Amore Restaurant Hosts Fundraiser for Head Chef



On December 1, Amore Restaurant opened its doors for the first time on Pineapple Avenue, relocating from its famous locale on Longboat Key. But it opened without a key member of the Amore family—head chef Sam Hatfield. Less than a week prior to the opening, while riding his motorcycle, Hatfield was struck by a truck. He survived the incident, but with extensive injuries to his left hand, arm and leg, leaving him unable to work but facing mounting medical bills. Not one to abandon family, Amore Restaurant will be hosting a fundraiser at the restaurant this Sunday, Dec. 17, to help the young father of twin five-year-old girls back on his feet.

“He’s part of the family,” says Amore’s Liana Vitorino, who runs the restaurant with husband Tito and owner Howard Rooks. “At Amore, we will always be a big family.” And you always help family, says Vitorino. The restaurant did open on schedule, with Stefano Sasso from Café Epicure stepping in as head chef (“An angel,” says Vitorino.), and now Vitorino wants to help Hatfield.

The event begins Sunday at 2pm, when, in addition to fine food and drink from Amore, three local musicians will take the stage in a series of mini-concerts throughout the day. Coming out in support of Hatfield, the multilingual crooner Michelet Innocent takes the stage and injects some romance with love songs in French, Spanish, Italian and English, followed by the Latin boleros of Yusuke Horiguchi and the “voice of solid gold” John Rinell. Admission is $20, which includes free hors d’oeuvres and one complimentary drink (from 3pm to 4pm). The event lasts until 9:30pm, nominally, though Vitorino says it doesn’t really end until the last person wants to leave.

In addition, Amore will host a silent auction featuring donations from local businesses, including gift cards from the restaurant itself and a ring from Artisan Jewelers. Proceeds go to Hatfield.

“We are grateful to be part of the community as a new restaurant in the heart of Sarasota,” says Vitorino. “We are also compassionate and care for those who are in need, such as Sam. It is our hope that he and his family feel the love and support of not only the Amore staff, but the Sarasota community at large.”

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