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Celebrity Chef Festival Humane Society’s largest fundraiser

By Staff | Jan 23, 2020

The Celebrity Chef Festival is the Gulf Coast Humane Society’s largest fundraiser of the year.

Past fundraisers have included more formal events. Two years ago, the humane society decided to mix it up and try something new.

The festival, on Jan. 30 at Six Bends Harley Davidson in Fort Myers, will be more casual and it will include a whole lot of delicious food. And, of course, sweet, adoptable fur babies.

Attendees will be able to sample every single dish set forth at their station. There will also be hors d’oeuvres and an open bar.

Individual tickets are $125 and a table of eight is $800. Tickets can be purchased at CCF2020.givesmart.com.

The humane society provides an adoption center, spay-neuter and veterinary clinic, as well as education and awareness to the public about the welfare of homeless pets.

The 5:30-to-9 p.m. event will feature two Cape Coral restaurants and three chefs: Benjamin Voisin and Fabrice Deletrain from Gather and Jay Johnson from Bubba’s Roadhouse and Saloon.

“They are both great restaurants and the owners are super involved in the community,” said GCHS Executive Director Jennifer Galloway. “They love animals. We knew they would add value to the event. They’re really good people who are involved in the community. They are very much involved in helping the event succeed.”

Galloway says the society chose chefs from restaurants they frequent and love to eat at.

Other participating chefs and restaurants include Brian Gorman from Artichoke & Company in Bonita Springs, Norman Love from Norman Love Confections, Brewmasters Rob and Jen Whyte from Fort Myers Brewing Company, Harold Balink from Harold’s in Fort Myers, Carlo Rao from Mastello Ristorante in Fort Myers, Michael and Brie DeNuzio from Fine Folk Pizza in Fort Myers, Brian Roland from Crave Culinaire and Venue Naples, and Greg Buell of Fat Katz in Fort Myers.

Gather’s Voisin said he wanted to participate because he follows GCHS and he wanted to help them get more donations.

“It’s something we feel strongly about,” he said. “We are dog lovers, too, so that’s one of the reasons why we decided to participate.”

Last year, the Gulf Coast Humane Society finished with 2,323 adoptions, up from 2,231 adoptions in both 2018 and 2017.

Galloway says most of the money raised last year from the festival went toward keeping the doors open and maintaining the level of care the humane society is “really proud to be giving its animals.”

Last year’s funds also helped with the development of two isolation buildings that house dogs who have just had puppies or animals with contagious diseases such as ringworm or an upper respiratory infection.

This year, the shelter wants to focus more on the programs it offers.

“So many people are not aware of them,” Galloway said.

The Gulf Coast Humane Society partners with organizations like Valarie’s House, nursing homes, food pantries and Meals on Wheels.

Some programs include community outreach, Second Chance Pals Program/Cell Dog Program, heartworm treatment, Senior to Senior United Way, Pit Bull and Dog Fighting Awareness, the Second Chance Fund, which helps pay for medical and rehab costs incurred from rescue animals that need surgery and the society’s Low-cost Vet Clinic, which served 14,092 customers last year.

GCHS spokesperson Brian Wierima, says treatment for a dog infected with the heartworm parasite can reach up to $2,000, depending on the size of the animal. If an adopter adopts a dog with heartworm, GCHS continues treatments at no cost.

He also said they take all requests to make visits for community outreach, as well as attend career and health fairs and hold puppy yoga sessions.

Gulf Coast Humane Society also visits the Lee County Dispatch Center twice a month for a stress relief session.

In addition to chefs from Gather, Jay Johnson from Cape Coral’s Bubba’s Roadhouse and Saloon participated last year, too.

“We as a society need to take care of our pets and I think it’s important to help find forever homes for them,” he said. “Any way we can support that is great.”

Johnson plans on making a pulled pork sundae

“I try to do unique things for the event,” he said. “It’s basically a stacked taste.”

There also will be live and silent auctions.

Galloway said the silent auction items run everywhere from trip packages, spa packages, art work, gift certificates, and a YETI full of alcoholic beverages.

“They are all over the place. There is something for everyone,” she said.

Live auction items include a trip to Africa, dinner for 10, treats from Norman Love, a package from Fort Myers Brewing Company and a necklace from Mark Loren Designs.

Galloway says the necklace is a “beautiful, unique piece.”

It’s a magnetic, component-style necklace and it can be worn in different ways with other pieces of jewelry. The anodized stainless center section showcases a rare Chiastolite crystal from Brazil. It’s also accented with a large Yangtze pearl.

“So, it’s exciting that he’s so supportive,” Galloway said.

She also added that it’s amazing how supportive everyone has been.

“Whether they want to be a chef or donate or attend.”

Galloway’s favorite part about the event is the excitement and the support from everyone.

“They’re raising their flag saying, ‘Hey. I want to donate and it’s just exciting to be part of that.”

Galloway also says it’s about being able to give back to the community.

“We’re so grateful for what we’ve received.”

To volunteer: Visit www.gulfcoasthumanesociety.org/volunteer.html