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Tampa Bay chefs go head to head and Disney Springs gets another James Beard winner

Epic Chef Showdown: Feeding Tampa Bay

The Epicurean Hotel is in the middle of its third Epic Chef Showdown to benefit Feeding Tampa Bay. It's a seven-week competition pitting eight of the Tampa Bay area's top restaurants against one another in a friendly cooking competition judged by a panel of local celebrities. Each week, two competing chefs receive a mystery box of ingredients not commonly prepared together, and will be challenged to create two unique dishes under the pressure of the clock. When time is up, each dish will be judged and one restaurant will be eliminated, with the winner moving on to the next round. Remaining competition dates are Monday and July 31 (qualifying rounds), Aug. 7 and 14 (semi-finals) and Aug. 21 (finale).

Participating local restaurants include Ava, Armani's, Locale Market/FarmTable Kitchen, the Mill, Mise en Place, Noble Crust, Parkshore Grill and Rooster & the Till. Each week, the event will be hosted by Topher Morrison, best-selling author, motivational speaker and managing director of Key Person of Influence USA. Judges will rotate each week and include personalities ranging from "Retro Rad Chef" Emily Ellyn of the Food Network and chef Jeff Philbin of MasterChef to NFL player Vincent Jackson and entrepreneur and author Dawna Stone.

Events take place at the Epicurean Hotel's Epicurean Theatre from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. A limited number of tickets to the public are available for $90 (finale is $120), which includes a coursed meal with wine pairings, inspired by the participating restaurants and Élevage. Those without tickets can watch from the lobby area, where the event will be shown on big-screen TVs. In addition, Epic Chef Showdown will be streamed live on Feeding Tampa Bay's Facebook and YouTube channel and in the Epicurean Hotel guest rooms.

Coming soon: Terralina Crafted Italian

Oooh, Disney Springs' hits just keep on coming. Portobello Country Italian Trattoria is going away and in its place Terralina Crafted Italian will debut this fall after a multi-million-dollar transformation. The new concept, menu and look are the vision of James Beard award-winning chef Tony Mantuano (of Spiaggia, the only four-star Italian restaurant in Chicago), inspired by the design and lifestyle of Italy's Lake District. Set on the shores of Lake Buena Vista (see, it's a lake), Terralina will have waterfront views, with a newly installed veranda bar for some waterside quaffing.

Terralina's menu will feature Italian cuisine cooked in Mantuano's signature olive oil imported from Italy. The restaurant's wood-burning oven will fire up a selection of artisanal pizzas and fresh vegetable dishes, and some of the fan favorites from Portobello days (antipasti platter, etc.) will stay, overseen by executive chef Justin Plank.

Local art: Chefs and their ink

Bravo TV decided to showcase tattoos in the kitchen. As they noted, "After spending so much time handling cooking tools, eating elaborate dishes and experimenting with ingredients, it's no surprise (body) art imitates life. In addition to getting inked with meaningful quotes and loved ones' names, chefs dedicate a substantial amount of space on their skin to display their food-focused passions." They asked for submissions and Suzanne Perry from Datz, Dough and Roux complied with a whole bunch of body art from her staff.

Eleven chefs were showcased (for the full story, go to including Alicia Wolding, pictured, pastry chef at Dough in Tampa. Here's what she said about her tattoo.

"A long, long time ago, I was a 6-year-old little girl at Disney World with my mom. I will never forget walking along Main Street. As I looked through the window of the bakery, I saw pastry chefs using balloon whisks and I told my mom 'I want to do that.' That's how it all started. Now I get to live my dream as a pastry chef. It took me three years and two margaritas to finally get my whisk tattoo. I jumped on the trolley and headed to Bay City Tattoo in Ybor City. No regrets."

Tampa Bay chefs go head to head and Disney Springs gets another James Beard winner 07/19/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 19, 2017 11:43am]
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