Taste Academy: Brag-Worthy Food Experiences for a Cause

While the Taste Academy is closed for 2017, you should still read this because I want you to know all about EPIC and how they help St. Augustine. You or someone you love may benefit from the following information!!

EPIC Behavioral Healthcare specializes in the prevention and treatment of substance abuse disorders and co-occurring mental health issues. To put it simply, their goal is to help people recover from the disease of addiction.

Year round services include an inpatient detoxification and residential treatment center, outpatient substance abuse and mental health counseling for ages 4 and up, crisis intervention, and mental health psychiatric services.  They also offer prevention education for parents and youth, play therapy groups for children and children’s mentoring programs through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.  EPIC says they are “saving lives….transforming families” on a daily basis. This is a cause we can all get behind!!

The community rallies behind EPIC annually by supporting the Taste of St. Augustine, Taste Academy and the annual Flower & Garden Expo– these fun events allow the community to come together and raise money that allow EPIC to serve the most vulnerable in our community.  To learn more about EPIC’s events or services, please visit www.epicbh.org or call (904) 829-2273.

Now read about 2017’s Taste Academy and whet your whistle for next year…

Taste Academy: Brag-Worthy Food Experiences for a Cause

Every year, EPIC hosts the locally famous Taste of St. Augustine. If you haven’t heard of it yet, you either live under a rock or spend too much time in Jacksonville.

Restaurants compete for bragging rites and locals line up for nibbles from each eatery… it’s a great way to sample several restaurants and find some new favorites to hit up next date night! Held annually at the Amphitheatre, the TOSTA may very well be credited with me falling in love with St. Augustine as a foodie destination and therefore has an integral part of me starting Simply St. Augustine!

TOSTA is only a one-day event and it’s very busy. EPIC and local restaurants are spreading out the fun this week! Enter the Taste Academy. You get to meet the chefs, bakers, brewers and sommeliers and they get to ‘flaunt their flavor’.  Workshops celebrate St. Johns County’s rich culinary heritage and patrons of the Taste Academy also receive a free admission pass to Saturday’s TOSTA at the Amphitheatre. It’s a win-win!

Additional details and tickets are available on this page... but here is this year’s Academy curriculum & why I recommend the course:

Taste Academy: Brag-Worthy Food Experiences for a Cause

A Taste of the Tuscan Coast (with a St. Augustine Twist)

When: Monday, April 17, 2017 6:00 pm
Where: Terra & Acqua – 134 Sea Grove Main St.
Cost: $48/Guest, Maximum 25 Guests
Why I would go: The first reason I would go is to enjoy the flavors of Tuscany. I won’t be traveling to Tuscany myself anytime soon (because we have seven children) so this is a great chance to enjoy the flavors from Tuscan native and chef-owner, Simone Parisi. Parts of Tuscany are coastal, like St. Augustine, so it is a natural fit to enjoy the flavors with a St. Augustine twist!

The second reason I would go is to partake in a 4-Course seafood dinner with wine tastings, prepared by Chef Parisi. The information sheet about the cuisine of the Tuscan Coast and the quart of Terra & Acqua seafood stock to make one of the dishes you’ll learn about are bonuses.

Taste Academy: Brag-Worthy Food Experiences for a Cause

Craft on Tap

When: Tuesday, April 18, 2017 6:00 pm
Where: Bog Brewery – 218 W. King St.
Cost: $20.00/Guest, Maximum 25 Guests
Why I would go: Because Bog Brewery boasts beautiful beer. {Isn’t alliteration a beautiful thing!?!} Hubby brought home a growler of Bog’s Belgian before Christmas and we’ve been fans ever since. Their Anniversary Ale is pretty amazing, too.

On Tuesday, you’ll get to hang with Bog Brewing Company’s co-owner and Head Brewer Steven Mendoza. He’ll acquaint you with their brewing process from ingredients to the glass… plus a guided tour of the brewery! The real reason I would go, though, is for the curated beer tasting. Drinking beer with the guy who made it while learning what to look for in flavors and trying beers I would never order? Sign me up!!

Taste Academy: Brag-Worthy Food Experiences for a Cause

Chocolate Tastes Around the World (and How They are Brought Home to St. Augustine)

When: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 3:00 pm
Where: Crème de la Cocoa – 299 San Marco Ave.
Cost: $40/Guest, Maximum 16 Guests
Why I would go: Just in case Chef Nils’ new baby happened to stop by the shop with mom. That’s a pretty slim chance, though, and I would totally go anyways… Chef Nils’ has been highlighted on Food Network, by local and regional newspapers and magazines and by anyone else who has tried his confections. Everything this man touches turns to gold.

love the idea of looking at global chocolate flavors and tasting my way across the globe, including Brazil, France, Italy, India and the US. On top of all this, Chef Nils will do some live demonstrations and guests get to take home a box of mini-macarons (and any leftover dessert samplings!).

Taste Academy: Brag-Worthy Food Experiences for a Cause

A Taste of Tuscany (with a St. Augustine Twist)

When: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 6:00 pm
Where: Terra & Acqua – 134 Sea Grove Main St.
Cost: $45/Guest, Maximum 25 Guests
Why I would go: We were just in Maui, where we enjoyed an upcountry dining experience on a farm. This Taste of Tuscany evening reminds me of our farm-to-table experience! This 4-Course Tasting Menu will be paired with a beloved wine of the region – Sangiovese. You also get to take home a pint of Ribollita (traditional Tuscan bread soup)!
Taste Academy: Brag-Worthy Food Experiences for a Cause

Spring into Luli’s Frosting Workshop

When: Thursday, April 20, 2017 6:00 pm
Where: Luli’s Cupcakes – 82 San Marco Ave.
Cost: $25/Guest, Maximum 10 guests
Whey I would go: Umm… because it’s Luli’s and they are the masters of cupcakes. Do we need more reasons? How about the Luli’s apron you get to take home? That’s a good reason. Learning how to decorate cupcakes that will steal the show at the next bake sale, potluck or brunch is a pretty good reason to go if you ask me! You can eat your cupcakes there with a beverage or take them home.

As you can see, there are some great experiences coming up this week!! How will you learn from locals?

EPIC Behavioral Healthcare has been providing substance abuse and mental health treatment in St. Johns County since 1973… in other words, they’re making a difference where it counts. I personally have several family members and close friends who are recovered from addictions or living life through depression. {If you’re working through it now, high five for embracing life even when it’s hard!}

Friends, if you are able to hit up one of EPIC’s Taste Academy classes this week or their Taste of St. Augustine on Saturday, April 22, 2017 have a great time!! And go knowing profits are making a difference & changing lives here in our hometown. Viva St. Augustine!

Learn more about EPIC here.
Get details and buy tickets for The Taste Academy here!
You’re always welcome to call for more info: (904) 829-3295


  1. Janice says

    Hoping there are some events like this the week of May 7 -12 … When we will be visiting for the first time ! An avid foodie , I look forward to all the ideas you can share as we explore your city !

  2. says

    I am very impressed and want to try this. I will be making reservations in the future.

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