The Greater Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce's 18th annual Taste of the Beach is ready to rock n' feed this Sunday in the BayWalk area of Estero Island's downtown district.
Representatives from participating restaurants attended an on-site meeting on Monday to get the particulars down and find out where they will be setting up along the lower portion of Old San Carlos Boulevard.
Sixteen restaurants have officially signed on for the food festival, which will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. 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.
Representatives from participating restaurants for the 18th annual Taste of the Beach listen in on instructions at an on-site meeting in the BayWalk area Monday.
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 Spirited Decorated Booth and People's Choice Award, the latter of which will be balloted by Lee County Board of Elections, will also be awarded.
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.
"This will be all about promoting our Beach restaurants," said Beach Chamber President Bud Nocera. "We have a great showing of our restaurants this year. I believe it'll be the best Taste that we have had with amazing entertainment with top, up-and-coming Country bands on stage."
Country music artist Craig Campbell, noted as a rising star in his music field, will be the lead act on the stage, which will be set up on the corner of Old San Carlos Boulevard and First Street and financed by corporate sponsor Suncoast Beverage. Brett Eldridge, another rising star in country music, and local country rock band, The Grayson Rogers Band, will play prior to Campbell.
Dish awards will be announced at 4 p.m. after 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.) while Craig Campbell is scheduled to play from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
At 2 p.m., the fan-favorite server competition will be held in the parking lot at the corner of Old San Carlos Boulevard and Third Street, across the street from Smokin' Oyster Brewery, the server competition sponsor. Premier Beverages is the event wine sponsor. The three-man teams will fight for bragging rights and cash. First-place winners receive $75 apiece, while second place gets $50 per server and third takes home $25 per person.
Most of the restaurants will be lined up on one side of the street and vendors, including a face-painting booth for children, will be across from them.
Admission for the gated event is $5 per adult and children over age 12. Children under 12 are admitted free. Food tickets are $1 each.
"It's also about our celebration to signal the end of season and a chance to talk to our Southwest Florida residents about the advent of our summer season," said Nocera.
The Kiwanis Club of Fort Myers Gateway to the Islands will be selling "2013 Lee County Delicious Dining Discounts" books where $5 from the $20 BOGO restaurant coupons goes to the Bambi fund.
"It is a great way to try a lot of restaurants in the Southwest Florida area," said Nocera.