Bernie Gendron never shies away from friendly competition. The cook and owner of Island Jerk in Brunswick has participated in the annual Taste of Glynn charity event for the past six years, allowing her to square off against others in the local culinary industry.
It’s for an important cause too — the Glynn Community Crisis Center, which supports victims of domestic violence.
“It’s a lot of fun, and it’s good exposure for the businesses. I always try to make something that people may have never tried,” she said.
The event, held at the King and Prince Resort on St. Simons Island, will return from 5 to 8 p.m. April 14. Restaurants, hotels and vendors set up stations where attendees can sample various dishes and libations in an oceanfront setting. Judges offer awards for those deemed the best, providing plaques that are proudly displayed on walls throughout the Golden Isles.
Awards are presented in a variety of cuisine-based categories including international, coastal flair, comfort and dessert. There’s also an honor for best tablescape.
Gendron is, naturally, hoping to bring the coveted cutting board shaped trophy home this year. But it is the spirit of the event itself that she truly treasures.
“The community has to take care of itself, and this is our way to support the community. I’m a huge advocate for community cooperation,” Gendron said.
Her fellow participant, Tanya Sergey, agrees. The owner of A Moveable Feast in Brunswick has participated in A Taste of Glynn since 2008, when she was operating a personal chef service.
Getting involved in the event has been a way to give back, as well as provide a positive example for her children.
“My children and I have participated in community fundraising events since the time they could walk,” she said. “We love mixing it up with friends and locals and having a great time while working for a good cause.”
This year, the 19th annual incarnation, is expected to draw more than a thousand attendees from around the Isles. In addition to the food, participants can take part in silent auctions.
Prizes include local art, home décor items, mixed baskets with gift certificates, jewelry, massages and wine baskets. Donations include a two-night stay at the Westin on Jekyll Island with breakfast for two; a bicycle donated by Monkeywrench and golf for four at the King and Prince Golf Course. Live entertainment will be provided by Michael Hulett, Bill Lukitsch and Monique Cothern. The merging of food and coastal fun has become a highly anticipated event with all of the proceeds going back to the crisis center. Tickets are $45 per person in advance, or $60 the day of the event. For tickets, visit www.atasteofglynn.com. For ease of transit, a shuttle service will be provided for patrons from Massengale Park on Ocean Boulevard, St. Simons Island, to the King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort.
And while it will be an upbeat event, the funds help the Glynn Community Crisis Center provide serious services such as a 24-hour Crisis Hotline, safe shelter and advocacy.
In addition to the center, the donations also support Amity House, a shelter for abused women and their children. Hope House, a transitional living home for those with housing barriers, is another mission that benefits from A Taste of Glynn. Various programs like support groups also see monetary support from the event. For Dottie Bromley, executive director of the Glynn Community Crisis Center, the importance of A Taste of Glynn cannot be overstated. As the organization’s primary fundraiser, success of the event is critical to the overall mission of the center.
“The proceeds pay for costs not covered by grants, as well as provide matching dollars as required by our funders,” Bromley said.
“These dollars make a difference and are critical to maintaining programming and safe shelter for survivors as they build life anew free from abuse and fear.”