Walking into the Boys of Summer celebrity chef charity event at Florida Builder Appliances in Pompano Beach, we could smell the chocolate before we saw it. We wound our way through islands of glimmering stainless-steel refrigerators, gas stove tops, and high-tech wine coolers to find the source.
Each model kitchen brought a new treat. From Chef Carlos Fernandez of Hi-Life Cafe, there was a tempting bolognese sauce
made from New York strip and filet mignon, garnished with shreds of fresh basil. Oliver Saucy of Cafe Maxx dished out tender, BBQ pulled pork
sliders slathered with fresh slaw
and spiced with an Asian kick.
Gracious hosts poured
perfectly paired glasses of Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc or pinot noir.
But it didn't matter. All we could think about was the chocolate fountain.
it was, at the back of the store, surrounded by all the perfect dipping
treats: marshmallows, vanilla wafers, pretzels, strawberries. This
tower of sugary heaven immediately attracted a loyal female following.
"I could break into song," one woman announced.
"I've found happiness," added another.
"I didn't meant to get two, but they just jumped onto my stick!" cried a third -- referring, of course, to her marshmallows.
About 175 people attended the event, a fundraiser for Feeding South Florida. For 15 or 20 minutes at a time, we managed to pull ourselves away from the chocolate to pay attention to the chef demonstrations. We saw Allen Susser, of Chef Allen's and Taste Gastropub, mix tamarind sauce and cinnamon for his garlicky guava shrimp with macadamia nut rice. Fernandez made a bubbly, crowd-pleasing presentation of his bolognese recipe, sipping wine from a bowl and noting, "I only killed one person last year. He had it coming; don't feel bad for him."
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Still, the fountain was the star attraction. One woman "accidentally" dipped her purse in the chocolate and proceeded to lick it off. Another dripped some sauce on her chest and was happy to have a chef help her wipe it away. By the end of the evening, patrons were brazenly sticking pretzel sticks into the chocolate stream.
For a charity event, it was a smashing success. We left pleasantly full, slightly buzzed, sporting unabashedly sticky hands.