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Amy Scherzer, Times Staff Writer

Amy Scherzer

Amy joined the Times in January 2002 to help launch the weekly City Times edition serving South Tampa and nearby neighborhoods. Her column, Amy Scherzer's Diary, takes readers along as she makes her rounds on the social circuit. Camera in hand, Amy captures the galagoers, wine tasters, Gasparilla kings, debutantes and bay area philanthropists.

Amy earned her bachelor's degree in mass communications and political science at the University of Pittsburgh, and has been a Tampa resident since 1978. She and her husband, Robert, live on Davis Islands, proud parents of two grown children. Any free time is spent people watching, entertaining, boating and reading.

Phone: (813) 226-3332

Fax: (813) 226-3381

Email: ascherzer@tampabay.com

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  1. Amy Scherzer's Diary: WeeklyWrap-Up of the Tampa Social Scene

    Human Interest

    11th Martinis for Moffitt

    Vacations get scheduled around it, probably weddings and a few bar mitzvahs, too, as Martinis for Moffitt goes on the summer calendar first.

    "We sold out three weeks in advance, over 1,000 tickets," said Kostas Stoilas, speaking for the Bay Area Advisors, the charity-minded, young men's professional network that has grown its annual benefit into one of Tampa's most anticipated events....

    Jodi and Brendan Crampton enjoy Martinis for Moffitt hosted by Bay Area Advisors.
  2. New MacDonald Training Center CEO brings upbeat attitude to role

    Human Interest

    TAMPA

    Only good news should be spread on Fridays, to Karenne Levy's way of thinking.

    "You can't do anything about bad news until Monday anyway," says the newly hired president and CEO of the MacDonald Training Center. "So my rule is save it for Monday."

    The Kingston, Jamaica, native cites her own empirical data, including a biopsy 10 years ago on a Friday afternoon that indicated the possibility of cancer....

    Fridays are good news-only days,?ˆš“ says Karenne Levy, president and CEO of the MacDonald Training Center. ?ˆš’You can?ˆš•t do anything about bad news until Monday anyway.?ˆš“
  3. Amy Scherzer's Diary: Weekly Wrap-Up of the Tampa social scene

    Human Interest

    'The Infiltrator' world premiere at Tampa Theatre

    What a coup for the Tampa-Hillsborough Film and Digital Media Commission to score actors Bryan Cranston and Benjamin Bratt to the red carpet premiere of The Infiltrator at the Tampa Theatre. And what charm and patience they showed when 500 VIPs lined up for an hour of photo ops July 6. "They fell in love with our theater when they filmed here," said film commissioner Dale Gordon. "Cranston really wanted to do a screening for us." After gifting the stars with Tampa Bay Rays jerseys, Gordon noted another special guest, Bob Mazur, "the hero among you" was tucked into the audience. The former FBI agent whose life inspired the film still lives incognito 30 years later and didn't join 10 other feds from the Pablo Escobar sting called up to the stage that night....

    The Infiltrator director Brad Furman and stars Bryan Cranston, from left, and Benjamin Bratt, far right, pose with Visit Tampa Bay CEO Santiago Corrada and his wife Shanna at the July 6 world premiere at Tampa Theatre.
  4. Times seeks entries for annual social calendar

    Human Interest

    For more than a decade, the Tampa Bay Times social calendar has helped nonprofit organizations and charities planning annual fundraisers and awareness events reach a generous community. Advance notice of dates and details serves both organizers and supporters throughout Tampa's philanthropic social scene.

    Fashion show luncheons and black-tie bashes are examples of the "gala" events included on the September through May 2017 calendar, to be published in the Hillsborough regional editions Sept. 9. Listings don't have to be formal, "snooty" affairs — winetastings work, silver coffees shine, as well as testimonial, scholarship and awards banquets. The gatherings are generally open to the public and net proceeds reported as promptly as possible....

    Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tampa Bay supporters dance at the Storybook Ball.
  5. What the heck is an arepa?

    General

    What I ate: What the heck is an arepa? It's the national sandwich of Venezuela and neighboring Colombia, and at Nico's Arepas Grill, it can be stuffed with nearly 20 choices of fillings.

    Think a thick, cornmeal pancake, split open and loaded with meats, cheeses and veggies in many combinations, served grilled, baked or fried.

    My very hungry dinner guest found an efficient way to sample a number of the offerings, ordering the aptly named La Glotona (the Glutton). This arepa holds beef, chicken, potato salad, cheese and on request, pork....

    Nico’s Arepas Grill is known for the Venezuelan national dish, corncakes filled with a great variety of meats and cheeses, as well as chicken soup and other Venezuelan specialities.
  6. Homestretch for arts champ: Sunday Conversation with Art Keeble

    Human Interest

    TAMPA

    On the homestretch of a 32-year career as executive director at the Arts Council of Hillsborough County, Art Keeble recalls the arts scene when he arrived in Tampa. • "No performing arts center, no children's museum, no photography museum, no history center, no aquarium. We've come a long way, baby," said Keeble, 72, applauding bricks-and-mortar growth while regretting a lack of independent studios and galleries. • A national search is now under way for Keeble's successor, who will take over in September. Tampa Bay Times reporter Amy Scherzer recently sat down with the departing director, who shared memories and forecasts for Tampa's cultural arts....

    Art Keeble, retiring executive director of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County, sits in his office next to Ybor Rooster, a sculpture created by an Orange Grove Magnet School sixth-grader and made of cigar boxes and plasticine.
  7. Amy Scherzer's Diary: weekly wrapup of the Tampa social scene

    Human Interest

    Tampa Museum of Art summer openings

    Three concurrent exhibits pop with artful and optical illusions at the Tampa Museum of Art, two opened by famed artists themselves. Peter Max mingled with members June 8 amid nearly 100 of his pop culture works from the early '60s to 2010s in "Peter Max: 50 Years of Cosmic Dreaming." On June 18, Norma Kamali arrived with her first museum exhibition, "Norma Kamali City: Fashion + Art + Culture," filling two galleries with signature designs, including the parachute dress, the sleeping bag coat and styles that earned her the 2016 Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award. The ingenious All-in-One dress she created in 1973 is selling like crazy in the gift shop....

    National College Football Playoff chairman Michael Kelly, left, and Tampa Bay Sports Commission director Rob Higgins honor sportsmanship on and off the field at the sixth annual Sneaker Soiree.
  8. Review: 'The Realish Housewives of South Tampa' send up our local socialites

    News

    TAMPA

    Ditzy Desiree launched her career as a neck model after being discovered south of Gandy Boulevard. Dirty politician Gwen abducted Mayor Bob Buckhorn. And who knows which social climber sold Gawker a Hulk Hogan sex tape?

    The Realish Housewives of South Tampa, written and performed by mostly Second City theater troupe-trained improvisers, plays through Sunday at the Jaeb Theater at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. Local tweaks at each stop on the "glam-bitious" parody tour indulge some pretty broad generalizations of some pretty broads....

    The Realish Housewives of South Tampa at the Straz Center is a "glam-bitious" take on the Bravo reality TV series. The travelling show does its homework, and tweaks the show to include regional jokes.
  9. Amy Scherzer's Diary: Weekly wrapup of the Tampa social scene

    Human Interest

    Fork Fight 2016

    Stirring up a generous scoop of creativity, a heaping helping of logistics and a dash of romance, Fork Fight 2016 will soon provide 1.5 million meals from surplus food donated to and coordinated by Feeding Tampa Bay in 10 counties. Every dollar raised at the gourmet dinner pays for 10 meals.

    Starting with champagne and five appetizers, chefs from 15 restaurants prepared the five-course, $300 feast at the Marriott Waterside on May 26. Next came a pickled rock shrimp and peach salad, followed by blue cobia chowder, smoked pork belly and fingerling potato salad, which was followed by smoked lamb neck in orange balsamic with piave polenta and garlic chile broccoli rabe. For dessert: black sesame panna cotta and kumquat-dusted pork cracklings. Thoughtfully chosen wines arrived with each course, of course....

    Mise en Place chef Marty Blitz preps dinner for 500 guests on May 26 at Fork Fight 2016, the annual gourmet dinner benefit for Feeding Tampa Bay at the Marriott Waterside.
  10. Amy Scherzer's Diary: Weekly Wrap-Up of the Tampa Social Scene

    Human Interest

    Ronald McDonald House Charities Storybook Ball

    Disney Studios lent the delightful plot but Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tampa Bay elegantly scripted Frozen at the 17th annual Storybook Ball. This year's event honored TSE Industries' Rob & Diane Klingel for supporting the four bay-area houses that last year kept 2,000-plus pediatric families close to their children's treatment centers. His grandmother Gretchen "was like a Ronald McDonald House," Rob said, recalling "there was always a houseful of people finding help" under her roof....

    Keith and Allison Robinson support the Storybook Ball to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities on May 21 at the Marriott Waterside.
  11. Petra meets Mediterranean expectations

    Food & Dining

    WHAT I ATE: Middle Eastern cuisine classically starts with a meze "tasty morsel" platter, arriving as an array of hot and cold appetizers: grape leaves; scoopable hummus and baba ghanoush, one lemony, one smoky; falafel (deep-fried chick peas); and kibbe, (spicy meat, onion and ground pine nuts in a crispy, football-shaped cracked wheat shell), plus labaneh and tahini sauces. With this generous starter came a small dish of pickled veggies, Za'atar-dotted olive oil and a basket of warm pita quarters. The spice blend Za'atar — typically, sumac, oregano, thyme, toasted sesame seeds, salt and other herbs — is as addictive as it is essential....

    At Petra, the full menu is also served outdoors, under umbrellas and in cozy niches.
  12. Home cook in Davis Islands shares her healthy habits, hummus recipes

    Cooking

    Three steps out the back door and snip, snip. Parsley and mint for tabbouleh; rosemary, basil, dill, sage and fennel to trick up hummus. Harvesting homegrown herbs brings Valarie Blau joy every time.

    Both Mediterranean mezzes are mainstays for the health-conscious Blau family. Val, a registered nurse at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital Medical Mobile Clinic, runs, bikes, swims or works out six days a week, her family history of heart disease never far from mind. ...

    Valarie Blau collects basil from the backyard garden of her Davis Islands home. “We’re all about the food in this family,” she said.
  13. Amy Scherzer's Diary: Weekly Wrap-Up of the Tampa Social Scene

    Human Interest

    Tampa General Hospital Foundation gala

    Pow! Bam! Kaboom! Supermen, Batmen, Catwomen, Thors and Hulks got a kick out of the comic theme of A Night to Marvel, Tampa General Hospital Foundation's celebration of super heroes of health care. As Captain Americas, hospital CEO Jim Burkhart and gala co-chairs Mickey and Dianne "Wonder Woman" Jacob empowered Saturday's benefit for TGH Children's Medical Center. USFHealth chief operating officer Ed Funai made a suave Penguin; gala sponsor John McKibbon identified as his hero, Donald Trump; Alexis and David Ciesla came as the Bolts, caped in Tampa Bay Lightning banners ...

     Super heroes of health care Deana Nelson, left, Toby Hart, Tamara Rice, Charles and Denise Edwards party at the Tampa General Hospital Foundation gala May 14 at the Tampa Convention Center.
  14. Sunday Conversation: Lee Bird Leavengood inducted into Hillsborough County Women's Hall of Fame

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — Lee Bird Leavengood has spent the better part of four decades rushing to class, running meetings and developing programs at the University of South Florida. First she was a volunteer, then a graduate student and, before long, an instructor and administrator. She was the first female named to the USF Foundation, founded the Friends of the Library and a gallery at a contemporary art museum bears the Leavengood name. Leavengood, 87, and her late husband Vic immersed themselves in campus life practically from the moment they arrived in Tampa in 1960....

    Lee Bird Leavengood immersed herself in a life of learning and service at the University of South Florida starting in the ’60s. She’s “retired” but still volunteers at the Tampa Bay History Center.
  15. Amy Scherzer's Diary: Weekly Wrap-Up of the Tampa Social Scene

    Human Interest

    St. Joseph's Children's Hospital Heroes Ball

    More than just this year's honorees, St. Joseph's Children's Hospital board member Lauren Dungy and NFL Hall of Fame inductee Tony Dungy contributed quite the New York adventure to the Heroes Ball live auction Saturday. Coach Dungy arranged for a tour of NBC Studios, tickets to a Saturday Night Live dress rehearsal and a live taping/behind-the-scenes visit to Football Night in America, with hotel and airfare included. Mike and Lori Kosloske were top bidders at $16,000....

    Cardiologist Elsa Suh, left, and Heroes Ball chairman Ben Hill III tell guests how their attendance supports 
St. Joseph’s Children’s Heart Institute.