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15th Annual Wheels of Success fundraiser happening May 31st in Tampa

The 15th Annual Wheels of Success Road Trip fundraiser is happening Friday, May 31st, 2019 at Bryan Glazer Family JCC. Tickets cost $85 per person and are now available. The event’s “Mistress of Ceremony” will be Deiah Riley from ABC Action News. The goal of the event is to provide 16 more cars to keep working families working. Lunch will be served to guests.

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Wheels of Success was founded in 2003 to help families obtain or continue working by providing them with reliable transportation through access to car repairs, vehicle replacements, licensing services,car payments, and more in the Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco counties.

Low-income workers spend nearly 40% of their income on transportation in the Tampa Bay area versus 24.6% for the average citizen.

The bus system in these counties have suffered devastating budget cuts in recent years and does not run in many areas throughout the counties where people work including on the weekends when many working class people are working. Wheels of Success aims to attack these issues head on.

Clients of the non-profit “pay it forward” by paying for services and goods based on their ability to pay and by contributing time back working at Wheels of Success.

Wheels of Success helps their clients in their daily lives so they can arrive at work on-time, take their children to school, shop for groceries, and participate in community activities.

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Tickets can be purchased online at wheelsofsuccess.org.

The event is sponsored by GTE Financial, Metropolitan Ministries, ABC Action News, Tampa Bay Times, TECO, AAA, Doubletake Marketing & PR, and more.

Follow Wheels of Success online:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/wheelsofsuccess/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/wheelsofsuccess

Instagram: http://twitter.com/wheelsofsuccess

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Event Name: 15th Annual Wheels of Success Road Trip Fundraiser

Venue: Bryan Glazer Family JCC

Date & Time: Friday, May 31st, 2019, 11AM-1:15PM

Address: 522 N. Howard Ave., Tampa, FL 33606

Cost: $85 per person

Website: http://www.wheelsofsuccess.org/

Categories
Articles Restaurant News Reviews

Taking a look Inside the Box at Armature Works

I have long heard of Inside the Box, but never actually been to the cafe before. I reached out to Inside the Box when they opened at Armature Works in Tampa Heights to get the story behind this unique project.

I met up for a few hours with their PR representative and Executive Chef Clifford Barsi walked me through their operation. Inside the Box is a social enterprise that generates funds to help fund Metropolian Ministries. 100% of the profits from the deli go back to the charity.

Chef Clifford Barsi spearheaded social enterprises for Metropolitan Ministries after volunteering there and realizing he wanted to help combine culinary with helping people get back on their feet.

Attacking Poverty Using Culinary Arts Training

Inside the Box primarily employees people who need work that have trained under their Culinary Arts program for their cafe and also helps those in need get employment and training at some of Tampa’s busiest restaurants including Mise En Place, Boca, Bizou Brassie, and Oxford Exchange.

The goal? To help those in need get higher paying jobs by giving them desirable skills that are needed in kitchens. Poverty often exists because people don’t have access to training and Metropolitan Ministries is working to change that.

The cost of living in Tampa has been climbing at a rapid pace although recently slowing behind the national average (sometimes 15% increases in rent prices year over year in the mid 2010s) since major investment projects around the bay began and programs like this will be needed more as people need better paying jobs to afford living in our city.

Metropolitan Ministries takes a look at what skills restaurants need from potential employees and seeks to teach these skills to their trainees. Some skills include how to be a prep cooks, advanced knife skills, how to clean a fryer/change oil, and knowledge of different essential foods. Trainees are placed in busy restaurants to build these skills that will ideally lead them to a career and financial stability.

Classes are small with only 8-10 students and is offered each quarter of the year. The course is 16-weeks. Each student is funded on a full scholarship. Only those in need qualify. Each culinary arts program features:

  • 150 hours of culinary classes
  • 20 hours for a Food Handling Certification Course
  • 100 hours of High Volume Production experience
  • 100 hours of Cafeteria experience
  • 100 hours of Restaurant experience
  • 40 hours for a Life and Employment Skills Course.

One particular skill that Chef Clifford Barsi highlighted was the importance of learning how to take a recipe and multiply or divide it. Consistency is key when restaurants are trying to create customer retention and this kind of skill is often missed in cooking programs.

None of this would possible without volunteers, donors, fundraisers, and these new social enterprises that are helping to fund these programs.

More info about their social enterprises: http://www.metromin.org/about/social-enterprise.html

Inside the Box Cafe Recommendations 

Inside the Box serves gourmet deli meat daily at Armature Works and also serves some delicious sandwiches. The price point matches the other vendors in the building at around $10-$12.

To me the best deal from the Inside the Box Armature Works stand is the deli meat which is sold at prices similar to popular Boar’s Head deli cuts, but will instead help fund a cause that aims to change and improve people’s lives.

As far as sandwiches are concerned – I tried a smoked lamb sandwich during my visit and it was absolutely delicious. During the soft opening for Armature Works I also tried a delicious turkey sandwich. The bread and cuts are certainly gourmet.

Some menu items include Smoked Salmon, Roast Porchetta, NY Strip Pastrami, and NY Strip Corned Beef. Sandwiches are steamed to keep them moist and warm when served with cheese. Plenty of sides are available to enjoy with your food.

Chef Clifford Barsi tells me that Inside the Box tries to source locally in Florida when possible, but as the Tampa Bay Times has highlighted before, that can be a challenge in Florida. You’ll find some Florida cheeses and cuts around the deli when in season.

Inside the Box also has a local market on the side where you can find lots of local produce, vegetables, coffee, and culinary goods as well as fresh bread from popular local vendors from around Tampa Bay and Florida including Piquant, Urban Canning Company, Sunset Salsa, Le’Anns Cheesecakes, and more. I’m hoping this market expands because I would like to see more things like this in our food halls.

Annual Fundraisers

You can help support the mission to end homelessness and poverty by supporting some key annual fundraisers put on by Metropolitan Ministries – although they are also always in need of volunteers to come help them get things done at the non-profit.

Metropolitan Ministries is a 4-star out of 4-star charity according to Charity Navigator.

Tampa Bay Food Fight is annual competition that Metropolitan Ministries organizes between chefs from both sides of the Howard Franklin Bridge. Proceeds from the event go back to supporting the charity.

Their Bridge Builders luncheon is coming up on Wednesday, April 25th, 2018 at Hilton Hotel Downtown and WWE SuperStar Titus O’Neil is the keynote speaker this year. There are plenty of ways to get involved.

You can donate to Metropolitan Ministries directly here: http://secure.metromin.org/site/SPageNavigator/donate.html

Categories
Food Events Food Trucks

St. Pete Asian Lantern Festival this Friday! FREE Admission.

The Gulf to Bay Food Truck Association will host the first St. Pete Asian Lantern Festival this Friday, November 3rd from 6PM-11PM at Albert Whitted Park, Downtown St. Petersburg, in collaboration with Carlos Eats and the City of St. Petersburg, Florida.

The event is FREE to attend. Food trucks will accept cash and most major credit cards.

The first 400 guests will receive a complimentary Asian folding hand fan. 400 lanterns will be spread around the event for your enjoyment. Live music will be performed by Acoustic Thunder (Covers 50’s to current). Tampa Taiko and a Lion Dance Troupe will be in attendance at the event.

Adult beverages will be available for purchase.

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Parking information:

These lots will be available in addition to Downtown St. Petersburg garages:

Albert Whitted Parking (adjacent to the event) – Take 1st Street SE. to Dali Blvd

Dali Museum Parking – Take 1st Street SE. to Dali Blvd

Al Lang Parking – Corner of 1st Street SE & 1st Ave SE

Participating food trucks: 

Participating dessert trucks:

What: St. Pete Asian Lantern Festival

Venue: Albert Whitted Park, Downtown St. Petersburg

Date & Time: Friday, November 3rd, 2017, 6PM-11PM

Address: 480 Bayshore Dr SE St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Cost: FREE To attend

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/1858715594391995/