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After hiatus, chef returns to the kitchen

If you were a fan of chef Kevin Howe at the tiny County Line Cafe and Grille in Spring Hill and have bemoaned his absence on the culinary scene since he sold his place in May, take heart.

Kevin is back.

He's creating new menu items for the Palace Grand in Spring Hill and the Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson.

"We checked with our lawyers to make sure he isn't violating his noncompete agreement" with new County Line owners Christine Tresignie and Michael Debusscher, said Nick Sessa, co-owner of the Show Palace and Palace Grand. Since the theater and party venues aren't walk-in restaurants, everything is okay, Sessa said.

Executive chef Dinah Teaford is still in charge of the Show Palace kitchen, making sure the pork roast, baked ham and roast beef are done to perfection.

"Kevin will be creating new dishes and new sauces," Sessa said. His home base will be the Palace Grand, but his work will show up at the Show Palace, too.

It's a good bet that many of the Show Palace audience members were loyal fans of Kevin when he owned the County Line from July 2000 through May of this year. You might be able to spot them by the grins on their faces when they see Kevin's braided pigtail going through the swinging doors to the kitchen. They know that something with that Kevin Howe magic will soon be on the table.

Perhaps it will be the sesame-lime grilled pork tenderloin that earned Howe a trip to New York as a finalist in the Ultimate Hometown Grill-Off competition on the Live! With Regis and Kelly morning TV show last year.

I'm hoping for my favorite, "Pop-Pop's" meatloaf with mashed potatoes. Mmmm mmmm good.

Dancer takes choreography job with Cirque Productions

As if dancer John Leggio didn't have enough to do (his own Center for the Performing Arts, several dance shows a year with 100-plus performers, an occasional gig at the Show Palace) he recently accepted the position of choreographer and assistant director for Cirque Productions, based in Pompano Beach.

Cirque Dreams (not connected to Cirque du Soleil) is a dance and acrobatic stage show. Since it began in 1993, it has created more than 13 shows, touring the world and performing in theaters, casinos, theme parks, arenas, with symphony orchestras and on Broadway, where Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy won rave reviews. That show is set to open at Busch Gardens in December.

Leggio's first assignment will be to choreograph and stage two national tours of Cirque Dreams Holidaze, one of which will be at the Straz Center (formerly the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center) Dec. 17-19.

He'll spend 10 days at the Dream Studios, a production, rehearsal, training, design and wardrobe manufacturing complex, working with Cirque Dreams' founder, producer and artistic director Neil Goldberg.

Leggio will still be in charge of Glee-ful, his dance studio's musical revue based on the hit TV show Glee, at the Palace Grand on Sunday and Christmas Holidazzzzzle at the Eleanor Dempsey Performing Arts Center at Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High School on Dec. 22-23. For more information, visit leggioarts.com or call (352) 683-8395.

Acting troupe to perform classic this weekend

The Showcase Repertory Company, a Dunedin-based volunteer acting troupe, will perform the intense drama 12 Angry Jurors at 7 p.m. today and 2 p.m. Sunday at New Port Richey Library.

If the name of the play sounds familiar, it's probably because you've seen the 1954 live TV production, Twelve Angry Men, or the 1957 movie of the same name starring Henry Fonda.

Nobody thought much of an all-male jury back in those olden days of the 1950s (that era to which so many people seem to want to return). Even though women were granted the right to vote in August 1920, they weren't automatically called for jury duty until 1975, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that "it is no longer tenable to hold that women as a class may be excluded or given automatic exemptions based solely on sex."

Interestingly, then-Justice William H. Rehnquist, who later became a chief justice, voted against that ruling, and many people wonder how the Supreme Court might rule if the matter came up today, but that's another story.

Until that 1975 ruling, Florida women were not called for jury duty unless they registered with the clerk of the circuit court. Since many people consider jury duty an imposition, to say nothing of the hassle of registering, not many women signed up.

The law had been challenged several times, but the all-male Supreme Court felt that we wimminfolk were "still regarded as the center of home and family life" as late as the 1960s (Hoyt v. Florida) and should stay home by the hearth, never mind the number of women in the workforce at the time.

I've seen the movie at least a half-dozen times and the play with an all-male cast several times, including one with Richard "John Boy" Thomas in Tampa in 2007.

But my favorite production was the male/female cast in 12 Angry Jurors performed by River Ridge High School drama students in 2001. It simply seemed more real.

After hiatus, chef returns to the kitchen 11/12/10 [Last modified: Friday, November 12, 2010 10:21pm]

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