For the past 21 years, the Delicious Destinations fundraiser put forth by Ascension St. Vincent’s has lived up to its name in more ways than one, and the 2023 event followed suit.
The two-day event kicked off with the Celebrity Chef by the Sea Luncheon at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club on Sept. 8 with Dennis Chan of Blue Bamboo Canton Bistro as the featured chef and the featured wine educator was Matthew Citriglia, director of wine education for Southern Glazers.
Chan created a three-course meal for all those in attendance at the luncheon and demonstrated on stage how he made each of the dishes as they were being served and eaten.
The first course was a curry crème brulee with tomatoes and green garnish followed by a fire-grilled fish with a mini-Thai basil pesto on top of baby bok choy dressed in oil, ginger garlic salt and Chinese sausage fried rice as the second course.
Finally, the third course was his award-winning Mandarin orange cake garnished with brittle.
“A few months they came and asked if I wanted to be a part of the event, and I knew of it because they have a great committee that has a lot of our customers,” Chan said. “We’ve always supported with experiences or gift baskets, but it was nice to be part of the live luncheon.”
Having grown up in the area, he understands the importance of not just the event, but of how important it is to support community initiatives and the good that Ascension St. Vincent’s is doing through events like Delicious Destinations.
“All the good that they’re doing just made me feel so good about being a part of it even more than ever,” Chan said. “It was just such a great turnout as well.”
Sarah Rowe, newly named manager of mobile health with Ascension St. Vincent’s gave an example of one of the programs that events like Delicious Destinations supports.
“It began long ago in my teenage years when I felt a calling to serve the underserved,” Rowe said. “It is obviously very special to me, and I love what we do at mobile health and for our patients. It truly is a blessing to work there every day. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the donations from others.”
The local mobile health program services Duval, Nassau, Clay, St. Johns, and Putnam Counties, where they serve adults, pediatrics and have a large senior population.
“We had a total of more than 11,000 visits last year, and the value of that care was more than $2.7 million, and we avoided more than 1,800 E.R. visits.”
The dishes featured at the luncheon were hand chosen by Chan and a lot of thought went into his final choices.
“It was pretty much a two-month process, because I met with chef (Hermann) Mueller who is in charge here at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club and we talked back and forth until we came up with a menu that would really work,” Chan said. “They executed it very beautifully.”
As Chan walked around and visited with the attendees at the various tables at the event, he discussed the dishes with them and one of the popular talking points was the curry crème brulee, which seemed to capture the taste buds of so many people.
“Chef Mueller said that we needed to do something that really surprises them at the beginning, so that’s when I decided to do the crème brulee as an appetizer and the first course,” Chan said.
At a premier food event such as Delicious Destinations, a surprise usually entails being creative with a dish and that was exactly the feedback with the crème brulee.
“When they were telling me that it shocked them, their plates were empty, so it made me feel good to know that they meant shocked in a good way,” Chan chuckled.
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