Peter Lopez is looking forward to seeing old friends and colleagues from the restaurant industry. For the Shooters Waterfront director of operations, one of the great pleasures of the DINE Fort Lauderdale dining series is seeing what’s going on in other restaurants.
“I think it’s always been a great collaboration of the culinary scene for a great cause,” he says. “We don’t usually get to go out and see others who sweat blood 24/7.”
After being curtailed in 2020 and canceled in 2021, Fort Lauderdale Magazine’s premier Fort Lauderdale dining event looks to come back strong in 2022. The culinary wine pairing experience will feature five meals at top Fort Lauderdale restaurants before concluding with a fusion meal featuring courses from each participant. The fusion night will also include a silent auction to benefit the Emeril Lagasse Foundation.
For several participating restaurants, DINE Fort Lauderdale marks a return to big culinary events. It’s a return they’ve been looking forward to. “It’s been an ebb and a flow with the events,” says Isabel Cosby, sales director for the Capital Grille. “We ramped back up, then we backed off. We are excited to be able to start doing them; we are ready for them.”
For Capital Grille executive chef partner Marc Gruverman, an event like the DINE Fort Lauderdale fusion night isn’t just a time to drop off food and go. It’s an opportunity to stay, mingle and sit in a beautiful restaurant enjoying and talking about great food. “It gives me a chance to talk to other chefs, see what’s going on, share some best practices,” he says. “A lot of friends, we’ve been doing things like this together for years.”
After almost two years of unique struggles and successes, they’re a group with plenty to say to each other. “Getting us out of the restaurant, letting us interact with some of our guests that we don’t get to see that often – it’s been a while since we’ve been out there.”
Restaurants like Shooters Waterfront and the Capital Grille are well established in Fort Lauderdale. For one newer restaurant, DINE Fort Lauderdale will also provide an opportunity to introduce itself more on the scene. “As a new restaurant to the Fort Lauderdale dining scene, we look forward to showing guests our take on a glamorous evening of fine dining,” says Alev Ersoy, managing partner at Eddie V’s Prime Seafood. “Guests can look forward to unparalleled service in a lively atmosphere, along with artistically prepared dishes paired with acclaimed wines.
“Eddie V’s is a fine dining destination serving prime seafood, hand-carved steaks and imaginative cocktails in an alluring setting complete with live music. We are best known for fresh, prime seafood flown in from pristine waters around the world, as well as premium hand-carved steaks.”
Challenges remain in the industry, but DINE Fort Lauderdale participants say they’ve been ramping up for a while now and are ready to entertain big parties.
“We’re definitely challenged with supply chain,” Lopez says. “It’s no fault of any of our purveyors; it’s just the warehouses, the suppliers, the farms, they’re not able to produce the amount of product that’s needed for the consumers at this time.”
That said, restaurants are being creative; Shooters Waterfront used to work with just two suppliers, Lopez says, but now they’ve opened it up to everybody.
At the Capital Grille, Gruverman has seen similar. “It’s slowly getting there,” he says of supply chain issues. “Some days are better than others. The world is changing as far as the supply chains and the work force. We’re rolling with the punches and doing the best we can.”
They’ve also started buying from Harpke Farms, a family-owned grower and supplier in Davie. “We try to get out in our community and use as many local people as we can,” Gruverman says. “You’d be surprised how much produce comes out of Florida. Florida’s very underestimated as far as our resources here.”
Beyond that, DINE Fort Lauderdale will be a time to show off a restaurant and an industry that’s still doing a few things differently, but that’s come a long way back from where it was a year ago.
“Our guests have trusted us for 38 years,” Lopez says. “We’ve got as close to back to normal as we can while still allowing people to come here and feel safe.”