Sawgrass Marriot Golf Resort & Spa launches monthly vegan dinners to prepare for future


The culinary team at Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa has launched a monthly event series called “Feast for Rabbits” to meet the rising demand of plant-based diets and invest in what it says is the future of the food industry.

Over 30 people attended the resort’s second event of the series this past Sunday, June 10 at Vernon’s, enjoying fresh cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and a five-course Italian-themed dinner. From artichoke arancini to tofu piccata and carbonara to chocolate-orange cannoli, every piece of food prepared for the event was animal-free and locally sourced.

“This is the way of the future, and this is not going away,” said Executive Chef Joe Natoli. “We’re going to learn it and really try to take hold of this area and make you feel comfortable to dine any time.”

Chef Riley Philo, a vegan specialist, has been the driving force in moving the resort in this forward-thinking direction. Natoli hired him about a year ago to incorporate plant-based eating into the resort’s various dining options. Since then, Philo has hit the ground running.

“He’s (Natoli) given me absolutely open range to show what we can do,” said Philo. “Every aspect of the hotel, I have had a hand in, from our banquet and catering menus to downstairs at our pub, to outside at our pool. There’s a vegan option on every menu.”

Natoli, Philo and the rest of the culinary team developed the idea for the “Feast for Rabbits” event series a few months ago and held the first dinner in April, offering a “First Coast Classics” menu of items like crab cakes and chicken and waffles. The next dinner, to be held Sunday, July 29, will feature a “Summer Barbecue” menu.

Those interested in attending should check out the resort’s Facebook page come early July to register via Open Table. The cost to attend is $50.