The red carpet rolled out, the shark-themed ice sculpture was put in place, the band did their final
sound check, and the doors of the Sarah Vande Berg Tennis and Wellness Center (SVB) opened for
charcuterie competitors and attendees alike to descend on Zephyrhills’ newest social and professional
networking fundraiser soiree.
East Pasco Chamber Foundation Rolls Out the Red Carpet for SharkCuterie 2023
Swanky evenings aren’t just for Tampa anymore.
SharkCuterie is a local charcuterie and wine tasting fundraiser, founded in 2022 to support the East
Pasco Chamber Foundation’s education and workforce initiatives. Two such initiatives are the
Zephyrhills Student Citizen of the Month, held from September through May of each school year in
collaboration with Chickfil-A ZHills, and Skills That Pay, a US Department of Labor collaborative program
created for youth ages 14-21, including those with disabilities, focusing on teaching workforce readiness
This year’s SharkCuterie held its second charcuterie Battle of the Board competition alongside a
Charcuterie Sponsor, Yummy Tablas. After purchasing their entry from the Zephyrhills Chamber of
Commerce, competitors started with a custom, hand-crafted charcuterie board from local wood artisan,
Arthur Meyers at DriftWood Slim, and then created their food designs based on their individual
specialties and creativity, returning the board to the event on Friday night to display their creations. This
year’s Battle of the Boards competitors created a vast array of creative charcuterie designs, including
lovely and delicious dessert specialties from Steph’s Cakery, traditional French charcuterie spreads using
duck and paté from A La Carte Concepts, to fun creative displays like Kona Ice’s shark-shaped
watermelon with accompanying fruit board.
A panel of 5 local judges rated the entries on creativity, taste, and overall appearance. The judges
included charcuterie professionals Heidi Esquivel of Yummy Tablas in Wesley Chapel, and Melanie
Armstrong of Savory Roots in Dade City, as well as local representatives Steve Spina (Zephyrhills City
Council), Doug Taylor (Lions Club), and Jonathan Till (office of Senator Danny Burgess). The 3 rd place
winner was Christi Ulloa of Kona-Ice Zephyrhills, 2 nd place winner was Chef Dave Cottrill of A La Carte
Concepts, and taking home 1 st prize was Terena Jones of Habitat for Humanity.
As guests entered the event, they were invited to kick off their evening with a fun StarSnap photobooth
experience, offered by Rising Star Events and Planning. The Tasting Room was filled with more than 20
wine tasting options, made available by Megan Cartwright at Breakthru Beverage and Simone Tolley of
The Bistro at SVB, where guests could purchase their favorites by the glass, bottle, or case!
New to the Tasting Room for 2023 was the addition of local distiller Dunamis Premium Spirits, who
offered samples of their Interstellar Bourbon, and Bianca Supreme Five-Year Aged Rum. “We would
have brought our Zulu Hotel Airman’s Gin tonight, too, but we completely sold out of it,” offered Burke
Johnson, Director of Operations. However, he was more than happy to share details about their new
building renovations as they expand their operations, which will include an Exclusive SpeakEasy Lounge,
outdoor patio, and second floor event space.
A returning feature to SharkCuterie this year was the raffle, where attendees could bid using tickets on a
variety of locally donated items such as Tiffany wineglasses from Kathy Britton; a chocolate-merlot wine-
themed cake from The Cake Guru along with coffee donated by the Moose Lodge; a year’s padelball
membership at SVB; a photo session from Sara Hunter Photo; and even dog boarding and spa offerings
by HoundsTown Zephyrhills.
All attendees, whether they participated in the competition or not, enjoyed the tasting room, and
charcuterie spread along with the chocolate fountain provided by Rising Star Events and Planning.
Owner Linda Plange commented, “We enjoyed helping the Greater Zephyrhills Chamber achieve their
event goals with flair and ambiance. What a wonderful concept and way to get local Zephyrhills
businesses and residents in one room together while raising money for a good cause.”
SharkCuterie 2023 also unveiled the inaugural Cutest Mini contest, which was included in an effort to
allow everyone the chance at creating their own charcuterie board masterpiece – just on a smaller scale.
Arthur Meyers crafted up individual-sized versions of his larger competition boards, and small food
items were generously provided by Publix at Zephyr Commons store manager Mickey McPhee. Those
participating in this event contest created their designs on site, and everyone in attendance could vote
for their favorite! 2 nd place of the Cutest Mini contest was awarded to Marci of Reutimann of Bodine
Perry CPAs, and 1 st place was won by Marie Defillipo.
This year’s event was a huge success, seeing the collaboration of so many local businesses put together
an upscale evening event in the sophisticated SVB venue, and raising nearly $5,000 to support the East
Pasco Chamber Foundation’s mission. Additional partnering businesses sponsoring the success of the
event were Bahr’s Propane Gas and AC, Suncoast Credit Union, BayCare, JarrettFord, Senator Danny
Burgess, and Dealer’s Auto Xchange. SharkCuterie is a growing annual event that takes place each Spring
in Zephyrhills. To inquire about opportunities for how you can get involved with the Chamber or the
Chamber Foundation, please contact Vicki Wiggins, President & CEO of the Zephyrhills Chamber of
Commerce at 813.782.1913.