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GCHS ‘Celebrity Chef Festival’ features area’s top chefs

By Staff | Feb 7, 2020

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The Gulf Coast Humane Society’s “Celebrity Chef Festival” has made a successful return after a welcomed debut in 2019. The shelter’s largest fundraiser of the year was held Thursday, Jan. 30, from at Six Bends, located at 9510 Thunder Road in Fort Myers.

Guests attending the gala were able to sample dishes set forth at the stations from some of the top chefs in the area. Two of the Cape’s favorites were on hand to display their restaurants’ signature dishes.

Chef de cuisine John Hill, chef Benjamin Voisin and executive chef Fabrice Deletrain of Gather Restaurant located in Cape Coral, showcased their under-vacuumed cooked, decadent meat dish, which was a big hit during the night.

According to Hill, the restaurant’s culinary artists take a lot of pride in sourcing out only freshest ingredients.

“We try to stay progressive and serve only hyper-local, scratch dishes. It’s really hard sometimes to find people who are willing to make it fresh,” Hill said. “It’s been a great night so far and we are glad to come out here and serve our signature dishes for a good cause.”

Jay Johnson of Bubba’s Roadhouse and Saloon, another Cape favorite that is located on Pine Island Road, was on-site showcasing his restaurant’s mouth-watering barbecue.

According to the GCHS, last year was the first year the organization decided to incorporate the celebrity chef theme into its event.

“The Second Annual Celebrity Chef Festival was a grand success and it’s all because of everyone who turned out to help the shelter animals. This is a very important fundraiser for us and it’s a wonderful way to kick-off 2020 for the shelter animals. Everyone shined Thursday night, from all the attendees, to the volunteers and staff. And a huge thank you to all the chefs who came out during their busiest time of the season to support GCHS and prepare wonderful food and drinks for our guests,” GCHS Community Relations Coordinator Brian Wierima said.

Other All-Star chefs attending included: Harold Balink of Harold’s (Fort Myers); Brian Gorman of Artichoke & Company (Bonita Springs); international renowned chocolatier Norman Love of Norman Love Confections; Brewmasters Rob and Jen Whyte of Fort Myers Brewing Co. (Fort Myers); Carlo Rao of Mastello Ristorante (Fort Myers); Michael and Brie DeNunzio of Fine Folk Pizza (Fort Myers); Brian Roland of Crave Culinaire and Venue Naples (Naples) and Greg Buell of Fat Katz (Fort Myers).

This year’s chef gala also featured highly prosperous live and silent auctions that allowed guests to bid on unique, quality items.

Guests were treated to hors d’oeuvres and an open bar, and got the chance to mingle with the GCHS furry ambassadors who were on-site.

The live auction included high quality items such as a custom-made, hand-signed Mark Loren necklace, a trip to Africa and unique personal experience items.

The gala was also the perfect opportunity for the owners of Cattyshack Caf to introduce the community to their concept. Fort Myers’ first cat caf partnered up with the Gulf Coast Humane Society to bring the new concept to the Gulf Coast Town Center located in Fort Myers.

According to owner/operators Andrew Townsend and Amber Redfern, the hopes behind creating the caf is to recognize all the wonderful felines that are currently up for adoption.

“All the cats will be vaccinated, spayed/neutered, and ready for adoption. The caf is an opportunity for the people to see the cats in a relaxed atmosphere, where they can run and play — just be themselves. Our hopes is to offer a better human to cat match,” Amber Redfern said.

Cattyshack Caf offers a coffee shop/lounge setting where patrons can interact with the felines over a cup of joe and/or a tasty dessert.

The Gulf Coast Humane Society is a regional organization dedicated to helping companion pets find their forever homes, no matter how long it takes. GCHS 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 GCHS Veterinary Clinic is at 2685 Swamp Cabbage Court, Fort Myers, 33901; Phone: 239-332-2719

The GCHS Spay/Neuter Clinic is at 2010 Arcadia St., Fort Myers, 33916; Phone: 239-332-1573

The GCHS Adoption Center is located at 2010 Arcadia St., Fort Myers, 33916; Phone: 239-332-0364

For additional information about the GCHS, visit www.gulfcoasthumanesociety.org