The Legend Series

by ERIN THURSBY
Despite not knowing what’s going to happen with the evening, the names involved are enough to give the Legend Series a certain cachet: Cari Sanchez-Potter, co-founder & producer (general manager of Intuition Ale works), Chef Scott Schwartz, co-founder and chef (29 South Restaurant, Chef Sam Efron (Taverna), Chef Guy Ferri (Black Sheep), Chef Tom Gray (Bistro Aix), Brian Siebenschuh (Orsay), Chef Mike Ramsey (Jacksonville Golf & country Club) and Chef Caitlin Schneder-Franz (Jacksonville Golf & Country Club).
Past dinners at the Legend Series have included Opera at the Florida Theater with the diners seated onstage, in the showroom of the Brumos Collection with the Florida Ballet, and at the Old Ford Assembly Plant with entertainment from The Mast. Menu themes for each of these were tied in with the location. For example, the ballet performance at the Brumos Collection provided a feminine counterpoint to the testosterone-laden backdrop of fast, expensive cars. The chefs played with this contrast, designing their menu around the theme of masculine and feminine.
The diners at the first Legend dinner came from a core community of about 30 foodies, who were willing to explore even the most exotic foods without knowing the menu ahead of time. As their audience has expanded, they’ve had to feature more selections that will appeal to everyone, though the menu still remains a secret until it’s revealed at the event itself.
Choosing a venue is the starting point. According to Cari Sanchez-Potter, producer of the series, they have two requirements: it should be “a place where you would never have a fancy sit-down dinner and where you would never have a wedding reception.” While these requirements mean that diners will experience a high-quality meal in an unusual setting, it means lots of planning for the team. With some venues (such as the Old Ford Assembly Plant), that even means bringing their own generator.
With tickets at just over $180, most people think the series is quite profitable, but they’ve been figuring out how to break even. So far, says Sanchez-Potter, “it’s been a labor of love.” To create a kitchen where none exists and set up dining for a hundred guests is expensive, and there are often hidden costs in rentals. Because of the popularity of the dinners, they’re working on a business model that will help them turn a profit.
The next Legend dinner is in April. They’ll be partnering with One Spark, so while the locale is still a secret, it’s a good bet that it will be Downtown. (Check out Jacksonville’s One Spark Project at www.beonespark.com).

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