Food as a Way of Giving and Artists in the Neighborhood

by Josh Garrick / Apr 19, 2010 / 0 comments

Food as a Way of Giving and Artists in the Neighborhood


THE Chef’s Gala

Central Floridians need to put May 15 on their calendar. In hard times, where so many charitable organizations need our contributions; we have to take a hard look at where our contributions are given.  The United Way provides critical assistance to 100 local health and human service programs, AND they have as their annual fund-raiser an event that raises fine dining to an art-form. Each year, the greatest annual gala event, held to raise money for the most respected fund-raising organization, is the Annual Chef’s Gala benefiting Heart of Florida United Way.

More than 20 of Central Florida’s Top Chefs from Central Florida’s finest restaurants will participate in the 18th Annual Chef’s Gala on Saturday, May 15 at Disney’s Epcot Resort.  Known to “Foodies” as the region’s premier food and wine-pairing event, Chef’s Gala directly benefits local non-profit agencies. The evening features fine cuisine along with paired fine wines, desserts and specialty coffees. Hosted by Walt Disney World Resort, the event also includes a champagne reception, a silent auction and live music. To quote the good folks at United Way, “Chef’s Gala truly is – A Tasteful Way to Make a Difference.”   The event begins Saturday, May 15 at 6:45 pm at Epcot.  Individual tickets, benefitting Central Florida charities, are $200.  Visit, call or email chefsgala[at]



Great American Pie Fest

And there is another – very different – “foodie” event coming up this weekend – April 24 and 25.  I know you’re thinking this week’s column is like the little devil on your shoulder talking you into forgetting your diet, BUT IT IS SO WORTH IT!   Being the crazy pie lover that I am, I’ve been known to tell friends that one of the reasons to live in Central Florida is the Annual APC/Crisco® National Pie Championships held annually in Celebration (near Disney).

At this annual event, while our country’s greatest pie chefs compete for “Best Pie” in an endless number of categories, the ‘Never-Ending Pie Buffet’ is to be found on the beautiful streets of Celebration for those of us who could make a national pastime of eating all the pie we can eat.  The contest brings in contestants from across North America – mixing blue ribbon winners of the past with a new generation, warmed up and ready to compete. This is a great family event.

In addition to the never-ending pie buffet, there is live music, pie-eating contests, a “Kid’s Creation Station,” and a demonstration stage.  The American Pie Council says, “However you slice it, it’s a great time.”  The festival is held in downtown Celebration on Saturday, April 24 from 11am to 7 pm and Sunday, April 25 noon to 5 pm. Admission to the festival is free, with tickets to the Pie Buffet at $10 adults and $5 ages 6-12.  Visit



Janis Ian at the Plaza

We know we’ve made some social progress when we look back on the career of that unique singer with the plaintive voice who introduced us to the “socially conscious” song at a time when “protest” songs were in vogue.  I’m talking about JANIS IAN, who was 13 when she began singing about ‘at-the-time’ forbidden topics in 1965.  In her autobiography Society's Child, Ian tells us she received death threats in response to the song of the same name, and a radio station in Atlanta played it, and was burned down. In 1967, "Society's Child" reached #14 on the Billboard Top 100, but it was not until 2001 that "Society's Child" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, honoring a timeless classic.

Her most successful single was "At Seventeen," released in 1975, an angst-filled commentary on adolescent cruelty. "At Seventeen" was a huge hit, winning the 1975 Grammy Award for ‘Best Pop Vocal Performance – Female’ beating out Linda Ronstadt, Olivia Newton-John and Helen Reddy. Then as an historical side-note, Ian performed "At Seventeen" as the musical guest on the very first Saturday Night Live in 1975. 

Always ahead of her time, practically every female singer of note has covered one of her songs, she writes science fiction, was one of the first artists to ‘allow’ free downloads of her music, and married a woman in Toronto in 2003. Her autobiography, "Society's Child," was released in 2008 to critical acclaim.  Ian is still touring and her devoted fan base will have the opportunity to join her in live performance at Orlando’s wonderful Plaza Theater on Friday, April 30 at 7:30 pm.  The Plaza Theatre is at 425 North Bumby Avenue in downtown Orlando.  Box Office 407.228.1220


Polasek Museum to Host Winter Park “Paint Out”

Scenic Winter Park will host the second Winter Park ‘Paint Out,’ an event where the public is invited to watch 26 professional artists painting outdoors (“en plein air”) at various Winter Park locations. When you see a painter working, you are invited to watch the artist and then purchase these unique landscapes throughout the week and at a ticketed reception at the Polasek Museum. 

The Paint Out begins when artists arrive at the museum with blank canvases after which the artists fan out through public locations in Winter Park, painting and bringing their finished canvases back to the museum at the end of each day.  The museum’s gallery will be open (free) between 10 am and 6 pm each day to allow the public to view and purchase paintings. The ‘Paint Out’ takes place from April 24 through May 1 and is followed by an evening reception on May 1 from 6 to 9 pm where the artists will be present and patrons will be able to purchase the original artworks. Advance purchase tickets are $25. The Polasek Museum is located at 633 Osceola Avenue in Winter Park. Call 407-647-6294 or visit



Josh Garrick is the Florida Arts Editor for Wandering Educators