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Dining in the Dark – A Feast for the Senses

An illuminating culinary experience bringing the senses to life. Lighthouse Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank help shine light upon the isolation that hunger or vision loss can cause.

Dining in the Dark is a unique event in which guests have dinner in total darkness and take an unforgettable peek into the lives of the visually impaired. Each guest is on their own to taste, smell, and even feel the food to figure out what you are eating and drinking. A concept designed to gain new understanding about the isolation that vision loss or hunger can create, the dinner helps support essential programs involving both hunger and vision rehabilitation in Central Florida.

Chef Jill Holland and the Darden Foundation Community Kitchen staff worked hard to prepare for the main event. Chefs from Disney’s Epcot also graciously volunteered their time to help in the kitchen that evening. For the mystery menu, Chef Jill Holland focused on bold and recognizable flavors while using seasonal peaches from Long &  Scott Farm (Zellwood, FL) as a key ingredient.

The reactions to Dining in the Dark were powerful because vision is often taken for granted. It’s amazing what you can learn by putting yourself in a physical state of blindness and experiencing the challenges that others face. The most important lesson from Dining in the Dark was having a greater appreciation for the gift of sight and turning this opportunity into a responsibility to assist those suffering from hunger or vision loss.

Cocktail Hour
Hors D’oeuvres
Getting a sneak peek of the dinner preparations in the kitchen during cocktail hour.
The Orlando Police Department SWAT Team participated in the dinner as special guests servers guiding diners through the adventure. Cary did an incredible job making sure everyone was taken care of. He also wore a night-vision headpiece to navigate through the room.
First Course: Seared scallop sausage in a vanilla infused potato and corn purée sauce. Topped with smoked peach and tomato concassé, buttered oyster crackers, corn microgreen, and drizzled jalapeño oil for a little spice.
First Course (Vegetarian Alternative): Artichoke popper fried with gluten-free oak flower and stuffed with mascarpone and spinach dip. Topped with smoked peach and tomato concassé, and jalapeño oil.
Second Course: Mixed micro greens and fresh baby lettuce with pickled radish corned micro greens, house-made feta cheese, candied pecans. Dressing was composed of peach and white balsamic granita.
Main Course: Grilled lamb chops with watercress chimichurri sauce, asparagus, and roasted yellow squash.
Main Course (Vegetarian Alternative): Three grain sausage shepherds pie made with oats, quinoa, and brown rice. Topped with garlic mash, gorgonzola sauce, asparagus and roasted yellow squash.
Dessert (Left): Gluten free oak sponge cake topped with chantilly and peach ice cream with a cinnamon compote and peach bourbon sauce.
Dessert (Right): Peach cobbler shot with whipped cream and cinnamon.
Chef Instructor Jill Holland
Dave Krepcho, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida President & CEO

Lighthouse Central Florida is Central Florida’s only private, non-profit organization offering a comprehensive range of services to people living with vision loss and blindness. Since 1976, Lighthouse Central Florida has provided education, independent life skills, and job training & placement to more than 100,000 people with sight impairment and their families.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida is a private, nonprofit organization that collects and distributes donated food to more than 550 nonprofit partner agencies in six Central Florida counties with the goal to make Central Florida hunger free. On average, more than 55,000 people per week are assisted with food collected by Second Harvest Food Bank.

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