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Ranch Community Fund cooks up a new fundraiser

The Polo Grill’s Fete Ballroom looked like a scene from the Food Network last Friday night. Their first interactive dinner was part “Iron Chef,” part “Next Food Network Star” and a whole lot of fun.

Jaymie and Tommy Klauber transported the idea from their other restaurant, Pattigeorge’s, and decided to make it a benefit for the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund. Diane Brune, Nick Drizos, Lydia Kolbas and Ron Masseo signed up as additional chairs and the group’s Tahitian Adventure Interactive Dinner proved that summer events can be successful.

In case you have never been to one, interactive dinners enlist some of the guests to prepare the dishes tableside. Fortunately, Chef Tommy gave step-by-step instructions from the stage, with help from the very funny Tim and Michelle Wilkins. And, even better, each novice cook had an experienced sous chef providing personal assistance.

Unofficial Lakewood Ranch mayor Don O’Leary and Keith Davey wielded the spatulas for the first course at their table. They prepared pan-seared snapper and wilted arugula. New chefs were nominated for each course and Chuck Fradley, David Scalisi and Brian Grogan took over the duties for their group to make curry-seared filet of beef.

Lakewood Ranch Community Fund president Cathy Layton was thrilled with the inaugural event, which drew a crowd of almost 200 people. She said that she met lots of new folks who are now new friends of the community fund.

Seen on the scene were Kip and Angela Radigan, Janira and Brian Powell (whose company, A Tropical Affair, provided some of the decorations), Iris Starr, and the Polo Club’s Maggie Mitchell.

Susan Wilcox, a Florida native, has lived in Bradenton for more than 20 years. She has been active in many local organizations as a volunteer or an employee.