Taste of the Race culinary event supports Seaside School
By Michelle Farnham Feb. 22, 2023
SEASIDE – Race weekend is always Seaside’s time to shine, but Friday was Seaside’s night to rock!
The sold-out crowd of more than 700 filled the Lyceum Lawn at Seaside Neighborhood School Feb. 17 for Taste of the Race, sampling eats from 19 restaurants, sipping on drinks from the open bars, and rocking the night away to the classic rock sounds of The Velcro Pygmies.
The evening benefits the Seaside Neighborhood School Foundation, which supports the public charter school, and is held in conjunction with the Seaside School Half Marathon & 5K.
The SNS eighth grade performance band opened the evening.
Marrow Private Chefs brought their pork belly kabobs.
The amigos 30a team offered chicken tacos.
Havana Beach plated beef ropa vieja over grits.
Sweet Henrietta’s offered a sweet spread.
Taste of the Race was the place to be Friday night.
The Velcro Pygmies kept the crowd rocking!
Shunk Gulley served a grilled BBQ chipotle bourbon butter oyster.
The chefs of Taste of the Race pose for a photo with the Seaside Neighborhood School culinary students.
Nathan Corchis, who was working the tables for his family’s restaurants amigos 30a and amici 30a, served up honey sriracha chicken tacos, cheese quesadillas, and tiramisu; and rigatoni vodka pasta, ravioli cheese sticks, and cannoli, respectively.
“Everybody’s loving it and we’ve been having fun, too,” Corchis said. “We love doing this every year. It’s awesome seeing this many people in a small space, having fun.”
“We did it our way, Southern-style, over Manchego cheese heirloom grits,” said Food and Beverage Director Kevin Dixon, pointing out the dish will be appearing on their new spring menu starting March 6. “This is a great local event, especially when we can support something like the Seaside School. We love getting to network with the other restaurants and see guests who dine with us all the time.”
Over at the Fish Out of Water table, WaterColor Culinary Director Blaine Wilkinson was plating up a tequila sunrise chicken satay, served with a shot of tequila.
“It’s Friday night and the tequila has been very popular!” Wilkinson admitted, adding, “The feedback has been very, very good.”
The participating restaurants and caterers compete for a trio of awards, voted on by ticket-holders, a panel of judges, and the restaurateurs themselves.
A special VIP experience preceded the main event and included a performance from the SNS eighth grade performance band.
Other restaurant partners included Aegean Greek Restaurant, amici 30a, amigos 30a, Black Bear Bread Co., Blue Mountain Bakery/Swiftly Catered, Bud & Alley’s, Daytrader, Fish Out of Water, The Chicken Shack, Havana Beach Bar & Grill, Marrow Private Chefs, The Red Bar, Signature Catering of 30a, Surfing Deer, Sweet Henrietta’s, and Wild Bill’s Beach Dogs.
Photos by Michelle Farnham
People’s Choice: Jackacuda’s Seafood + Sushi
Chefs’ Choice: The Shrimp Shack
Judges’ Choice: Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar & Restaurant
Lagasse Foundation grants $500K to Seaside School at Taste of the Race
By Michelle Farnham
Emeril Lagasse wants to get down to the meat and potatoes of education – literally. The famed chef stole the show at the fourth annual Taste of the Race fundraiser and culinary event March 2, announcing the Emeril Lagasse Foundation would be presenting a $500,000 grant to the Seaside School Foundation.
That money will be earmarked for the implementation of a new culinary-based curriculum, one the foundation worked with some of the top curriculum designers in the country to create. Plans also call for the creation of the 1,800-square-foot Emeril Lagasse Culinary Kitchen and Schoolyard Garden at Seaside Neighborhood School, as well as three additional classroom buildings and a performing arts center. Additionally, Seaside Neighborhood School – ranked No. 8 among Florida charter schools – will finally be able to expand to the elementary grades.
“It’s wonderful to be a local and support the local scene of what we’re doing – not only as restaurateurs and chefs. I’ve experienced (Seaside Neighborhood School) with two children. This is a very, very special place,” Lagasse said.
Brian Kish, president of the ELF, stressed the importance of refocusing students’ outlook toward food.
“These kids are going to know where their food comes from, they’re going to appreciate the food, they’re going to understand how hard it is to grow and prepare food,” Kish said. “They’re going to eat healthy and share conversation around a kitchen table again.”
Rick Helfand, chairman of the Seaside School Foundation Board, is pleased to see the long-awaited goal of adding younger grades finally coming to fruition.
“This is an amazing opportunity for the Seaside School. We’re adding grades K through 4. We’ll have a K through 12 probably in the next year-and-a-half or so. We should start construction in the next four or five months,” Helfand explained.
Event co-chair and local restaurateur Jim Shirley revealed that the foundation has been raising money to build out the elementary school as part of a grassroots effort.
“We’re three-quarters of the way there, underground and within our group. Now we’re publicly announcing that we are fundraising for this school,” Shirley said. “Emeril has this incredible vision for a culinary garden and teaching kitchen. We’re going to build one here and combine that incredible idea of everything that’s culinary is science, is history, is reading, writing, it’s math, it’s everything. Everything about cooking is education.”
Lagasse feels this shift of focus is an excellent lesson in practical learning.
“When you think about cooking, it’s more than just turning on a stove and putting in ingredients,” Lagasse explained. “What are those ingredients? Where do they come from? The equivalent of math to that: a cup, a quarter, a pound, an ounce, a tablespoon. Not only the mathematical part of that, but the educational part of that, the resource part of that. These children have a great opportunity, and when you talk to these kids, they’re super-excited about what’s happening.”
As part of the fundraising effort, longtime Seaside restaurant owner Dave Rauschkolb and Kish hosted a Raise the Paddle, seeing large monetary donations coming in from the likes of Spell Restaurant Group, Bud & Alley’s, Amavida Coffee, George and Ann Hartley, Geoff Chick, Dan Buckner, and Word of Mouth Restaurant Group, to name a few. Rauschkolb and Jim Richard offered dinners at their restaurants, Bud & Alley’s and Trebeaché, respectively, to higher-level donors.
Don’t forget dinner!
The smell of food wafting around the giant tent on Seaside’s Lyceum Lawn quickly reminded attendees of the 30-plus vendors waiting to dish up everything from Restaurant Paradis’s red snapper, cobia and grouper ceviche over a fried plantain chip; to Seagar’s New York strip loin with mushroom and madeira jus. amici 30A Italian Kitchen had both dinner and dessert covered, with warm Italian greens, Amy’s Meatballs, and chocolate chip and salted caramel popcorn cannoli.
Booth No. 1 held an extra-special exhibition when – for the first time – Seaside Neighborhood School students were on hand to present the ultimate in farm-to-table cuisine.
“We have made some dips with ingredients from our school garden and we’re here serving up some dip!” explained eighth-grader Emma Salinas. “This is our cold yogurt and cheese dip,” she said, gesturing to the tray in front of her.
“It’s Emeril’s recipe,” added classmate Knoxye Grinstead, as she stood next to sixth-grader Kingston Mixson and a platter of spinach dip with pita chips. “All the recipes are from Emeril’s cookbook for kids.”