On the eve of last Sunday's Super Bowl LXI, 3,000 guests assembled at Fort Lauderdale's Broward County Convention Center for Taste of the NFL, an annual fund-raising event conceived by Creative Cuisine's Wayne Kostroski. [See Jan. 29 GoodBiz113 "Cuisine Concepts at Heart of Taste of the NFL -- AKA 'Super Bowl Party With a Purpose' -- to Tackle Hunger in America" post.]
After a full evening of dining specialties prepared by award-winning chefs representing all 32 NFL cities, libations and live entertainment, at least $500,000 was raised for Daily Bread Food Bank of South Florida, an affiliate of America's Second Harvest -- The Nation's Food Bank Network.
"We won't have a definitive number for a couple of weeks," said Kostroski, TNFL's founder and executive director. "In excess of $500,000 will likely be available for distribution."
Generous sponsors allow TNFL to share the wealth of proceeds from ticket, merchandise and auction sales. Among this year's sponsors: Publix Super Markets, Gallo Family Vineyards, Premier Beverage, Xbox 360, Hard Rock Cafe, First Commercial Bank [Minnesota], The Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald, Ecolab, Oster, Mr. Coffee, and Sun Sentinel.
After catching his breath from last week's whirlwind trip to South Florida, Kostroski took a moment to reflect on last Saturday's dinner. "It was the best-looking event we have ever done," he beamed. "Comments from the guests were outstanding, and the flat-screen TVs above each food station were a huge hit."
Certain other win-win evening highlights scored with guests and, soon, Daily Bread Food Bank clients -- e.g.: TNFL's largest-ever auction; new team player reps, including Larry Fitzgerald Jr., and Maurice Jones; long lines for photos and autographs from the likes of Carl Eller, Earl Morrall and Donnie Anderson; new chefs representing the flavors of South Florida; and a stellar show by the rock band Styx.
"Styx even signed a Taste of the NFL football helmet, and auctioned that off with an opportunity for a photo with them after the show," Kostroski noted. "It raised $3,800."
Lest anyone think there's any timeout for TNFL, they're wrong. Kostroski and his able team of organizers, chefs, etc., are already planning the annual Super Bowl-related events through 2010.
"We've been planning since August," Kostroski noted. "We'll be at the Phoenix Convention Center next year, and are working on the Tampa event for 2009. The 2010 event will return to the Broward County Convention Center."
Then there are the local TNFL events held in a handful of NFL cities throughout the year. "We expect to add a few more local events in Miami, New York [Giants] and Tampa," Kostroski added.
For TNFL merchandise -- including limited-edition Super Bowl XLI prints by 3-D pop artist Charles Fazzino, the 2007 Restaurant Guide, caps, etc. -- visit the Taste of the NFL Store.