Culinary Art For The Arts


Water and the creatures that live in it are as important to Fort Myers Beach as any town in the nation, as well as it being a well-known haven for the arts community. To the Greater Fort Myers Beach Friends of the Arts, this makes the beach a natural to meld these passions together into a uniquely fun, cultural, and educational evening to tempt your taste buds and challenge your concept of sustainability.

Following their mission to enhance the visual and performing arts on the island, Fort Myers Beach Friends of the Arts expands this philosophy by including the culinary arts in their latest foray, Southwest Florida Sustains – A Regional Seafood Experience at the DiamondHead Beach Resort & Spa at 2000 Estero Boulevard on Thursday, October 20, from 6 to 9 p.m.

Southwest Florida Sustains is a chef-driven event featuring the music of the Joseph Bilardo Trio that is active within the water quality movement. Chefs from Pinchers at The Beach, Charley’s Boathouse Grille, Smokin’ Oysters Brewery, Fish Tale Restaurant and Chloe’s at the DiamondHead Beach Resort & Spa will present scrumptious sustainable seafood samplings while Point Ybel Brewing Company provides craft beer tastings. Friends of the Arts reached out to beach restaurants to join their cause, advising chefs to use the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Guide for their menus, and will make these guides available to all guests.

“It is important to us to produce arts-related activities during the off-season that help businesses on the beach – one of our core values,” says Janeen Paulauskis, Friends of the Arts board member. “This is an opportunity to experience local sustainable seafood and celebrate our waters, while supporting the arts and local business.”

To illustrate the importance of seafood sustainability, Dr. Steve Box, marine biologist and a sustainability and coral reefs expert from the Smithsonian Marine Station in Fort Pierce, will provide a brief presentation on regional waters and its catch.

“Friends of the Arts organized Southwest Florida Sustains in October because this is the slow time of the season, and the evening is a little out of the box; a little different,” says Tanya Keller, event spokesperson. “Fort Myers Beach places a prime emphasis on good and viable water and the food that comes from it, and we are proud to lead the way.”

Tanya describes Southwest Florida Sustains “as a win-win for the Friends of the Arts and restaurant communities because culinary art in its own way is an art. We are a natural to promote and to bring attention to this crucial environmental and culinary topic because people do not have a full grasp on sustainability at its many levels. We have a fragile ecosystem, and need to pay attention to what we consume not only for health but economic reasons – the healthier we eat, the less we pay for medicine and insurance.”

Friends of the Arts began in November 2011 when a group of Fort Myers Beach citizens decided the island needed an organization to promote all kinds of art on and around the beach, whether it be theater, fine arts, or the island’s many musicians. Since its inception it has supported Paint the Beach Plein-Air Art Festival, Fort Myers Beach Film Festival, Beach Elementary School Art Programs, Winter Concert Series, Beach Art Co-op, Beach Haus Productions, Cypress Lake High School of the Arts, and more. The Greater Fort Myers Beach Friends of the Arts is a 501(c) 3 tax-deductible charitable organization to facilitate and fund arts presentations, and enhance economic conditions and our quality of life by making the arts available and accessible to everyone.

Southwest Florida Sustains tickets are $50 and include the sustainable seafood tastings as well as the Point Ybel Brewery Company samples, live jazz, silent auction, and cash bar. “We intentionally did not organize this initial evening to be the world’s biggest event,” explains Tonya, “but to be small, intimate, insightful, and enjoyable. We are breaking new ground and will work our way up, as we are all in this together, so come support the arts and make Southwest Florida Sustains sustainable!”

For more information, to be a sponsor, or purchase tickers, connect on Facebook or visit, go to the Fish Tale Marina at 7225 Estero Boulevard, or acquire them by telephone at 757-618-3655 until Noon the day of the program, or buy them at the door at the DiamondHead. To be a Friends of the Arts member, fill out a request form on-line; for information contact Janeen at 239-463-3600 or

Support Fort Myers Beach, water quality and healthy eating, the arts and sustainability at the inaugural Southwest Florida Sustains – A Regional Seafood Experience at the DiamondHead Beach Resort & Spa on Thursday, October 20, beginning at 6 p.m.


Gary Mooney