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SRQ DAILY Sep 12, 2023

Tuesday Dining and Food Edition

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Tuesday Dining and Food Edition

"When I was a child, I loved cakes, but in my country they are expensive, and my mom did not have enough money to buy them for me. When I grew up, I wished to open my own business and bakery. "

- Tai Nguyen, Co-owner and Pastry Chef at Sweet of Life

[The Dish]  The Sweet Life
Laura Paquette, laura.paquette@srqme.com

Indulge yourself with a tasty treat at Sweet of Life Gelato and Bakery in Bradenton. Co-owner and Pastry Chef Tai Nguyen partnered with Investor Johnson Nguyen to open this Asian and European-inspired bakery in August. Tai originally opened Sweet of Life in Warner Robins, Georgia, and re-established the business in Florida after moving here.

During his childhood in Vietnam, Tai developed a penchant for baked goods. “When I was a child, I loved cakes, but in my country they are expensive, and my mom didn’t have enough money to buy them for me,” he says. “When I grew up, I wished to open my own business and bakery.” He started teaching himself to bake at the age of 20, taking advantage of YouTube and cookbooks to learn new skills and worked in a five-star restaurant called The Imperial in Vietnam where he learned how to make authentic Italian gelato. After moving to the United States, he practiced the art of French pastries with a renowned pastry chef, adopting a passion for croissants and desserts.

At Sweet of Life, Tai draws upon his years of experience to craft exquisite tarts, cakes, pastries and other delights. He makes his croissants, like the almond and pistachio varieties, using the same ingredients as in France, with the goal of allowing Americans to sample the pastry in its most authentic form. “The desserts are a fusion between European and Asian flavors, so they are less sweet than American ones, making them more healthy” he adds. Don’t miss the Blueberry Yogurt Mousse Cake, a delightful cake with blueberries, Greek yogurt, eggs and almond sponge. Blueberries and a white chocolate daisy adorn the cake, a simple yet sophisticated decoration with a mission close to Tai’s heart. “If you decorate the desserts as they do in Paris, then they become very expensive,” he says, reflecting on the costly sweets of his youth and striving to make his products as affordable as possible. If you’re in the mood to cool off, sample the Kookie and Caramel Gelato, Lemon Sorbet or a boba tea. Guests can also place custom orders for special events, but any occasion presents a perfect opportunity to slow down and enjoy homemade treats at Sweet of Life.

Sweet of Life, 3102 53rd Ave. E, Bradenton, 941-739-6912, sweetoflife.com. 

Treat yourself to the Blueberry Yogurt Mousse Cake, a delightful cake with blueberries, Greek yogurt, eggs and almond sponge. Photo by Laura Paquette.

Sweet of Life

[Celebration]  National Cheeseburger Day Deal at Ford's Garage

Cheese, please! Celebrate National Cheeseburger Day on September 18 with a ½ pound gourmet burger from, Ford’s Garage, your neighborhood burger and brew joint inspired by the heritage of the Ford Motor Company. The restaurant is known for its variety of fresh, never frozen burgers, such as the Ford’s Signature, Model “A” and Jiffy Burger, all served to perfection on a Brioche or European pretzel bun. For National Cheeseburger Day only (Sept. 18), Ford’s Garage will offer guests who dine in the restaurant a free Coca-Cola fountain beverage with the purchase of any burger. Diners can commemorate the foodie holiday and expand their cheeseburger horizons by sampling unique new flavor combinations from the Ford’s Garage Burgers of Fame menu, including: The Jiffy Burger – American Cheese, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Chopped Romaine and creamy Peanut Butter on a Brioche Bun. Estate Burger – Smoked Gouda Cheese, Sweet Red Onion Marmalade, Arugula, Tomato, Crispy Onion Straws and White Truffle Bacon Aioli on a Brioche Bun. High-Octane – Tillamook® Pepper Jack Cheese, Guacamole, Chipotle Ketchup, Chopped Romaine, Tomato, Red Onion and fresh Jalapeño Peppers on a Brioche Bun. The restaurants’ Burgers of Fame are unique to each location and are named after iconic and impactful individuals and organizations in the community, such as the mayor, local influencers and nonprofits. Vegetarian but still want to celebrate? Ford’s Garage allows guests to substitute the fresh ½ pound Black Angus patty for a veggie burger. 

[The Dish]  Gecko's Launches 2023 Football Food and Drink Menu

Gecko’s is ready for some football! Join us to enjoy our football-themed food & drink specials at your favorite neighborhood Gecko’s every time the toe hits the leather. Gecko’s special Football Menu is chock-full of new menu items, beer, drink & Mocktail offerings and is offered during all NCAA and NFL games at all six Gecko’s. Named #BestSportsBar again by Sarasota Herald Tribune. www.GeckosGrill.com


To learn more, visit

[Arts & Entertainment]  Tickets are Now on Sale for the WBTT Fall Gala

For Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s 24th anniversary fall gala, “Groovin’ on the Soul Train 2,” the arts organization will - once again, after a smashing success last year - celebrate the music from the #1 television platform for R&B and soul music. The event will feature hip décor and performances by favorite WBTT artists and its sizzling live band. Groovin’ on the Soul Train 2 will take place on Saturday, November 11, 6-9:30 p.m. at the Circus Arts Conservatory’s Sailor Circus Arena (2075 Bahia Vista St., Sarasota). Guests will enjoy a live performance from WBTT’s singers – including fan favorites Ariel Blue, Tarra Conner Jones, Michael Mendez, Raleigh Mosely II, Leon S. Pitts II, Maicy Powell, Sheldon Rhoden and more – and the WBTT band, with tunes that will help guests to relive memories from “Soul Train’s” peak, including “Freeway of Love,” “Love Train,” “Here I Am Baby,” “It’s Raining Men” and many more. Created by Don Cornelius in 1970, “Soul Train” was the first American music television show to prominently feature Black musical acts and dancers. The hour-long show was originally broadcast in Chicago, Monday through Friday, and replicated a dance-club environment that featured both professional and amateur dancers. After its national syndication, the show’s appeal grew to other ethnicities, introducing many African-American artists to a larger audience. Soul and funk luminaries such as Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, TLC, and many other legendary performers were featured on the show, immensely helping their popularity to grow. During the event, longtime dedicated supporter and board member Cheryl Anderson will be recognized as WBTT’s Heart & Soul Philanthropy honoree. Dinner will be catered by Michael’s On East. The fundraising portion of the evening will feature a matching opportunity: Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation recently awarded a grant of $150,000 to help WBTT mentor and train entry-level personnel critical to continuing the growth and success of the organization; of that amount, $50,000 has been put forth as a challenge match that WBTT will use to inspire fundraising on behalf of this effort during the gala. The live band will be led by Etienne “EJ” Porter, music director and drums; Alan “Duke” Robinson II, main keys; Zacchur Porter, auxiliary keys; Brad Foutch, guitar; and Matthew McKinnon, bass. Co-chairs are Eilene Maupin and Charlie Ann Syprett. Presenting Sponsors are Curtis Jordan and Paige Peterson, and Dona and Sam Scott.Individual tickets, which are now on sale, are $300; visit westcoastblacktheatre.org. 

Pictured: WBTT artists lit up the stage during WBTT’s Groovin on the Soul Train' in 2022 Photo by Sorcha Augustine

[Visit Sarasota County]  Discover Natural Sarasota - Myakka River State Park

Myakka River State Park

Alligators, armadillos and snakes, oh my! These are just a few creatures you’re likely to encounter on a visit to Myakka River State Park, one of Florida’s oldest and largest parks. The Myakka River wildlife tour is a favorite for visitors. The 45-60 minute guided tour may be experienced by boat or tram and runs every day, weather permitting. If you’re a bird watcher, bring your binoculars! Anhingas, roseare spoonbills, herons, egrets and ducks are regulars. 

13208 State Road 72, Sarasota.

Check out more on this feature!

[Arts & Entertainment]  Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota Opens 28th Season on October 1 with Chicago-based Collective NEXUS Chamber Music

Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota opens its 28th season, Stars Ascending, on October 1, 4:00 p.m. with a concert in the new Sunday Best series presented at First Presbyterian Church. Chicago-based collective NEXUS Chamber Music creates unique and engaging classical music experiences. Since its inaugural season in 2018, NEXUS has grown into a classical chamber music tour de force. Co-founder Alexander Hersh said, “What if the boundaries surrounding the experience of classical music ceased to exist? For us, NEXUS Chamber Music is a programming playground, where no stone is left unturned in the quest to expand upon the stories that great chamber music can offer.” Their program features Haydn’s Trio No. 39 in G major, Hob. XV/25 “Gypsy Trio”; Ravel’s Trio in a minor; and Brahms’ Trio in B major, Op. 8. Tickets are $40. The new Piano Forte series kicks off October 10, 7:30 p.m. at the Historic Asolo Theater with Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev. Winner of the 2005 World Piano Competition, Yakushev has performed at Carnegie Hall, Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco, and as soloist with major orchestras across three continents. He will be joined by a string quartet, including Daniel Jordan, concertmaster of the Sarasota Orchestra, in a performance of the Shostakovich Piano Quintet. Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” accompanied by images, concludes the concert. Tickets are $30-$50. Bass-baritone Joseph Parrish, accompanied by pianist Joseph Holt, opens the Lighter Fare series on October 18. Winner of the 2022 Young Concert Artists Susan Wadsworth International Auditions, 24-year-old Parrish is a versatile artist who will sing traditional spirituals, opera arias, and music from the Broadway stage. The 5:30 p.m. performance is followed by dinner at Plantation Golf & Country Club in Venice. Tickets cost $78 (includes dinner). The first concert in the Soirée series, held in the one-of-a-kind music room of the Fischer/Weisenborne residence, features Amit Peled, cello, and Solomon Eichner, piano. Peled is acclaimed as one of the most exciting and virtuosic instrumentalists on the concert stage today. He has performed in prestigious venues across the U.S. and Europe, released 12 recordings, and was named one of the top 30 influencers of 2015 by Musical America. Eichner’s performances across the U.S. and Europe have earned wide acclaim. Their program, which features a variety of music by American composers, is offered on October 29 and October 30 at 4:00 p.m. Tickets are $60 (includes refreshments following each performance). For tickets and more information, visit ArtistSeriesConcerts.org or call (941) 306-1202. 



Pictured: Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev. Photo courtesy of Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota.

[Recognition]  SRQ Media to Present the 2023 Trailblazer Award to Paulina Porizkova at the Together We Roar 8th Annual Together We Roar Leadership and Awards Luncheon

On October 27, 2023, SRQ MEDIA will host its 8th Annual Together We Roar Leadership & Awards Luncheon at Michael’s on East in Sarasota to recognize exceptional women in the region, celebrate its Women Who Roar competition leaders and welcome the 2023 Trailblazer Award Honoree.

SRQ Magazine formed the Women Who Roar Initiative as a year-round program engaging the participants in the annual Women Who Roar Competition to create highly-dynamic personal networking that catalyzes community leadership through the science and art of mentorship.
Every year, SRQ MEDIA hosts the Together We Roar Leadership and Awards Luncheon recognizing the past years’ Women Who Roar Leadership Circle Class and announcing the honorees of the current year's Women Who Roar Competition.

SRQ Media will present the 2023 Trailblazer Award to Paulina Porizkova, model and author of No Filter: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful, and an advocate for celebrating women of every age. Born in Cold War Czechoslovakia, Porizkova’s first Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover was in 1984. As the face of Estée Lauder in 1989, she was one of the highest-paid models in the world, and when she was nineteen, she fell in love with The Cars frontman Ric Ocasek. The decades to come would bring marriage,motherhood, a budding writing career; and later sadness, loneliness, and eventually divorce. Following her ex-husband’s death—and the revelation of a deep betrayal—Paulina stunned fans with her fierce vulnerability and disarming honesty as she let the whole world share in her experience of being a woman who must start over. Now, she has discovered her voice – and it is astute, wise, and vulnerable. After a lifetime of being looked at, Paulina is ready to be heard.

SRQ Media will also present Leisa Peterson with the SRQ Illuminator Award, which celebrates women who are shining a light on information and tools that empower others to live their best life. Author of The Mindful Millionaire, Leisa Peterson is a visionary dedicated to transforming millions of lives through heightened financial consciousness. With a three-decade tenure in finance, she has been recognized by Forbes as one of the pioneering 10 Women Driving Growth in Wealth Management and Investing, As a facilitator, strategic advisor, and author, Merging her financial expertise with the art and science of mindfulness, Leisa reveals a liberating journey that emancipates people from the grip of scarcity and financial worries, paving the way to lives brimming with prosperity. Leisa spearheads “The Mindful Millionaire” and “Art of Abundance” podcasts. In addition, she empowers her clients through
online workshops and transformative in-person retreats. Her insights can be found on Gaia Media Network, Wall Street Journal, FastCompany, The Week, and Huffington Post.

The luncheon celebration will also include a Pop Up Boutique Salon featuring fabulous gifts from Camilyn Beth, PAINT Nail Bar, Saks Fifth Avenue, Discover Sarasota Tours Gift Shop and BookStore1 among others. Blair Bloomston of Game On Nation will present an energizing, interactive motivational leadership session followed by the highly anticipated announcement of the 2023 SRQ Women Who Roar Competition Honorees.

Special thanks to Champion Sponsor, Seaside Bank and Trust and Supporting Partners, Ritz Carlton Sarasota, Diamond Vault Jewelers, Michael’s On East, Dolphin Transportation, Tropical Interiors Florist, Saks Fifth Avenue Sarasota, Sarasota Trophy & Awards and Bookstore 1 Sarasota.

To purchase your online tickets to the SRQ Women Who Roar Leadership and Awards Luncheon and for more details on the program, visit: https://www.srqmagazine.com/2023/TogetherWeRoar

For information regarding sponsorship contact Ashley Grant, SVP Strategic Partnerships & Engagement at ashley.grant@srqme.com. 

[Forage]  Chemistory of a Cocktail
Laura Paquette, laura.paquette@srqme.com

CHEMISTRY OF A COCKTAIL | The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature and Bar Consultant Lauren Reese ignite a passion for the art of bartending, September 2023. 

Read Here!

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Geckos Grill and Pubs Trivia , July 1 – June 1, 7:30 pm

Geckos Grill & Pub’s Award-winning Trivia-Think While You Drink! If you love Trivia, join the fun at Geckos all year round. All Trivia starts at 7:30pm. We will have prizes, giveaways and specials plus the Geckos made-to-order fare, signature cocktails and hospitality you love. Monday trivia will be held at the Clark Road location in Palmer Crossing and on Tuesdays at the SR 64 location in Braden River Plaza. The SR 64 location will be taking a break from Trivia in October, but will start back up in April. On Wednesdays, trivia will take place at the Hillview Street location in Southside Village. www.GeckosGrill.com.

[SOON]  FOOD: Siesta Key Rum Distillery Tours , September 2 – September 30, Various times

Siesta Key Rum runs free year-round tours for guests to learn the story of the craft distillery, the awards they have won and the secret to how they make their rums taste so good. During our 30-45 minute tour we will discuss the following topics: history of Siesta Key Rum, an overview of the awards our small company has won, what makes our rums taste so good, the rum-making process from mashing and fermentation to distillation, barrel aging and bottling of our rums. After the tour, we welcome you to sample a freshly made Siesta Key Rum cocktail, stock up on your favorite rums and browse our gift shop. 2212 Industrial Blvd., Sarasota.

[SOON]  FOOD: Thought for Food, Thinking Critically About Food, Nutrition and Agriculture , October 25, 6:30-8pm
Many fantastical claims are made about our food and how it is produced. Some are accurate, some are half-truths, some are outright lies. Join us to learn tools and principles to think more critically about our food and food production, and where to go to get unbiased, research-based information. Register now to save your seat, only through ufsarasotaext.eventbrite.com. Twin Lakes Park, 6700 Clark Rd., Sarasota.
[SOON]  GALA: SRQ Together We Roar 8th Annual Together We Roar Leadership and Awards Luncheon , October 27, 10:30am-1:30pm
SRQ Media will present the 2023 Trailblazer Award to Paulina Porizkova, model and author of No Filter: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful, and an advocate for celebrating women of every age. The luncheon celebration will also include a Pop Up Boutique Salon featuring fabulous gifts from Camilyn Beth, PAINT Nail Bar, Saks Fifth Avenue, Discover Sarasota Tours Gift Shop and BookStore1 among others. Blair Bloomston of Game On Nation will present an energizing, interactive motivational leadership session followed by the highly anticipated announcement of the 2023 SRQ Women Who Roar Competition Honorees. To purchase your online tickets to the SRQ Women Who Roar Leadership and Awards Luncheon and for more details on the program, visit https://www.srqmagazine.com/2023/TogetherWeRoar.
[SOON]  FOOD: Taste of New Orleans at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens , October 28, 5:30-7:30pm

Taste of New Orleans will take place on Saturday, October 28th at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. This event has developed an exceptional reputation, providing guests with hors doeuvres, live entertainment, and an unforgettable bayfront setting. Taste of New Orleans sponsorships are available at a variety of levels. Proceeds support Truly Valued programs, that increase confidence and better decision making skills through changed behaviors of the youth and families that we serve. Visit https://trulyvalued.org/taste-of-new-orleans to purchase tickets.

[SOON]  GALA: Resilient Retreat Farm to Table , November 5, 4 pm

Please join us for the annual Resilient Retreat Farm to Table dining experience on Sunday, November 5, 2023 at 4:00 pm. The funds raised at the event are critical to Resilient Retreat to continue to serve survivors of trauma and first responders and helping professionals. Come immerse yourself among the majestic oaks at 84 acres of conservation land on the retreat. In true farm to table fashion, our local chefs will craft a tasting menu featuring the very best local seasonal foods. Dine under the stars nestled among the beautiful live oaks while experiencing al fresco farm to table dining. Farm to Table proceeds will benefit the Resilient Retreat mission to empower survivors of trauma to thrive through self care and community. Visit https://givebutter.com/farmtotable2023 for more information and to purchase tickets.

[SOON]  GALA: Brunch on the Bay at USF Sarasota Manatee , November 5, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm

Tickets are on sale for Brunch on the Bay, the annual marquee fundraiser for the USF Sarasota Manatee campus, which returns on Nov. 5. Attendees will enjoy culinary delights from local restaurants and caterers, and get a sneak peek at a major campus expansion project, a new student center and residence hall set to open in the fall of 2024. Proceeds from the 2023 Brunch on the Bay will support student scholarships and campus initiatives. Brunch on the Bay will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 5, on the USF Sarasota Manatee campus, 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Visit sarasotamanatee.usf.edu/brunch for ticket and sponsorship information.

[SOON]  FOOD: Uncommon Edibles , November 9, 6:30-8pm
Join experts from UF and IFAS Extension and the Manatee Rare Fruit Council to discover some of the lesser-known edible plants that can be a successful addition to your garden or landscape. Attendees will tour the fruit tree orchard and participate in a planting activity. Palma Sola Botanical Park, 9800 17th Ave. Northwest Bradenton.
[SOON]  BUSINESS: Lets Connect at Oscura in Old Manatee , August 31 – December 26, 8:30-10am

Connect with local business owners at every Thursday at Oscura. Lets Connect is a community of collaborative business professionals from the Manatee and Sarasota County areas. RSVP on Eventbrite to attend, admission is free.

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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