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Taste of St. Croix Is A Hit for Foundation, Tasters

April 17, 2008 — "Full moon, full house and a lot of happy people," is how Katherine Pugliese, one of the founders of the Taste of St. Croix, described the eighth annual culinary affair at Divi Carina Bay Resort and Casino Thursday night.
Some 1,000 people showed up to taste the best dishes 55 St. Croix restaurants and bars have to offer. Many were lined up by 5:30 p.m. for the 6 p.m. opening at all four entrances, set up to alleviate the rush for the culinary treats.
Restaurateurs, under white tents with dishes cooking in front of them, ranged for several hundred yards between the resort rooms and the blue Caribbean.
"It's wonderful to have the restaurant and hospitality industry come together and partner with us," said Roger Dewey, executive director of beneficiary the St. Croix Foundation. The foundation is involved in community revitalization, economic development, youth programs, and education.
The culinary affair has raised more than $300,000 for the foundation since its inception. This year the proceeds from the ticket sales, $75 each, will go towards hospitality and food service training and a literacy program at Elena Christian Junior High School.
Dewey said the foundation began the literacy program three years ago and the reading scores have improved dramatically.
"We have hit some singles, and we hope to hit some home runs with the program," Dewey said.
There were certainly some hits among the food offerings.
Rum Runners chefs prepared chicken breast roulade. The chefs from Divi gave samples of a tropical fruit tartlet made with kiwi, coconut and pineapple drizzled with chocolate in a piecrust tart. Schooner Bay Market had appetizers made of Saga blue cheese on a three seed brown bread.
A toasted banana bread pudding with a mango sauce and gorgonzola-hazelnut stuffed potatoes were the specialties provided by Anything Goes Deli. Chef and Captain Dan Barron from Kindred Spirit Charters cooked beef béarnaise and chicken picante Alfredo.
"Everything was great — with the Galleon, Zebos and Bachus putting on a wonderful showing," said Richard Griffith, chef at the Terrace at Buccaneer Resort, sampling the fare.
Among the judges was celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito, named the most exciting U.S. chef in 2000 by Gourmet magazine. DiSpirito has been coming to St. Croix the past few years to take part in the Iron Man Triathlon and hopes to come back for the race in May.
Express Band provided music for the evening.
Although Thursday was the big event, other events this week included gourmet dinners, wine seminars and wine auctions.
The four-day fundraiser began April 15 and included the St. Croix Food and Wine Experience, which showcased the diverse cuisine and wine available on St. Croix.
Helping with sponsorship was Hovensa and the V.I. Tourism Department along with a number of other businesses.
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