BRADENTON -- Owner and chef Gaetano Cannata of Ortygia in Village of the Arts wouldn't think of making a red sauce out of ingredients from a can.
So, when more than 500 homeless and needy people show up on the patio at his restaurant at 1418 13th St. W., Bradenton between 1 and 4 p.m. Monday for the third annual "Feed the Village" free feast, everything will be made from scratch by Cannata, as he does for all of his paying patrons.
Diners will not only get Cannata's home-made creation called "Chicken Pasta Bake," but will get soft drinks, live music, and rolls and chocolate chip cookies made fresh a few doors down by Chef Dana Johnson of Sugar Cubed Bakery.
"That's Gaetano," said April Childers, vice president of the nonprofit Help to Home, which helps homeless families into transitional housing.
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"The food will be great."
"Feed the Village" is held on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day every year.
"We see the same people every year," Childers added.
Childers said there are 1,800 homeless children in Manatee County.
"The message we must get out is that many a homeless person's situation is not by choice, but by circumstance," Childers said.
Getting the word out
"We put fliers out and April notifies Goodwill and Salvation Army," Cannata said when asked how people are informed about the feast.
"We will have 25 volunteers helping. On top of that we have a stage. I play the harmonica and I know musicians. So we think we will have six to eight musicians."
Since Cannata and Childers can't do it all themselves, Don and Sally Cosgrove from Sally's Art Studio also came in Sunday to help with the prep work.
"The Cosgroves love doing this," Cannata said.
"Guy is one of the most giving and generous people I know," Ortygia assistant chef Billy Cannady said as he fashioned about 1,000 meatballs Sunday.
"It's got chicken, parmesan cheese, pasta, tomato sauce," Cannata said of his Chicken Pasta Bake.
"We are also serving a salad, an organic spring mix with red onions, Parmesan cheese and almonds and pomegranate dressing."
After preparing the trays of pasta Sunday, Cannata walked them down on a dolly to Chef Dana Thompson at Sugar Cubed Bakery.
"Chef Dana will put them in his convection oven for us after storing them overnight," Cannata said.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7072 or on Twitter @RichardDymond