The Tasting of South Lake

Approximately 24 hours after the kids were out collecting their treats on Halloween Night, it was the adults turn at Clermont’s Lakefront Park. However, instead of candy, those attending the South Lake Chamber of Commerce’s Taste of South Lake were able to enjoy the signature tastes and treats of 28 different local restaurants.

As publicized in both the South Lake Press and Clermont News Leader, the event would run from 5 to 8:30pm on the evening of November 1st, and a $20.00 advanced ticket would give attendees unlimited access to the best appetizers, entrees, desserts, and drinks that restaurants in the South Lake County Community had to offer. In addition to two giant tents to explore, guests had a very important responsibility over the course of the evening. In addition to winners of best appetizer, best entrée, and best dessert being selected by four food critic judges, the general public had the opportunity to vote for the People’s Choice winner.


The Judging Process

Mary Ryder and Zee Carter of the Daily Commercial, Tina Morrison of Style Magazine, and Heather Graham of Focus Magazine were charged with the task of determining the “Best of” out of the 28 restaurants that were present. When asked about the most difficult part of judging such a competition, Heather Graham explained,“Its difficult because you are very different dishes. It would be easier if you were comparing pizza to pizza, for example.”

To which I replied, “So, how did you pick a winner?”

“Presentation really spoke to me,” answered Mary Ryder.

“I looked for dishes that were unique- things I can’t get just anywhere,” replied Graham.


And The Winner Is…

After three hours of eating and enjoying the warm and friendly atmosphere, it was time for Lake County Commissioner Sean Parks to announce the winners.

The Winner of Best Appetizer was San Jose’s Original Mexican Restaurant

The Winner of Best Entrée was Rainbow Family Restaurant

The Winner of Best Dessert was Jackie’s Creative Catering

And, last but not least, the People’s Choice winner was Carrabba’s Italian Grill.

Outside of the food winner, the businesses that were present could be nominated for Best Decorated Booth and the winner of that award was Hunt’s Industrial Park.


As the night drew to a close, the 41 businesses and the 28 restaurants that were present packed up their booths and the guests gathered up all their bags of free goodies to head home. The overheard conversation as the crowds flowed toward the parking lot was nothing but complimentary and it was clear that a great and appetizing night was had by all.


All photos courtesy of Michelle Turner

Heather Graham can be reached at

Mary Ryder can be reached at

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