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GCHS’ ‘Celebrity Chef Festival’ features area’s top chefs

February 12, 2020
By MELISSA BILL ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

The Gulf Coast Humane Society's "Celebrity Chef Festival" is back after a welcomed debut in 2019. The shelter's largest fundraiser of the year was held on Thursday, Jan. 30, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at Six Bends, at 9510 Thunder Road in Fort Myers.

Guests attending the gala were able to sample dishes set forth at the stations from some of the top chefs in the area.

Their restaurants' signature dishes wer among the offerings featured.

Article Photos

Guests attending the gala were able to sample dishes set forth at the stations from some of the top chefs in the area.


Chef de Cuisine John Hill, Chef Benjamin Voisin and Executive Chef Fabrice Deletrain of Gather Restaurant in Cape Coral, showcased their decadent meat dish, which was a big hit during the night.

According to Chef de Cuisine Hill, the restaurants culinary artists take a lot of pride in sourcing out only freshest ingredients.

"We try to stay progressive and serve only hyper-local, scratch dishes. It's really hard sometimes to find people who are willing to make it fresh," Hill said. "It's been a great night so far and we are glad to come out here and serve our signature dishes for a good cause."

Jay Johnson of Bubba's Roadhouse and Saloon, another favorite in Cape Coral, was on-site showcasing his restaurants mouth-watering barbecue.

According to a GCHS press release, last year was the first year the organization decided to incorporate the celebrity chef theme into its event.

"The Second Annual Celebrity Chef Festival was a grand success and it's all because of everyone who turned out to help the shelter animals. This is a very important fundraiser for us and it's a wonderful way to kick-off 2020 for the shelter animals. Everyone shined Thursday night, from all the attendees, to the volunteers and staff. And a huge thank you to all the chefs who came out during their busiest time of the season to support GCHS and prepare wonderful food and drinks for our guests," GCHS spokesperson Brian Wierima said.

Other All-Star chefs attending included: Harold Balink of Harold's (Fort Myers); Brian Gorman of Artichoke & Company (Bonita Springs); International Renowned Chocolatier Norman Love of Norman Love Confections; Brewmasters Rob and Jen Whyte of Fort Myers Brewing Co. (Fort Myers); Carlo Rao of Mastello Ristorante (Fort Myers); Michael and Brie DeNunzio of Fine Folk Pizza (Fort Myers); Brian Roland of Crave Culinaire and Venue Naples (Naples) and Greg Buell of Fat Katz (Fort Myers).

This year's chef gala also featured a highly prosperous live and silent auction that allowed guests to bid on unique, quality items. Guests were treated to hors d'oeuvres, an open bar and got the chance to mingle with the GCHS furry ambassadors who were on-site.

The live auction included high-quality items such as a custom-made, hand-signed Mark Loren necklace, trip to Africa and unique personal experience items.

The gala was also the perfect opportunity for the owners of Cattyshack Caf to introduce the community to their concept. Fort Myers' first cat caf partnered up with the Gulf Coast Humane Society to bring the new concept to the Gulf Coast Town Center located in Fort Myers.

According to owner/operators Andrew Townsend and Amber Redfern, the hopes behind creating the caf is to recognize all the wonderful felines that are currently up for adoption.

"All the cats will be vaccinated, spayed/neutered, and ready for adoption. The caf is an opportunity for the people to see the cats in a relaxed atmosphere, where they can run and play. Just be themselves. Our hopes is to offer a better human-to-cat match," Amber Redfern said.

Cattyshack Caf offers a coffee shop/lounge setting where patrons can interact with the felines over a cup of Joe or a tasty dessert.

Gulf Coast Humane Society is a regional organization dedicated to helping companion pets find their forever homes, no matter how long it takes. GCHS provides an adoption center, spay-neuter and veterinary clinic, as well as education and awareness to the public about the welfare of homeless pets.

GCHS Veterinary Clinic: 2685 Swamp Cabbage Court, Fort Myers, 33901; Phone: 239-332-2719

GCHS Spay/Neuter Clinic: 2010 Arcadia Street, Fort Myers, 33916; Phone: 239-332-1573

GCHS Adoption Center: 2010 Arcadia Street, Fort Myers, 33916; Phone: 239-332-0364

For more information visit



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