Amy Scherzer's Diary: weekly wrapup of the Tampa social scene

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Art of Helping Children Gala

Former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, now CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, gladly presented local "Bigs" and "Littles" of the year at the 16th annual Art of Helping Children Gala on Saturday. Sponsor Rod Broadrick, smiling like a Cheshire cat, ran down the math: With expenses to match a child with a mentor running $1,000, the 600 guests raised enough to get 400 kids off the waiting list in the seven counties served by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay.

A Mad Hatter emcee and WFLA-AM 970 radio host Corey Dylan lent their charm to An Evening in Wonderland, featuring a 50-year retrospective video, the adorably talented Entertainment Revue and the Lucky Penny band at A La Carte Event Pavilion. Milliners Lina Teixeira and Monstruosite's tea party hats enlivened the auction block, as did a Sonoma Valley package with dinner at famed French Laundry.

Monty Python and the Holy Grape

Tampa Theatre lovers spouted hilarious favorite lines through a four-event Monty Python and the Holy Grape winefest. With the Brits' 1975 flick on the big screen, supporters sipped dozens of wines Sept. 12 while sampling from nine restaurants, plus Busch Gardens chef Ron DeBonis’ sneak preview of their spring Food and Wine Festival. Cru Cellar chef Brad Sobo got the most grins for his sausage-stuffed rabbit and Spam pate.

On Sept. 13, coconut shell-clapping "knights" led guests onto the extended stage for Mise en Place's five-course wine dinner. Two more tastings — a Sunday wine brunch and Barry Levine's exclusive 95-Point+ pouring at the Tampa Club (eight wines ranked 95 or higher) — pushed net proceeds past $95,000, the most ever, for ongoing restoration.

23rd annual Gourmet 'Feastival'

Birchwood Hotel's lamb balls, CharAnn's steak subs and Roux's duck gumbo — every kind of appetite was pleased at the 23rd Gourmet Feastival organized by the Centre for Women, (yes, they've gone back to the original name). Devoted board member Dave Williams emceed Sept. 4 between samples from 30 vendors, the Columbia Restaurant flamenco dancers, music by the Southern Train band and a fast auction. A La Carte Event Pavilion easily accommodated 1,000 guests and 75 volunteers raising $80,000 for teen, adult and senior skills training and entrepreneurial development.

Boys & Girls Clubs' Steak Dinner

His motto, "Caring … made tangible," linebacker Derrick Brooks said, led him to the NFL Hall of Fame and to be named the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay's 2014 Community Hero at the 33rd annual Steak Dinner.

When former Tampa Bay Bucs coach Tony Dungy told the team to "change the community," Brooks began showing up at the College Hill club, forming the Brooks Bunch, which now counts 65 college grads and 100 currently attending. Mentoring "kept me from bad influences, too," he told the club kids eating Outback Steakhouse filet and cheesecake with the grownups Sept. 9 at A La Carte Event Pavilion.

The Star Divas step team and dancer Tyra Plummer, all from the Belmont Heights club, entertained 500 guests and four outstanding youth spoke.

           
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