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Cooking with the Islands’ Stars features Curcuru and Roberts as home chefs

February 10, 2016
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

The importance of creating delicious dishes was learned at a very young age for one of the Cooking with the Islands' Stars.

"In the Italian tradition, the importance of preparing and cooking good food cannot be over exaggerated," Carol Curcuru said. "Since I grew up helping in the kitchen, I bought into these values at an early age."

Curcuru, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York in an Italian/American family, is one of five family chefs who will compete in the inaugural cooking competition this month.

The event will take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, at The Community House, 2173 Periwinkle Way. The reality cooking show will feature music, lights and many different aromas - Italian, vegetarian and smoked meats - as the home cooks vie for the prize of favorite chef.

The event will also feature two popular radio personalities who will help generate excitement, as they interact with the family chefs, all while keeping the audience engaged. David Bennett and Gina Birch, who were the voices behind Bennett and Birch Morning Show on 96.9 WINK-FM for more than 15 years, will be the masters of ceremony for Cooking with the Islands' Stars.

"I look forward to winning this competition," Curcuru said. "I see it as a way of paying tribute to my parents and grandparental mentors."

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Curcuru became a sponge while in the kitchen, as she learned the Italian cooking traditions from her mother, grandmothers and later from her husband's mother and grandmothers.

"I have always gotten tremendous pleasure out of cooking delicious food for family and friends," she said.

The public will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite chef all through donating money to help them win a television segment on "Real Food Real Kitchens." As a way to increase the money raised, many of the participants are hosting special events to get them one step closer to winning the prize.

Carol's Cocktail Party, Curcuru's fundraiser, will be held at the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21. Admission is $20 and includes hors d'oeuvres compliments of the Dunes and two drink tickets for wine, beer or soft drinks provided by the The Community House. The event will also include such auction items as dinners catered by Dunes members, original artwork, a bridge lesson party and a custom boat trip. Reserve a seat by calling The Community House at (239) 472-2155.

Sanibel resident Myra Roberts, another featured chef, describes herself as an artist, yoga enthusiasts and cook. She grew up on a farm where fresh herbs and vegetables were grown all year.

"My diet is mainly vegan, vegetarian, which suits my high energy lifestyle and sustainability of our planet," Roberts explained. "I believe food can heal and nourish the body and soul. My diet consists of the most colorful food I can find, much like my art. I eat to live. I don't live to eat."

She loves spending time educating others about the various herbs and spices that have been used for centuries around the globe.

"My cooking is low in saturated fat and high in nutrients," Roberts said. "Healthy food can be delicious without the chemicals, fats and additives. I cook only delicious food and firmly believe healthy organic farm-to-table food is essential for the joy of good health and eating with a conscious attitude."

As part of that love, Roberts will hold a fundraiser from 7 p.m. To 9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17, at the Sanibel Sprout located at Bailey's Center. Tickets are $80 and can be purchased at The Sanibel Spout, or The Community House.

Roberts will teach those who attend the different global cuisines with her very own recipes, all including home-grown herbs from her Sanibel garden. The recipes prepared will feature thai coconut butternut soup, authentic Mexican enchiladas, Chef Nikki's tamarind, chocolate and passion fruit chilled pie. During the fundraiser, she will touch upon the aesthetics of cooking in different cultures, textures, spices, beauty and health benefits that can be created through creating conscious cuisine.

Take home recipes for all the meals will be provided, as well as a chance to purchase Roberts new book, "The Retro Art Of Myra Roberts," and some very special prints she'll be offering for sale that evening.

Both of the masters of ceremony have a tie to Sanibel.

Birch remained at 96.9 for another five years with her own midday show after the morning show concluded. With her love of sharing stories and things happening around the community, Birch now is the Lee County editor for 10Best, a travel division of USA Today. She also writes for Times of the Island Media Group, Grandeur Magazine, The Birch Beat Blog and Florida Weekly.

Bennett went on to own and operate Bennett's Fresh Roast with Frankie Albano. The business roasts nearly 800 pounds of coffee a month and makes more than 15,000 hand-cut, from scratch, donuts.

Tickets for Cooking with the Islands' Stars are $100 for assigned seating; $150 for front row tasting seats, which grants attendees with the opportunity to taste the chefs recipes. Tickets can be purchased at

Money raised from the event will go towards The Community House's $300,000 kitchen remodeling project, which is part of a $3 million restoration campaign. Since the Community House attracts 50,000 visitors a year, this project is crucial for the island and for the continued program development.

The Community House is a 501c3 organization that depends on islanders to help make their vision a reality. For more information, call (239) 472-2155, or stop by The House at 2173 Periwinkle Way.

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.



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