By: Dale King Contributing Writer
When the clock struck 6 p.m. on June 1 at the Old School Square Pavilion in downtown Delray Beach, rain kept on pouring from skies that had been threatening all day.
“We had about three inches of water flowing near the entrance,” said Linda Pallatto, who was manning the gate at the third annual Taste of Recovery benefit.
Then, as if someone turned off a big spigot, the precipitation stopped and a colorful rainbow filled the sky as the sun returned. “Just like what happened last year,” Pallatto remembered.
At that moment, hundreds of people who were queued up nearby with umbrellas unfurled began flocking into the tented area where lots of local restaurants had gathered for the foodie event that benefits the Crossroads Club, a non-profit, 12-step-based meeting center that supports an average of 900 people a day pursuing recovery from various forms of addiction. Pallatto is a bookkeeper for the agency.
Since 1982, Crossroads has been an essential element in the recovery of many residents, snowbirds and other visitors from around the world. Its mission is simply to provide a safe harbor for individuals to meet to become true to themselves and to be released from the bondages of addiction.
The Taste of Recovery fundraiser was founded two years ago by Louie Bossi, himself a recovered addict who is now a chef/partner of Louie Bossi’s Italian restaurant in downtown Boca Raton. Bossi’s dining place is part of the Big Time Restaurant Group.
Visitors sampled the fare that came from 17 restaurants that offered savory bites from their varied menus. Live entertainment was provided by Dave Scott and the Reckless Shots.
“This was fantastic; there was a real sense of community,” said Steve English, assistant executive director for Crossroads, at day’s end. “This year, we really delivered.”
By the time the last morsel of food was consumed, more than 900 people had come and gone, though many remained to talk to friends or listen to some final tunes from the band.
The three-hour event gave local chefs a chance to compete for “People’s Choice” and “Critics’ Choice” awards of $2,500 each. “People’s Choice” winner was Proper Ice Cream of Delray Beach. English noted that the cool, first-place finisher was actually a last-minute entry, having joined the list of participants on Friday for the Saturday activity.
Louis Bossi himself won the “Critics’ Choice” Award, but he donated the $2,500 to Crossroads.
Judges for “Critics Choice” were Mike Mayo, dining critic for the Sun Sentinel; Jan Norris, writer for Florida Weekly and food writer for the Coastal Star and Robert Higginbotham, a well-known local restaurant consultant.
Participating restaurants included Louie Bossi’s, Bird in Hand, Basel, Brule, City Oyster, DADA, Driftwood, Death or Glory, Hai House, Josie’s, Rocco’s Tacos, Michel’s Catering, Seasons 52, Winemaker’s Table and Subculture.
Delray Beach Deputy Vice-Mayor Bill Bathurst presented the Vision of Hope Award to Marc Woods, community improvement services code enforcement official for the city. In that role, Woods has been an advocate for continuous improvements in standards and practices for code enforcement to ensure the ethical delivery of recovery services throughout the community. Woods brings nearly 40 years of service to his job.
New this year was a raffle for a chance to win The Golden Table – a dinner opportunity for 10 guests with butler service and swag bags.