Back to Back Ball
Spin the wheel, roll the dice, hit me! That Vegas vibe and Top 40 band Lifehouse kept givers and gamers going Saturday at the Back to Back Ball, the Spine Foundation's inaugural benefit to help people in pain and in need of pay for spinal care treatment, "especially those with military injuries," said foundation president Phil Garcia.
Tiered VIP lounge seating offered views of all the casino-concert-auction action at A La Carte Event Pavilion with 700 guests gambling, cruising hors d'oeuvre buffets and crowding the stage. Auction bidders spent $12,000 on a British Virgin Islands getaway. Two tickets to Broadway hit The Book of Mormon sold for $3,000. In all, proceeds should come close to $175,000.
And that number doesn't include $750,000 presented by Laser Spine Institute chief executive Bill Horne, co-chair of the ball with his wife, Charlotte. LSI is the foundation's biggest donor, including office space. "I'm a patient who loved it so much that I invested and became the CEO," said Bill, who has pledged $750,000 annually for five years. New Jersey Spine and Rehabilitation anted up another $500,000.
Fourth annual Southern Charm Wine & Food Gala
The Greater Brandon Community Foundation followed the adage "reaching hearts through stomachs" at the Southern Charm Wine & Food Gala. Saturday's well-fed crowd of 800 sampled from 19 food stations, plus beer, wine, sake, martini, vodka and coffee stations, at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.
Favorites included fusion tacos from Sinigual, dumplings from T.C. Choy, brisket from Postcard Inn, sushi from the Rack, and mango hurricanes whipped up by Hard Rock Cafe. Let's hope dancing to DeLeon Entertainment worked off some of those calories.
Foundation president Chris Trotti and co-founder Anne Nymark, gala chairwoman Cindy Griffin (for the fourth consecutive year), and incoming board chairman Kevin Humphrey shared the microphone to thank sponsors and more than 100 volunteers. They expect to turn proceeds of about $70,000 into grants for 50 Brandon charities and dozens of families.
Next fall, the Southern Charm gala becomes the Tampa Bay Wine & Food Festival when the foundation cohosts the event with Southern Wine & Spirits along Tampa's Riverwalk.
Tampa Theatre La Dolce Vino winefest
Foodies flocked to Tampa Theatre on Saturday like the paparazzi swarming to Rome in La Dolce Vita — the Federico Fellini film that inspired "La Dolce Vino," the theater's 10th annual movie-spoofing wine tasting. (Remember the "Grape Gatsby" and "Saturday Wine Fever"?) Bern's Steak House black truffle short-rib meatballs and bacon brownies were nearly as indulgent as the Italian screen stars. Also decadently delicious: Viktoria Richards chocolates and the Cupcake Spot.
Chairwoman Katy Alderman and her creative committee stretched the winefest over three days, starting Sept. 23 with a sold-out five-course wine seminar dinner at Mise en Place and ending with a Sunday brunch. They also stretched sampling space, placing a platform over a third of the first-floor seats but leaving many rows open for 500 guests to sip fine wine and bites from Bin 27, Bailey's, Bistro Bleu, Mangroves, 717 South and Pizzaiolo Bavaro.