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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 News Restaurant News

NEWS: Hemingway’s expanding north to Atlanta’s Krog Street Market

Atlanta will soon get a taste of Tampa with Hemingway’s expanding north to A-Town’s Krog Street Market in spring of 2020. Hemingway’s is currently located inside the Armature Works food hall in Tampa Heights and serves Cuban dishes with a focus on Tampeño food such as Cuban Sandwiches (WITH salami).

Chef Felicia “Phe” Lacalle is a previous winner of the International Cuban Sandwich Festival. She worked in the past as an Executive Sous and Regional Pastry Chef at Roy’s and Executive Chef at Samba Room.

Make sure you try the chicharrones, they are not to be missed.

Here’s one of my favorite videos featuring Chef Phe:

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NEWS: Carnival Cruise Line celebrates 25 years of sailing from Tampa

Carnival Cruise Line celebrated 25 years of sailing from Tampa on November 10th, 2019. The milestone was commemorated with a plaque from Carnival President Christine Duffy to Port Tampa Bay President and CEO Paul Anderson.

Carnival President Christine Duffy and Port Tampa Bay President and CEO Paul Anderson
 Left to right – Port Tampa Bay President and CEO Paul Anderson, Captain Allen Thompson – president of Tampa harbor pilots association, Carnival President Christine Duffy, Carnival’s Director of Port Operations Carlos Estrada, and Port Tampa Bay’s Senior Director of Business Development Greg Lovelace

The service first launched in 1994 and currently services 294,000 passengers a year from Tampa, nearly 9 times the original load. Tampa is an important part of Carnival’s “close-to-home ship deployment strategy in which the line positions ships near large U.S. population centers along the East and West Coasts and the Gulf of Mexico.”

“Tampa is a convenient, centrally located homeport – not to mention a popular vacation destination – and the growth that we’ve experienced at this port is a testament to the wonderful partnership with the Port we’ve enjoyed for the past 25 years,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. 

Carnival Legend

The 25th anniversary celebration was held aboard Carnival Legend, which arrived in Tampa last month, providing a new choice from this market. The ship features a variety of onboard innovations, including Green Thunder, a drop-down slide that’s one of the fastest and steepest at sea, along with food and beverage choices, such as the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub, Bonsai Sushi serving Asian delicacies, Guy’s Burger Joint developed in tandem with Food Network star Guy Fieri, and a classic American steakhouse. The ship features hundreds of balcony staterooms as well a luxurious health and wellness facility.

Carnival Legend will operate a seasonal schedule of six-, seven-and eight-day cruises featuring top destinations in the western Caribbean, including Cozumel, Costa Maya, Belize, Mahogany Bay, Costa Rica, the Panama Canal and Grand Cayman.

The ship will also offer a 13-day Carnival Journeys cruise from Tampa to New York May 3-16, 2020, featuring a partial transit of the Panama Canal, along with visits to Aruba, Cozumel, Limon (Costa Rica), Cartagena (Colombia) and Grand Turk.

To learn more about Carnival Cruise Line, visit them online at Carnival.com

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NEWS: LPCX Latin Cafe Bakery closing doors on November 9th in Tampa

LPCX announced today on Instagram that they will close their doors starting end of the day Saturday, November 9th until further notice as they work out what is next for their business.

The cafe has been known to serve great coffee drinks and beautiful latte art so it is certainly a loss for Tampa’s coffee community.

They were recently featured on That’s So Tampa’s 3 hidden coffee shops you need to visit. Unfortunately – it may have been too late to change the trajectory for the LCPX Cafe. Make sure you stop by for a last cup of joe if you have a chance.

La Pequeña Colombia ​will remain open across the street.

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NEWS: Locale Market and FarmTable Cucina exiting Sundial St. Pete, Armature Works entering

After years of working to bring a mixed food concept to Downtown St. Pete, Celebrity Chef Michael Mina has sold Locale Market and FarmTable Cucina in the Sundial to Tampa-based Armature Works group BE-1 Concepts, which plans to change the space and surrounding businesses into a food hall with plans to open by late 2020.

Chef Michael Mina shared, “With so many other projects and opportunities in front of me, I felt now was the right time to pass the torch. I am beyond excited to see what Chas and his team have cooked up for this community.”

Chef Michael Mina is thought to be a powerhouse restaurateur with over 40 restaurants opened worldwide in large metropolitan cities such as San Francisco and Las Vegas.

Chef Michael Mina and Chef Don Pintabona at Locale Market.
Chef Michael Mina and Chef Don Pintabona.
Photo Credit: Locale Market

Locale Market was founded by Chef Michael Mina and Chef Don Pintabona and opened in December 2014. The concept will close five years later at the end of the holiday season in December 2019.

Former Tampa Bay Times Food Critic, Laura Reiley, reported back in 2015 that Chef Pintabona left St. Petersburg back to New York as soon as his one-year contract expired. Pintabona’s pedigree at Robert DeNiro’s Tribeca Grill was considered to be a big deal when Locale opened, but the concept never really seemed to take off despite many campaigns and changes. The team admitted to struggles between being a restaurant concept and a gourmet, locally-sourced market.

The biggest loss will be FarmTable Cucina upstairs that was recently finding ground with a new chef. Executive Chef, James Kirby, has worked hard to make the menu truly local in recent months as a former farmer himself.

BE-1 Concepts is also taking control of Jackie Z Style Co., Wellness Center at Sundial, D-Gallerie Fine Arts and additional vacant spaces on the lower level.

Armature Works in Tampa.

BE-1 Concepts owns numerous concepts in Tampa Bay and around Florida including Boca, Ciro’s Speakeasy, Atlanta Beer & Oyster, and Sea Critters Cafe. They also own Steelbach, BAR at Armature Works, Butcher N Barbeque, M.Bird, Cress and Stones Throw inside The Heights District.

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NEWS: Savor St. Pete festival coming November 2nd and 3rd

Savor St. Pete is bringing their food and wine festival to Downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday, November 2nd and Sunday, November 3rd at North Straub Park.

The event was previously known as Clearwater Beach Uncorked. It will be a showcase of Tampa Bay chefs, restaurants, breweries, and a wide variety of wines.

Savor St. Pete is sponsored by City of St. Petersburg, Publix, and Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater. The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club is the official hotel partner for the event.

“We look forward to creating an extraordinary level of excitement in the ‘Burg,’” said Tammy Gail, festival founder and producer. “We are bringing elements that will ramp-up the cool factor that SAVOR ST. PETE will feature.”

Tickets are now available for general admission on both Saturday, Nov. 2, and Sunday, Nov. 3. General Admission guests are welcome on-site from 1PM to 4PM. GA tickets are $75 per person per day.

All event guests receive a limited-edition wine glass, custom tote bag, and exclusive access to the Grand Tasting Village that is located within a 30,000-square-foot tent. 

Restaurant Partners:

  • Bavaro’s
  • BJ’s
  • Brio Italian
  • Bulla Gastrobar
  • The Library
  • Red Mesa Restaurant Group
  • Marchand’s Bar & Grill
  • Paul’s Landing
  • Roy’s
  • Sweet Charlie’s
  • The Birch & Vine
  • Watercolour Grill & House
  • Teak St. Pete

Wine, Brew, and Spirit Partners:

  • 3 Daughters Brewing
  • 19 Crimes
  • Bacardi
  • Big Storm Brewing Co.
  • Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer
  • Bonanza California
  • Casamigos Tequila
  • Cayman Jack
  • Conundrum
  • Chateau St. Jean
  • Days of Youth Wines
  • Des Amis Napa Valley
  • Deutsch Family
  • District 7
  • Don Ramon Tequila
  • FitVine
  • Fleurs de Prarie
  • Florida Beer Co.
  • Folktale Winery & Vineyard
  • Four Roses Bourbon
  • Francis Ford Coppola Winery
  • Golden Winery
  • Islamorada Beer Company
  • Josh Cellar
  • Justin Vineyards & Winery
  • Keel & Curley Winery
  • Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards
  • Landmark Vineyards
  • Matua
  • Mer Soleil
  • Metz Road
  • Ole Smoky
  • Pusser’s Rum
  • Ranch 32
  • Ron Barcelo
  • Ryder Estates
  • San Sebastian Winery
  • Scheid Family Wines
  • Sea Sun
  • Shaw
  • Stella Artois
  • Stella Rosa Wines
  • Stephen Ross Wine Cellars
  • Sterling Vineyards
  • Stokes’ Ghost
  • Tito’s Vodka
  • Two Henry’s Brewing Co.
  • Two Henry’s Hard Cider
  • VDR
  • White Claw
  • Ziami
  • Ferrari Carano
  • Vida de Louie Tequila
  • Manifest Distilling
  • Island Grove Wine Company
  • St. Petersburg Distillery
  • Banyan Reserve Vodka
  • Tippler’s
  • Old. St. Pete
  • Tanqueray
  • Washington State Wine
  • Redemption Rye
  • Swamp Head Brewery

Follow Savor St. Pete on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. The event hashtag is #SavorStPete. 

Event Name: Savor St. Pete

Venue: North Straub Park

Address: 400 Bayshore Dr. NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Cost: $75+

Ages: 21+

Buy tickets: http://www.freshtix.com/events/savor-st-pete

Website: http://savortheburg.com/

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NEWS: Yum Yum Hot Pot AYCE opening soon in Temple Terrace

It would seem that interest in hot pot in Tampa right now is on fire! Yum Yum Hot Pot AYCE is opening soon in Temple Terrace just minutes from USF and Tampa’s Uptown. Jennifer Will shared the news with that I can now confirm after a post about Nine Spices Hot Pot potentially coming to Fowler Avenue.

Yum Yum’s application for a license is still in progress.

73326793_410038853015985_8119736944121872384_n.jpg

The business hasn’t posted anything yet on the social media channels it has up but their Facebook description reads: “All you can eat Hot Pot Restaurant. You cook all the fresh foods to your own liking with no grease. New dining experience await(s) you.”

Owner Cuong Chau says Yum Yum Hot Pot is still a few weeks away from completion.

yum yum hot pot tampa - Google Search.png

The owners have also already been added to Google Maps. The location is next to Shapes Gym at 11301 North 56th street Unit #6  Temple Terrace, Florida 33617

The official site is yumyumhotpotayce.com.

Exciting times in Tampa. More information as it comes in.

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RUMOR: Nine Spices Hot Pot expanding to Tampa’s Uptown near USF (UPDATED)

Update: The owners from Nine Spices Hot Pot in St. Petersburg have reached out to say they are not affiliated with the new HotPot BBQ on Fowler Avenue.

The license for the business says 9 Spices Hot Pot, but the location in St. Petersburg is actually “Nine Spices Hot Pot“. It is a very bizarre coincidence. 

A new hot pot place has appeared on Fowler Avenue near USF and Tampa’s Uptown called HotPot BBQ.

There isn’t much online for it yet, but the license for the location points to Nine Spices Hot Pot in St. Petersburg as the owners of the location and this spot is in the old Hong Kong House spot in front of M.D. Oriental Market at 1120 East Fowler Avenue Tampa, Florida 33612.

Licenses:

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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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NEWS: Michelle Faedo opening a 2nd location in Downtown Tampa

International Cuban Sandwich Festival winner Michelle Faedo is planning a second location of her concept, Michelle Faedo’s Tampeño Cuisine inside the Hillsborough County Building at 601 E Kennedy Blvd, Tampa, FL 33602. No opening date has been announced yet.

Faedo’s first restaurant concept after her popular “Michelle Faedo’s On-The-Go” food truck was launched at the ENCORE! building in 2018 between Downtown Tampa and Ybor City. The ENCORE! restaurant will remain open.

Her award-winning food has been popular in Tampa for years with her Faedo’s Famous Traditional Cuban Sandwich as her signature dish. Faedo also pays homage to Tampa classics like deviled crab, cafe con leche, stuffed potatoes, among other things.

Michelle Faedo has always been active in the local government and has been popular over the years with city council members, journalists, and the current City of Tampa Mayor, Jane Castor, who gave Michelle Faedo a shoutout at her election victory party earlier this year and a plug on The Zest! Podcast. Castor said Michelle helped keep her hungry campaign fed during the race.

View this post on Instagram

Hybrid Cuban from @michellefaedo13

A post shared by Stephanie Swanz (@iamempamama) on

I have watched Michelle knock out hundreds of orders on her food truck and am confidant the new location will be a success.

Here is a video I shot with her earlier this year at the Mayor’s Food Truck Fiesta.