The Sunset Grill will be participating in a nationwide fundraiser called "Unite for a Bite" for the Women Chefs and Restauranteurs (WCR), an organization dedicated to promoting and enhancing the education, advancement and connection of women in the culinary industry.
A percentage of the restaurant's sales will be donated to the organization in support of the WCR's many scholarship and educational programs.
The date of the event, Thursday, Aug. 13, was selected by Sunset Grill executive chef Amy Visco to commemorate the anniversary of renowned chef Julia Child's birthday on that date.
Sunset Grill executive chef Amy Visco is pictured with copies of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” co-authored by Julia Child, and “Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen,” by Julie Powell.
Visco also says that the book, "Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen," by Julie Powell - also the source of inspiration for the new movie "Julie & Julia," starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams - gave her further incentive to go with a Julia Child theme.
The book, "Julie and Julia," follows the author's attempts to cook every single dish in Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1."
"With the movie coming out, Julia Child's birthday being the fifteenth and her being such a huge inspiration for all women chefs, everything just ties together," Visco said.
Unite for a Bite fundraiser menu of specials
The specials selected by chef Amy Visco come directly from Julie Powell's "Julie and Julia" and are accompanied by quotes from the book. Diners also have the option to sample the regular menu and different dishes in an a la carte.
"This will be the fourth fundraiser that I've done for the organization here on the island," Visco said, listing two jazz-themed events at Ellington's on Sanibel and last year's Unite for a Bite event at the Sunset Grill.
"Five percent of the profits will go to the organization. They (WCR) offer so many different scholarships and internship programs that are really amazing. " Visco said.
According to the WCR's Web site, www.womenchefs.org, an amount of almost $10,000 was raised nationwide by restaurants participating in last year's event.
Visco and the Sunset Grill donated 40 percent of the profits from their special Unite for a Bite event last year - around $2,000 - to WCR.
This year's event will feature the regular Sunset Grill menu in addition to a list of specials pulled from the pages of Powell's - and therefore Child's -book.
Visco says she wanted to prepare dishes that are specifically mentioned in the book and, since the movie comes out today, she hopes the dishes she's selected for her specials list will make an appearance in the film.
"They're all mentioned in her book," Visco said, describing the evening's special menu, "and I put little quotes from the book about what she said while she was cooking them."
Interestingly enough, Visco also had the opportunity to meet Child.
"We did a fundraiser at the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville, Ky. I happened to be sous chef of the Oakroom restaurant at the time so, for me, it was kind of like I hit the jackpot. I got to help organize the whole thing and I got to meet Julia.. .it was really amazing," Visco said.
"When she came into the restaurant, she immediately grabbed my hands. It was so sweet, and she said, 'I'm so proud of you,'" Visco says with a smile.
"She was so wonderful and relaxed about everything. It was an amazing experience," Visco said, noting that her own personal culinary icon, her grandmother, idolized Child.
The Unite for a Bite event will run from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 13.
"It's something different and something that's a lot of fun, especially if you're going to see the movie or you've read the book. Most of these dishes are so unique," Visco said, adding that she encourages folks to go see the film and then sample some of Child's famous dishes at the Sunset Grill - all while helping out a good cause.
***The date of the event was incorrectly printed in our publications. The date of the event is Thursday, August 13, from 6 to 9 p.m.