A bite of the best

More than 200 community members sample food items at Taste of Osceola

OSCEOLA COUNTY – After baking a cake three years ago for her grandaughter’s first birthday, Cindy Peffer discovered her passion for baking.

The LeRoy resident opened Kaisers Cakes and More, a baking business she runs out of her home.

“I recently quit my job so I could focus on my business,” Peffer said.

Through a Facebook page and word-of-mouth, the new baker sought clients in need of cakes and more for weddings or events, but still not many people knew about her business.

So when her neighbor, Osceola Leadership Summit participant Brenda Bowman, invited her to showcase her cakes to the county at the Taste of Osceola, Peffer couldn’t say no.

Between bites of fudge marble cake with mocha frosting and red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, community members complimented Peffer on her sweet homemade creations, taking business cards and admiring her cake decoration with the words “Welcome to the Taste of Osceola” written in frosting.

“I’m very happy (with the interest),” Peffer said.

She and 14 other food vendors shared a sample of their finest cuisine at the Taste of Osceola on May 29. More than 200

people came to the event, which was organized and sponsored by the 2011-12 class of the Osceola Leadership Summit.

Summit facilitator Al Weinberg said the group was “ecstatic” about the turnout at the event, which was the class project wrapping up the first year of the leadership program in Osceola County.

“It was such a success,” Weinberg said. “The reason why we chose this event was because we felt (the project) needed to be county-wide. We wanted (an event) that would make people say, ‘Hooray, we’re part of this county! We rock and we have great restaurants!’”

Along with restaurants and caterers, the event brought unconventional food vendors such as a Pampered Chef vendor and the Sunoco gas station.

Connie Douglas, manager of the Sunoco station, promoted a little-known service the Evart gas station offers, handing out samples of pizza slices. For $1.50 each, shoppers at the Sunoco station can purchase a slice of pizza or order a whole pizza to go for around $10.

“We make pizzas to go and people don’t know that,” Douglas said. “We’ve been doing that for 24 years and people (still) don’t know we make (pizza) to go.”

Seventy percent of funds raised at the event went toward the Osceola Commission on Aging, a philanthropy the 10 class participants decided on together.

“It’s wonderful to see the community and leaders come together to help seniors,” said Robin Fuerneisen, COA meals on wheels program coordinator. “This is great. I hope it becomes a yearly thing.”

Fuerneisen said money will be used to help fund the meals on wheels program, which distributes 102 hot meals to homebound seniors four days per week. Funds also may be used to offset the cost of the installation of a new well at the Tustin senior meals site.

The Taste of Osceola may be an annual event, depending on what each class of the OLS wants to do for their class project, Weinberg said.

Thirty percent of the money raised at the event will go toward a scholarship for three or four 2012-13 OLS participants.

The nine month, one-day-a-month leadership program that connects area leaders with their community through hands-on experiences and learning opportunities, will begin again in September.

Applications are now available on www.frontlinespecialists.com. For more information, contact Weinberg at (231) 679-4998.