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St. Petersburg may land November food and wine festival

ST. PETERSBURG — A food and wine festival that could draw an estimated 5,000 attendees along with celebrity chefs is in the works.

The three-day event tentatively scheduled for November could include lavish gourmet meals, a midnight dessert party, cooking demonstrations and a contest to determine who makes St. Petersburg's best burger.

Guests would pay to attend parties at locales such as the Mahaffey Theater, the Dalí, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Club at Treasure Island and the Renaissance Vinoy Resort.

"None of the festival is confirmed," said Herb Karlitz, of Karlitz & Company lifestyle and entertainment marketing firm with offices in New York.

He is listed as a contact for businesses interested in sponsoring the food festival in a planning memo obtained by the Times.

Bill Edwards, manager of the Mahaffey and owner of The Shops at St. Pete, is the founding sponsor.

Over the past year, he has openly talked about creating a food and wine festival and discussed it with famous chefs Emeril Lagasse and Masaharu Morimoto when they have been in town for business with HSN.

Other celebrities mentioned in the memo as possible star attractions include Australian chef Curtis Stone and Padma Lakshmi, a food enthusiast, model and former wife of Salman Rushdie.

"I don't think they have nailed all the chefs down yet," said Chris Steinocher, president of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. "It would be one of those kind of high-quality events that allows a great reach for people to know how far St. Petersburg has come. Partners like HSN and Bill Edwards would bring their best talent to the market."

Karlitz, who has produced extensive food and wine festivals in Napa Valley and New York, agreed.

"It would be a great thing for St. Petersburg and the bay area," he said. "If it solidifies there will be a big announcement."

Katherine Snow Smith can be contacted at (727) 893-8785 or kssmith@tampabay.com.

St. Petersburg may land November food and wine festival 01/08/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 8:50pm]
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