Ryan Wells Foundation - Evening with the Chefs

Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Last week, I had the honor of attending the 8th annual Ryan Wells Foundation Evening with the Chefs, voted Best Culinary Event 2011 & 2012 by Tampa Bay Magazine. There was no question as to why this event took away that honor the past two years. This night celebrates the life of Ryan Wells and showcases Pinellas Counties top restaurants and chefs. The Ryan Wells Foundation fulfills the dreams of young high school students aspiring to become chefs as Ryan Wells had planned. Since its formation in 2005, The foundation has awarded 82 scholarships to Pinellas County students amounting to over $424,000. Twelve students were awarded culinary scholarships the night of the event:
2013 Scholarship recipients 
We entered the Sheraton Sand Key Resort and were greeted by student chefs passing hors d’oeuvres which they prepared. Meanwhile, there were two live student cooking demonstrations. The room was full of attendees bidding on silent auction items, everything from vacations to sports memorabilia.

Live Cooking Demonstrations
Passed hors d'oeurves
After enjoying a few appetizers along with wine and cocktails, we found our way to the dining area where nine executive Chefs were preparing amazing dishes for the crowd to enjoy. We found a table closest to the dessert area where I had to practice self control.  William Dean Chocolates had a table full of their handmade artisan treats along with a macaroon table including my favorite, a Salted Caramel macaroons...Swoon! Some of the students hand painted the chocolates which we absolutely enjoyed. William Dean Chocolates on Urbanspoon
Macaroon Tree
Various Desserts by William Dean Chocolates
The entrees of the evening were amazing. Each chef had student chefs assisting them. One of my favorites of the evening was from Café Ponte, a Short Rib and Sous Vide Heart of Rib Eye, Mustard Pomme Puree, Red Wine Salsify, Cognac Truffle Sauce. It was simply amazing and reminds me that I need to make another visit to Café Ponte soon. Cafe Ponte on Urbanspoon
Cafe Ponte
Up next was a dish that was almost too beautiful to eat, but I am glad I did. Guppy’s on the Beach presented us with Petite Lamb Chop with Mustard and Herb Crust, Mint Studded Spring Pea Puree, Port Reduction Seared Sea Scallop, Crispy Asiago White Polenta, Wild Mushroom Cream, Duck Bacon Guppy's on the Beach on Urbanspoon
Rusty’s Bistro at Sheraton Sand Key Resort made an Argentinian Shrimp Skewer with Warm Tri-color Potato-corn Salad and Chimichurri sauce. The chimichurri sauce was perfect!! Rusty's Bistro at Sheraton Sand Key Resort on Urbanspoon
Rusty's Bistro
Island Way Grill had amazing flavor with their Pan Seared Fresh Catch with Orange-Ginger Reduction, Crab Basmati Rice drizzled with Cilantro Oil Island Way Grill on Urbanspoon

Another stand out dish of the night was from Parkshore Grill who made a Niman Ranch Porchetta with Organic Garden Salad Parkshore Grill on Urbanspoon
Parkshore Grill
Palm Court Italian Grill at TradeWinds Resort made a beautiful Braised Beef Agnolotti topped with a seared Sea Scallop, Veal Jus, Garlic Truffle Emulsion, Rosemary Oil Palm Court Italian Grill on Urbanspoon

Mystic Fish presented us with a Seared Ground Lamb & Beef Rubbed with Greek Spice, Cucumber Yogurt, Sautéed Peppers and Onion, Wood Grilled Octopus with Grape Tomatoes, Lemon, Olives, Micro Greens Mystic Fish Seafood Grill on Urbanspoon

Finally, Caretta on the Gulf at Sandpearl Resort made a stunning Lady Liberty Genoise Baton, Chocolate Marquis, Praline Crunch Caretta on the Gulf on Urbanspoon

This was a perfect night. We enjoyed amazing food from top restaurants in Pinellas County while witnessing 12 aspiring chefs dream come true by being rewarded with a culinary scholorship. I applaud the Ryan Wells Foundation and encourage anyone in the Bay area to attend this event next year. It's a great opportunity to dine at various restaurants who are showcasing some of their top entrees while helping out an amazing foundation. Click here to learn more about the Ryan Wells Foundation and how you can help out.


  1. Seriously...what a night!! That Porchetta was amazing. Also fell in love with the short rib and rib eye "stack." Wow. Talk about carnivorous! Oh, and the Beef Agnolotti with scallop...amazing. I could go on and on. I'm so glad we were each other's dates for this event!!

  2. Thank you Megan for attending our event. Keep on writing and we'll keep on fulfilling dreams. Cheers!


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