Imagine Gala raises more than $70k with Celebrity Chef Cook-off

March 30, 2016 CONRIC PR

Food, fun, and plenty of exciting auction items combined at the 11th Annual Imagine Gala on Saturday, March 12 for a magnificent evening that raised more than $70,000 to support the Imaginarium Science Center and Southwest Florida Museum of History.Fabrice And Ben

Nearly 200 people enjoyed a little friendly competition and lots of great food from four of Southwest Florida’s finest chefs, who sliced and diced their way through the Celebrity Cook-Off competition. Chefs Fabrice Deletrain and Benjamin Voisin of Fathoms Restaurant & Bar, Chef James Fraser of FGCU’s Hospitality and Resort Management Program, and Chef David Rashty of Jack’s Farm to Fork at the Pink Shell all presented exquisite works of culinary art that made the judging process extremely difficult. Among the 12 judges were TV star and MasterChef Finalist Derrick Peltz. Taking home the Imagine Gala Top Chef apron this year were Chefs Deletrain and Voisin of Fathoms.Matt Johnson, Jonathan Romine, Connie Ramos-Williams and Christin LOW RES

The chefs first whetted the crowd’s appetite for competition, with gala guests taking to the polls to decide who would win Best Appetizer. Chef Fraser garnered the most votes for his delicious smoked sous vide breast of chicken and took home the coveted bronze chef trophy.

Educator and performer Glen Beitman brought his locally famous Wild Wizard science show, adapted for a mature audience, to the gala stage for a fantastic show involving some amazing science and gala guests.IMG_0112 Tracie Bagans, Kathryn Kelly, Josh and Lori Milton LOW RES

Amongst all of the evening’s excitement guests had a chance to bid on some great auction items, including chefs table dinners, a week’s vacation in the mountains of North Carolina, a full-service landscape design and installation package, a 3-day stay at the Pink Shell, magnificent clothes from Chico’s, and a vacation on Captiva Island.

The generosity of ticket holders and sponsors demonstrated a dedication to the Imaginarium and SWFL Museum of History as major community assets. All money raised at the event will benefit The Imaginarium Group and SWFL Museum of History Foundation, as they continue to bring new exhibits and educational opportunities to our community.IMG_0064 Roger and Stacy Mercado with Kevin Anderson LOW RES

Jonathan Romine, President of the Imaginarium Group’s Board of Directors, said, “We sincerely appreciate the outpouring of support we received from the community for the Imaginarium and Museum of History. We’d like to give special thanks to our Title Sponsor, Lipman Produce, for the support they continue to give to this event. The Imaginarium and Museum of History are both great assets for Southwest Florida and the continuous support we receive from the community allows us to bring great exhibits and programs to its residents.”IMG_0140 Caitlin and Jan-Erik Hustrulid with Karen and David Miller LOW RES

The board, event committee, and staff are grateful to the many sponsors who helped make the gala such a great success, including Title Sponsor Lipman Produce, and major sponsors Chico’s FAS, Inc., Enterprise, EnSite, Inc., Publix Supermarket Charities, CONRIC PR & Makreting, and The News-Press Media Group.

About the Imaginarium Science Center
The Imaginarium Science Center is a family-friendly science center and aquarium offering fun interactive exhibits and a 3-D theatre. The mission is to engage guests in the exploration of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) through hands-on exhibit experiences and educational programs that further the understanding of the natural and human-made world, foster an appreciation for Southwest Florida’s unique environment and natural waterways, and nurture intellectual curiosity, discovery, and innovation. For more information, visit

About the SWFL Museum of History
The SWFL Museum of History The Southwest Florida Museum of History is dedicated to the collection, preservation, and interpretation of history and traditions, with particular emphasis on Fort Myers and Southwest Florida. Exhibits showcase the region’s rich history, from prehistoric to modern day. For more information, visit

Two great museums come together!
The Imaginarium Science Center and the SWFL Museum of History have been under joint leadership for nearly a decade, but are now planning a new museum experience. Get a sneak peek as to where that path may lead at this joint fundraising event. It is sure to make history and blaze new trails into the future!

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