Chefs in Shorts, Florida style

Harlem Heights, a neighborhood not far from where I grew up, is a severely distressed community, with kids living in poverty at twice the rate of the rest of Lee County. It happens to be close to my heart — not only did I go to elementary school in the area for six years, I played soccer every Saturday at the local sports fields and did a lot of extracurricular activities in the neighborhood.

The Heights Foundation (est. 2000) is a grassroots, hands-on organization that celebrates the strength and diversity of the community and has the goal of breaking the cycle of poverty. Its work supports community development programs for individuals, students, and families, and provides charitable outreach projects in the community. Recently the foundation opened The Heights Center — a place where at-risk children learn character and integrity, and where they are nurtured and encouraged, as they discover and experience the visual and performing arts.

And later this year, The Heights Foundation will open The Heights Culinary Center – a commercial teaching kitchen that will provide family self-sufficiency and development through workforce training as well as community feeding programs. How great is that!?

Last week, my parents attended the inaugural Heights Foundation Culinary Series “Chefs in Shorts” – a funky, Floridian-style benefit for The Heights Culinary Center which showcased the area’s finest chefs:

The food must have been really good, because my dad emailed me this delicious picture (cocoa butter seared, Macadamia nut-crusted grouper cheeks with plantain-foie gras Mofongo and vanilla bean rum beurre blank {!!!}) from the event:

If you’re ever in Fort Myers or Sanibel Island, now you know where to eat! Humongous congrats to my pal Peggy Mannix who is on the board at The Heights Foundation.

To get involved with any of these amazing programs, visit www.heightsfoundation.org. Check out their Facebook page here.

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