As a fitting finale to a sensational year for the LPGA, superstar Carrie Underwood is heading our way.
The country music superstar will perform at a private concert Wednesday during the annual CME Group Tour Championship scheduled Nov. 16 to 19 at The Ritz-Carlton Naples Tiburon Golf Club.
When celebrities at that megawattage level of fame dine out (should they choose to), security, comfort and a modicum of privacy are always welcome.
So too is great food.
When my pal Matt was Sen. John McCain’s advance man during the Republican National Convention in New York City, he asked me to review his selected restaurants for their visit. I put the kibosh on a few, including a wine-store cafe in the middle of bustling Rockefeller Center that offered 75 wines by the glass and what The New York Times’s then-food critic described as miniscule portions in a pipsqueak-sized setting.
Never mind the optics; so much of that choice was just wrong.
Carrie Underwood is a vegan
Underwood has been quoted several times as being vegan at least “95% of the time.” And like the late senator, she is probably traveling with an entourage.
How to please everyone at the table? Our top six recommendations follow.
Though famous for its seafood, a glam private dining room plus dedicated multi-course vegan and vegetarian menus prepared by a chef who also grew up on a farm with cows ‒ as did Underwood ‒and has only worked at Michelin-starred properties before heading to Naples, makes this a no-brainer.
(301 Fifth Ave. S., Naples; 239-360-2000; sailsrestaurants.com)
Assuming her contract includes a private jet to get her home or wherever her next stop may be, Simit is en route to the Naples Airport. Delicious vegan options abound and it’s super quiet at night; she might have the place to herself, which is a shame because it’s really good. Omnivores in her group can find great Turkish dishes on the menu too.
(1230 Airport-Pulling Road N.; 239-331-4477; simitfresh.com)
The Cave Bistro & Wine Bar
New-ish executive chef David Rashty’s menu features vegan tagine with root vegetables and flatbread loaded with mushrooms. For her group, there are myriad marvelous options. If Underwood’s handlers call this week, they might be able to arrange a private table within the adjacent sister wine shop. A five-minute drive west from The Ritz-Carlton.
(2343 Vanderbilt Beach Road at Galleria Shoppes; 239-513-0095; thecavenaples.com)
Old Vines Naples at Mercato
Here’s where that 5% comes in regarding her veganism. It’s reported she eats eggs (from her own farm) and occasionally, cheese and birthday cake. What dish should she order at this new spot? Chestnut gnocchi with locally grown mushroom swimming in sage cream and a touch of Parmesan. It’s heavenly. Also on the menu? Potato bouillabaisse, peach gazpacho and coconut pannacotta ‒ all good reasons to be vegan. Bonus: it’s less than a 10-minute drive from the stage.
(9105 Strada Place, Naples; 239-591-5351; oldvines.net)
Chef-partner Ming Yee made his reputation in Naples at the vegan Cafe Nutrients; wine guru-partner Peter Rizzo with natural wines. The space is tiny. If I was Carrie’s assistant, I’d arrange a buyout and ask Yee to work his magic.
(3080 Tamiami Trail N., Naples; 239-919-8732; natnatnaples.com)
Hire a private chef
New York City has Papaya King; in Naples, we have paella prince Sebastian Cole, the in-house private chef for a vegan family. She should order a vegan version for two plus a traditional tray for her crew. Her team can message him on Instagram at s_jcole.
Keith Urban was in Naples last year
Last year, Keith Urban performed at a private show in Naples to thank first responders who helped as Southwest Florida recovered from Hurricane Ian.
The country music superstar performed Nov. 16, 2022, for about 2,000 people at Tiburón Golf Club as part of the CME Group Tour Championship.
Star power: Keith Urban rocks Naples at concert for Hurricane Ian first responders, others
Several hundred Southwest Florida first responders were among those who attended the private, two-hour concert, thanking them for helping after Ian devastated communities Sept. 28, 2022.
Terry Duffy, who has a home in Naples, is chairman and CEO of the Chicago-based CME Group, the largest futures exchange in the world, said he’s known Urban for years.
“The man has a true passion to help others,” Duffy told the Naples Daily News last year. “When I called him about coming this year, I didn’t even give him the date and he was in.”
Diana Biederman is NDN’s food & restaurant reporter. Connect via firstname.lastname@example.org.