Spirits were high this year at the Longboat Key Garden Club’s Tastes and Tunes of the Key as 250 Longboaters filled their plates with delicious local food and danced the night away at the annual Garden Club fundraiser.
Formally known as Taste of the Keys, the event was held Feb. 1 at the Longboat Key Club Harbourside Ballroom.
In previous years, people would get their food and drinks then sit down for the fashion show. This year, the club was going for a more relaxed and mingling atmosphere. Guests got their food and drinks whenever they wanted while catching up with friends and then could head over to the dance floor whenever they were ready.
“The fashion show is so much work. … Organizing the models was my job,” said Susan Phillips, immediate past president of the Garden Club and the current head of special projects. “You have to get the models, do fittings, do the whole thing. That was the quiet time of the event. Doing it this way without the fashion show, we can really focus on the food and the people. It’s more relaxed.”
Fourteen local restaurants catered the event. Each restaurant had its own table set up with the special dish it was presenting. The menu included food from Cafe L’ Europe, the Chateau Anna Maria, Dry Dock Waterfront Grill, Harry's Continental Kitchens, the Lazy Lobster, Lido Beach Resort, Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant and Pub, the Resort at Longboat Key Club, Tommy Bahama, Zota Beach Resort, Isola Bella Italian Eatery, Ventura's Italian Kitchen, Napule Restaurant and Elegant Cheesecake Lady Parlor.
The dishes spanned lobster bisque, crab cakes, shrimp bruschetta, pesto gnocchi, beef short ribs with mashed potatoes, a cuban with plantains and margherita pizza. There was no shortage of desserts with assorted cheesecake and mini key lime pie bites.
“I love this set up better,” said Eric Corona from Tommy Bahama, who worked the event last year. “Last year, the bar was in the outside hallway, which made the line super long. After the fashion show, everyone got up and immediately left without getting to really talk to everyone and make new friends. Tonight, you can walk around and dance throughout the night. The bar is in the center which makes that more efficient. Of course, the food is amazing. It’s way better.”
Tastes and Tunes of the Key is one of the primary fundraisers for the Garden Club, along with its Dinner and Movie event. All proceeds are used for the club’s scholarships, grants and beautification projects of the island. The corporate sponsors of the event were Ocean Properties Hotel Group, the Resort at Longboat Key Club and the Observer Media Group.
A table was also set up for guests to bid on silent auction items. The auction included a variety of prizes, including overnight stays at OPAL properties, a Sunset cruise, free dinners at the Lido Beach Resort and with East West Catering, Pilates sessions, wine, Sarasota Ballet tickets, art, gift cards and gift baskets.
Buddy Foy of the Chateau Anna Maria emceed the party. Foy and the Albert Donadi Trio set up the lively scene with jokes, fun music, and an open invitation for guests to join the dance floor.
Guest Anne Mitchell said the fabulous food and fun people made it a night to remember.