100 attend Golden Pineapple Gala


About 100 people filled the dining hall at Renaissance World Golf Village on March 22 for the Women’s Food Alliance 10th anniversary Golden Pineapple Gala Dinner.

The night began with a cocktail reception, during which celebrity guitarist Russ DeFilippis entertained. A popular gathering point was the Toro Things photobooth, operated by Evelyn Toro. Also, guests enjoyed a complementary cocktail, “The Golden Pineapple,” hosted by the Culhane Sisters and 5 Sisters Spirit Vodka.

At last, the dining room doors were opened, and guests followed the red carpet to the main event.

Attendees enjoyed butler-style hors d’oeuvres followed by dinner and finally slices of the celebratory 10th anniversary cake created by Chef Nancy Slatsky. Sandy Nicolette made Golden Pineapple cookies for the event.

Sponsors were Slatsky of Mr. Greens Produce and Vickie Corder of HelmsBriscoe and Sustainable Events Network.

Bruce Hamilton, news anchor for WJXT channel 4, was the master of ceremonies for the program, which honored Women’s Food Alliance members from each year of the decade, 2013-2022. Eighteen women were honored in all. Women’s Food Alliance founder and president Leigh Cort and Hamilton took turns reading poems about each honoree, who was then called to the stage to receive a crystal award in the shape of a golden pineapple and to say a few words.

In addition, Cort assembled a contingent from Georgia and announced that they would carry on the mission of the organization in the Peach State.

The evening concluded with members gathering around the cake and singing “That’s What Friends Are For.”

The mission of the Women’s Food Alliance is to cultivate and advance networking, education and collaboration for women in the culinary and hospitality industries in the Northeast Florida region. Cort launched the organization in 2013 with eight members. That has since grown to 150.

The membership regularly participates in a variety of events related to the culinary and hospitality industries.

This year also marks Cort’s 40-year career in the hospitality industry.