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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

Email: mstark@tampabay.com

Twitter: @MStark17

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  1. Dream of seeing last original 'Hamilton' cast performance becomes reality

    Human Interest

    NEW YORK

    Our heels click through Times Square, brushing against floor-length gowns as we anxiously make our way toward the Richard Rodgers Theatre. The marquee is out of sight until we're right up on it, black letters and a familiar image set against a gold background: HAMILTON: AN AMERICAN MUSICAL.

    I'm with my best friend, Cameron "Cammie" Gagne, potentially moments away from seeing the original Broadway cast of the decade's most heralded musical, a Pulitzer Prize- and Tony-winning phenomenon, perform their final show....

    Michelle Stark, right, and Cammie Gagne dress to the nines for the July 9 performance of Hamilton at the Richard Rodgers 
Theatre in New York. The 28-year-olds, who live thousands of miles apart (Gagne resides in Germany), met in the first grade.
  2. From the food editor: recipe ideas for tofu

    Cooking

    In this week's issue, food critic Laura Reiley reviews Thinh An, a new Tampa restaurant that is the first place in the Tampa Bay area to make its tofu from scratch. (Review, Page 3E)

    Last month, Laura got a peek at how Thinh An's Michael Nguyen "takes 60 pounds of soybeans and transforms it into blocks of velvety 'coagulated bean curd.' "

    Learning about the process, which begins by pouring "small, pale yellow presoaked beans into an open-topped receptacle like an oversized coffee grinder" and ends with hot curds being pressed through a cheesecloth-lined stainless steel press into familiar molds we see in stores, made me think of the soy product differently. Those off-white blocks sold in packages often seem unappealing to me, mostly because I'm never quite sure exactly what they are composed of, or what to do with them. ...

    Enjoy a taste of home cooking with Chicken and Dumplings.
  3. From the food editor: Introducing a new column in the Taste section

    Cooking

    In this week's cover story, we introduce a new column for the Taste section: Page to Plate.

    In this monthly column, one of our correspondents, Ileana Morales Valentine, will take you through one of her passions: cookbooks.

    Even if you don't enjoy perusing books for recipes, or if you get the majority of your recipes from a digital device, I think you'll fine something to like, whether it be cooking insights or interesting recipes. ...

    Eggplant and Garlic Pork Stir-Fry
  4. From most serious comedy to TV president, 8 other Emmys we'd like to award

    The Feed

    At this point, the Emmys seem increasingly silly. With so much TV currently airing, it seems impossible that any voting body could narrow down the pile to a handful of the "best."

    However, that's exactly what the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences will do Thursday when it releases the nominations for the year's best programming. There will be snubs and surprises. And it can be frustrating for obsessive TV viewers like yours truly....

    Broad City
  5. Discover roti, the popular Caribbean dish that has a following in Tampa Bay

    Cooking

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Shak Sinanan sections off a handful of dough, rolls it on the stainless steel countertop a couple of times into a smooth ball, then flattens it into a thick disc. To his right, a flat, edgeless pan called a tawa is heating up over a flame.

    From a second bowl, he scoops a handful of slightly pulverized, gritty yellow split peas and places the mixture into the middle of the disc, which then gets shaped back into a ball and rolled into a thin, flat, familiar shape. ...

    Shak Sinanan makes dhal puri roti at Vashti Caribbean Cuisine in St. Petersburg. Step 3: Flatten the ball and press the yellow split pea mixture into the middle of the dough.
  6. From the food editor: Asking around for best big city eats

    Cooking

    Shortly after you read this column, I will be on my way up the East Coast, embarking on a road trip. Destination: New York City.

    But I'm a food editor. So while the purpose of the trip is not solely food-related, it has turned into a chance to stop at as many food-centric cities as possible along the way.

    That means lunch in Charleston, S.C., a couple of meals in Washington, D.C. And that's just on the way up. The return trip includes a night in Savannah, Ga., home to an increasing array of interesting independent restaurants....

    Expand your palette, and please your palate, with Israeli Couscous Salad With Smoked Paprika.
  7. New Dali Museum exhibit inspires FarmTable Kitchen's summer cocktail lineup

    Bars & Spirits

    ST. PETERSBURG

    The crushed ice in the gimletlike drink was supposed to mimic the tulle of a ballet skirt; the double-twisted orange peel garnishing a peach fizz, flowing ribbons.

    At Locale Market's FarmTable Kitchen, it's no stretch to say that the cocktails are an art form. For the past year, the rotating drinks list has been inspired by exhibits at the Dalí Museum a couple of blocks away. ...

    On Friday, FarmTable Kitchen at Locale Market in St. Petersburg debuted eight cocktails influenced by the “Horst: Photography — Fashion and Surrealism” exhibit. From left to right: Parisian Summer, Marilyn Monroe, Summer Fashions, Bacchanale (front row), French Riviera (back row), Round the Clock, Marlene Dietrich and Mainbocher Corset. At right is the Platinum, a Moscow Mule that’s a regular on the menu.
  8. Five ideas for Fourth of July sides: potato, pasta and fruit salads

    Cooking

    You've got certain things already decided. Hot dogs, hamburgers, cold beer — Fourth of July essentials that must be served to ensure you properly celebrate American independence.

    But there is some wiggle room on the rest of your cookout's menu, specifically when it comes to side items. We've put together five ideas for three different kinds of classic picnic "salads" — fruit, potato and pasta. ...

    
A tantalizing trio: Honey Lime Rainbow Fruit Salad, Potato Salad With Dill and Horseradish Aioli and Macaroni Salad With Mozzarella and Prosciutto.
  9. From the food editor: Tips for dining outdoors this Fourth of July

    Cooking

    Regardless of your plans this Fourth of July weekend, it's likely you'll be eating outdoors at some point, in the presence of a picnic blanket or a smoking grill.

    In our cover story on Pages 4E-5E, we offer ideas for side items to accompany a traditional Fourth of July feast. Specifically, those "salads" that usually get placed on red-and-white checkered tablecloths: potato, fruit and pasta. Sometimes, these mayo-based salads are left to fester in the sun, untouched; hopefully these spins on the classics will go over better with your guests. ...

    Pork Chops With Collard Greens
  10. On a summer search for the perfect romper

    Blog

    If you watch Comedy Central treasure Broad City, the episode "2016" might stand out to you as the one featuring a guest appearance by presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. To me, it stands out for another reason: ABBI'S ROMPER.

    The outfit is pictured in the photo above, though I can't find a great one that showcases it in all its glory. As you can see, Abbi Jacobson (far right) wears a short-sleeved, dark floral romper with a deep neck and - the best part - a swath of fabric covering part of the shorts. I've heard this called a "privacy panel," though I do not love that term to desribe something attached to what is essentially a grownup onesie....

  11. From the food editor: Suggestions for what to do with leftover sourdough starter

    Cooking

    This story from food critic Laura Reiley is about something near and dear to my heart: bread. Not just eating it, but making it yourself.

    As I've written about before, I try to make bread products from scratch whenever I can. They just taste so much better than the prepackaged, preservative-laden kind. Most breads are relatively easy to make at home: Flour plus yeast plus water and sometimes oil makes the base for pizza dough or dinner rolls or bagels....

    Brett Wiewiora of Gulf Coast Sourdough mixes up what he considered the secret sauce in their breads. The sourdough yeast starter is what gives their wild yeast breads their special flavor. [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  12. Recipe for summer steak salad

    Cooking

    easy

    Steak Salad with Sweet Potatoes

    Ingredients

    • 12 ounces sirloin steak
    • 4 ounces arugula
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 4 ounces grape tomatoes
    • 2 small sweet potatoes
    • 1 teaspoon rosemary
    • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil

    Instructions

    1. Wash and dry all produce. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
    2. Halve the tomatoes, and cut the sweet potato into wedges. Strip the rosemary off the stems and roughly chop the leaves so you have about 1 heaping teaspoon. Smash the garlic cloves with the side of a knife.
    3. Toss the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet with the garlic, rosemary, a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Place in the oven for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking, until golden brown.
    4. Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette for your salad. In a small owl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon oregano. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
    5. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Season the steak on all sides with salt and pepper. Add the steak to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until browned. Transfer the steak to the baking sheet in the oven to finish cooking for 5-7 minutes, or until cooked to desired doneness. When the steak is done, remove from over to rest for 5 minutes.
    6. Meanwhile, add the vinaigrette and the tomatoes to the same pan you used for the steak. Let them cool slightly with the residual heat from the pan.
    7. Once the steak has rested, slice it thinly against the grain. Mound the arugula on a plate and top it with the steak. Scatter the rosemary sweet potato wedges around the salad, then drizzle with warm tomatoes and vinaigrette. Serves 2.
    Source: Hello Fresh
    ...

    Summer Steak Salad  [Photo by Michelle Stark.]
  13. My Outfit Monday: Stepping into floral accents

    Blog

    After a heavy, tragedy-filled weekend here in Central Florida, a light, bright outfit called to me from the closet this morning.

    Light fabrics are essential for the sort of mid-June heat that surrounds us right now, so I went with two of my summer faves: cotton and linen. The shirt is a sturdy white tank from the Loft Outlet in Ellenton, with a lace V-neck detail. It clocked in at around $10 after the outlet discounts. The skirt, a peachy above-the-knee A-line that has a fun flowery band around bottom, is also from said Loft store. It was $15 on clearance....

  14. For Father's Day, here are tips and recipes for grilling indoors

    Cooking

    This summer, wouldn't it be nice to bring the grilling indoors, away from the heat and the bugs? While the rest of the country is just now heading into outdoor grilling season, it can be unpleasant to stand over an open flame in Florida. In June.

    And with Father's Day on Sunday, it's a chance to welcome Dad into the air conditioning while you prepare outdoor favorites inside. Indoor grilling is also essential for people who don't have the outdoor space to grill, and it's usually easier in terms of cleanup. Here's how to master it. ...

    Using an infrared grill, culinary specialist Megan Woods  whipped up ingredients for a Mexican-inspired salad.
  15. From the food editor: Recipe for quesadillas, and other uses for tortillas inspired by the Whopperito

    Cooking

    Another day, another fast-food mashup. This time it's the Whopperito, a new Burger King concoction our intrepid food critic Laura Reiley reported on last week.

    "They tested the waters with the Whopper Dog, its 'flame-grilled' beef, melted cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, mayo, ketchup, pickles, and onions in an elongated form. (Reenactment of pitch meeting: 'Imagine the Whopper, but it's … wait for it … not round.') And now Burger King is rolling its 'have it your way' message — body-in-rug style — in a flour tortilla," she wrote....

    Give the tortilla a new spin with Summer Squash Quesadilla.