The restaurants for Estero Island's tastiest, long-standing food festival at the end of the month have been established.
Sixteen restaurants have officially signed on with the required registration fees for the Greater Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce's 18th annual Taste of the Beach on Sunday, April 28. They are Matanzas Inn Restaurant, Beach Pierside Grill, Bayfront Bistro, Parrot Key Caribbean Grill, Big Game Waterfront Grill, Jo Jo's at Pink Shell Resort and Marina, Nauti Turtle, Pinchers Crab Shack on the Beach, Yucatan Beach Stand, Doc Fords, Chucks Last Stop American Grill, Royal Scoop Ice Cream, Nervous Nellie's, Beach Bums, Sidewalk Cafe and Nemo's on the Beach.
Restaurants will show their signature fare and compete for six best dish awards in three categories -appetizer; entre (beef/pork, chicken, fish, shellfish, non-meat); and dessert. Best Decorated Booth and People's Choice Award, which will be balloted by Lee County Board of Elections, will also be awarded.
"We're thrilled at the participation at this year's event," said Taste Chairman Steve DeAngelis, Jr.
DeAngleis is urging all participating restaurants to attend an on-site meeting next Monday (April 22), at 10:30 a.m.
"It's lining up as a great competition. Everyone will try to outdo the competition in flavor and style," said Beach Chamber President Bud Nocera. "The 18th annual Taste of the Beach will be our best yet."
The event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., will feature food and server competitions and live music between First and Third streets (within the end two blocks) of Old San Carlos Boulevard. Vendors, including a face-painting booth for children, will also be on hand.
Smokin' Oyster Brewery has officially signed on as the sponsor for the server competition. Premier Beverages is the event wine sponsor.
The celebrity chef lineup includes Chef/Town Councilman Dan Andre of Mango Street Inn; Recipe Publisher/Author Dean Foster; Restaurateur/Chef Michael Harpster; Town Vice Mayor Joe Kosinski; Chef Maura Methany of Norma Love Confections; Firefighter/Chef John May; and John Menzies of Captain John's Fish & Chips.
Country music artist Craig Campbell, noted as a rising star in his music field, will be the lead act on the stage that will be located in front of the Town fountain and financed by co-corporate sponsors Suncoast Beverage and Island Food Group. Brett Eldridge, another rising star in country music, and local country rock band, The Grayson Rogers Band, will play prior to Campbell.
Awards will be announced at 4 p.m. in between the two opening acts (The Grayson Rogers Band will play from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Brett Eldridge from 2 to 4 p.m.) and Craig Campbell, scheduled to play from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Admission is $5 per adult and children over age 12. Children under 12 are admitted free. Food tickets are $1 each.