MARCO ISLAND — It’s that time again for Taste of Marco. a day-long celebration of food and fun. Support a worthy cause and sample gourmet cuisine prepared by chefs from Marco Island’s best restaurants from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 10 at the Esplanade, 760 N. Collier Blvd.
The family-friendly festival features a new interactive people’s choice food contest and old favorites like the bounce house at the 21st annual event.
“It’s very exciting and very gratifying because community support, both business and private has been tremendous,” said Leslie Drake, YMCA Community Development Director. “And all proceeds will benefit the Greater Marco Family YMCA.”
“It seems to get bigger and better every year with 24 restaurants signed up. In addition, we have added a new event, a new Local’s Choice Award with attendees voting for their favorite food booth,” added Drake.
Festival attendees should remember to bring their appetites because every one of the 24 restaurants will be putting their best plates forward.
Here’s what several restaurants and resorts will be offering to whet everyone’s appetites:
The Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort’s savvy new executive chef will be featuring pescado en escabeche, using grouper in his Florida version of Peru’s piquant seafood classic. In addition, foodies will also be able to feast on seafood boil with clams and mussels accompanied with garlic aioli and country bread to sop up savory juices.
Next, the Marco Island Hilton’s executive chef, Asif Rasheed will be preparing his signature potato string-encased rock shrimp (deep-fried y’all) with sweet and sour sauce, in addition to pulled-pork barbecue sliders.
Surf and turf sushi rolls, spicy seafood ceviche and blackened fish sliders are on the bill at The Crazy Flamingo said Danny Dawber, noting that the wild-looking pink flamingo created by Tommy Barfield Elementary students will be in attendance. The bird was created to honor school booster Tony Rainone, but the restaurant founder died a few months later and the now the bird has become a symbol in memory of the beloved restaurateur.
Casa Mia Italian Steakhouse, manned by Chef Charlie, will be featuring, of course, cheese tortellini a la pesto, calamari fra diavolo, Italian pastries and/or fruited bread pudding.
Seafood rules the roost at Eric Phillip’s Nacho Mama’s booth with a succulent seafood and shellfish ceviche, chicken or beef quesadilla. And it just wouldn’t be Mama’s without nachos, naturally!
Moving on to The Islander and Teapot Café. Chef Bob Aylwin will be serving his signature Islander jambalaya and rice in a tortilla, followed by blueberry buckle topped with crème anglais and whipped cream.
Lastly, CJ’s on the Bay executive chef Laura Owen will feature seafood salad and gator rolls, guaranteed to appease any savage hunger pangs.
Although food is the star at this charitable shindig, there’s also lots of entertainment in store for youngsters and the young at heart with the Y’s quintessential DJ/MC Steve Reynolds manning the mic to let everyone know what’s what.
Lords of Cool will be sharing the spotlight with J Robert in the live entertainment department.
Grown-ups may patronize the beer tent and take a chance on the 50/50 raffle and vote for the best decorated booth, while the kids’ area features a bounce house, rock climbing wall, giant slide, sand art, face painting and more.
Essential info: Admission is $5 for adults and children under 12 are free. Food, drink and game tickets will be sold in $1 increments by volunteers throughout the day. Free parking will be available at Veterans Park, across the bridge at Marco Lutheran Church and at the Esplanade where boat slips will be available. Corporate sponsors are Mutual of Omaha Bank, Marco Eagle and the Esplanade. For more information please call 394-3144, Ext. 0.
All proceeds benefit The Greater Marco Family YMCA.