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Actor Jeffrey Plunkett is FST’s family man. PAGES 2 and 3

Sow the seeds with Crafty Genes’ project. PAGE 9

THURSDAY, January 31, 2013


Sarasota Museum of Art’s Inaugural Bash PAGE 15

FOOD&COOKING | by Molly Schechter | Food Editor Photo by Rachel S. O’Hara

Colorful truffles from Chocolate Bark Company

gulf gate Around this neighborhood’s culinary world in two-tenths of a mile. FOOD&COOKING COVER STORY CONTINUED ON PAGE 12




// Arts&Entertainment: Life scripted

by Mallory Gnaegy | A&E Editor

All in the family When actor Jeffrey Plunkett started acting at Florida Studio Theatre, he was barely older than the interns — now he’s 47 and well-seasoned.

They just doubled the size of their physical plant, but the moment I walked in, that sense of intimacy and family was just as present. — Jeffrey Plunkett

Mallory Gnaegy

“I have a lot of Sturm und Drang (German for storm and stress) inside my head, so I really like those roles where I get to take what’s in my head and put it out there a little bit,” Jeffrey Plunkett says.

As a hulking piece of chocolate cake adorned with whiteand-blue icing sits on the Florida Studio Theatre conference-room table in front of actor Jeffrey Plunkett, he recalls the emotional moment he just experienced. Five minutes ago, all of the Florida Studio Theatre employees and actors surrounded a seated Plunkett and showered him with adoration and kind words. Today, Jan. 23, is the actor’s 47th birthday — and this is an FST birthday tradition. “It’s one of the most difficult things to sit through because you feel embarrassed,” says Plunkett. He has spent seven birthdays — or, as he says, almost one-seventh of all his birthdays — at this theater. And, according to Plunkett, the tradition speaks volumes about the kind of theater the executive staff operates. It’s apparent by his smile and the glow in his bright-blue eyes that he’s smitten with the words shared among his theater family. “I love them here,” he says and repeats often during the inter-

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// Arts&Entertainment Five things you didn’t know:

if you go ‘The Columnist’

1. Plunkett’s parents, John and Pat Plunkett, used to winter on Longboat Key and now spend the season in Port St. Lucie — they’ve only missed two of their son’s shows in his career.

When: Runs through April 7 Where: Florida Studio Theatre, 1241 N. Palm Ave. Cost: $19 to $36 Info: Call 366-9000 or visit Courtesy of Brian Braun

Jeffrey Plunkett sits on set at the copy desk as he portrays Joseph Alsop in “The Columnist.” kett heeded her advice and got a bachelor’s in psychology and biology from Bucknell University, a liberal-arts school in Pennsylvania. He could have been a doctor, and he graduated pre-med. But the day after graduation he decided to pursue a different role — as an actor. “If I didn’t give it a try, I would have had a regret somewhere down the line,” he says. “I don’t think the world lost a great doctor.” Now, he plays a variety of professions on stage. His current role is as powerful and well-connected political writer, Alsop. Plunkett read a handful of books to research the character. He learned Alsop was the cousin of Eleanor Roosevelt and hung out with ambassadors and celebrities. Plunkett also learned he was a political pundit captured during World War II and put in a concentration camp. Plunkett speaks excitedly as he describes Alsop. He spouts off a string of adjectives describing Alsop’s multifaceted character:

moody, bullying, witty, effervescent, bright, charming, wellread, well-known and most respected. He prefers playing meaty and sometimes controversial roles. Along with fine art and music, politics light Plunkett’s fire. “I have a lot of Sturm und Drang (German for storm and stress) inside my head, so I really like those roles where I get to take what’s in my head and put it out there a little bit,” he says. Plunkett enjoys coming back to see his friends in Sarasota’s fine-arts community. He’s good friends with Sarasota Orchestra violinists Dan Jordan and Chung-Yon Hong and plans to attend one of their rehearsals when he can break away from his own — a difficult task. Though it’s not required, he sits in on the ensemble rehearsal for “The Columnist,” because, as he says, it’s the greatest group of talented actors with whom he’s ever worked. He’s learning from them. “I love them here,” he says again. “It’s like family.”

2. Plunkett founded his New York City touring company, JTP Tours. “It’s a company of one, and I love my boss,” he jokes. He tells a favorite story about a little girl on one of his tours who, after exploring all of Ellis Island, said she didn’t see Elvis once. 3. If Plunkett could play any role, he’d want to take another crack at Hamlet. He played it once in college but thinks he only understood 2% of it back then. 4. Plunkett was a company member in Manhattan Theatre Source, and calls it his playground. The company recently lost its space in Greenwich Village. 5. Plunkett was sad to find out that Ruth S. Gluck died in April. She produced a lot of the edgy shows he has been in, and he adored her. “I keep expecting her to walk past,” he says. “She was just so lovely, elegant, warm, earthy and so supportive of this place — financially and intellectually.”


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explains that many of the staff members start as interns and go on to hold prominent positions within the theater, an example being Casting and Hiring Coordinator James Ashford. Plunkett’s first year at the theater, interns were slightly younger than he was. He still stays in touch with some of them, such as: Christianne Greiert, Kayliane Burns and Travis Bell. “They’re always the same age,” he says of the interns. “But (each time I come back) the rings on my tree are wider.” One thing stays true for each group of interns: “Their passion is infectious,” he says. And their energy serves as a reminder of why he started acting. Plunkett discovered his love of theater in second grade, when his teacher asked the class to read a script aloud. It fascinated him. As a teenager living on the Jersey Shore, he performed operatic roles for his voice teacher Era Tognoli’s opera company, The Metro Lyric Opera Company. She encouraged him to get a degree outside of theater because the more he learned about life, the more versatile he could be as a performer. Plun-


view. That sense of love and loyalty keeps him coming back to Sarasota. This season, Plunkett is starring as Joseph Alsop in “The Columnist,” a play based on the true story of the prominent political journalist from the 1930s through the 1970s. This is Plunkett’s eighth FST production. He was most recently in 2011’s “Race” and also performed in “The Gambol of Love,” “Permanent Collection,” “Pure Confidence,” “Opus” and “Sylvia.” In the off-season and the years he doesn’t perform in Sarasota, Plunkett gives tours of New York City. Plunkett came to Florida Studio Theatre in 1996, when late director Jamie Brown cast him in “God of Isaac.” It was the same year FST opened the Cabaret. “There was, in a good way, a youthful, fly-by-night (feeling) and no one knew as much then,” he says of the past. “There was an excitement about this place, and you felt change in the air.” Throughout the past 17 years, Plunkett watched FST become an important and prominent venue for theater in Sarasota — just as he believed it would. “They just doubled the size of their physical plant, but the moment I walked in, that sense of intimacy and family was just as present,” he says. The size of the administration has grown, too. The first years Plunkett was at FST, employees were housed in a rehearsal room; now they have their own office space. The group of interns is now four times as large. Plunkett




// Arts&Entertainment: Column


HEARD By Mallory Gnaegy | A&E Editor |

 Sarasota Film Society has Hollywood dreams You might remember the September 2011 buzz that Jennifer Lopez was in Sarasota to film a movie called “Parker” at Ringling Museum’s Cà d’Zan. Well, the crime thriller opened this week and stars Jason Statham as the anti-hero, while Lopez plays his love interest. Some of the scenes were, indeed, filmed in our backyard. The historic 36,000-square-foot Cà d’Zan closed for four days in while the crew filmed a heist scene. Oscar-winning director Taylor Hackford, known for “Ray,” “Officer and a Gentleman” and “Devil’s Advocate,” directed the shoot, which lasted from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day and featured nearly 300 extras, made up of locals and others who drove from all over the state. Sarasota Film Society hosted the world premiere of “Parker” Friday, Jan. 24, at Lakewood Ranch Cinemas. The film society hopes “Parker” will put Sarasota on the map as a beautiful and great place to film.

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 Holly takes a Tw0-Day ‘vacation’

Holly is the beloved Labradoodle known for her role as Sandy in The Players’ recent production of “Annie.” Holly, owned by Ross Mercier, disappeared Saturday, Jan. Courtesy Holly 26, from the Ice House, on Tenth Street. A Facebook post by Leona Collesano, vice chairwoman of The Players Board of Trustees, was shared more than 300 times, and a lengthy email chain helped spread the word. Just like the street-dog Sandy gets picked up by Annie in the play, Holly wandered across the street to an empty lot where someone helped Holly find her owner. Holly was safely returned home Monday, Jan. 28.

Hot Ticket ‘Martin Preston as Liberace’ — Liberace is coming! Rather, “Martin Preston as Liberace” is coming. Get your tickets for the one-night-only show Friday, Feb. 1, at the Golden Apple Celebrity Theatre, 25 N. Pineapple Ave. Tickets are $43. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. The price includes dinner. Call 366-5604 to make reservations. ‘Turning Points’ — Guest conductor Daniel Hege leads Sarasota Orchestra in the Masterworks concert “Turning Points,” featuring Haydn, Barber, Debussy and Stravinsky. Tickets start at $30. Call 9533434 for more information. Runs 8 p.m. Feb. 1 through Feb. 3.

Check out the Arts Calendar inside for February event listings.

UPCOMING SPECIAL EVENTS at Longboat Key Center for the Arts January Featured Artists and Exhibitions: Florida Highway Men

January 18 to March 1 | Durante Gallery Florida Highway Men were a small group of painters, who created Florida landscapes from their imaginations or experiences.

CREATE. IMAGINE. DISCOVER. Syd Solomon: Along the Shore

January 18 to March 1 | Cultural Media Room Syd Solomon’s work has always been associated with the celebration of nature through the lens of Abstract Expressionism, developed through observations and memories, including those from old Sarasota.

Opening Reception: January 18, 5:30 to 7:30pm; RSVP required 383.2345 or

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// Arts&Entertainment: Highlights


by Mallory Gnaegy | A&E Editor

Artist Series Concerts hosts first Lunch, Look, Listen concert Frederick Moyer served a handful of songs as the first course at the Lunch, Look & Listen Artist Series concert Thursday, Jan. 24, at Michaels’s On East. Moyer learned to play the piano when he was 7 years old and has spent nearly 30 years as a full-time concert pianist. The piano man has performed in 43 countries and played everywhere from Carnegie Recital Hall to Suntory Hall, in Tokyo. This was the first in a series of three events, which include an hour-long concert, in an intimate setting, followed by a catered lunch.

Frederick Moyer’s performance, called “Of Old and New: a Grandfather’s Tale,” featured music by Debussy, Ernst von Dohnanyi, Rachmaninoff, Granados, Prokofiev and Bartok.

Constance Bulawka, Bella Arist, Austin Arist and Bohdan Bulawka

if you go Feb. 24: Rene Izquierdo, classical guitarist March 21: Abraham Feder, cello When: 11 a.m. concert; 12:15 p.m. lunch Where: Michael’s On East Ballroom, 1212 East Ave., Sarasota Photos by Mallory Gnaegy

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Artists Series Artistic Director Lee Dougherty Ross, board member Fred Wurlitzer and Executive Director John Fischer

Frederick Moyer sets up a unique feature he uses during his show: a video projection of his hands while he plays during the concert.

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// Arts&Entertainment: reviews





Photo by Gary Sweetman


Brian Sills and Elizabeth King-Hall in “The Heidi Chronicles”

THEATER // ‘The Heidi Chronicles’ The third show in the 2013 Asolo Repertory Theatre’s theme of “The American Character” was aptly chosen. With the “pursuit of happiness” at the core of this 1989 Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning play, it is as fresh and clear a cry as the first fictional Heidi yodeling for her freedom in the cool, crisp Alpine air.  This production of “The Heidi Chronicles” is entertaining, thought-provoking and relevant. The dialogue is both witty and whimsical, the characterizations both classic and comical. The acting is superbly enthusiastic with each actor totally synchronized to his part. Considered Wendy Wasserstein’s greatest play, Laura Kepley directs. Michael Clark designed the video projections, and Matt Parker designed the sound, which includes popular music to enhance each scene. The post World War II baby boomer generation has seen more changes in the social status of women than any other in history. The phrase “can women have it all” referred to post ’50s-era women who wanted both a career and a family. But, as to actually


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”having it all,” the question remains unsettled, just as the Equal Rights Amendment, guaranteeing lack of discrimination against women, remains ungratified to this day, with Florida being among the states that have refused to sign. Congress first passed the ERA in 1972, almost 50 years after women won the right to vote. The ERA still hasn’t been set into the constitution 40 years later.  As we watch Heidi, quite nicely played by Elizabeth King-Hall, wind her way up the treacherous trail of womanhood, during the gender-bending ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, we get some of what it must feel like to herd goats along with you. Some of the goats include terrific performances by Gail Rastorfer as Susan Johnston, Brian Sills as Peter Patrone and Zachary Fine as Scoop Rosenbaum.  Is it still more difficult to get to the top of one’s chosen career as a woman?  Statistically, yes. Are men less inclined to marry women more successful or smarter than themselves? Statistically, yes. Is it just as difficult to raise children as a single woman? Statistically, yes. Well, then, what’s a girl to do if she wants true love, children and her chosen career? The answer is: Get lucky! Are we, more than 300 years since the Declaration of Independence, getting closer to true equality at last? Well, yes, finally closer, but there? Not yet. — Paula Atwell

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// Arts&Entertainment: reviews

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Photo by Cliff Roles

Douglas Jones and Jesse Dornan in Asolo Repertory Theatre’s “Glengarry Glen Ross.”

THEATER // ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ Written in 1984, the play explores the grimy, sad underbelly of American capitalism hinted at in the earlier classic, “Death of a Salesman.” The most celebrated playwright of his generation, David Mamet raises cursing to a symbolic, syncopated language of its own. Asolo Rep’s production is fast, furious and funny! Due to the coarse language, which has become so much more common these days, the Rep even holds a mini seminar for audience members interested in learning more about the employment of realistically foul discourse in art. Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play reveals the darkly Darwinistic world of salesmen, clearly delineating the A-list players from the nebbishes. Director Carl Forsman’s electric direction is tinged with a twitchy edginess, and the powerhouse cast delivers, punching out their archetypal characters with an in-your-face alacrity. “Mamet himself describes the play as a gang comedy. People who only know the movie are going to be surprised

at how much funnier the play is,” said Forsman. “It’s a whodunit, wrapped inside a comedy, wrapped around an economic parable.” These guys sell swampland in Florida. It’s not about the product; it’s the personality and the strategy that sells.  Familiar faces at the Asolo — Douglas Jones as Shelly Levene and David Breitbarth as George Aaronow — are brilliant, as always. Eric Hissom makes the part of Ricky Roma his own, transfiguring the famous phrase, “Always be closing.” Another big cheese in this outfit, convincingly played by Jay Patterson as Dave Moss, comes off like a successful graduate of a neurolinguistic programming class, popular around that time. Jesse Dornan, third-year FSU student who played Wilbur Henderson in “You Can’t Take It With You,” may be on his way to being typecast with his successful portrayal of John Williamson, often maligned salaried office assistant. Francisco Rodriguez is unrecognizable from his role as Mr. De Pinna in “You Can’t Take It With You”; he transforms himself into poor schlub James Lingk for this part. Jacob Cooper, also a third-year student, plays put upon detective Baylen. — Paula Atwell

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// Arts&Entertainment: REVIEWS



// ‘Bravo Broadway!’

// ‘Quartet’

Many American orchestras are in trouble, and they seem to be dropping like flies from coast to coast. But, there are some that are actually thriving, and the Sarasota Orchestra is, fortunately, among those that are flourishing, even booming. What is it doing that’s so right? Well, among other things, versatility seems to be the name of the game these days and the musicians in the Sarasota Orchestra realize that and are doing something about it. From last week’s flash mob of musicians at the Sarasota Airport to their brilliant “Bravo Broadway� program at the Van Wezel, Sarasota Orchestra musicians and management are keeping up with the times and, best of all, they’re not dumbing down the music or their talents. Broadway is America’s “classical� music, and the Sarasota Orchestra seems able to go from the intricacies of Prokofiev, Mozart and Holst to the difficulties (don’t think popular equals easy!) of Rodgers, Porter, Bernstein and Webber without splitting a string. Audiences are lapping up the music. The recent “Bravo Broadway� program was not only sold out, it was so popular it was sold-out twice, and audiences came away with a sense that this orchestra just can’t stop the beat. Susan Egan, a Broadway and cabaret star whose roles included Sally Bowles in “Cabaret� and the title role in ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie�; Lisa Vroman who appeared for many years as Christine in “Phantom� and Fantine and Cosette in “Les Miserables�; and Doug LaBrecque, a terrific “bari-tenor� who made just one of his marks in the Hal Prince revival of “Showboat,� were the three soloists, and they brought their excellent musical talents and infectious enthusiasm to a beautifully crafted program that Andrew Lane conducted. It’s not easy to take well-known Broadway shows and perform excerpts, one after another,

The new film, “Quartet,� is sweet, sentimental and, at times, introspective. Dustin Hoffman directs the cast of first-rate, seasoned British actors in this comedy about retired musicians who reside in a senior living facility. If you’re thinking “target audience,� think again. Beecham House, a beautiful, sprawling mansion, is located in the English countryside. It houses famous classical musicians, exclusively. The inhabitants include Wilf (Billy Connolly), baritone and loveable skirt-chaser; Cissy (Pauline Collins), a cheery, forgetful contralto; new arrival, renowned soprano and prima donna, Jean (Maggie Smith); and Reggie (Tom Courtenay), a tenor once married to Jean who’s still licking his emotional wounds. Long ago they had performed the classic production of “Rigoletto� as a quartet. It seems Beecham House is in financial straits and, to save it, the musical octogenarians plan to put on a benefit concert; a command performance of the quartet’s “Rigoletto� will be highlighted. However, there’s a glitch when the overly haughty Jean refuses to sing. Eventually, her stubbornness predictably wanes as she puts her pride aside. Adapted by Ronald Harwood from his stage play, “Quartet� boasts a witty script delivered by the people who do it best. And under Hoffman’s tutelage in his first role as director, the actors seem extremely comfortable in their own, somewhat saggy, skins. Hoffman comments that his film is “about living,� while Harwood observes it’s “about surviving with dignity.� For me, “Quartet� is all about the tour de force compilation of exquisite actors who never falter with age. Connolly, Smith,


Susan Egan without eventually seeming like an Ed Sullivan show gone awry. But, aside from the overly amplified soloists (no problem hearing this show!), the length and depth of this festive program were just right. The orchestra strutted its stuff in the solo spotlight with overtures from “Funny Girl,� “West Side Story� and “Chicago,� but, then, pivoted professionally into the role of solid accompanist for such memorable performances with the singers as a gorgeous medley from “Showboat,� an almost operatic “Vanilla Ice Cream� from “She Loves Me,� sung by Vroman, and, as an encore, a hilarious rendition by everyone of “The Age of Aquarius,� complete with hippy costumes and demeanor that the singers shared. Lane showed his own versatility and humor by joining in the fun. The soloists sang, danced and changed costumes as easily as they changed singing styles, going from the operatic sounds of early music theater (Lerner and Loewe, Cole Porter, Bernstein and Sondheim, Harnick and Bok) to the rock-like rhythms and percussive, throbbing sounds of ABBA and Kander and Ebb, and the recitative, repetitive pseudo-operatic style of Webber. Versatility and talent are among the hallmarks of great performers, and the Sarasota Orchestra seems able to do just about anything asked of it with grace, fervor and all that jazz! — June LeBell


Tom Courtenay and Maggie Smith star in “Quartet.� Collins and Courtenay are pure joy to watch. But it’s Michael Gambon who steals the show as the caftan-clad blowhard director Cedric, who is constantly taking all of the credit. Managing to scene steal amongst such celebrated thespians is no easy task. “Quartet� is rife with sonorous music, glorious scenery and lots of laughs. It’s a genteel ensemble piece driven by colorful characters, snappy dialogue and enduring love. Staying for the credits is imperative. It inspired two rounds of applause from the audience and was well deserved. — Pam Nadon

Online Read Popcorn Bob's Movie Magic reviews of “Parker,� “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters 3D� and “Movie 43.�

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Crafty Genes

by Mallory & Leslie Gnaegy | DIY Editors

PROJECT: Pallet Planter Skill level:

... after

SUPPLIES: • Recycled or leftover moving pallet • Vaseline • Primer • Matte latex base coat (we used black) • Matte latex top coat (we used turquoise) • Planter fabric • Soil • Plants



Average time: Two days

Watch Leslie Gnaegy demonstrate how to construct this pallet planter online at

1 Cut pallet and sand We used a piece of pallet we had leftover from one of our earlier Crafty Genes projects, the Pallet Coffee Table (you can find it online at Cut off any protruding pieces of your recycled pallet or to the first horizontal support beam of a new pallet. Make sure your edges are straight. Sand splintered sections.

3 Apply Vaseline and Topcoat Rub a thin coat of Vaseline on areas where you painted the base color. Then paint your topcoat over the entire planter. We chose turquoise. Let the topcoat dry a full 24 hours. The longer it dries, the more the crackle appears. Spray a protective clear coat of polyurethane to preserve the crackle.

 After the pallet has been cut and sanded

2 prime and APPLY base coat We used a primer to weather-seal the wood and prepare the surface for the base coat. After you prime, you’ll spot-paint a base coat where natural wear-and-tear would occur. The base will show through where the paint crackles, which is why we selected black.

before ...

TIPS: • Make sure you apply a thin layer of Vaseline because the paint will rub off or smudge even after the paint has dried if it’s applied too thickly. • This is perfect for an herb garden, and you could paint the names of herbs above where you plant them.

 A close-up of the result of the Vaseline painting technique

4 tack gardening fabric in place Apply gardening fabric to the upper inside-back perimeter and edges of the planter. Let the fabric drape to the depth of the planter (ours was 3-to-4 inches deep) and tack it in place at the upper inside-front perimeter.

5 plant flora and fauna We planted pink bromeliads for a splash of color and a variety of small plants suitable for the amount of light and weather where our planter is located. Water your plants according to their needs.

Voting begins February 4!

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TIDBITES by June LeBell | Contributing Columnist |

Past, Present and Future  Forks & Corks uncorks some winners

The Sarasota-Manatee Originals’ sixth annual Forks & Corks Food and Wine Festival is as ubiquitous as butter, but better for your heart. We’ve been hearing and reading about this for ages, and, back in December, the festival’s 16 wine experts gave a trio of wines “Best in Show,” with one each from New Zealand, Oregon and California. Alas, none came from those great wine regions of Sarasota and Manatee (or was that orange juice?), but the winners are being featured in various spots from Michael’s On East’s magnificent Wine Cellar to the gorgeous spaces (some inside, some out) at the Ringling Museum. In fact, just a few days ago, Forks & Corks held a sumptuous four-day culinary festival featuring a variety of winemaker events we’re told was a Best in Show, itself.

 Michael’s On East takes diners on culinary adventures

Michael’s On East has been celebrating Greek cuisine since the new year. Missed out this month? Michael’s Epicurean Adventures present delicious journeys to a new destination every month. In February, it’s taking us to one of the world’s most romantic foodie countries, France. It promises Parisian gastronomic grandeur as well as “la petite” dishes

from Provence and Burgundy. Oh, did I mention there are wine pairings for all of these adventures? For an additional $10 at dinner and just $5 at lunch, this may be the best-priced gastronomic travel adventure of 2013.

 Tea time at the Crosley

One of the great delights of living in my old hometown of Manhattan, N.Y., was taking visitors to afternoon tea at either the old Plaza Hotel or the refurbished St. Regis on Fifth Avenue. But now, the exquisite Powel Crosley Estate, on Sarasota Bay, is teaming up once again with Simply Gourmet for a traditional royal English tea service 2 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday afternoons in March in the exclusive upstairs living area of the mansion. A “royal” English tea is, according to Chef Larry Barrett, president of Simply Jamie and Larry Barrett Gourmet Caterers, a tradition that began in 1860 with Queen Victoria. “It’s a grand and colorful affair,” he says. “Men wear suits or military uniforms, and women

wear dresses with hats and gloves. The Crosley Estate offers the perfect ambience for our recreation of this royal event.” Lest you think a royal tea is relegated only to great teas and scones, don’t have too much lunch and forget about a big dinner. This afternoon event includes cassis-marinated strawberry parfait, vanilla cream fruit tartlets, Devonshire cream to go with those flaky scones, double chocolate triangles and a variety of savories, from turkey/sundried tomato pinwheels to a royal tea sandwich medley. “I see it as a type of culinary theater,” Barrett says.


We were dropping something off at the Opera House the other day and noticed that, once again, the restaurant around the corner seems to have bitten the dust. Maximo, the latest culinary attempt at 1296 First St., looks, from the for-rent sign on the gate, to be out of business. How many eateries have tried that spot in the past decade? There were a couple of Italian restaurants, a chop house or two, a romantic bistro owned by a European couple, an allAmerican café — complete with dance music — and Maximo, which was South African, I believe. Many of these places have been terrific with excellent food and service, a really good bar and a fun-to-elegant atmosphere. OK, there was one that was great in season and then cut back on everything (portions, quality and service) when the snowbirds flew home. But, aside from that one, we’ve really enjoyed the others. And the proximity to the Opera House and what’s now become the Florida Studio Theatre “campus” was wonderful. We sincerely hope the landlord isn’t raising rents beyond the capacity of the restaurateurs. We just can’t imagine why so many good restaurants can’t seem to make it in that excellent space. Thought: Wouldn’t it be nice if the landlord would offer it at a reasonable price to the opera? Imagine dinner there, walk through to the opera lobby and go back later for dessert. A fantasy, perhaps. Or not.

Gecko’s revives culinary history The local firm behind Gecko’s Grill & Pubs is launching a new restaurant concept — with a hint of old Sarasota in the mix. The new restaurant is S’macks Burgers & Shakes, a quick-casual eatery. Executives with Gecko’s Hospitality Group, the owner, say S’macks will incorporate two restaurant industry trends: the use of locally grown products and produce and a higher-end version of fast casual food. The restaurant will provide counter service. They also wanted to do something historical. The name is a play on Smacks, which was a burger joint on Main Street in downtown Sarasota from 1930 to 1958. That place, Gecko’s Hospitality Group co-owner Mike Quillen and his business partners discovered, was the heartbeat of the Sarasota social scene. Says Quillen: “We are reviving a little bit of the history.” S’macks, scheduled to open by the middle of the spring, is at the corner of Bee Ridge Road and Shade Avenue. The company’s renovation of the property will include new landscaping, a patio and energy-efficient kitchen equipment and lighting. The menu will include oldfashioned frozen custard shakes, burgers, fries and hot dogs. A manager with the Gecko’s in the Landings in Sarasota, Alex Floethe, was named a managing partner of the new venture. — Mark Gordon

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y r o t S e v o L g n i n n i W e Th e h t n i d e r u will be feat issue of The 4 1 y r a u r b Fe . r e p a p s w e Observer n te: o V u o y w Here is Ho

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ht stay at ig n e n o a s e include dinner g c a ti k n c a a P m e o r iz r a The P rasota and a S y ’s Day. c e n n e ti g n e le r a t t V a n y the H estaurant o r n a li a t I a at Casantic

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by Molly Schechter | Food Editor





N 100 FEET

 Thailand Su

shi and Steak

round the world in twotenths of a mile: From locally grown produce to a dazzling assortment of canned peppers; from Irish bacon to middle-European wursts; from a fresh-from-theoven almond croissant to a crispy Scandinavian Kringle imported from O&H Danish Bakery in Wisconsin; and from a modern vegetarian-and-seafood eatery to a classic Italian trattoria, there is an almost unimaginable variety of food to be found in the strip of shops on the south side of Gulf Gate Drive, starting just east of South Tamiami Trail. The food stores and restaurants are all mom-and-pop operations in the best sense of the word, with plenty of parking, good value, good food and good fun. Most of the stores are open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with closings Sunday and/or Monday. Call or visit websites for specifics. You can also get more information on these stores and additional eateries (and there are many more) in Gulf Gate Village at

 Veg


1. Veg 2164 Gulf Gate Drive 312-6424 | “Have you eaten at Veg?” has become a frequently asked question. This 35-seat restaurant has earned a big reputation serving lunch and dinner during its three years in business. It bills itself as “A Vegetarian & Seafood Eatery” and is the only restaurant in Sarasota without any beef, poultry or pork on the premises. Reservations are strongly recommended. 2. Maks Chinese and Thai Cuisine 2224 Gulf Gate Drive 922-6765 This Oriental hybrid has a predictably long menu, includ-


ing interesting Thai specials, such as the Amazing Bankok made with chicken, pork and shrimp and chef sauce. A busy lunchtime befits the $5.65 to $6.45 lunch special. 3. Thailand Sushi and Steak House 2238 Gulf Gate Drive | 927-8424 This Oriental hybrid established 17 years ago is open for lunch and dinner. Owner Venna Sysouvanh says, “People come just for pad Thai. They skip downtown and come to us.” At dinner, pad-Thai lovers pay $11.95 for beef, chicken or pork varieties; $14.95 for shrimp, scallops or squid; and $17.95 for seafood. Lunch prices range from $8.50 to $11.50 and include a spring roll.

4. Oh, Mamma Mia! 2324 Gulf Gate Drive 706-2821 Owner Giuseppe Urbano features authentic Italian cuisine, not Italian-American. You won’t find fettuccine Alfredo or veal Parmigiana on his menu. There is still plenty to choose from, and if you order it to-go, it is 20% off menu prices, which is such a sensible idea, one wonders why it isn’t more common. As a charming aside, Oh, Mamma Mia! sells beautiful Venetian masks; remember that for your next costume party.

Wine and Spirits

5. 2140 Gulf Gate Drive 926-9463  Chocolate Bark Company Proprietor Mitchell Soffer has 33 years of wine-buy- Food shops ing experience, and for many of 7. Chocolate Bark Company those years, he tasted wine on 2114 Gulf Gate Drive a professional level five days a 925-1111 week. About half of his busi- chocolatebarkcompany. ness comes from the website; com Owner Kelli Kamm the other half comes from savvy oenophiles who like to come in has been making fine chocolate in Sarasota for 15 years, first at and talk wine.

STeve emerSon


Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 at 7:00 pm

At Church of Hope

Jay Handelman Sarasota Herald-Tribune

1560 Wendell Kent road, Sarasota

serstein s a W y d n e W by y y Laura Keple

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6. Discount Beverages 2316 Gulf Gate Drive 926-2433 This is the strip’s “convenience store” and is under the new management of Rick Singh, who has been on board for the last four months. Singh has increased and organized the discount-priced selection of merchandise.

Film and lecture featuring the awardwinning investigative journalist and author who serves as the Executive Director of The Investigative Project, the largest intelligence gathering center on militant Islamic activities. He will dicuss the film: Jihad in America: The Grand Deception.

Tickets: $10


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ASOLO REP The Klingenstein Jewish Center 580 McIntosh Rd., Sarasota FL 34232 941.371.4546



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 Gulf Gate Prod

a location on Osprey Avenue and now in the Gulf Gate location, where she has been for the last decade. Everything sold in the shop is made in the shop. And the store offers more than just chocolate bark in varieties from white and milk to very dark (70% cacao) and even 80% cacao bars studded with everything from cranberries to cornflakes. It also offers an impressive assortment of truffles. 8. Piccolo Italian Market & Deli 2128 Gulf Gate Drive 923-2202 Subs with meaty names such as Tony Soprano and Sly Stallone, along with vegetarian options such as the Floridian and Palm Springs, are made here. This deli also caters, offering specialties such as lasagna ($35 for a half tray) and chicken parmigiana ($45 for a half tray).

pe  A Taste of Euro

10. A Taste of Europe 2212 Gulf Gate Drive 921-9084 Alla Shifman has been the owner and hospitable manager of this international-food market since 1996. Although she is Russian, her merchandise comes from many countries, including Poland, Ukraine, and Czechoslovakia, as well as Russia. Be sure


Photos by Rachel S. O’Hara

to check out the charming tea sets — they make great gifts at $25 to $30 for six cups. 11. Oriental Food & Gift Mart 2234 Gulf Gate Drive| 924-8066 Sue Kim, her husband and her mother own this immaculate shop that features foods from nine different countries. The selection of soy sauce, teas, rice and such is mind-boggling, but whatever you are looking for is remarkably easy to find. Kim’s mother comes into the shop from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays to make sushi and Korean foods to-go. There is a section of gifts and a lovely selection of bamboos Kim arranges. 12. Tastefully British 2236 Gulf Gate Drive 927-2612 | Tastefully British is a combination gift shop and grocery, with a full-fledged tea room in the back where all the food is prepared from scratch using natural ingredients and family recipes. The tea room seats 26 and can be booked for private parties or meetings.

13. Gulf Gate Produce 2320 Gulf Gate Drive | 552-6122 This is a no-frills store that stocks produce that is about 80% local, plus local milk, butter and eggs. The produce is not certified organic but is grown using “sustainable growing methods.” Asked why she shops here, a customer said, “They have better stuff, cheaper prices. It’s more convenient and healthier.” Enough said. 14. Jim’s Small Batch Bakery 2336 Gulf Gate | 922-2253 Jim Plocharsky is to baking what Kelli Kamm at the other end of the strip is to chocolate — a passionate and highly skilled practitioner of his chosen food art and a creative entrepreneur. He bakes different bread every

 Jim’s Small Batch Bakery

day, and there is always a fine assortment of sweet treats often including a carrot cake that Plocharsky says, “Is what I’d throw down Bobby Flay with.” My vote goes to his almond croissant. Of note: The best lunch buy in town may be here, with two sandwiches, two waters and one dessert to share for $12.

Online For an interactive map of our foodie’s Gulf Gate adventure, visit

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This is the place to go for foods from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland, including cookies, candy, chocolates, cheese, breads and crisp breads. Add to the list beverages, meats and sausages and more. Need lingonberries or matjes herring? You’ll find them here.





// Arts&Entertainment: CALENDAR

a&e calendar February SUNDAY








ART GALLERIES: Feb. 1 through 28 Craig Rubadoux and Robert Baxter at Dabbert Gallery Opening Reception 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 1 Meg Pierce at Harmony Gallery

Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center. Public Reception 5 to 6:30 p.m. Feb. 7 Feb. 1 through March 31 Marge Bennett’s “Around Town” Pastry Art Feb. 2 through Feb. 28 Ringling College Wild

Acres Art Faculty’s ‘Wild Ones’ Clothesline Gallery & Boutique. Opening Reception 5 to 9 p.m. Feb. 8 Feb. 14 through March Robert Stackhouse and Carol Mickett Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art

Friday, Feb. 1 through Sunday, Feb. 3: Ashton, Carter, Tuckett Sarasota Ballet. 2 and 8 p.m. at FSU Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets $30 to $90. Call 359-0099. Masterworks: ‘Turning Points’ Sarasota Orchestra. 8 p.m. at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Tickets $30 to TK. Call 953-3434.

 ‘The Great American Trailer Park Musical’ premieres Feb. 6, at Venice Theatre.



‘The Columnist’ 8 p.m. at Florida Studio Theatre, Keating Theatre. Runs through Feb. 28. Tickets $19 to $36. Call 366-9000.







‘The Sounds of Harry James and the Andrews Sisters’ (MainStage Concert). 8 p.m. at Venice Theatre, MainStage. Tickets $32. Call 488-1115.

Art and Backstage Tours The Fine Arts Society of Sarasota. 10 a.m. at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Tickets $5. Call 9533368.

‘The Great American Trailer Park Musical’ (Cabaret). 8 p.m. at Venice Theatre. Runs through March 9. Tickets $13 to $28. Call 4881115.

‘Beyond Words’ New Stages: Narrative in Motion. 7:30 p.m. at Historic Asolo Theater. Runs through Feb. 9. Tickets $15 to $25. Call 360-7399.

‘Steppin’ Out Live with Ben Vereen’ (MainStage Concert). 8 p.m. at Venice Theatre. Tickets $59. Call 488-1115.

Vida Guitar Quartet Artist Series Concerts 7:30 p.m. at Symphony Center. Runs through Feb. 10. Tickets $45. Call 306-1200.

Guest Artists, Trio Voilá SCF Music. 8 p.m. at Neel Performing Arts Center. Tickets $8. Call 752-5351.

Ringling Underground 8 p.m. at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art courtyard. Tickets $10. Call 359-5700.

Pops: New Orleans’ Own, featuring the DUKES of Dixieland 8 p.m. at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Tickets start at $32. Call 953-3434.


Send calendar entries to Mallory Gnaegy, A&E editor, at For more events, visit

 ‘Steppin’ Out Live with Ben Vereen’


‘Funny Bones: The Comedy of Charlie Chaplin’ 2 p.m. at Glenridge Performing Arts Center. Tickets $15. Call 5525325





Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. 8 p.m. at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Tickets $30 to $150. Call 953-3368.

Vienna Boys Choir Sarasota Concert Association 8 p.m. at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Tickets $40 to $70. Call 955-0040.

Great Escapes: ‘The Envelope, Please’ 5:30 p.m. at Holley Hall. Runs through Feb. 16. Tickets start at $26. Call 953-3434.

‘9 to 5: The Musical’ 7:30 p.m. at The Players. Runs through Feb. 24. Tickets $25. Call 3652494

Sarasota Opera Winter Opera Festival Feb. 9 through March 24: ‘Turandot’ — runs Feb. 9 through March 23. Tickets $19 to $120. Call 328-1300. ‘The Pearl Fishers’ — runs Feb. 16 through March 22. Tickets $80 to $130. Call 366-8450.


Jazz at Two Jazz Club of Sarasota. 2 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church. Tickets $5 to $12. Call 366-1552.

Playwright Arthur Kopit Hermitage Artist Retreat 4 p.m. at Venice Theatre. Free. Call 475-2098 Robin Spielberg 8 p.m. at Glenridge Performing Arts Center. Tickets $15. Call 5525325.

Sheryl Crow 8 p.m. at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Tickets $30 to $110. Call 953-3368.

Jewish Book Festival: Rich Cohen The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee 7 p.m. at Beatrice Friedman Theater. Tickets $10. Call 371-4546, Ext. 106.

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Maestro Derenzi narrates a concert illustrating Verdi’s wide influence on the music of his time.

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the verdi concert Celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Verdi Sun. March 24, 8pm Sarasota opera soloists, orchestra, and chorus perform excerpts from La traviata, Don Carlos and others, including the majestic Triumphal Scene from Aida.

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Black Tie

INSIDE: Catholic Charities Ball PAGE 17 THURSDAY, JANUARY 31, 2013

Teresa Simmons, Jill Colton, Rifka Glatz, Susan Coyne and Holly Ross pose in the colorful and artistic bathroom inside the historic Sarasota High School.

Sculptor Patrick Dougherty with Wendy Surkis and Dr. Larry Thompson in front of the crepe myrtle-branch sculpture.

 Valerie Leatherwood with Robert and Shannon Warren

 Amy and Ken Sussman

By Rachel S. O’Hara | Black Tie Photographer

Photos by Rachel S. O’Hara

 Amanda Marie Mason

The Sarasota Museum of Art/SMOA — a Division of Ringling College of Art and Design — Inaugural Bash Sunday, Jan. 20, will “stick” out in the minds of more than 690 guests’ minds for years to come. Chaired by Brooke Callanen and Dottie Baer Garner, the event was held on the grounds of the historic Sarasota High School, the future home of SMOA. The historic Sarasota High School served as the scene of this celebration, feting re-

Dean Eisner with Jackie and Angus Rogers

nowned sculptor Patrick Dougherty and SMOA’s 2013 ARTmuse program. The school was open to the guests, so they had the chance to see how the building is being repurposed as it transforms into SMOA. Serving as the central visual, Dougherty’s stick sculpture was the first thing guests gravitated toward as they made their way to the bash. The Sarasota-Manatee Originals provided delicious food and the guests closed out dancing to the sounds of Tampa Bay’s Ace Factor.

Tom Ross and Sally Trout

Javier Suarez, Jr. and Javier Suarez, Sr. will be the architects for SMOA.

Chairwomen Dottie Baer Garner and Brooke Callanen






tales by Black Tie Staff

Black Tie Affair

Jolanta Bremer of I AM ART Couture Photography

Ashley and Tim Gruters announce their big news.


 Babies on board!

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Something must be in the Sarasota water! Montana and Irwin Taplinger are anticipating a July 10 due date for their first child. As for names, the still-newlyweds are going to incorporate the names of family members as well as special people in their lives. This will be the first grandchild on both sides of their families. Taplinger’s close friend, Ashley Gruters (and co-chair for Designing Daughters’ gala in May), and her husband, Tim, are also expecting — and their due dates are only 10 days apart. The couple made their announcement to family members during the Christmas holidays with the good news bottled in a jar of Preggo sauce. Tim, born and raised in Sarasota, is one of six kids and his mom, Robin, will be a grandmother of six, once baby Gruters arrives. “We are beyond blessed and we are both beyond excited to finally be parents,” says Gruters. “As a second-grade teacher and wedding planner, I am both a nurturer and life changer, so this is dream come true for me.” In other baby news, Medallion Home’s Carlos Beruff and his wife, Janelle, are expecting a baby, due April 7. No names are being released, because Carlos wants to be surprised on the gender. Ryan and Sarah Lodge, parents to R.J., 2, are expecting their second child; and Kelli Jaco, owner of Jaco’s Boxing + Fitness, is six-months along.

 Big band kick-off

First-time Chairs Chris Cogan and Diana Kelly kicked-off Asolo Repertory Theatre’s annual gala, “American Big Band,” Wednesday, Jan. 23, at the Charles Ringling mansion. The March 2 event will feature Michael Andrew and the 17-piece Atomic Big Band, who, Cogan notes, “does Frank Sinatra better than Sinatra.” Proceeds from the event will benefit the Asolo’s educational outreach program. Spotted mingling were Carolyn Keystone, Ken and Peggy Abt, Bruce and India Lesser, Bob and Beverly Bartner, Carol Phillips, Tom and Renee Brady, John and Chris Currie, Paul Hudson and Margaret Wise.

Dennis & Graci McGillicuddy

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SMOA’s Inaugural Bash hosted 690 guests


 SMOA: A swan song



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 Tidbits

Sensational sell-out … Last weekend’s Forks & Corks: The Grand Tasting event must be setting records around town. Within an hour of ticket sales opening, 110 VIP tickets sold out and 1,250 general admission tickets sold out in three-hours-and-50 minutes. Mark your calendars: next year’s event tickets go on sale Nov. 11 … Best kind of recycling … Susan Clarke was spotted in a great dress at Catholic Charities Ball last weekend. It just so happens she wore the Rachel S. O’Hara same dress to George Susan Clarke H.W. Bush ‘s 41st Presidential Inaugural Ball … Opening night … Spotted at Jack Dusty’s opening last Monday night: Stan and Jo Rutstein, Nick and Sara Ferguson, Clay and Melissa DeMore, Billy and Nora Johnson, Chris and Laura Jessen, Lee and David Peterson, Sal Diaz-Verson and Anne Weintraub … a funny observation from the evening: The stem-less wine glasses were so heavy, one woman had to use both hands to sip her Courtesy libation … Movin’ on up … Event planner Jennifer Grondahl

Jennifer Grondahl is closing her eight-yearold company, Maestro Events, to take over as president of the YMCA Foundation of Sarasota. The March 2 Asolo gala will be her last day and farewell event.


5831 Bee Ridge Road • Suite 200 Sarasota, FL 34233

Palm Ball ‘All Aboard for Conservation’ Benefiting: Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9 Where: Bay Preserve at Osprey Chairs: Janelle Beruff, Ariane Dart, Pauline Joerger, Margaret Wise and Honorary Chair Cornelia Matson Tickets: $350 Contact: 918-2100 Always an elegant affair at Bay Preserve, this year’s Palm Ball inspiration is nautical (think Newport, R.I.) with the gowns being inspired by white diamonds and blue sapphires. The band South Town Fever promises to keep the dance floor crowded all night long. The proceeds benefit critical land conservation initiatives.

For an inaugural event, selling out is almost unheard of. SMOA’s event organizers were hoping to attract 400 attendees, but more than 690 showed up Jan. 20. “I couldn’t have been more pleased,” says Co-Chairwoman Dottie Baer Garner. “This was my swan song for chairing events, and I feel I went out in a blaze of glory — meaning this was my last event to chair and it was my biggest and best.” Once SMOA has commitments for the remaining funding needed, construction is anticipated to take 14-to-18 months to complete.

 The calendar calls

BT is still collecting events for the 2013 Black Tie social calendar, and if we don’t know about it, we can’t publish it! Email the following information to name of your event; group hosting; group benefiting; time, date and place; ticket price; chairperson; contact name, phone number and email; website and event description. Black Tie’s “Occasions” column details some of the most fabulous local weddings and share engagement announcements. Whether you attended the most-talked about event of the year or want to announce your own nuptials, send your engagement and wedding announcements to Stephanie@




// BLACK TIE: Camera ready

// Catholic Charities Ball //

Benefiting Catholic Charities of Sarasota and Manatee Counties Saturday, Jan. 26, at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota

 Dennis Colletti and Courtney Ferris

Chairwomen Mary Kenealy-Barbetta, Julie Delaney and Bridget Spiess

Photos by Rachel S. O’Hara

Sharon and Dr. John Aragona with Jamie Van Dyke

Marilyn and Irving Naiditch with Linda Whitacre

Charee and Steven Russell

Celebrate the cultural treasures of the Gulf Coast with a grand

at Lakewood Ranch Main Street

February 2, 2013 • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Seating provided. No coolers please. Free parking and admission.

Combining the best of a street festival and concert hall, Ovation brings together the area’s most talented performers for a free celebration of the arts with live entertainment on two stages. Browse the many booths, shops and boutiques, and find refreshment at cozy restaurants and cafes. Truly an event not to be missed!

Lakewood Ranch celebrates Gulf Coast Cultural Assets

For information and performance schedules, visit

Observer Media GrOup is a proud sponsor of Ovation.


President of the Catholic Community Foundation John Petracco with his wife, Valerie.

The Rev. Fausto Stampiglia, Monsignor Ed McNamara, Roland Durette and Pauline Terry




// BLACK TIE: Camera ready

// Forks & Corks: The Grand Tasting //

Benefiting American Red Cross | Sunday, Jan. 27 at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art courtyard

 Susan Jones and Kyla Weiner

Nichole Bradley, Diane Bradley and Robert Schafer

Guest had their own wine glass to take around with them as they sipped different wines at the Grand Tasting.

Event chairmen Michael Klauber and Kate Atkin

Photos by Rachel S. O’Hara

Randy Koko, Melissa Epstein and Kim Rowe

Kris and Amanda Pennewell


Joanie Corneil and Cammy Nilner



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// BLACK TIE: Camera ready

// Sarasota Women’s Cancer Awareness Luncheon // Benefiting Moffitt Cancer Center Friday, Jan. 25, at The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota

h VPA Theater Booker High VPA Theater esents presents

Visit he Visit

Photos by Rachel S. O’Hara

Denise Filotas with her father, Bill Filotas, and Gigi and Larry Freeman

Photos by Rachel S. O’Hara

Dianne Jacob and Felicia Guerrieri

// Art & Soul II //

Benefiting YMCA Foundation of Sarasota Bird Key Yacht Club

by Tuesday, byJan. 22, at Duerrenmatt Friedrich Duerrenmatt

Holly Erez and Dawn Epstein

Chairwoman Christine Sandrib and Honorary Chairwoman Eileen Curd with H. Lee and Dianne Moffitt

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John and Elenor Maxheim at the Ringling College Library Association Town Hall Platinum Dinner Jan. 8

BT’s favorite fashion Dwight Icenhower & Dave Thompson Productions presents standouts spotted at January’s top events

Photos by Rachel S. O’Hara

 Elizabeth Flower Duke and Arnold Duke at the Circus Sarasota “Under the Big Top” gala Jan. 18

Yvonne Harper at the “Red Hot” Gala Jan.19

 Jacqueline Morton at the Bradenton Opera Guild Winter Gala Jan. 13

 Judy Bloch at the Sarasota Dwight Icenhower & Dave Thompson Productions presents Orchestra Gala Jan. 19

Dwight Icenhower & Dave Thompson Productions presents


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by Stephanie Hannum | Diversions Managing Editor

social studies: Pauline Joerger Although she’s originally from Germany, Pauline Joerger’s Sarasota roots date back more than 100 years, and she’s continuing to plant new ones with her two daughters. I was born in Munich — my father is German and mother is American — but I came to boarding school and university in the U.S. Sarasota began to become my home-away-from-home.

Historic Spanish Point. Especially because they are girls, I like to highlight their ancestry because it’s nice to grow up with that example of an incredibly strong and adventurous woman.

My great-great grandmother (Bertha Palmer) came

Every Christmas my family

My roots make me tied to the community and tied to my relative who came here. She was a single woman who became a rancher, a gardener, a developer and builder. That could not have been easy, so I love that about her and this great community. It’s nice to live in a community in which you have roots. My girls (Sophia, 10, and Schuyler, 12) also love their history. They learned fairly organically about their great-great-great grandmother’s land with visits to Myakka and

gathers in Austria for two weeks. The hotel we go to, Hotel Lorünser, is the same one my father has been going to for 60 years. The girls play with kids whose parents we played with when we were little. My four sisters come with all their kids — it’s our favorite time of the year.

We have a virtual zoo here — two dogs, two birds, a million gold fish and a beta fish. I think kids and animals go together, and a house and animals go together. Schuyler is my dog whisperer; she has tamed and trained other people’s dogs, as well as ours. They sleep in bed with her every night — she takes great care of the animals. The most valuable time is

the couple of minutes on the way to school. I walk Sophia into Southside and then drive Schuyler down to Pine View, so we get to hang out. After that, I go running and can clear my head and get ready for the day.

My perfect day

would be to spend it on Casey Key with my kids and my dogs. I would go for a run on Casey Key Road with the dogs and the girls following me in the golf cart. Then we would all go paddle Courtesy boarding followed

Photo by Rachel S. O’Hara

by a long lunch on the porch and a big siesta in the afternoon.

I really love anything that keeps my body moving — it puts me in a good mood and makes me feel better. And, the more I exercise, the more I can eat. When I finish a half marathon, my reward is a cheeseburger and bloody Mary. Running was a challenge

to myself. Everyone I knew who was skinny ran. When I really got into running, it was a challenge that I wanted to commit myself to. I promised everyone I would do a half marathon. It brought me out into the sunshine four-to-five days a week, and it brought a smile to my face.

I have done six half marathons. I have a charm bracelet as a reminder of setting goals and

doing things that are important — it includes a charm of the girls, a charm that reminds me of every Palm Ball and one for every half marathon that I have run. If I ever forget my priorities, I look down and am reminded of where things fit in my life.

My motto is: “Have bag, will

travel.” I’m planning a trip to Tuscany this summer with the girls. Austria is tradition. I’d love to go to Morocco. This past summer was the summer of America — things kept aligning to visit friends and family so I just jumped in my car, or on JetBlue.

I’m a Palm Ball chair and volunteer, but I’ve been with the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast since it was founded. In the past 10 years, it has protected 30 properties and 8,600 acres,

which we are incredibly proud of. It’s a nonprofit land trust and works to preserve Sarasota’s bays, beaches and barrier islands.

Orchids are beautiful, and they sort of find me. I get them as presents, go to the Selby plant sale or buy the centerpiece off the table at an event — over time it grew and grew … and grew. Truly it’s benign neglect. They are so beautiful, I just abandon them under an oak tree and they survive. Everything in my life has to be pretty user-friendly. I love to cook. I’m not big into baking because I’m not a big dessert person, but I love to cook anything. I think it’s like therapeutic in some way, and there are always people around. I take pride in my cooking and enjoy feeding and entertaining friends.


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social calendar february SUNDAY





Town Hall Lecture Series featuring Dr. Robert Gates. Benefiting Ringling College Library Association.10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Tickets $100. Call 934-1343.

See more events online at YourObserver. com.

Saturday, Feb. 2: The Opera Gala: ‘An Evening in the Forbidden City.’ Benefiting Sarasota Opera. 6:30 p.m. at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. Tickets $250. Call 366-8450, Ext. 402.



Legacy Society Recognition Luncheon Benefiting Community Foundation of Sarasota County. 11:30 a.m. at the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. Free to Legacy Society Members and guests. Call 556-2376. Lilly Pulitzer Fashion Show. Benefitting Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota County. 11:30 a.m. at Plantation Golf & Country Club. Tickets $55. Call 366-3911.

American Friends of Magen David Adom Fundraiser honoring Gloria Moss. 3:30 p.m. at Michael’s On East. Tickets $40. Call 371-6798.






Goodwill Mardi Gras Gala. Benefiting Goodwill Industries Manasota. 6 p.m. at Michael’s On East. Tickets $125. Call 355-2721, Ext. 104

 Dr. Leon and Michelle Fournet at Goodwill’s Mardi Gras Gala in 2012.


Thursday, Feb. 14: ‘Share the Love’ Luncheon featuring Joan Bradley Reedy, daughter of Vera Bradley Benefiting Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation, Inc.10 a.m. at Carrabba’s Italian Grill. Tickets $30. Call 921-1221.

Chorus Keys SARASOTA


 Lisa Beckstein at Van Wezel Foundation’s annual gala in 2012.

 Margaret Word Burnside at Sarasota Opera’s Opening Night Gala in 2012.



Chillounge Night ‘Return to Romance’ featuring John Secada. 7 p.m. at Powel Crosley Estate. Tickets $140 to $160. Call 888695-0888. SPARCC Fashion Show and Luncheon. Benefiting Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center. 10 a.m. at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. Tickets $95. Call 401-474-3778.





Second Annual Women & Medicine Luncheon. Benefiting Sarasota Memorial Health Care System and Columbia University Medical Center. 11 a.m. at Michael’s On East. Tickets $65. Call 917-1286.

12th annual ALSO Brunch. Benefiting ALSO Out Youth. 11 a.m. at Hyatt Regency Sarasota. Tickets $75. Call 951-2576.



ARC Best in Show Gala ‘Unconditional Love’ Benefiting Animal Rescue Coalition. 6:30 p.m. at Michael’s On East. Tickets $200. Call 957-1955, Ext. 8.

Honoring Our Angels: Kathy Schersten and Deacon Humberto Alvia Benefiting St. Jude Church/ Hispanic-American Center. 6 p.m. at Michael’s On East. Tickets $125. Call 955-3934.

Palm Ball ‘All Aboard for Conservation’ Benefiting Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast. 6:30 p.m. at Bay Preserve at Osprey. Tickets $350. Call 918-2100.

Saturday, Feb. 9: Sea and Sand Celebration. Benefiting South County Family YMCA. 6 p.m. at South County Family YMCA. Tickets $175. Call 375-9108.


A Symphony of Kitchens. Benefiting Sarasota Orchestra. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at various locations. Tickets $25. Call 953-3434. Compassion in Caring Luncheon. Benefiting Tidewell Hospice.11:30 a.m. at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. Tickets $85. Call 552-7660. Van Wezel Foundation Gala Featuring Sheryl Crow. 5 p.m. at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Tickets $525. Call 957-1955, Ext. 8.

‘Forget Me Not Gala’ 10th Anniversary Celebration. Benefiting Cat Depot. 6:30 p.m. at Laurel Oak Country Club. Tickets $125. Contact: 366-2404.


A Symphony of Kitchens. Benefiting Sarasota Orchestra.10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at various locations. Tickets $25. Call 953-3434. New College Inaugural Ball Benefiting New College Foundation. 6 p.m. at New College Bayfront. Tickets $350. Call 487-4800.

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February 7-9, 7:30 pm

beyond words

© Yoshio itagaki

Written and performed by Bill Bowers Directed by Scott Illingworth

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Diversions eEdition 01.10.13  
Diversions eEdition 01.10.13  

Diversions eEdition 01.10.13