27th Annual WSRE Wine & Food Classic a Success
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PENSACOLA, Fla., October 30, 2015—The 27th annual “Savor & Surf Southern” Wine & Food Classic was the most successful yet in terms of funds raised to support educational services and programs delivered by WSRE, the public television station licensed to the Pensacola State College District Board of Trustees. Altogether, separate events raised more than $170,000 for the station’s community outreach initiatives.
Twenty-two local chefs participated in the Grand Southern Tasting, hosted by the Hilton Pensacola Beach, on Friday, Oct. 16. People’s choice awards in three categories were presented to Chef John Smith of Hemingway’s Island Grill for Best Savory Gulf Coast Seafood, Gregg McCarthy of The Grand Marlin for Best Smokin' Hot Beach Grillin’ and Alex McPhail of Iron for Best Big Easy Southern.
The first Earl Peyroux Culinary Legacy Award for the overall people's choice winner was presented to Smith for his October Snapper: grilled snapper over sweet potato mash with a mandarin orange butter sauce. The award honors the late Chef Earl Peyroux, host of WSRE’s “Gourmet Cooking” which premiered in 1977 and aired on PBS stations nationwide from 1982 through the early 1990s. The show has returned as a “WSRE Classic” and airs Saturdays at 9:30 a.m.
“This is a special honor for me because Earl and I were personal friends,” said Smith. “He was a mentor to me and an inspiration for my cooking abilities. I fondly remember him telling me, ‘If you can think it, cook it!’”
New Orleans Chef John Besh was the draw on Sunday, Oct. 25. He signed copies of his new “Besh Big Easy” cookbook at So Gourmet, donating a portion of book sales to WSRE. Later, hosted at Jackson’s Steakhouse by Collier Merrill and Chef Irv Miller, Besh presented an eloquent meal featuring his recipes from the book for event sponsors and special guests.
A Bodacious Family of Shops was this year’s Wine & Food Classic presenting sponsor. Gulf Power Company was the lead event sponsor for the Grand Southern Tasting, and Polonza Bistro was the lead sponsor for Besh’s participation. Wine was provided through Republic National Distributing Company. Honorary event chairs were Will and Jane Merrill.
“The success of this year’s Wine & Food Classic reflects the support and engagement of WSRE’s Board Chair Michael Johnson, the event committee, our board of directors, chefs, sponsors and donors, and it exemplifies the value of WSRE in this community,” said Sandy Cesaretti Ray, WSRE general manager.
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