Friends of Joshua House dinner
Anita Shuler recently moved to Austin, Texas, but she wasn't about to miss the 11th annual Friends of Joshua House Foundation's al fresco dinner. She joined 90 guests dining in Downton Abbey-style April 27 at the Beach Park estate of financier Bob Gries. A 1929 Oakland set the era; Botanica set elegance with silver candelabras, roses and hydrangeas. Mise en Place set a dowager duchess menu of tenderloin and a rhubarb crumble dessert.
Noted in the circle of friends: board member and dinner chairman Jason Quintero; Peter and Seretha Anderson; Charlene and Robert Bleakley; Crystal and Steve Whitescarver; and Lenda and Vince Naimoli, who hosted the 2006 dinner at their home. Much missed: Dottie Berger MacKinnon, founder of Joshua House children's shelter, who was happy to hear from foundation executive director DeDe Grundel that the event yielded close to $50,000 AND next year's hosts as guests stepped up and offered their home in Avila.
Tampa General 16th annual Moments in Time gala
Which Bond are you, co-chairs McIver Grim and Wayne Lewis queried guests arriving at Licensed to Thrill, the 16th Moments in Time gala staged by Tampa General Hospital Foundation. Dr. No, Miss Moneypenny and tuxedoed secret agents sipped James Bond's signature martini, served in an ice luge, and played Casino Royale games at Saturday's affair. Movie locales in Asia, Europe and the Caribbean inspired buffets and desserts. One new Aston Martin from Dimmitt Auto Group, one vintage owned by Dr. Larry Vickman, reminded 440 guests of Bond's thrill rides.
At 9:30, about 90 philanthropists in training, medical residents and other Next Gen professionals arrived at the Hilton Tampa Downtown for the $50 after-party. Bay Kings band took a break for hospital CEO Jim Burkhart and County Commissioner Sandy Murman to draw the winning $10,000 raffle ticket. Patsy McNichols cheered and donated her prize right back, helping the gala net $260,000 for the Fund for the Future.
11th annual Tuxes & Tails
Tongues and tails still wag about Tuxes & Tails, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay's celebrity and pet fashion show and dinner April 20 at Marriott Waterside. Not only did the event set two records — 470 guests attended, 18 pets were adopted — but an anonymous donor pledged $250,000 for construction of a new shelter. That news got emcees Cynthia Smoot and Russell Rhodes, WTVT-Ch. 13, barking and models strutting with chic cats and dogs. Among them: former Mayor Dick Greco and Dr. Linda McClintock-Greco brought their poodles, Bella and Mia, and reporter/author Cathy Unruh cuddled Lucy, known to readers of her book, Taming Me: Memoir of a Clever Island Cat. Organizers tallied proceeds of $90,000 as two- and four-legged guests headed to the waterfront cigar bar and glittering fire pits.
Bern's 16th Winefest: the Grand Tasting
VIPs began with caviar on steamed brioche and Veuve Clicquot's La Grande Dame Champagne then soared gastronomically at the 16th annual Bern's Winefest Grand Tasting. The biggest event of the four-day experience brought 1,000 savvy samplers to SideBern's to sip 200 varieties of wine, plus Grand Marnier slushies, April 21.
Owner David Laxer and chef Chad Johnson's inventive menu was a foodie's dream come true. Some examples: Limoncello-cured bass, baby octopus and Kewpie mayo, goat tostadas and duck fat refried beans, salmon-wrapped scallops and truffle and fig panini. Cheese and charcuterie selection amazed; candy awed — handmade Verona chocolates in white, blond, milk and dark "vintages." Eclairs delighted in salted caramel, chocolate crunch, macadamia nut and bananas foster.
Self indulgent? You bet. But a fancy wine auction eased the guilt, raising $24,000 for two James Beard Foundation scholarships and the Vinny Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Foundation.