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Scene & Heard: Mogul’s Sacrifice … Love Among the Stars … Writer’s Cuban Adventures

Kellie Burns shares the latest news and notes from around the Gulfshore.



Cliff Williams, Daniel Boulud and Norman Love

 

What a cast of culinary all-stars. TV chef Anthony Bourdain. Celebrated restaurateur Daniel Boulud. And, naturally, our Lee County chocolatier Norman Love. They and others were the invited dignitaries to host a series of cooking demonstrations, dinners and tastings in January at the seventh annual Cayman Cookout. This festival was at The Ritz-Carlton on Grand Cayman, where serious epicureans and casual foodies mingle with the chefs over the course of a weekend in seminars at restaurants or along Seven Mile Beach. Norman brought along his wife, Mary, daughter, Carly, and close friends Mark and Sheri Loren and Georgeanne and Cliff Williams. A great cheering section and a big honor for Love to be in such professional company as well …

 

THE COST OF SAINTHOOD

For years I used to praise Tom Monaghan as my favorite billionaire saint. Now I praise him as my
favorite former billionaire saint.

—Michael Novak, former United Nations Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights

As guest speaker at the Ave Maria School of Law’s Queen of Heaven Ball in December, Ambassador Novak sure captured the career arc of Tom Monaghan. Monaghan was quite the entrepreneur, founding Domino’s Pizza and owning the Detroit Tigers as he amassed his fortune—all before devoting himself to creating Ave Maria University and Ave Maria Law School. He has taken a millionaire’s vow of poverty and with his substantial outlays for the schools is certainly working his way down from billionaire. Bless his big heart as his wallet shrinks while the schools move onward and upward.

 

… Speaking of celebrity chefs, Crave Culinaire’s Brian Roland will be turning up on-screen March 17 in the final episode of a CNBC reality show called Restaurant Startup. He flew out to Los Angeles in December to work on a restaurant concept to pitch to the show hosts. “My goal,” he said, “was to show the world that Crave has a unique concept that could work in a restaurant capacity anywhere. I am excited to see how this national exposure helps us to position ourselves for the future.” Nice test for the power of Crave … And yet more on the subject of food. Betsy Opyt, a registered dietitian and personal trainer in Naples, has launched Betsy’s Best, a new line of gourmet and all-natural nut and seed butters. The brand started after Betsy realized her daughter refused to eat any other peanut butter out there. Betsy took it upon herself to make something that’s both tasty and healthful. Her product line is available at betsysbest.com and in all 21 Florida Whole Foods stores … In honor of its 50th anniversary, the Junior League of Fort Myers is launching a 50/50 Challenge. It’s asking everyone in the community, young and old, rich or poor, to volunteer 250 hours of manpower to a nonprofit, church or school. Track their progress at jlfm.org …

 

LOCAL TIES

It was my honor to research the many war heroes who have ties
to our area.

John Sheppard, philanthropist and author

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation honored one of its founders, hosting a book signing on-site on Jan. 12 for the legendary John Sheppard. His latest book, Impact Six Degrees of Separation, focuses on Lee County’s connection to the heroes and battles of World War I and World War II. Notable figures highlighted in the book include General John Pershing, Colonel Paul Tibbetts, Thomas Edison, General Jimmy Doolittle, President Franklin Roosevelt, Colonel Charles Lindbergh and Henry Ford. “So many veterans who trained here during the wars have left an indelible mark in our community,” Sheppard says. The same goes for John, too, with his years of humanitarian service to Southwest Florida.

 

… Best-selling author and Sanibel resident Randy Wayne White spent a few weeks in Cuba in January continuing to support the Cuba Free Masons and playing baseball with some colorful characters there. The best part of the trip for him? “Giving away more than 100 new baseballs, gloves and bats to kids who really love the sport,” he says. Randy’s beloved fictional character Doc Ford will be traveling to Cuba in his soon-to-be published novel Cuban Straights. The author reports on seeing change in the country since the United States loosened sanctions, but says it’s still “a socialist stronghold” … “Opportunity” is the buzzword as a group of distinguished volunteers including community leader Dudley Goodlette and banker Julie Schmelzle spread the word in a series of town-hall-type meetings. Collier County needs to diversify and create thousands of good jobs and a three-year plan is being rolled out to do just that … Luster Designs owner Megan Miller joined the 30 club with a big bash in December at Miromar Beach Club. Guests strolled in on a white carpet walkway at the entrance of the club with a themed backdrop for guests to get their photos taken. The mask-and-masquerade theme began with a swanky cocktail party around the pool with illuminated white lounge furniture helping to create a South Beach look. Then the doors of the Grand Ballroom opened, revealing vibrant, bright flowers everywhere. The party included a face-painter who designed one-of-a-kind masks with makeup, a photo booth with great props and the Faze4 Band of Faze4 Orchestras from New York City. Champagne and cake were served outside in the garden courtyard. Megan was showered by guests with confetti cannons. How did all this go over? “Best party ever,” said Brad Phelps, who joyfully attended along with his partner, Ryan Frost.

 

GALA SCOREBOARD

A sampling of money raised for local charities

Artis—Naples Winter Gala $275,000

Christmas Gala at Historic Palm Cottage $155,000+

Naples Winter Wine Festival $12.3 million+

Power of the Purse $135,741

 

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