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Tickets still remaining for Celebrity Chef Night fund raiser

By Staff | Aug 10, 2017

Get ready to taste some of the best food you’ve ever eaten from the area’s finest chefs, all for a good cause

The 14th annual Rumrunners’ Celebrity Chef Night is set for Wednesday, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Rumrunners in Cape Harbour.

The fundraiser, to support Barbara’s Friends – Golisano Children’s Hospital Cancer Fund, will feature cocktails and culinary creations from local renowned chefs, as well as live and silent auctions for sports memorabilia, trips and more.

Katie Martinez, event coordinator at Barbara’s Friends, said the goal is to raise $100,000, which they hope to reach by selling the 30 or 40 tickets remaining. She said it was the work of a radio DJ who helped get the event going.

“Jimmy Roberts at the old Oldies station had cancer and he always helped raise money for Barbara’s Friends and was a regular at Rumrunner’s,” Martinez said. “Jimmy and (Rumrunners partner Jeff Gately) got to talking and suggested doing something to benefit the kids. They did it after Charley and it was a huge hit.”

Todd Johnson went to an event in Aspen, Colo. that mirrored this event, where the diners would get to meet the chefs and try out signature dishes being made in the dining room. He thought it would be perfect

“My partner Jeff was diagnosed with cancer in early 2004 and had to go for major treatment. We got a sore spot for kids,” Johnson said. “We thought about celebrity waiters but after going to that event, I thought we could do better with celebrity chefs.”

The chefs participating include Johnson and Ralph Centalonza of Rumrunners, Brian Roland of Crave Culinaire, Harold Balink of Harold’s, Andy Hunter of The Bay House, Norman and Ryan Love of Norman Love Confections as well as other local celebrity chefs from all over Southwest Florida.

The chefs will be at stations throughout the place, where they will make their dishes in front of everyone and give diners a chance to try their creations.

“You could walk around, sample the five or six chefs, and if you show up 10 minutes late, you don’t miss anything. It forces people to walk around meet the chef and watch them cook,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he will be doing a red wine poached beef tenderloin, with corned duck hash with potatoes, heirloom carrots and a cherry sauce.

The silent auction will feature signed sports and entertainment memorabilia as well as trips to some of the best destinations and events in the country, including two tickets to a Kenny Chesney concert on Aug. 26 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., a three-day, two-night hotel stay and a $500 Visa gift card to use toward airfare.

Trips to Key West, a Lady Gaga show and the Kentucky Derby are also available, Martinez said. Once again, a champagne toast drawing to win a custom-designed Mark Loren piece valued over $2,000 will also be featured.

Since 2003, the Celebrity Chef Night event has raised more than $1 million for Barbara’s Friends.

Established in 1995, Barbara’s Friends raises money for children with cancer. It provides equipment, staffing and services to support lifesaving cancer care for children from across Southwest Florida at Golisano Children’s Hospital, Martinez said.

“We provide $16 million in charity care every year. Most of the children’s population is either uninsured, underinsured or on Medicaid, so that makes it more difficult,” Martinez said. “No child is denied treatment or turned away as a result of their family’s inability to pay for care.”

The Pediatric Hematology/ Oncology Program is the only designated pediatric oncology cancer center of its kind in Southwest Florida, and has served more than 3,500 patients since opening.

Major sponsors include Century 21 Sunbelt, Siesta Pebble, Dixie Roadhouse, Custom Packaging and Products, Private Client Insurance Services, Cheney Brothers, Jason’s Deli, and The Comrie Cancer Foundation.

Tickets are $175 each. To reserve tickets or for remaining sponsorship opportunities, visit LeeHealthFoundation.org/Rumrunners or call Lee Health Foundation at 343-6950.