Culinary Celebration to help build oyster reefs

Chiles Earth Day
The Earth Day fundraiser will feature culinary creations and tropical libations. - Chiles Group | Submitted

ANNA MARIA – Tickets are now on sale for the START (Solutions to Avoid Red Tide) Culinary Celebration at The Studio at Gulf and Pine in Anna Maria on Sunday, April 22.

The public is invited to attend the culinary celebration taking place from 5-7 p.m. at 10101 Gulf Dr.

Attendees can mix and mingle while sampling culinary creations and tropical libations created by chefs and staff from The Sandbar, BeachHouse and Mar Vista restaurants. Local art will serve as the backdrop, and there will be plenty of free parking.

Tickets are $30 each and can be purchased online or by phone at 941-713-3105. There will be a special door prize and the opportunity to bid on silent auction items that include Anna Maria Island products, gourmet meals and vacation opportunities.

The Earth Day event will help support the local Gulf Coast Oyster Recycling and Renewal (GCORR) program taking place in Manatee County’s coastal waters. Oyster shells from local area restaurants are recycled and turned into new oyster reefs.

“Since more than 90 percent of the oyster beds in our area have been destroyed, START and its partners are working on this important project to build new reefs to restore our coastal waters,” according to the Chiles Group press release.

“The idea is to keep used oyster shells out of landfills and use them instead as the hard bottom base needed to grow new oyster reefs. This reduces the shells going to landfills and the need to dig up fossil shells as a base for new oyster reefs.

“In the first year of the program, we recycled 20 tons of used oyster shells. Because GCORR began as a one-year pilot program, START is now raising additional funding to support the program through 2018 and beyond.”

Restaurant employees remove used oyster shells from the tables, store them in bins and transport them to Perico Preserve. The Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department stores the shells and enlists local volunteers to bag and affix the shells to mats for planting in the designated reef area.

The Sun is the media sponsor of the event. For more information on START, contact Colleen at 941-951-3400 or [email protected]