By Peter Covino

A&E Editor

Central Florida’s premier dining event for charity, the Heart of Florida United Way Chef’s Gala returns to Epcot at Disney World, Saturday, Feb. 4.

This is the 25th anniversary event for the evening which raises some $300,000 annually for people in need in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties.

As it does every year, the Chef’s Gala features food and wine from more than 20 of the area’s top chefs.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be part of the milestone 25th anniversary of Chef’s Gala as my first event,” said Jeff Hayward, Heart of Florida United Way’s president and CEO.

“This elegant evening raises nearly $300,000 each year to help people in the tri-county region, which would not be possible without out dedicated sponsors, committee members and, of course, wonderful attendees.

Once again being held at Epcot World Showcase, the participating residents include:

Artist Pointe at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge; blu on the avenue; California Grill at Disney; deep bu at Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort; Jiko The Cooking Place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge; Jungle Skipper Canteen at Magic Kingdom Park; K Restaurant; La Luce at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek; Le Cellier Steakhouse at Epcot; Narcoosee’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort; Primo by Melissa Kelly at Grande Lakes Orlando; Raglan Road Irish Pub; Soco Restaurant; STK Orlando; Tiffins at Disney Animal Kingdom; Todd English’s bluezoo; Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s Boardwalk; Urban Tide Hyatt Regency Orlando; Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resort.

Desserts and

Specialty Coffees

Amorette’s Patisserie at Disney Springs; Bake Me A Cake; Disney’s Yacht & Beach Bakery at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts and Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company.

The event will be held from 6:45 to 10 p.m. and includes live music and a silent auction.

Tickets for the Chef’s Gala can be purchased at www.chefsgala.org for $275, $500 for two and $2,500 for a corporate package of ten tickets.

You can also phone 407-835-0923 or email chefsgala@hfuw.org for more information or sponsorship.

As usual, Walt Disney World is the host and sponsor for the event. Additional sponsors can be found at www.hfuw.org/materials.

This year’s event co-chairs are Dr. Antonia Novello, former U.S. Surgeon General and former executive director of public health policy for Florida Hospital and Stephen Ting, Retail Market Manager/Vice President of TD Bank.

Heart of Florida United Way is Central Florida’s most comprehensive health and human services charity and the largest provider of funds to the region’s most critical programs. Because of the support of its sponsors, more than 95 percent of the money raised from the event goes directly to those in need.

Direct donations and silent auction bids at the gala support nearly 60 programs at 40 Heart of Florida United Way partner agencies.

Last year alone, the area United Way served more than 650,000 people in the tri-county region. Every year, the organization helps improve the lives of nearly one in five Central Floridians.