Organizers for Estero Island's largest food festival are looking for Beach businesses to participate.
The Greater Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce's 19th annual Taste of the Beach on Old San Carlos Boulevard is slated for Sunday, May 4.
The "Taste" will once again showcase Beach restaurants that will display their signature fare and compete for six best dish awards in three categories -appetizer; entre; and dessert. The entree category will involve meat (beef/pork/chicken), chicken, fish, shellfish and non-meat. Best Spirited Decorated Booth and People's Choice Award will also be awarded.
Krusty Pete's On-The-Beach will again produce the awards and is listed as one of the main sponsors, along with Budweiser, Advanced Disposal, Gavin's Ace Hardware, Liberty Coast Construction and Paradise Wines so far.
This is the second consecutive year that the island's main food festival will be located in the BayWalk area of Estero Island's downtown district. The entire event will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., while music is being scheduled from noon to 5 p.m. The awards ceremony will follow afterwards.
"It's once again time for the annual Taste of the Beach, sponsored by the Greater Fort Myers Beach Area Chamber of Commerce," said Steve D'Angelis, event chairman. "To all of our local restaurants and food-lovers, alike, we invite you to come to Old San Carlos Boulevard Sunday, May 4, for great food and great music.
"To all of the local restaurants looking to get involved, get your applications in to the Chamber. We're less than a month away. It's a huge endeavor, and it promises to be another great Taste of the Beach."
The event will act as a fundraiser for the Greater Fort Myers Beach Friends of the Arts. The Beach Chamber will share sales revenue with the 501C(3) group, which may also offer 50/50 raffles to support their mission to facilitate and fund arts presentations in the greater Fort Myers Beach area.
Last year, 16 restaurants officially signed on. Parrot Key Caribbean Grill, Beach Pierside Grill and Matanzas on the Bay are hoping to be joined by fellow 2013 participants Bayfront Bistro, 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, Royal Scoop Ice Cream, Nervous Nellie's, Beach Bums and Nemo's on the Beach aw well as others.
Those wishing to sign up are urged to get an application at www.fortmyersbeachchamber.org or call the Beach Chamber office at 454-7500 for more information.
At the 2013 Taste, awards went to Bayfront Bistro for best appetizer with Pork Belly Taco; Yucatan Beach Stand for best beef/pork dish with Lamb Chop with Mashed Potatoes; Nemo's on the Beach for best fish dish with Mahi Tacos; Beach Bums for best shellfish with New England Lobster Roll; Sidewalk Caf/Sharkys for best non-meat dish with Chicago deep-dish pizza; and Royal Scoop for best dessert with Vanilla Ice Cream with Pecans and Caramel topping. Nemo's on the Beach was selected to the coveted People's Choice award, and Nauti Turtle was chosen Best Decorated Booth for their creative set-up.
Food judges are currently being interviewed. Beach Vice Mayor Dan Andre, chef and co-owner of Mango Street Inn, has signed on and members of the Beach Fire Department and Lee County Sheriff's Office are expected to be involved among the selectees. Tree Andre will be one of the food runners.
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. 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.
Nauti Turtle's team captured the crown in a time of 1:38 without spillage. Doc Ford's followed them in second in 1:53 without spillage, and Matanzas Inn Restaurant took third in 2:03 without spillage.
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.
Details are still being iced down.
"There is an enormous amount of effort in creating and implementing the chamber events," said Beach Chamber President Bud Nocera.
Updated information will appear on website www.tasteoffortmyersbeach.com when the event nears.