Why Splurge on Chef's Gala? Let's Talk Lobster, Elderflower and Cava-Vanilla Vinaigrette

Every year, you see me and every other food writer in town urging you to dole out hundreds of dollars to attend Chef's Gala, a food-centered fundraiser for Heart of Florida United Way.  What on earth, really, can justify spending $325 per person, or $600 for two, for one evening out?

Gather round, food lovers. I'll tell you the answer, and you may just buy yourselves some tickets. 

 This is the lobster-shrimp dish with elderflower and all the rest that Flying Fish chefs will be serving at Heart of Florida United Way's Chef's Gala 2018.

This is the lobster-shrimp dish with elderflower and all the rest that Flying Fish chefs will be serving at Heart of Florida United Way's Chef's Gala 2018.

There's the do-good part, of course. Heart of Florida United Way helps neighbors in times of crisis – and thank goodness its ace team is around to do that. Plenty of Central Floridians are desperate for funds to keep their power on, say, or even get a carseat for their newborn. We don't always see it, but the struggling is here, and it's painful.

To help, you can just write a check, of course, and please do. If you're going to be generous, though, why not get a fab night on the town in return?

 Chilean sea bass with an insanely silky potato base with mushrooms and asparagaus

Chilean sea bass with an insanely silky potato base with mushrooms and asparagaus

Which brings us back to the lobster, elderflower and cava-vanilla vinaigrette. Last night, I was treated to a dinner at Flying Fish, one of Disney World's best restaurants. The goal: to try out one of the foods that will be served at Chef's Gala. You see, Chef's Gala is a splashy, classy, cocktail-attire event in which chefs from about two dozen restaurants serve one amazing appetizer-size dish apiece. 

 Ahi tuna crudo with blue lavendar, black Cyprus sea salt, these crispy curly potato bits and and a caper vinaigrette that rocked this fish another 10 levels

Ahi tuna crudo with blue lavendar, black Cyprus sea salt, these crispy curly potato bits and and a caper vinaigrette that rocked this fish another 10 levels

Complementary wines are poured, live entertainers entertain, and a silent auction provides a window-shopping experience that often leaves participants bidding on frivolities like hotel stays and restaurant experiences. (If it weren't for such a good cause, my husband might ban me from attending. Luckily it is for a good cause, so we often leave with goodies.)

 Crispy soft shell crab with Florida citrus aioli, bok choy salad and tomatilla purée

Crispy soft shell crab with Florida citrus aioli, bok choy salad and tomatilla purée

Flying Fish has participated for years. This time around, Chef Timothy Majoras went for the luxury foods. I can just tell you about the lobster component, and boom!, you may be ready to buy a ticket. In the video below, Chef Tim tells you himself.

Hold tight. Lobster is only the start of it. This is cool-water lobster, and that lobster has "a touch of Espellete pepper powder" (it's a Basque-French thing), Chef Tim says. It shares the plate with wild Floridian shrimp, which is dotted with Meyer lemon oil. Also in this one destination-worthy dish are accompaniments that each merit their own paragraph: Spiced hearts of palm. Spring melon that is "scented with elderflower." Shaved Iberico ham – tissue-thin slivers. It's all topped with a delicate cava-vanilla vinaigrette.

No, I do not want to trade jobs with you.

 Kurobuto pork belly with a croquette

Kurobuto pork belly with a croquette

That's just one dish, folks. Many other restaurants, both from Disney World and the community, will have stations of their own, each one offering up a chef-driven gourmet goodie the likes of which you may never have experienced. Among the other restaurants at Chef's Gala 2018 are Primo by Melissa Kelly, Bull & Bear and Jiko–The Cooking Place.

The other foods on this page? Those were gifts to me by Flying Fish's Chef Tim last night. If you want to tickle your taste buds with any or all of them, they're easy to get. Simply book a table at this sensational-looking BoardWalk Inn restaurant. That, too, is worth a splurge.

Or, go for the lobster/elderflowr/cava/vanilla affair at Heart of Florida United Way's Chef's Gala, which will be close to the dish pictured here. Then you'll get to experience exceptional bits from other top area restaurants too.

Here's the link with info on Chef's Gala and access to buying tickets. Grab a glass of wine before you cybersurf so you're relaxed enough to go through with it and type in that credit card number. You will enjoy yourself, guaranteed. Plus, you'll be making a true difference in the town you call home.