Walking into Hollywood Pools, you can’t help but be on sensory overload. Dozens of smells and sights fill the room as participants set up for VIVA Vestavia. With this being VIVA’s eleventh year, the community highly anticipates the day when the marquee off Highway 31, reads “VIVA Vestavia Tickets Now on Sale!” It creates an extra buzz of excitement in our office, as I’m sure across Vestavia Hills. With over twenty-six restaurants and fine wine vendors, you are truly getting a taste of the town! Where else can you get a taste of Klinglers, Sol Azteca and Mudtown while sipping on a glass of cabernet sauvignon all in the same place!?
Although VIVA is most known for the exquisite food, wine/beer selections and silent auction, you can’t help but note that VIVA is both a night of give and take. When you attend an evening at VIVA Vestavia, you are not only helping the coming generation but in addition, the overall development in Vestavia Hills. All proceeds from VIVA Vestavia go to the Vestavia Hills Foundation. The Foundation is seen as an “arm” of the Chamber. The proceeds go to help the economic development in the city and give one to two scholarships to a deserving Vestavia Hills High School Senior. As an extra bonus, you are trying food from local restaurants which will hopefully make you be more inclined to shop and eat locally!
With over three hundred people in attendance, this is an event that takes months of planning. Each year, the Past Chair of Board takes the reigns to help make VIVA a successful event. This year, Past Chair Martha Cook from McCallum, Hoaglund, Cook & Irby, LLP served as the Committee Head. Cook did a wonderful job of delegating and making what most people say, “Was the best year yet!” Cook explains, “Planning for this event begins months in advance with a committee of members and the Chamber staff who reach out to vendors to ask if they wish to participate. There is no charge to the vendors who participate; they bring sample size portions of a menu of their choice and decorate their tables, if they choose. After vendors commit, letters are sent to confirm the details of the event, e.g date, time and place. The committee then meets to discuss setup, layout, and cleanup for the event and to make sure enough volunteers will be available to help.” Cook also notes that this year was a record turnout of ticket purchases, attendees, new participates and an added silent auction- which tripled the proceeds from the previous years.
When the list of participants comes out, your first thought is who will have the best food and who will have the nicest overall presentation! In order to figure out who the attendee’s favorites are, we do voting slips. Whoever wins the “Best Food” and “Best Presentation” will not only gain bragging rights, but be announced in our annual Vestavia Hills Living Magazine. With such high-quality participants, it was a close race. The 2013 VIVA Vestavia participants were:
-Bistro V – Bruster’s Real Ice Cream – Contri Bros. Gift Basket – El Poblano – The Heavenly Donut – Hilton Garden Grille & Bar – Ichiban – Iz Café –Klinglers – Moes Original BBQ – Mudtown Eat & Drink –Mugshots Grille & Bar – Newk’s Eatery – Publix Super Markets – The Ridge Eat & Drink – Rx Catering – Seasons 52 – Sekisui of Vestavia – Sihams Grill and Sweets – Sol Azteca – Starbucks Coffee – Tazki’s Mediterranean Café– Western Supermarkets – Yellow Bicycle Catering Company – Zoes
Out of these twenty-six fresh food and fine wine/beer vendors, attendees voted: Best Food– Hilton Garden Inn- Liberty Park Grille & Bar and Best Presentation– Seasons 52. Hilton Garden Inn Liberty Park Grille & Bar served up the most delicious mac n’ cheese with bacon (for good measure!) and Seasons 52 had a well thought out VV (VIVA Vestavia) made out of their delicious desserts.
Jessica Henderson from The Hilton Garden Inn- Liberty Park, explains why her chef selected their award winning dish, “The Garden Baked Mac n’ Cheese is The Garden Grill & Bar’s signature Dish. It’s a delicious, comfort food recipe from the Hiltons new culinary inspirations. It’s the perfect southern dish, and it doesn’t hurt that it has bacon in it!” Best Presentation was awarded to Karis Wells, Sales Manager at Seasons 52. At Seasons 52, they pride themselves on being “Seasonally-inspired dining choices expertly designed to excite and surprise the palate, award-winning wine, knowledgeable, approachable services with confidence and a casually-sophisticated adult ambiance.” Wells represented Seasons 52 as a truly creative restaurant that thoroughly encompassed a causally-sophisticated ambiance. Congratulations on winning!
In order to make next year’s VIVA that much better we are already in talks of what to improve and how to expand. We couldn’t be more appreciative for Martha Cook and the VIVA Vestavia Committee for truly making it one of the best VIVA’s to date. Thank you for everyone who attended and was able to give back to the community!