It was a fun time on Thursday, Oct. 8 for all those who participated in Flavors 2020, the annual showcase of restaurants in Wellington. As in past years, this special event was organized by the Wellington Chamber of Commerce.
Flavors usually takes place each spring, bringing hundreds of people together at a huge restaurant showcase. The event was postponed because of COVID-19 concerns, and a new format was developed. Instead of restaurants showcasing their cuisine at one large venue, the chamber brought attendees in small groups to local restaurants.
Wellington Chamber Executive Director Michela Green was all smiles at the end of the three-hour event, where participants, including Wellington Mayor Anne Gerwig, were assigned to one of nine trolleys and driven to eight different locations, where multiple vendors were ready to serve food upon arrival. Before boarding the trolleys, all attendees were temperature checked. While on the trolleys, mask wearing was mandatory.
“I am 100 percent satisfied that we exceeded the expectations of vendors and participants,” Green said. “This was a great way to get people out, mixing with one another and networking while still being COVID-19 compliant. Many people enjoyed our new format.”
The safety restrictions didn’t dampen the enthusiasm.
“My wife and I participated in Flavors last year and decided to return,” John Noll said. “It’s a great way to have fun, enjoy great food and meet wonderful people.”
“This is a great chance to get out and see some of Wellington’s great restaurants,” agreed Jorge and Alejandra Garrido.
Local restaurateurs were also pleased.
“We’re a new restaurant to the area, and we are happy to participate,” said Nick Cervera, owner of Mole Cantina Mexicana.
Flavors 2020 featured food samples from 17 Wellington restaurants that ranged from Backstreet’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill to Lemongrass Asian Bistro to Whit’s Frozen Custard. The evening’s overall menu included appetizers, drinks and desserts. For example, Wellington National Golf Club served its tasty Brussels sprouts tossed with chipotle aioli, applewood bacon, pickled onions and topped with feta cheese. Lemongrass Asian Bistro provided samples of a gluten-free pad Thai. Hurricane Dockside Grill presented ahi tuna tacos and fried buttermilk chicken tenders. Piatto Bravo cooked shortbread ravioli and mushroom risotto truffles. The Poké Company had spicy tuna nachos and salmon poké. India Grill & Bar served generous portions of chicken tika masala. Devi Masala served samples of popped rice, and Stonewood Grill & Tavern featured cheesesteak pasta.
“It’s cheesesteak without the bread and with pasta instead,” Stonewood manager Lesley Pagac, explained.
Backstreet’s, now under new ownership, used this event to help launch its new look. The food was tasty and traditional, featuring barbecued pork and chicken with a side of pickles as guests were entertained by singer/guitarist Mike Klein. Wellington National and Hurricane Dockside also energized their locations with live music.
The desserts were delightful and delicious. Whit’s served three flavors of frozen custard. Factory Donuts, which produces fresh, gourmet and made-to-order doughnuts in 24 signature flavors, had an assortment of doughnuts ready for immediate consumption. Starbucks provided coffee, iced coffee, passion tea and cake pops for participants to grab and go. Mole Cantina Mexicana had generous portions of tres leches, which complemented its spicy chicken quesadillas and carnitas en salsa verde.
Specialty drinks were also a major part of the evening’s menu. Stonewood’s blueberry martinis, served in miniature martini glasses, were extremely popular. “Those martinis are really, really good,” Robin Cardoza said. “They are the best.”
The baby margueritas at Mole Cantina, the tropical hurricanes at Hurricane Dockside and the sangria spritzers at Backstreet’s were a big hit. There were also wine tastings by PRP Wine and Scout & Cellar.
The Flavors 2020 judges sampled all the fare and declared a few winners. Mole Cantina Mexicana won for Overall Taste. Wellington National Golf Club was named Best Trolley Stop. Whit’s Frozen Custard took Best Dessert and Mole Cantina Mexicana won for Best Cocktail. The People’s Choice Award went to India Grill & Bar.
Green thanked the event’s sponsors for their support, including Florida Power & Light, Schumacher Automotive Group, Professional Bank, the Wellness Experience, the Mall at Wellington Green and Live 360.