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Michelle Stark, Times Food Editor

Michelle Stark

Michelle Stark is the Food Editor for the Tampa Bay Times, overseeing the food content online and in print, including cooking and restaurants. She also manages social media accounts for the Entertainment department, including food. Previously, she was part of the Things to Do crew and co-host of Play Tampa Bay. She has designed and edited the Times' daily entertainment page, and wrote weekly about television at The Feed blog. Stark joined the Times after graduating from the University of South Florida in 2010 with degrees in mass communications and international relations.

Phone: (727) 893-8829


Twitter: @MStark17

  1. Old Navy is cool now (right?!)


    Sorry, no J. Crew Factory sale alert or fashion photos today, just a link to some interesting bedtime reading about Old Navy. That's right, everyone, Old Navy, that ubiquitous retailer you might associate with hoodies and branded Fourth of July shirts for the whole family. Well, no longer fellow sale seekers: The New York Times has all the details in this story about the store's rebirth into a cooler, more H&M-like version of its former self....

    Pixie Pants!
  2. Five ideas for corn: chowder, fritters, pudding


    Summer is almost here in Tampa Bay, and with that, a lot of unpleasant things: sticky-sweaty clothing, afternoon storms, bug bites galore. But it also means a bounty of summer produce, including bright, sweet, fresh summer corn. The traditionally salted and buttered cobs are used in everything from salad to ice creams these days. Here are five ideas for how to use those ears.

    Corn fritters...

    Corn fritters can be made in a skillet.
  3. Cook Hack: How to check and recalibrate meat thermometers


    How to check and recalibrate meat thermometers

    It's the season for grilling, which means it's the season for using meat thermometers to make sure you're not serving raw pork chops. Here's how to make sure you're getting the right temperature. Plunge the probe of a meat thermometer in a glass of ice water (you want a slushy water-ice mixture), making sure it's not touching the bottom or sides of the glass. Check the dial. Does it read 32 degrees F after 30 seconds? If not, you need to recalibrate. There should be a nut under the dial part of a standard dial thermometer; use some pliers to turn it until it's pointing to 32 degrees F. Digital models may come with a reset button you can hold down (if not, try the on/off button) while the thermometer is submerged in the water; wait until it reads 32 degrees F. ...

  4. From the editor: How to fix a crispy chicken craving


    Satisfy your crispy chicken craving

    To celebrate my boyfriend's recent graduation from pharmacy school, we had dinner at one of our favorite go-to celebratory spots: Epcot. Specifically, the upscale Le Cellier Steakhouse in the theme park's Canada section.

    I know, it sounds silly, a fancy dinner in a restaurant where the majority of patrons are wearing shorts and flip-flops. ...

    Put a new spin on sandwich ingredients with Ham, Cheddar and Apple Quesadillas.
  5. Beat the heat with homemade desserts: granita, ice cream, more


    As temperatures ramp up in the Tampa Bay area, you need an indoor activity to throw into the mix this Memorial Day weekend. Something cool, refreshing, rewarding. How about making homemade frozen treats? As an activity, it's satisfying for kids and adults. And the results — bright popsicles, slushy granita, ice cream sandwiches — are ideal for serving at picnics, barbecues and other festive, toasty gatherings....

    From left are Blondie Sandwiches With Chunky Cherry Ice Cream, Plum Ginger Granita and No-Churn Peach Ice Cream.
  6. #CookClub recipe: Ham, Cheddar and Apple Quesadillas


    I came up with this recipe for ham quesadillas out of desperation when its ingredients were about the only things I had in my fridge for dinner. It bears little resemblance to a quesadilla in the traditional sense, but the tortilla puts a new spin on these sandwich ingredients.


      MONICA HERNDON | Times.
  7. 'Mad Men' finale recap: Season 7 Episode 14 — 'Person to Person' ends an iconic series with a bold image


    Let me preface this recap of Mad Men's series finale by saying that formulating deep thoughts about a Mad Men episode 5 minutes, 10 minutes, an hour after it airs is sillier than the idea of Don doing yoga. Oh, wait, that just happened, didn't it? Yeah, uh, more on that in a bit. Anyway. If this show has done nothing else, it's shown us the important of looking at things over time. Since it started in 2007, Mad Men has taken us through an entire decade, almost in real time. It took its sweet time telling its story, the one about Don and Dick, Peggy, Pete, Betty, Joan, Roger; about moon landings and civil unrest and presidential assassinations; about advertising and families and gender roles and identity. It revealed things about its characters and its storytelling over time, forcing fans of the show to wait for big splashy payoffs like the dissolution of Sterling Cooper or Don's secret identity. (Remember when we didn't know what that secret was?)...

    This is the only photo from tonight's episode on AMC's press site. Do not ask me why.
  8. The 'Mad Men' finale is Sunday; here's how to say goodbye with style


    The final episode of AMC's Mad Men airs Sunday night. And for a show that has a relatively microscopic audience (it rarely cracks the 3-million-viewer mark), it's had a permanent spot in our pop culture since it debuted in 2007. Sunday's finale of a show many consider to be one of the best of the past decade will no doubt be scrutinized for a long time to come. That's just what we do when TV shows end these days, even if one hour of a show (and especially this show) is not nearly as important as all that came before. Will Don Draper turn out to be real-life mystery man D.B. Cooper? (No way.) Will Pete Campbell end up with his own private jet and a mansion in Kansas? (Probably, because weasels tend to win.) Is this the last we've seen of Peggy? (Hope not!)...

    The cast of Mad Men.
  9. From the food editor: Praise for Panera's plan to drop additives


    Praise for Panera's plan to drop additives

    Last week, Panera Bread announced it's going to get rid of more than 100 food additives found in its food by the end of 2016.

    As someone who strives to eat as cleanly as possible and who hasn't been able to quit the chain's Asiago Cheese Bagels since working there in high school, I have to pause and give them kudos for the move. ...

  10. Cocktails through the 'Mad Men' era: How to make an Old-Fashioned, White Russian, Harvey Wallbanger

    Bars & Spirits

    Plus: Say goodbye to the show with a party, complete with retro food and drinks.

    On Mad Men, everyone drinks, all the time. So it's not surprising that the libations featured throughout have permeated their way into our bar culture since the show premiered in 2007. Nostalgia for retro cocktails is in, says Erin Davey, the director of education and a head bartender at St. Petersburg bar the Mandarin Hide. "Mad Men has inspired a lot of cocktail knowledge among bargoers," Davey says....

    The Harvey Wallbanger is made with vodka, orange juice and Galliano liqueur.
  11. Cook hack: To cut meat thinly for stir-fries, freeze it first


    To cut meat thinly for stir-fries, freeze it first

    Slicing meats like steak or chicken into thin slices for stir-fries or tacos can be tricky, sometimes resulting in uneven slices and a stringy, meaty mess. To avoid this and to be able to slice meat more easily, simply wrap a whole piece tightly in plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer to firm up. About 20 to 30 minutes should do the job; you just want it firm, not completely frozen. When it's firm, take it out of the freezer, remove the plastic and slice the meat against the grain. If your meat is already frozen, slice it just before it's entirely defrosted. —Michelle Stark/tbt*...

  12. My Outfit Monday: Skirts to the rescue for summer


    For the past few months, my clothes-buying goal has been strictly skirts. Specifically, work-appropriate skirts that can double as fun casualware to get me through the sweltering summer season.

    Enter this week's My Outfit Monday, which features one of my favorite buys of the year so far. Okay, confession: This outfit is from Thursday, when I needed something breezy yet put-together for a Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber Luncheon on culinary tourism I attended as part of my Food Editor duties....

  13. 'Mad Men' recap, season 7 episode 13: 'The Milk and Honey Route' feels like the end


    Wow. That may have been the most penultimate-y penultimate episode of a series I’ve ever seen. There’s a bleak finality to Sunday night’s Mad Men, “The Milk and Honey Route,” that’s at once suffocating and liberating.  

    This is a Don-centric episode, with barely a minute spent in an advertising office, as he continues his vagabonding he began last episode. It’s the episode in which we really get to know Oklahoma Don, who gets stopped for a few days during his cross-country roadtrip due to car troubles. I like Oklahoma Don. Plaid shirt-wearing, hair-flopping Don. Barefoot, typewriter-fixing Don. The Don who says he "was" in the advertising business, who has decided he's now retired. BATHING SUIT DON.  ...

  14. #CookClub recipe: Greek Spiced Chicken Wings and Potatoes


    This week's #CookClub dinner idea couldn't be easier. It requires few ingredients, which means it's simple to put together, but the roasting work the oven does imparts flavor to the chicken wings and potatoes, which cook together on the same pan.



    Greek-spiced chicken wings and potatoes with tzatziki sauce. Photo by 

  15. Five ideas for parchment packet dinners


    Meals cooked in parchment packets offer super-easy cleanup, but the packets are also an ideal cooking vessel for many proteins, particularly chicken and fish. It's a desirable dinner option because you can throw everything into a folded piece of parchment paper, then open it less than an hour later and reveal a complete meal. The steam created in the packet cooks meat and vegetables in their own juices, creating moist, flavorful food. Put a fancy twist on the evening and tell your dinner companions you're serving up the dish "en papillote," the French term for "in parchment." It makes for a beautiful presentation. ...

    Master the art of parchment folding for a way to simplify meals. Start with a large sheet of parchment paper (at least 16 inches).