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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. Let's pause for a shout-out to these shoes


    It's already That Kind of Week. You know, the one where your To Do list is longer than your arm and too many things are happening at once and now you have to worry about Zika.

    But I had to pause for this short shout-out post to my new favorite shoes: these pointy faux-suede flats in a distracting shade of blue....

    So blue!
  2. Vine and Grind in Treasure Island latest local olive oil shop to tout 'premium' type



    A quarter mile from the sugar sand of Treasure Island beach, Jared Leal, 21, is in his new specialty food shop talking about the polyphenol levels of olive oil. He's running his finger up and down the label of the Manzanillo variety.

    "Oleic acid, free fatty acid — these all occur naturally once the olives get crushed," Leal said. "The lower the peroxide level, the better."...

    Jared Leal has a love of nutrition, which was part of the draw with the new business. “I like organic things,” he says. “I like natural things. I read labels. I’m that guy.”
  3. Five ideas for zoodle dishes


    Swearing off carbs has never been easier. I mean, it still seems to me like the most cruel punishment one could voluntarily inflict upon themselves, but there are enough ways to approximate the texture of certain dishes like spaghetti that it's not the sad gluten-free bread party it once was. The most helpful kitchen tool in this regard may be the spiralizer, which turns vegetables into slender, slinky strands that can stand in for noodles. Technically, a "zoodle" refers to the zucchini noodle, but we're including others under that banner for this collection of recipes, which puts the mighty spiralizer to work on other veggies, too....

    A spiralizer makes zucchini noodles, or “zoodles,” a snap.
  4. From the food editor: Enjoy August produce with this recipe for Pork Chops With Plum Salsa


    This happens every year. June and July swoop by in a sweaty haze, then August shows up and before we have a chance to catch our breaths, it's almost time for the holidays.

    The only thing that's helping me come to terms with the unyielding passage of time is the fact that the rest of the year is going to be delicious.

    Once we get into September, holiday fever begins to creep, and with it comes an array of ways to celebrate food: the excuse to work pumpkin flavor into everything (there are rumors that everyone's favorite Starbucks latte returns Sept. 6), the chance to make bubbling soups and stews in "cooler" (read: below 80 degrees) weather, and the gluttony of Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts. ...

    Dry, bland meat? Not a chance with Pork Chops With Plum Salsa.
  5. Looking for a cheaper way to replenish my makeup bag


    I desperately need to replace half of the items in my makeup bag, particularly some well-worn blush and powder from Bare Minerals and eyeshadow from Urban Decay.

    I'm also getting married in two months, which means I have not a cent to spare. And I certainly don't have $100+ to spend on all that ^.

    So I'm trying to get creative, dear Divas readers. And I'm turning to you for help. I've come across plenty of good blushes in my day, including this $9 darling from Ulta. And one of my favorite lipsticks is a purple shade of Nyx called Thunderstorm that costs $6....

    At $54, the Naked3 Palette is just slightly out of reach at this moment.
  6. Celebrate August food holidays: National Banana Split Day, National Whiskey Sour Day and more


    There is a food holiday on almost every remaining day in August, according to Here are some ideas for how to celebrate them.

    Michelle Stark, Times food editor

    Aug. 18

    National Ice Cream Pie Day

    Not to be confused with ice cream cake, in which cake and ice cream must merge, ice cream pie is a cinch to whip up at home. Step 1: Buy a premade graham cracker crust. Step 2: Mix 2 pints vanilla ice cream with 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans, 4 roughly chopped peanut butter cups and 2 roughly chopped Butterfinger bars. Step 3: Pour ice cream mixture into crust, cover and freeze for about 2 hours. Step 4: Eat and try not to get brain freeze. ...

    Italian ice cream cake, spumoni
  7. Ever wonder where all those national food holidays come from? The answer is complicated


    Not a day will go by this year without a supposed national day celebrating something — mostly food.

    You've heard of them, either via your Facebook feed or on the radio or during that hour of the Today show when they feature videos of water-skiing squirrels.

    National Lasagna Day. National IPA Day. National Cookie Day.

    The rest of August brings days dedicated to whiskey sours, trail mix and waffles. Some of them are nonsensical, like last week's Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Day....

    The calendar is packed with days to celebrate, and most of them revolve around food.
  8. Food hack: How to chop many small fruits and veggies with one cut


    Useful for: Cutting small produce items like grapes and cherry tomatoes

    What you need: serrated knife, flat surface like a wooden cutting board, lid for a large container or something like it,

    What to do: Place your produce on a hard, flat surface, whether that's a plate or a wooden cutting board or even a medium-sized plastic lid — anything that will prevent them from rolling around the counter. Place the produce in a single layer, then top with a second surface, like the lid of a large leftovers container, and hold it gently with one hand. Use the other hand to run a serrated or very sharp knife through the fruit or vegetables, going horizontally through the two surfaces so the food is cut in half. When you remove the lid, most of the items should be cut into two pieces. It might take some practice to get them all cut evenly down the middle....

  9. From the food editor: As we get more ramen in Tampa Bay, a reminder on how to slurp


    It was a hot day, and I was craving an even hotter bowl of soup.

    Specifically, a bowl of ramen, filled with complex shoyu broth and those signature chewy, pale yellow noodles.

    I was in Tampa a few weeks ago around lunchtime, and I made my way to Ichicoro, the hip Seminole Heights restaurant that opened last year.

    What followed was not a pretty sight. As a relative ramen novice, I am not yet totally skilled in the art of twirling the noodles with a pair of chopsticks in one hand, scooting them onto a large spoon with the other, scooping up some of the sumptuous broth in the process and somehow getting the whole thing into my mouth. ...

    Venture beyond the pedestrian with Tamarind Shrimp With Coconut Milk.
  10. Readers, send us your best holiday recipes


    Every year, we reach out to our readers and ask for holiday recipes, some of which get featured in our special Holiday Issue of Taste. For a decade-plus, it was Christmas cookies. Last year, it was any holiday dessert. And this year, we're opening it up even further in the hopes of creating some new traditions....

    Or perhaps your traditions include a killer pot roast? (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
  11. New restaurant opening today: Buya Ramen in downtown St. Petersburg

    Food & Dining

    Ready for more ramen?

    Opening today is newcomer Buya Ramen, bringing springy noodles and complex broths to 911 Central Ave. in downtown St. Petersburg.

    Food critic Laura Reiley reported a few weeks ago that the spot, from restaurant vet Mike Sponaugle, will feature two kinds of broth: "a traditional meaty tonkotsu (a 22-hour process) and a soy-based broth, with toppers like crispy duck and wagyu brisket, and a seafood version with grilled langostinos."...

    Opening today is newcomer Buya Ramen, bringing springy noodles and complex broths to 911 Central Ave. in downtown St. Petersburg. [Buya Ramen]
  12. Tips for wearing a bralette, because summer isn't over yet


    I know it's Aug. 8, and school starts this week, and summer is winding down in the collective consciousness, but when you're an adult without children who lives in the State of Perpetual Heat, summer fever can last until Christmas.  

    That's where I'm at right now, and that's why an email from JC Penney this morning extolling the virtues of its $10 bralettes caught my eye.  ...

  13. From the food editor: Ideas for filling the back-to-school lunch box


    Most school-aged kids in the Tampa Bay area head back to the classroom today, and that means parents are thinking about how to feed the little ones throughout the day. Our cover story this week focuses on those who turn to packed lunches.

    In this story, Grayson Kamm, communications director for the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, offers a look into the science behind why foods perish and what to do to prevent that from happening in your child's lunch box....

    Quiche with Red Peppers and Spinach.
  14. How to keep kids' school lunches safe throughout the day


    When kids go back to school, parents go back to the kitchen, making sure their little ones have fuel from breakfast through dinner. We've got dinner covered, with 10 ideas for casseroles on busy nights.

    But lunch is a different story.

    Lunch boxes must be packed and then sent off with little control over what happens next. In addition to figuring out what exactly to put in them (see our suggestions here), it's important to make sure the contents are safe to eat by lunchtime....

    School lunch box with sandwich and apple.
  15. 10 ideas for easy dinner casseroles


    By the end of the school day, it's helpful to have some standbys in your back pocket, easy dinner recipes that will nourish the whole family — and satisfy any especially picky eaters. Here are 10 recipes for casseroles or bakes that will allow you to think less about dinner during the school year (or any busy time). You might need the brainpower to help with algebra homework.

    Michelle Stark, Times food editor...

    Macaroni and Beef Casserole makes for a hearty dinner.