Dine Fort Lauderdale aims to bring some of the city’s top chefs together – all to benefit great local programs.

Few things are better than an elegant, creative dinner in a fine restaurant. Although one thing that’s better than that? Seven of those dinners. Seven of those dinners, and knowing that money raised from your dining is going to a good cause.

In 2019, Fort Lauderdale Magazine launches Dine Fort Lauderdale. This exclusive culinary series will feature dinners at six of Fort Lauderdale’s top restaurants and a grand finale fusion dinner where chefs from all six get together at one location for one incredible multi-course meal.

With Dine Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale Magazine aims to celebrate our city’s growing, increasingly sophisticated and diverse food scene. We want to celebrate some of the city’s best kitchens – and we’d like to offer diners some amazing nights out. In the coming weeks and months, we’ll reveal more about Dine Fort Lauderdale, including all participating restaurants. Want one? OK, The Capital Grille Fort Lauderdale is taking part. Want a little more? French aperitif winemaker Lillet will be providing drinks.

“The restaurant scene continues to evolve and at The Capital Grille we stay on top because we look for new and interesting partnerships,” says Marc Gruverman, executive chef of The Capital Grille Fort Lauderdale. “We are excited to be a part of the Dine Fort Lauderdale culinary series and look forward to kicking off the private dinner pairings with five other chefs in January.”
Food also tastes better when it’s being eaten for a good cause. That’s why profits from Dine Fort Lauderdale will go to the Emeril Lagasse Foundation. The New Orleans celebrity chef’s foundation raises money and partners with organizations across America, including two here in Fort Lauderdale.

Both local programs involve helping young people with developmental disabilities train and find work in the food industry. One is a program at the Dan Marino Foundation’s Marino Campus in Flagler Village. It offers hospitality training to people on the autism spectrum.

“We believe these kids – and they’ve proven – they can be such significant parts of our society,” Emeril Lagasse Foundation president Brian Kish says. “They can be such important members of our workforce … if they’re given the right training.”

A similar program exists at Arc Broward. The local not-for-profit offers a training program and also operates a catering company where trainees can get real-world experience.

“It’s incredible,” Kish says. “They’re taking people who have developmental disabilities and they’re teaching them culinary skills, not just for home but to go into the workforce. “After they graduate the program, they’re now an employable person in our communities.”

Programs like these also offer a practical benefit to communities, Kish says. He sees Fort Lauderdale as similar to New Orleans – a place with a largely tourism-driven economy that needs lots of trained food service workers.

Marc Gruverman, executive chef, The Capital Grille Fort Lauderdale.
Marc Gruverman, executive chef, The Capital Grille Fort Lauderdale.

“You live and die by it, the same as we do in New Orleans,” he says.

Since it was founded in 2002, the Emeril Lagasse Foundation has sought to support initiatives such as these, first in New Orleans and then around the country. It’s a public charity, not a private family foundation, and it participates in many charity events. “We’re great at raising money,” Kish says. “We’re also really good at giving it away.”

In fact, it already has an established presence in South Florida thanks to Line, Vine and Dine, an exclusive charity fishing tournament held in Miami around the time of the Miami International Boat Show. That, Kish explains, is something else near and dear to Lagasse.

“His passion and favorite thing in the world is to get out on a boat and do some deep-sea fishing,” Kish says.

That and other connections – Lagasse keeps his boat in South Florida in the winter, several foundation board members live in the Fort Lauderdale area – made another connection perfect for the organization.

“We now feel like it’s our community,” Kish says. “We now see that as another part of our expansion. It’s now a strategic area for us that we want to invest in.

“We’ve already [raised] close to $300,000 in [South Florida], and we’re about to announce something that would double that. There’s another very large gift coming.”

Local Dine Fort Lauderdale participants are excited about getting together, and about the clout and fundraising prowess that a national organization like the Emeril Lagasse Foundation can provide.

“It’s fitting that we are benefiting the Emeril Lagasse Foundation with a high end auction at the Fusion event where the restaurant partners will collaborate on a six-course menu,” says Gruverman, the Capital Grille Fort Lauderdale executive chef. “I make a point to support fellow chefs whenever I can, and Emeril and the foundation are helping thousands of young people around the country through culinary training and education. At the end of the day life is defined by what you give and the quality of your relationships. That is why I love what I do – I get to work with great people, deliver an amazing dining experience and do good for others. This just connects on many levels.”

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