On April 22, the grounds of the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens were adorned with opulent crystal chandeliers and extravagant decorations for the “Best of Sarasota” party. Hosted by Sarasota Magazine, this annual event showcases the best of local restaurants and businesses.
This year’s party was more over-the-top than ever before with decadent decor and unique attractions to celebrate Sarasota Magazine’s 35th anniversary. The 800 attending, including vendors and guests, were encouraged to wear monochromatic outfits with pops of emerald green to go with the party’s theme of “Black and White”.
A raffle and silent auction featured prizes from the party’s sponsors and participants such as gift certificates and baskets. A portion of the proceeds from this sold-out event benefited Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.
Sarasota Magazine’s yearly superlatives award titles such as “Best Place to Meet Singles” or “Best Cocktail” to local businesses. Winners are chosen by a reader’s poll. At the celebration, the winning businesses set up booths to share their products or services. Louie’s Modern, which won both mentioned awards as well as a number of other honors, served a specialty cocktail.
Other Sarasota restaurants won awards for their cuisine and atmosphere. Among them, Chef Darwin Santa Maria of Darwin’s on 4th was named “Best Chef.” Other winners included Sharky’s On the Pier, Selva Grill, Jpan, Mozzarella Fella and State Street Eating House.
Restaurants were not the only local businesses to be featured at the “Best of Sarasota” party. ABC 7 News, the Zenith Insurance Company, Sarasota Ballet and the Ritz-Carlton were among attendees who shared in the celebration.
Of the over-the-top festivities, the crowd favorite was an aerial dancer from Cirque Kalandra Productions suspended from a huge crystal chandelier to pour champagne. Two other women from Cirque Kalandra were outfitted in huge tables covered in cupcakes to complete their extravagant outfits.