera repertoire, a favorite of the honoree Dottie Berger MacKinnon. Hope there's not a re-enactment of the crashing chandelier scene, Shuler teased.

Mise en Place catered the $350-a-ticket benefit: roast tenderloin with olive polenta, followed by lavender honey panna cotta and red wine pink peppercorn poached plums. Sandy MacKinnon compared the evening to a "Disney production, only better," especially since it raised $45,000 for Joshua House, a therapeutic residence for abused children removed from their homes.

Taste the Best of Tampa Bay at the Straz

"The weather was the star of the show,'' said Brian Weiss, chairman of Taste the Best of Tampa Bay, the annual sampling party staged by the Producers, a group of volunteer supporters of the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.

On the breezy riverfront and throughout the theater lobbies, 1,450 tasters converged Saturday to eat and drink as much as possible from 40 restaurants, caterers and vendors. Newcomers Brickhouse Tavern & Tap and Fitlife Foods joined 26-year veterans Sally O'Neal's pizza and the Columbia. Weiss admitted to three helpings of whiskey bread pudding from the Pub at International Plaza. Five bands, including the Vodkanauts and Pocket Change, made sure dancing was on the menu.

LAMPlighters' Lights, Fashion, Hope

Saks Fifth Avenue helped the LAMPLighters' auxiliary celebrate its 25th anniversary by offering discounts and donating 10 percent of sales at Lights, Fashion, Hope on April 28. The store also was open to other shoppers, "friends and family customers,'' said general manager Kim Biehl, to introduce more people to the LAMPlighters' contributions to Metropolitan Ministries and Joshua House. Saks also donated 25 silver-inspired raffle prizes in honor of the anniversary, including Tory Burch flip flops, Michael Kors sandals and Stuart Weitzman flats. That helped net $60,000 to subsidize shelter, food, clothing, education, and summer camp for homeless and at-risk children.

Strolling saxophonist Eric Darius led 300 guests upstairs, where event chairwomen Sally Mabry, Kim Rogers and Kelly Breeding honored "volunteer extraordinaire" Dottie Berger MacKinnon for her devotion to displaced children.

Leena's Chocolates brought ganache ravioli, dark berry bark and chocolate-dipped wine bottles. Six Tables owner/chef Richard Bottini made braised pork belly tarts. Also showing their skills: the Palm, Bella's, Puff 'n Stuff, Mike's Pies, jeweler Deborah Gaspar and Miami designer Craig Signer.


Today: SilverSpoons & Sandcastles XX benefits Tampa Bay Beautification; 7-11 p.m.; Tampa Port Authority Cruise Terminal 3; $100 in advance; $125 at the door; (813) 221-8733.

Saturday: Tampa General Hospital Foundation's "Some Enchanted Evening" 14th annual Moments in Time Gala, 7:30 p.m.; Hyatt Regency Tampa; $250 and up; (813) 844-7273.

Saturday: Sea Grapes food and wine festival benefits Florida Aquarium; 8-11 p.m.; VIP at 7 p.m., $105 in advance, $125 at door; or (813) 273-4568.

Amy Scherzer's Diary: Joshua House Foundation dinner and Lights, Fashion, Hope 05/05/11 [Last modified: Thursday, May 5, 2011 4:30am]
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