Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Taste the Best of Tampa Bay

This year Taste the Best of Tampa Bay celebrates both its 25th anniversary and its host, The Producers volunteer group. The Producers helped raise more than $1.5 million and countless new friends for the Straz Center through this award winning event over the years.

While some aspects of the event are new (it now has a Facebook page),
others have become tradition. Some of Tampa Bay’s favorite landmark
restaurants, such as the historic Columbia and Sally O’Neal’s, have
served their award-winning culinary delights to hungry crowds at every
Best of Tampa Bay event.

Developed by Guest Quarters Hotels as a way to benefit arts organizations in Atlanta and Houston, the first “Best of” event in Tampa was held in 1985 to support the community’s dream of a new performing arts center – before the Straz Center had even opened.

Three years later the Best of Tampa Bay attracted more than 1,000 people and Guest Quarters handed over the reins to The Producers, Straz Center’s fledgling volunteer group of young professionals. The Producers have hosted the event ever since.

As a member of The Producers, Joe Reineman has been a part of every Best of Tampa Bay. “The original intent was to introduce people to the Straz Center. It’s hard to think that was ever an issue — now so many shows sell out,” Reineman says.

The annual event invited the community to get to know their new Performing Arts Center while enjoying food from more than 40 of Tampa’s best restaurants, open bar, the best live entertainment and other “best of” surprises.

For several years there was a competitive edge to the event. Esteemed
judges from the Culinary Arts Institute and food editor Mildred Ying of Good
Housekeeping magazine were brought in to taste samples and bestow awards.

Eventually, attendees became the judges in a variety of ‘People’s Choice’

The event, now called Taste the Best of Tampa Bay, remains one of the Straz Center’s top annual fund- and friendraisers bringing an average of 1,200 to 1,800 people out to share an evening of feasting and fun each spring.

Take advantage of a special offer just for our friends who read our blog and friend us on social media platforms like facebook and twitter. You can get $45 tickets for the 7 p.m. entrance with the promo code PRO!
Enjoy - and save me some Bang Bang Shrimp!
-Kari G.

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