Monday, January 22, 2018
News Roundup

Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse meets Winter the dolphin

CLEARWATER — Empty your pockets, the dolphin trainer told Emeril Lagasse. Wallet, watch — everything.

The celebrity chef, surrounded by his production crew in the Clearwater Marine Aquarium Thursday, nodded and tossed a wad of cash into his assistant's purse.

"Anything else?" he asked.

"Hand sanitizer," replied Robin Bates, supervisor of marine mammals. "Here."

She squeezed a drop of Purell into his hands.

"All right!" he said. "Time to meet Winter."

Lagasse — known for his recipes, restaurants, television show and catch phrase "Bam!" — strolled into the aquarium with his entourage, his daughter and a trailing Clearwater police officer. He stood by a Dolphin Tale movie poster and stared into a camera: "Every day you come," he said, "you're going to find a real live movie star."

Lagasse checked into the Sandpearl resort on Clearwater Beach Tuesday, where he stayed while shooting an episode of Emeril's Florida, a 13-part Cooking Channel series that explores, as he put it, "restaurants all through the Sunshine State."

A specially prepared apple-baked brie at the Cassis American Brasserie in St. Petersburg is among his Tampa Bay favorites, so far. He's also been spotted at the Hurricane Seafood Restaurant in Pass-A-Grille and the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City in recent days.

Between eating, the chef wanted to see Winter, the aquarium's dolphin that learned to swim with a prosthetic tail and starred in the film Dolphin Tale. His visit was arranged for Thursday.

However, before shooting segments in the aquarium's "Winter Zone," Lagasse walked across the parking lot to the Island Way Grill, where owner Frank Chivas waited.

The restaurant was empty at 1:30 p.m. A painter, who had seen Hulk Hogan a few times and wasn't easily star struck, quietly rolled a fresh coat of beige across the ceiling.

"Boss!" Chivas said, shaking Lagasse's hand. "If I knew you were coming earlier, we would've been done painting! How many people are eating?"

Lagasse and his entourage placed drink orders — water, Chardonnay, iced tea — but, as it turned out, didn't have time for lunch. Two more aquarium scenes had to be shot before they left for Orlando.

No matter, Chivas told them, I'll make you something special later.

Meanwhile, inside the aquarium, a Tampa-based production crew set up more cameras. Winter, unfazed by the fuss, swam through her daily 1:30 p.m. presentation as onlookers — young and old, local and international — snapped photos.

Bates, the dolphin trainer Lagasse chose to interview, mentally prepared for the spotlight. She'd been on television "between five and 50 times," so she knew to speak calmly, slowly, clearly.

"I have to remember he's just another human — a really well-known, talented human," she said. "Otherwise I'd turn into a heaping pile of goo."

Lagasse's daughter Jillian, who serves as his part-time make-up artist, brushed matte foundation powder across Bates' cheeks.

Lagasse asked her questions: Why did you become a trainer? How do you work with the animals? What's Winter like?

"Now, she's just a normal 7-year-old girl," Bates said, smiling. "Full of life. Energetic."

After the interview, Bates and Lagasse — stripped of his pocket possessions and, thanks to the Purell, human germs — climbed onto a platform in Winter's pool.

Bates showed the chef how to get Winter to wave, swim in small circles and whistle for the crowd.

"I've seen so many dolphins in the Panhandle. They swim right up to your boat," Lagasse said on his way out of the aquarium. "Winter's super smart, you know. She had a bad accident, got wrapped in that crab trap — but it looks like she's doing great now."

Danielle Paquette can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4224. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Comments
Crisco, dune buggy and a face-plant: Fired-up Philly fans take to the streets

Crisco, dune buggy and a face-plant: Fired-up Philly fans take to the streets

PHILADELPHIA — Not even a coat of Crisco on light poles across the city could keep Philadelphia Eagles fans from scaling new heights in celebrating their team’s first Super Bowl appearance in 13 years and setting up a rematch with the AFC champion N...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Hooper: Deal with sea-level rise or prepare to be inundated

When fans again flock to Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard for the annual Gasparilla Festival on Saturday, I hope they ask a question: Will the floats need flotation devices in 2035?Erika Spanger-Siegfried, Astrid Caldas and Kate Cell, members of the Union ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Forecast: Warm weather remains, but cold front will bring rain to Tampa Bay

Forecast: Warm weather remains, but cold front will bring rain to Tampa Bay

A warm weekend across Tampa Bay will carry over into the start of the workweek, after some morning fog burns off and before a front results in clouds and increased rain chances later this afternoon.10News WTSPFeels-like temperatures around the Tampa...
Updated: 2 hours ago

The Daystarter: PolitiFact Florida analyzes prison costs; breaking down the Super Bowl matchup; free dental clinic services in high demand; Arrrrr you ready for Gasparilla?

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.• We’ll have a mild and sunny start to the week, with highs in the upper 70s, according to 10Weather WTSP. A weak cold front brings a chance of rain on Tuesday and slightly coo...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Police: 2 IEDs detonated at a Florida mall, no injuries

LAKE WALES — Police say two improvised explosive devices ignited inside a mall in central Florida on Sunday do not appear to be an act of terrorism.Lake Wales police Deputy Chief Troy Schulze tells news outlets that at 5:22 p.m., the Lake Wales Fire ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
PolitiFact Florida: Claims about prison price-gouging decry $17 soup, $18 tampons

PolitiFact Florida: Claims about prison price-gouging decry $17 soup, $18 tampons

Advocates of Florida prisoners protested outside of the Florida Department of Corrections in Tallahassee on Tuesday, demanding answers to questions of alleged price-gouging in prisons across the state.Protesters from dozens of grass roots organizatio...
Published: 01/22/18
Add swagger to Lightning’s loss column

Add swagger to Lightning’s loss column

CHICAGO — It didn’t take the sound of a door slamming in the visitor’s dressing room Saturday night to sense this Lightning team is frustrated.Tampa Bay believed it had worked hard against the Wild — at least, harder than it did in Thursday’s letharg...
Updated: 8 hours ago

nationResearchers work to avoid another 1918 super-flu The descriptions are haunting. Some victims felt fine in the morning and were dead by night. Faces turned blue as patients coughed up blood. Stacked bodies outnumbered coffins. A century after on...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Hillsborough diver who died in Eagle’s Nest Cave was adventurous but experienced

Davin Brannon was a pilot, a spearfisherman, an avid cave and open-water diver and an experienced all-around adventurer, said those close to him ."I guess you could say he died doing what he loved," his cousin Pam Kirven said. "But I also know he’d n...
Updated: 9 hours ago
‘Three Billboards’ sweeps female-focused SAG Awards

‘Three Billboards’ sweeps female-focused SAG Awards

LOS ANGELES — The Western-inspired revenge tale Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri swept the female-focused and led Screen Actors Guild Awards Sunday with wins for best ensemble, best actress for Frances McDormand and best supporting actor for...
Updated: 9 hours ago