Vero Beach chefs compete, Homeless Family Center wins in Top Chef Challenge

VERO BEACH – Five local chefs competed Monday night at the Quail Valley Club for the title of Vero Beach’s Top Chef, in a bid to raise funds for the Homeless Family Center.

The crowd of discerning diners cast their ballots and enjoyed an evening of giving, while evaluating six delicious entries.

The blind tasting included mouth watering selections of lump crab cake with corn crisps, diver scallop wellington, chicken marbella with saffron rice, slowly braised veal cheek, and mushroom crusted lamb chops.

The evening was a sold out success, raising more than $20,000 for center.

Competing chefs won their spots in tonight’s competition by beating out several other local chefs at a qualifying event on Jan. 31 at Pointe West.

Finalists included Adrienne Drew, Catering by Adrienne Drew; Jane Faraco, Stax; Michele Hennessey, The River Grille; Brian Jones, Windsor; and Andrew Keller, The Club at Pointe West.

Joe Faria, Exective Chef at Quail Valley River Club, coordinated the chefs for the evening.

The spring weather drew a festive crowd to the Quail Valley River Club, where guests made the round of the silent auction packages available for bid, including a party in a box with a wine tasting for 10 people, a year of luxuries, and a downtown package consisting of tea of the month from Tea and Chi, and gift certificates to Barefoot Cafe, French Quarter, Avanzare, Bodega Blue, and Melody Inn.

The Homeless Family Center, located at 720 4th Street, is dedicated to providing opportunities for homeless families to end the cycle of homelessness and poverty through education, living wages, and permanent housing.

The majority of residents have lost their homes because of the economy or abusive family situations.  In 2008, there were more than 450 children in Indian River County without a place to sleep.  Sixty percent of the residents of The Homeless Family Center are children, and money raised from the evening’s event benefits these children and their families.

Best selling author and Vero Beach resident Debbie Macomber was a judge for the event, as were Dr. Harold Cordner, Elizabeth Kennedy, and Sheila Lowenstein.  The co-chairs for the evening were Denise Finizio and Neda Heeter.

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