Plant City celebrity chef fundraiser exceeds $50,000 goal
PLANT CITY, Feb 19, 2013 (Tampa Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Celebrity chef Whitney Miller was a big hit at a Friday night fundraiser where she demonstrated her cooking skills and helped raise more than $50,000 to feed the needy.
"Everyone loved Whitney," chairwoman Gail Lyons said of the fundraiser for the United Food Bank of Plant City.
The 25-year-old chef, with the help of her mother, Mary Miller, demonstrated how to make cupcakes with strawberry filling, weaving in stories of her rise to fame that has led to appearances around the world. Her career took off after she won Fox's first "MasterChef" show in 2010.
She shared cooking tips and stories about often humorous challenges she's faced as a globe-trotting chef, such as a communication barrier when she visited China and worked with cooks who didn't speak English. After her appearance, she signed copies of her cookbook, "Modern Hospitality: Simple Recipes with Southern Charm."
Lyons said an exact tally wasn't yet available but the fifth annual Celebrity Chef Dinner exceeded its $50,000 goal.
Food bank Executive Director Christine Miller said the money raised by the fundraiser will go a long ways toward helping the nonprofit feed the needy. Last year, the agency fed 4,000 families and distributed more than 375,000 pounds of food. The United Food Bank also provided food for 1,000 youngsters during out of school time, such over the Christmas break.
The agency based at 702 E. Alsobrook St., Suite H, needs all the help it can get, and the Celebrity Chef Dinner is the food bank's biggest fundraiser of the year, she said.
"Hunger exists right here in East Hillsborough County," she said during the fundraiser. "With your help, we are making a difference."
Lyons said this year's dinner included a different format, including a band and a more structured program. Also, guests were served foods prepared with the celebrity chef's recipes.
"We received a lot of positive feedback," Lyons said. "I was very pleased with the way the night turned out."
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