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Gabby's Kitchen takes the cake at Taste of Citrus fund-raiser

Guests dined and dined again at the Eighth Annual Taste of Citrus held Sunday night at Crystal River Mall.

The mall's food court contained a one-night-only gathering of 32 restaurants and caterers, each serving bite-size morsels of their most sumptuous menu items. Guests took time between munchies to vote on their favorites.

Gabby's Kitchen, located in the mall, won top prize.

Using home-field advantage, the staff at Gabby's laid out an impressive spread of boiled shrimp, cheeses, buffalo shrimp, barbecue ribs, buffalo chicken wings, homemade clam chowder, sauteed scallops, crab meat, sauteed lobster, crab cakes, rumaki (marinated chicken liver wrapped in bacon), prime rib, roast pork, fruit plates, key lime pie, toffee, fudge and carrot cake.

"We worked really hard and are thankful for the recognition," said David Ivory, Gabby's general manager.

Second place went to K.C. Crump restaurant in Homosassa, which offered its popular house special: broiled fresh red snapper with shrimp and mushroom sauce. Chef Charlie Brown wielded the saute pan to individually prepare the sauce for each order.

The Sterling Club in Citrus Hills took third place, which was quite an achievement for a restaurant entering for the first time. Chef Stephan Trnovski prepared a wild mushroom Napoleon with Berblanc sauce.

Sterling also offered stuffed tenderloin of beef with herb spinach and sausage stuffing, served with wild mushroom demi-glaze and smoked duck and chicken pate.

Specialty awards went to Jan Marie's Gourmet Coffee, Banes Citrus Groves & Gift Shop and the Original Cookie Company.

Catering service awards went to Seven Rivers Community Hospital, St. Anne's Catering and Caribbean Catering.

Presentation awards went to Seven Rivers, Fat Fred's Famous Bar-B-Que and Gabby's.

Taste of Citrus is a fund-raising event for the Central Florida Community College Foundation. A companion event, Taste of Marion, serves a similar function for Marion County students at CFCC.

Using the proceeds from Taste of Citrus, the CFCC Foundation has set up an endowment that provided about $15,000 in scholarships to Citrus County students last year, said Dr. Cash Pealer, executive director of the CFCC Foundation.

Pealer said Monday that while the final results were not in, the Taste of Citrus added about $25,000 to the college foundation's endowment.