Florida Technical College joined forces with Heart of Florida United Way by participating as Presenting Sponsor of its 22nd Annual Chef’s Gala. The event brought twenty-three top chefs from Central Florida’s finest dining establishments together for the region’s premier food and wine pairing event on May 10th, at Epcot® World Showplace.

Having raised nearly $300,000 this year, Chef’s Gala benefits Heart of Florida United Way as its largest fundraiser for education, income, health and basic needs programs, which serve thousands of Central Floridians in need. David Ruggieri, FTC’s Chief Executive Officer, who received recognition as this year’s Presenting Sponsor for the event, spoke about the event on the sidelines of the Gala. “I’m proud to participate at an event in which 95 cents of every dollar raised benefits the 70 programs at 50 United Way partner agencies that provide services in the community.” Ruggieri also thanked the Chef’s Gala Co-Chairs Dr. Antonia Novello and John Pisan for the recognition Florida Technical College received from them.

Ruggieri drew a parallel between Heart of Florida United Way and Florida Technical College, pointing out that both organizations work to improve and change lives, have a passion for education, and are committed to Central Florida. He explained that the fact that three of FTC’s Campuses, Orlando, Kissimmee and Deland, have attained the distinction of being named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, shows just how important community service is for the institution.

“Our campuses have attained this distinction for engaging students, faculty and staff in meaningful service that achieves measurable results in the community,” states Ruggieri. “FTC encourages students to use the knowledge and skills acquired in the classroom to provide vital community services as volunteers at hospitals, fundraising events, health clinics, homeless shelters, assisted living centers, business and health expos. Their contributions make a difference in our local communities.”

The main event started at 7:30 p.m., when the top chefs served a variety of tasting portions of delectable dishes from renowned restaurants, including several from the Walt Disney World® parks and resorts, such as Biergarten Restaurant (Epcot®); Cítricos, (Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa), The Crystal Palace, (Magic Kingdom® Park), and Flying Fish Café (Disney's Boardwalk). The exclusive selection also included Bice Ristorante (Loew’s Portofino Bay Hotel), Blu on the avenue, Bull & Bear® (Waldorf Astoria Orlando), Cask and Larder, Cress Restaurant, K Restaurant, Napa (Hyatt Regency Orlando), Primo by Melissa Kelly (Grande Lakes Orlando), Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant, Roy's Hawaiian Fusion, and Thornton Park Restaurant Group, among others.

Heart of Florida United Way has been serving the community for over 70 years. They are Central Florida's most comprehensive health and human services charity and the largest provider of funds to the region’s most critical health and human service programs. Last year it raised and managed $27.3 million throughout Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties.

Florida Technical College (FTC) is an EduK Group institution that offers associate and bachelor’s degrees and diploma programs in a range of professions, including healthcare, computer networking, graphic design, criminal justice, culinary arts and cosmetology. FTC’s campuses are located in Orlando, Kissimmee, Lakeland, Deland and Pembroke Pines. Founded in 1982 to provide private, post-secondary education in specialized fields, FTC is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. Eduk Group is uniquely focused on meeting the needs of Hispanic students and is the largest provider of Spanish language higher education in the United States. Eduk Group’s institutions include Instituto de Banca y Comercio (IBC), Ponce Paramedical College (POPAC), and National University College (NUC) and the National University College-Online division (NUCO) in Puerto Rico and Florida Technical College (FTC), The DAVE School (Digital Animation and Visual Effects), a division of IBC, and LaSalle Computer Learning Center, a division of FTC, in Florida. For more information on Florida Technical College, visit www.ftccollege.edu.

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