Night of the Peacock – Showcase of some of the best food in Naples

Chef Tina and Jack Nicholson

Chef Tina and Jack Nicholson

It was a feast fit for royalty. The evening was hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Jack Nicholson as one of several for the benefit of the Latchkey League, a project of the Salvation Army’s Youth Center Volunteers. The Nicholson’s Persian Feast, called “Night of the Peacock” was like something out of a foodie’s most fevered dream with a menu that included braised leg of lamb, herbed saffron rice and crème caramel, among many other exotic delights.

There’s a certain level of trepidation at the thought of hosting up to 60 people for a dinner party when it’s fully catered – but Tina Nicholson is known as much for her culinary talents as she is her graciousness. For her event entitled “Night of the Peacock” Nicholson not only pulled off the event with style and panache, she planned the culinary extravaganza and cooked all of the food herself.

Between greeting guests dressed to the nines and like all grand hostesses, Mrs. Nicholson hardly sat down – and throughout the night she was in and out of the kitchen, overseeing plating and hauling heavy pans of lamb in and out of the oven. She spent two weeks preparing for the evening – including a spectacular appetizer buffet resplendent with dishes like stuffed grape leaves, flawless falafels, eggplant and all manner of savory yogurt, potatoes and chicken with flavors of onion, celery, carrots, garlic, turmeric and cinnamon.

Mrs. Nicholson’s seasoned rice was so flavorful with the addition of lima beans adding to the heartiness and flavor. Diners couldn’t get enough of the lamb and the chicken, both of which could hold their own against any Naples’ fine dining establishment. It was absolutely succulent—the spices leapt off the plate and with every bite your taste buds seemed to discover a new flavor.

Peacock Display

Peacock Display

The desserts were equally sumptuous. Mrs. Nicholson served three sweet treats, including a Black Forest cherry cake, Sacher-Torte and cheesecake with strawberry sauce.

From November to May ten private dinners have taken place to benefit the Latchkey League. Myra Janco Daniels, who has been the catalyzing force behind this endeavor, says the need is great in Naples.

“We have more than 10,000 kids on the street after school is out and some of the schools let out at 1:30 and 2:30,” she says. “The crime in East Naples is high
and we need to get them off the street.”

For anyone who wondered what would become of the Evolution Auto on Airport Road a block from Estey Avenue in East Naples, it is being recycled for this amazing use. The Latchkey League will renovate the vacant space to provide a place for “latchkey” kids who have working parents and nowhere to go between when school is out and when parents get home from work.

Daniels agrees that the facility will be life changing for the kids with the new planned facility on Airport Road, slated to open this fall, will have classrooms where volunteers and teachers will help the kids do homework or work on projects.

There will also be a large gym and other facilities to fill the otherwise empty hours that most of these children experience on a daily basis.

Daniels facilitated the sale of the space with the owner of the land and the building. The foundation has been pledged but they are still $400,000 short of their goal. That is where homeowners like Tina and Jack Nicholson have stepped in along with many other hosts, throwing luscious dinner and cocktail parties in their homes to benefit the cause.

The Nicholson’s evening ended with Persian tea, music and dancing, but people also left inspired to stay the course for the Latchkey League. For information on  membership in the Latchkey League, contact League Secretary Sally Bettin at 239.649.1063 or via email to

1 reply
  1. Jo Ann Ward
    Jo Ann Ward says:

    I have been at my Door County home for over a month and just checked on line to see if you ran a story on,” The Night of The Peacock.” What a simply outstanding story!!!! Thank you on behalf of The Latchkey League. You do outstanding coverage.
    Jo Ann Ward


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