Skip Section Navigation


Published on September 17, 2016

Changing of seasons makes a good excuse to party

By Jackie Rooney, Florida Times-Union

A Northeast Florida fall tradition initiated 15 years ago is the three-day Delicious Destinations food and wine event benefiting St. Vincent’s HealthCare Foundation. This year’s Farm to Fork festival had a southern theme. Aly Leeper, who co-chaired the event with Susan Kelly and Kristi Aiello, explained that “every year we have a different theme celebrating life somewhere. Last year’s was Paris, so we thought we’d bring it home and celebrate life in the south.”

St. Vincent’s was founded by the Daughters of Charity in 1916 to provide medical care and services to North Florida’s sick and poor. A Mobile Health Outreach Ministry, Seton Center for Women & Infants Health, Mobile Mammography and the School Nurse Program are just some of the foundation’s community outreach programs.

The 100th anniversary celebration began Sept. 8 with a Celebrity Chef by the Sea luncheon at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club. Chef David Guas, host and judge of the Travel Channel’s “American Grilled” TV show and chef/owner of Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery in Arlington, Va., and on Capitol Hill, demonstrated the preparation of dishes reflecting his Louisiana heritage: New Orleans-style barbecued shrimp, and grilled redfish with corn maque choux beurre blanc. “The dishes I picked for today are our version of nationally known barbecued shrimp and jambalaya.” He topped off the spicy fare with a cool lemon icebox pie.

Fine wine specialist Michael Rugers, representing event wine sponsor Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits, described the wines served with each course. Guests were welcomed with a sparkling Martini & Rossi Italian Prosecco. In the reception area, a “giving tree” was hung with “leaves” of suggested donations for outreach programs. And a silent auction offered wine, wine and more wine as well as dinners, rounds of golf, beach cruisers, jewelry and tango lessons.

Day two of the three-day festival was a preview reception for major donors, sponsors and chefs featuring culinary delights prepared by Inn & Club executive chef Hermann Muller. Event founding sponsors are the Inn & Club and Southern Glazer’s in partnership with Miller Electric and The Players. Presenting sponsors were Bank of America, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and Key Buick, GMC Hyundai.


Wine and food gods smiled down on the Sept. 10 Delicious Destinations gala. “Where else can you go on a Saturday night and visit the Breakers, Mar-a-Lago and the Greenbrier in one evening,” foundation President Jane Lanier said. Indeed, in addition to chefs from the Breakers, Mar-a-Lago and Greenbrier, top chefs from the Jacksonville area — the Inn & Club, the Lodge & Club, the River Club, Epping Forest Yacht Club — were joined by famed southern chefs from Mariner Sands Country Club in Stuart; Chef Darin‘s Kitchen Table in Savannah, Ga.; Pacci at the Brice Hotel in Savannah, Ga.; Nikolai’s Roof in Atlanta and The Lodge & Retreat at Sea Island. Their signature dishes pleased every palate. There was pulled wild boar with corn cake (chef Darek Stennes, the River Club), rice waffles and buttermilk fried chicken (chef Darin Sehnert, Darin’s Kitchen Table), southern fish fry (chef Daniel Zeal, Lodge & Retreat) and burgundy braised short ribs (chef Bogdan Borean of Mar-a-Lago). The only remaining question is: “where will Delicious Destinations take us next year?”

View the story: