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Tampa Chef Rosana Rivera successfully ‘Beat Bobby Flay’ on Food Network

Tampa Chef Rosana Rivera made history as the first Latina woman to beat Bobby Flay on the Food Network on December 26th, 2019. She first beat her husband and business partner, Chef Ricardo Castro, in an elimination round before Bobby Flay using the papaya secret ingredient on a special episode called “It Must’ve Been Love”.

Bobby Flay has a fairly high win-ration that is over 60% of his competitions so this is no small victory for Chef Rosana Rivera.

The dish that beat Bobby Flay. Chef Rosana Rivera’s classic empanadas. Photo Credit: BKN Creative

Chef Rosana Rivera beat Bobby Flay with her beef empanada recipe. Flay had equipment malfunctions during the battle and a track record of empanada fails.

“This experience has been one of the highlights of my year. I feel super proud as a Female Chef, Entrepreneur, Puerto Rican, and Tampanian to have had the honor to not only participate in Beat Bobby Flay but to have competed against Ricardo, my other half in business and life. Ricardo is a Chef that has my utmost admiration. Most importantly, competing against Iron Chef Bobby Flay is an experience I will never forget. I have a deep respect for his talent, charisma, and the amazing team that works with him. It is an honor that I was able to cook side by side with him, compete against him, and can proudly say I Beat Bobby Flay,” said Chef Rosana on her win.

The couple previously owned the French-inspired bakery Piquant and are currently proprietors of Xilo at The Hall on Franklin in Tampa. The Chefs also own R2 Provisions, a national catering company, and a gourmet food truck. Additionally, they also own Kofe, The Hall on Franklin’s in-house coffee bar.

You can watch the episode on the Food Network’s website here: http://watch.foodnetwork.com/tv-shows/beat-bobby-flay/full-episodes/it-mustve-been-love

Chef Rosana Rivera has shared her beef empanada recipe with us. Disclaimer: This recipe is not to be shared without the author’s permission. Chef Rosana can be reached at chefrosanarivera@gmail.com.

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Articles Food Events Restaurant News

NEWS: Tampa chefs VS. Bobby Flay airing December 26th on Food Network

Tampa chefs, Chef Rosana Rivera and Chef Ricardo Castro will take their talent to the masses in America on Thursday, December 26th when they compete on Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay”. The chefs currently own Xilo Mexican at The Hall on Franklin and focus on serving fresh Mexican-inspired cuisine. I stopped by last weekend to sit down with Chef Castro and discuss how they got here and where they are going.

Chef Rivera and Castro are best known for their past project called Piquant, a popular French bakery concept that was located first in Hyde Park Village and then West Tampa. The project was supplying the Tampa Bay area with fresh breads and pastries and certainly a local pioneer in that space where French bakeries are far and few between.

Their Kouign-Amann was a personal favorite and when I went west to San Francisco, I was amazed and how the ideas that Rivera and Castro brought to Tampa Bay area are so huge out there and still mostly unknown out here. Piquant went through various cycles, but was ultimately closed much to my dismay.

When Chef Rivera and Chef Castro opened Xilo at Hall on Franklin, I wasn’t sure what inspired the move to Mexican cuisine. Castro explained to me that the idea to make Mexican food came from their unique past. Castro was trained at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in New York City and he volunteered at a church where he was trained on Mexican sauces and cuisine.

Rivera previously worked for a corporation that regularly flew her around Mexico and exposed her to many of the regional cuisines of the area. When deciding on a concept, Mexican came to them as something both different for the area and something that they could both uniquely bring to the table.

Slowly the chefs have added items to the menu that are representative of their love for Mexican cuisine including brunch options such as chilaquiles. They are one of the only vendors that are open during breakfast at the food hall.

When the chefs entered Hall on Franklin they also took control of the Kofe Tampa shop and have slowly moved into coffee as a business, with prior experience selling their own proprietary roasted blend at their bakery. Soon they will move toward plans to provide their coffee on a bigger scale with a more wholesale focus.

Their coffee can best be described as a truly Latin roast with bold espresso flavors.

The future may hold more restaurant locations in the Tampa Bay area, although the chefs are still considering potential locations across the state of Florida. They are well-traveled and have received much of their inspiration from past culinary projects and mentors. Hopefully their love for baking will also be a part of these next moves.

One thing that is clear is that both these chefs are passionate about food and are passionate about baking. Their debut on the Food Network is a great win for Tampa and also for themselves. Latinx representation is still lacking on Food Network and in the food industry in general.

Let’s hope they can beat Bobby Flay. Catch Chef Rosana Rivera and Chef Ricardo Castro on Food Network at 10:30PM EST on Thursday, December 26th. Free tickets are available to their watch party on Eventbrite that will run from 8:30PM to 11:30PM at Hall on Franklin.

Xilo Mexican. The Hall on Franklin. 1701 N Franklin Street, Tampa, FL 33602.

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Articles Events News Restaurant News

NEWS: Tampa chefs competing on ‘Beat Bobby Flay’ (POSTPONED)

Update from Chef Rosana and Ricardo (10/23):

“The Food Network has decided to postpone our episode “It Must’ve Been Love” that was originally scheduled to air tomorrow, October 24th, 2019. We are surprised but do understand the Food Network’s scheduling decision.”

We cannot wait for the new air date and we look forward to sharing it with our community as soon as possible. Without a doubt, we are very grateful for all your support and enthusiasm. Stay tuned for our updates through our social media platforms and the announcement of the new air date and rescheduling of our official watch party.”
“Although we will not be watching the episode live tomorrow we would still love to meet everyone who has RSVP’D or planned on attending the watch party. Join us tomorrow at The Hall on Franklin from 8:30pm – 11:00pm to celebrate with Chef Rosana and Chef Ricardo on announcing their exciting news.
– Chef Rosana + Chef Ricardo 

Tampa Chefs Rosana and Ricardo Rivera will compete on the Food Network show “Beat Bobby Flay” on Thursday, October 24th at 10PM EST. The story was first reported by Creative Loafing Tampa.

The chefs currently own Xilo Mexican food stand inside of Hall on Franklin food hall in Tampa. Xilo has a focus on fresh, traditional Mexican cooking with a focus on high-end plating and presentation. They previously owned Piquant Bakery.

They will compete against each for a chance to beat Bobby Flay and I hope they do because it is so frustrating when he wins!

There will be a watch party at The Hall on Franklin in Tampa Heights at 8:30PM on the day of the premiere and free tickets are now available.

Tickets: http://bit.ly/2ByNGQx

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/985217015176304/

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Food Events Restaurant News

Chef Mark Estee 4-Course Dinner & Tequila Pairing – 1/24

Vuelo Mexican Grill in New Tampa will host a 4-course dinner and tequila pairing on Tuesday, January 24th from 5PM to 9PM with restaurant Chef Mark Estee. The chef is a James-Beard Semifinalist for Best Chefs in America and has been featured on both the Cooking Channel and the Food Network.

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The cocktails pairings will feature Azuñia Tequila which is produced with 100% pure Weber Blue Agave grown in dedicated fields of the Jalisco lowlands. An exclusive export of Agaveros Unidos de Amatitán, the agave is aged for 8-10 years before harvesting and then proceed to use open-air natural fermentation.

On the menu:

  • Florida Rock Shrimp Tiradito with Citrus, Chiles and Corn
  • Luis’s Chicken Mole with Crispy Masa Cake and Chicken Chicharrón
  • Carne Asada with Salsa Verde and Smashed Potatoes
  • Warm Chocolate Cake with Cajeta Caramel Sauce

Tickets are available for $40 in advance and the pairing will be available for $50 on the day of the event. Walk-ins will be welcome and the regular menu will also be available.

Buy advance tickets: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/meet-chef-mark-estee-four-course-chefs-dinner-premium-tequila-tasting-tickets-31106492356

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Food Events Restaurant News

Chef Marc Murphy and Chef Anne Burrell hosting demo, dinner

Chef Marc Murphy and Chef Anne Burrell are hosting a culinary demonstration and dinner at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa located at 5223 North Orient Road Tampa, Florida 33610 on Saturday, November 12th, 2016 beginning at 6:30PM.

Tickets cost $150 per person and can be purchased by calling (813) 627-6630 or via e-mail at info@greysalt-restaurant.com. Space is limited.

Guests will be treated to hors d’oeuvres during the demonstration at 6:30PM and enjoy a 4-course dinner at 7:30PM inside Grey Salt. Guests will also enjoy a special “Meet & Greet” with celebrity chefs inside in the VIP Plum Lounge.

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Chef Anne Burrell is the host of Food Network’s “Worst Cooks in America” and “Worst Cooks in America – Celebrity Edition.” She was also one of Iron Chef Mario Batali’s sous chefs in the “Iron Chef America” series and appears on other shows on the network such as “Beat Bobby Flay,” “Chopped” and “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.”

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Chef Marc Murphy serves as the Chef and owner of Benchmarc Restaurants (Landmarc & Ditch Plains) and Benchmarc Events by Marc Murphy, and is the Chef and partner at Kingside in the Viceroy Central Park as well as the Chef and partner of Grey Salt at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa. He is a regular judge on the Food Network’s top-rated show, “Chopped” and “Chopped Junior” and has appeared on “Guy’s Grocery Games,” “Beat Bobby Flay,” and the Rachael Ray show among others. He is also the author of “Season with Authority: Confident Home Cooking.”

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Food Events

Tampa’s First Food Truck Rally

This guest blog was written by a friend of mine Dena Pham. She blogs on her food blog Dena Loves Food in Tampa. As many of you know, I am currently studying abroad in South Korea and I really appreciate her writing up a post for my readers on a very important food event in Tampa. If you like what you see, like her blog on Facebook! http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dena-Loves-Food/181586071852396. Stay tuned for more Tampa blogs as many are being finalized at the moment and don’t forget to checkout The Taco Bus Wednesday on Man Vs. Food. 🙂

Food trucks have been on the rise lately, especially with Food Network’s show called The Great Food Truck Race. Tampa may be a bit behind with the new “In” but we are catching up pretty fast. Last Saturday, Tampa had their first Food Truck Rally and it went a little too well! Sponsored by 352 Media Group and Tasting Tampa, they were only expecting 1,000 people, but shockingly around 5,000 were able to experience the first food truck rally in Tampa.

Food trucks have been popular for quite some time, but what makes these new food trucks so different is that they serve legitimate food. You can get your dessert, snacks, gourmet meals and more at a reasonable price now from these food trucks. Everyday they park in a different location all around town and update their fans via Facebook, Twitter and other online media outlets.

There was around 10 different food trucks and vendors that attended the food truck rally. They all served different food for any and all taste buds. From Tex-Mex, sweets, and smoothies to seafood, bowls, sandwiches and so much more.

Here is a list of the trucks that attended: Wicked Wiches, Killer Samich, 3 Ballers, Fire monkey, Michelle Faedo’s, Coconut Bo’s, Fat Tortillas, The Cuppin Cake, Nelly Nels, and Buddy Brew Coffee.

There were massively long lines and wait times which was expected, but I was very surprised when an hour and a half went by from their opening time that many trucks have already started erasing and crossing items off their menus. Nelly Nel’s was the first to officially close their window before the 2 hour mark, but they reopened a couple hours later serving pork and chicken bowls. It was impossible to try food from all trucks so I did what I could do since each truck was a minimum of 1-2 hour wait in line.

I was able to try smoothies from Coconut Bo’s, two different crab cakes from Michelle Faedo’s and food from Wicked Wiches. The smoothies from Coconut Bo’s wasn’t great enough for me to be tempted to find where their truck is everyday, but their food off their menu looked interesting and healthy.

The crab cakes from Michelle Faedo’s truck would probably be my favorite thing I ate at the whole event. The cakes were loaded with crab meat and they were also crispy on the outside and extremely moist in the inside. Their crab cake also has a nice tangy citrus kick which made them really addicting.

The last spot I was able to get food from was Wicked Wiches’ truck. They are known for their creative twist on sandwiches and I must give them props because their food is really unique and full of flavor. I was able to try most of the items off their menu that was available at that time. We ended up ordering their Moroccan smashballs, Dr. Pepper Dancing chicken, Big Lebrowski, Cheeseburger egg roll, Sloppy Mary kota and a fried ham & cheese sandwich. I also got their Lychee Mango Limeade and that was one of my favorite drink, I never had anything like it which makes it an even more plus on my list!

Overall, the food was really good and the event was fun. There was some frustration with long lines, heat and food running out, but I’m sure the next event on Oct. 22 will be much better. There will be around 20 trucks for this next event and also many will now have some food truck rally experience to know what to expect.

Wicked 'Wiches Truck on Urbanspoon

Website: http://www.facebook.com/TampaFoodTruckRally

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Food Holidays Interviews

GrillSmith Chef Joe Guli Interview & Chef Guli’s Top 10 Fourth of July Grilling Tips

I had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with Joe Guli, GrillSmith‘s Chef Tech of Operations in this area, today at the Brandon location located inside the Westfield Brandon Town Center (located outside near the food court). GrillSmith was established in 2004 and is an affiliate of Front Burner Brands, a restaurant management company headquartered in Tampa, Florida. Joe has been a chef for 10 years and studied at the Florida Culinary Academy prior to becoming a chef. Prior to the interview I was served some bruschetta with smoked salmon that tasted great. We talked about Guli’s history and food interests in a brief interview before he gave me 10 grilling tips for families to use this 4th of July when having barbeques and getting together for the Independence Day holiday.

Q & A with Joe Guli

Carlos Eats (CE): How did you get started as a chef? How did you get into your current position with GrillSmith?

Joe Guli (JG): My grandfather inspired me to become a chef and I was also influenced by a family-owned establishment growing up. I worked for the Cheesecake Factory in Las Vegas and then moved to Florida, landing a position at GrillSmith through a contact from my former employer.

CE: What is your favorite entree at GrillSmith? What’s your favorite sauce?

JG: Chicken Milanese is my favorite entree (sautéed, herb-crusted chicken finished with a lemon-butter white wine reduction, sun-dried tomatoes, golden raisins and capers, dressed with arugula and pine nuts in GrillSmith’s lemon-feta vinaigrette, served over seasoned rice). I love breaded chicken. My favorite sauce would have to be our port wine sauce.

CE: Social Media Day is coming up on June 30th. What do you think about the relationship that Social Media and Food have found today?

JG: I think it’s great. It allows people to get recommendations to restaurant and interact with food.

CE: Here’s a fun question. What is your favorite food network show and why?

JG: Robert Irvine’s Restaurant Impossible. I personally enjoy going into a restaurant and making it a success the way Robert Irvine does on his show.

CE: What toppings do you like on your burger?

JG: It might sound weird, but my favorite burger toppings are fried pork belly with egg (laughs).

CE: What is a 4th of July tradition for you and your family?

JG: Grilling with the family is definitely a 4th of July tradition for my family. We’re Italian and French so there has to be pasta at our 4th of July family gatherings as well.

CE: Thanks for your time, it was great talking with you.

Joe Guli’s Top 10 Fourth of July Grilling Tips

1.    Go with gas. Use a gas grill to help control cooking temperature. Most gas grills have a number of heat settings and many include built-in temperature gauges to determine the correct cooking temperature required for a certain food.

2.    Use multiple burners for multiple food items. When grilling several different foods that require different cooking temperatures, it’s helpful to use a gas grill that features multiple burners to better control the temperature for each food.

3.    Add wood-grilled flavor. Add grilled flavor to food by using wooden grilling planks that are designed to provide added flavor to food during the grilling process.

4.    Know the difference between direct and indirect heat grilling methods.

    • Use direct heat for thinner meats. Direct heat grilling is the best approach for grilling foods such as hamburgers, steaks, hot dogs, brats, pork chops, chicken breast and fish. To grill with direct heat, place food on the grilling grate in the area directly over the heat source.
    • Use indirect heat for thicker meats. Thick meats are best cooked with a heat source that is not directly under the food. This allows them to cook slowly to ensure that the food does not burn on the outside before the inside reaches the necessary level of doneness. Whole chickens, whole turkeys, beef roasts and pork roasts are good choices for grilling with indirect heat.
    • Alternate direct and indirect heat grilling for large meat cuts. It’s a good idea to sear large meat cuts directly over high heat to help seal in the juices and maintain tenderness. Then, place them in an area of the grilling grate that is away from the heat source to allow the indirect heat to cook the meat slowly until it’s done.

5.    Choose the right lean-to-fat ratio for burgers. Use ground beef that contains 77 perfect lean and 23 percent fat. This will result in juicy, flavorful burgers that won’t flare up on the grill due to too much fat content.

6.    Don’t overwork burger meat. When making burger patties, touch the patties lightly and be careful not to overwork the meat. Overworked meat will become tough, dried out and could fall apart on the grill.

7.    Cut and coat your vegetables. Cut vegetables into uniform-sized pieces to help them cook evenly. Rub vegetables with vegetable oil or toss them with a clear or light marinade prior to grilling over indirect heat.

8.    A digital meat thermometer can be your best friend. Use this tool to help you avoid overcooking. Poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees, hamburgers and medium steaks to an internal temp of 160 degrees and pork to 150 degrees.

9.    Add some flavor the easy way. Pre-mixed seasonings, marinades, rubs and sauces can be a big help! Poultry such as chicken breasts should be marinated for 30 minutes to one hour. Marinate tender steaks like sirloin for 15 minutes to two hours. Less tender steaks like flank should be marinated for six to 24 hours.

10. Give it a rest. Let meat rest after removing it from the grill for at least three minutes, 10 minutes for larger cuts, before slicing it so that the juices redistribute evenly and the flavor stays in the meat rather than leaking out onto your cutting board. Place the meat on a hot serving plate and cover it loosely with foil while resting to keep it from getting cold.

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Restaurant News

Tampa Restaurant Featured Tonight in Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives

A Tampa restaurant will be featured tonight in Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives at 9:00PM EST on Food Network. On the list is California Tacos To-Go. Make sure you tune-in and watch as Guy Fieri explores some of the most popular places to have tacos and burritos in town.

Read my California Tacos To-Go review

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Restaurant News

Guy Fieri Visits the Taco Bus

Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives has officially made it out to the Tampa Taco Bus. Fieri commented that the torta was one of the best he has ever had…I still have yet to try the torta myself, but my friends love it. It’s going to be awesome to see the Taco Bus shared with the world on Food Network. Once it airs on national television the secret will really be out and travelers will make it a point to stop there during visits to Tampa Bay. This is truly a proud moment in Tampa’s food scene.

Source: http://www.tampabay.com/features/food/restaurants/food-networks-guy-fieri-gets-on-the-tampa-taco-bus/1154824