The leadership of Michael’s On East and Admiral Travel International hosted visiting executive chef Anna Ridgewell from South Africa’s Londolozi Game Reserve last week. Ridgewell hosted a South African Wine Tasting on Thursday, Nov. 7 at Michael’s Wine Cellar and the Safari Sarasota Interactive Dinner on Friday, Nov. 8 in the Michael’s On East Ballroom to help raise awareness and funds for the newly-created All Heart Fund at the Good Work Foundation. The fundraising efforts raised more than $100,000 over the past week.
“There are not enough words to thank everyone who has supported the Good Work Foundation and the All Heart Fund. With the money raised, you can be assured it will be empowering and bringing huge opportunity to the children in rural areas of South Africa,” said Kate Groch, CEO of the Good Work Foundation. “To the entire Sarasota team, you are truly ‘all heart.’ What more can we say?”
The All Heart Fund was established this fall in honor of Steve and Beth Knopik’s daughter, Leanna Knopik of Sarasota, who passed away in 2012 at the age of 16 after contracting a rare heart infection. Beth Knopik and Terri Klauber co-chaired the Safari Sarasota fundraiser. Plans for the visit developed after the summer 2013 Gulf Coast Connoisseur Club journeys to South Africa, hosted by Michael and Terri Klauber of Michael’s On East and Ryan Hilton of Admiral Travel International.
“Inspired by the loving spirit and passion of Leanna, Chef Anna’s visit and the associated events were produced in less than five weeks,” said Terri Klauber. “We were on a loving mission to seed this fund. Amazingly, the $100,000 raised in US dollars equates to more than one million South African Rand. Last Friday, the Sarasota community demonstrated, yet again, how we can come together and make a global difference.”
During the event that featured four-courses showcasing Londolozi recipes paired with Graham Beck wines from South Africa’s Cape Winelands, a silent auction exhibiting wildlife photography captured by safari travelers and live auction lots, the 200 guests paused as the Knopik family approached the stage and were captivated as Beth Knopik shared her daughter’s personal story.
“I believe it’s our responsibility to share Leanna’s dream of helping the children and families in South Africa,” said Beth Knopik. “Our family was forever changed by our first visit to Londolozi, when Leanna immediately expressed the desire to volunteer there someday. I know her mission will continue on, as a loving testament to Leanna’s passion and spirit. I can’t thank everyone enough for giving to this special program with all their hearts.”
Visit www.allheartfund.org for more information about the All Heart Fund at the Good Work Foundation and to donate to the program.
About the All Heart Fund
A nonprofit established in 2006, the Good Work Foundation delivers digital-era literacy education and career-training to children and adults living in rural communities in South Africa. The All Heart Fund at the Good Work Foundation will create opportunities for students to travel to larger communities for additional educational and leadership experiences and to connect with real-life businesses. In addition, one student will be chosen to receive the Leanna Knopik Cup, an annual award that recognizes the student who demonstrates the biggest “heart.” For more information, visit www.allheartfund.org.
About Admiral Travel International (ATI)
Established in 1997 in Sarasota, Florida, ATI operates a boutique, Virtuoso-member travel agency located in downtown Sarasota. Malaka and Ryan Hilton, proprietors of ATI, are known throughout the luxury travel industry for developing innovative travel concepts with an emphasis on custom vacation planning, safari, luxury cruising and tours. In 2006, they launched AuthentEscapes, an experiential tour division of ATI focused on experiential, exotic and adventurous travel. Malaka serves on the Travel Advisory Council for AFAR Media and has been recommended as Travel + Leisure’s Top Travel Specialist for Egypt since 2003. Ryan has been recommended by readers of Condé Nast Traveler for his expertise in planning and escorting safaris since 2003. The recent South African-themed events marked the opening of reservations for 2015 Gulf Coast Connoisseur Club-escorted trips, which will allow members of the public the opportunity to experience South Africa’s exceptional hospitality at the country’s finest five-star resorts, dine at Cape Town’s most celebrated restaurants, tour historic wine farms and view the “Big Five” on safari at Londolozi Game Reserve. For details about the 2015 Gulf Coast Connoisseur Club trips to South Africa, call 941-951-1801 or visit www.admiraltravel.com.
About Michael’s On East
Michael’s On East was founded on April 27, 1987. Located at 1212 East Avenue South in Midtown Plaza, the iconic restaurant is open for lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, open for dinner 6 p.m. to close Monday through Thursday and 5:30 p.m. to close on Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Sundays, with the exception of Easter and Mother’s Day each year. The establishment is the winner of the 2009 Fine Dining Hall of Fame, and received their 24th consecutive AAA Four-Diamond Award in 2013. Michael’s On East is a contemporary fine dining restaurant featuring an extraordinary supper club atmosphere, inspired cuisine and an intimate piano bar.
For a limited time, Michael’s On East features a “Londolozi Epicurean Adventure,” two-course lunch and three-course dinner menus showcasing signature recipes from Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa. Michael’s Epicurean Adventures present culinary journeys to a new destination each month at Michael’s On East. The three-course Londolozi Epicurean Adventure dinner menu will be available Monday through Saturday evenings for $29.95 per person, Nov. 1-31, 2013, excluding Thanksgiving Day on Thursday, Nov. 28. The two-course Power Lunch offering features a choice of entrée and dessert for $18.95 per person and is available Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. To make restaurant reservations, call 941-366-0007, ext. 224 or visit www.bestfood.com.