Top Chef Tampa Bay

My Hat

I have been saving this beautiful deco style blue hat with a veil for a special occasion. I was very excited when my friend Maria Lewis, Director of Development for The Child Abuse Council, invited us to a one-of-a-kind culinary adventure featuring some of Tampa Bay’s prominent chefs. This event would raise much needed funds for their organization.

A La Carte Pavilion

Eight premier chefs would bring their own ambience and excellence for an evening of very fine dining. Each chef prepares – tableside – a five course meal with accompaning wine for a table of twelve people. Chefs receive points in an attempt to claim the title of “Top Chef of the Year Tampa Bay”.


I was happy when my friends and I were seated at the Oystercatchers table as this is one of my favorite restuarants. Although, I doubt that there was any disappointment as others found themselves at the beautifully decorated tables of Armani’s ( Chef Mike Von Burg), Fleming’s (Chef Ryan Mitchell), Capital Grille (Chef James Shields), Gaspar’s Grotto (Chef s Darlene Herrick & Craig Smith), A La Carte Pavilion (Chef Jim Rice), Blue Water Grille (Chef Kelly Marshall), Palagia Trattoria (Chef Daniel Goldich), and independent Chef Anthony Kelly.

Wyndam's Blue Water Grille

As we wandered the room admiring the gorgeous tables, I couldn’t help but remark on the exquisite place settings. One of the awards tonight would be for best table decor. Each guest could cast a vote and I really had a hard time choosing – they were all so beautiful!

Also, as we enjoyed our meal, we would be rating our own chefs in several categories such as pesonality, presentation, menu, wine selection and the taste of each of the five courses.

MC, Jack Harris

Our Master of Ceremonies was Jack Harris, without a doubt the most popular and most recognized media personality in Tampa Bay. He currently co-hosts the “A.M. Tampa Bay” morning show. He is engaging and personable and really knows how to squeeze the most out of a live auction! I was pleased to visit with him and tell him about my blog. And, of course, I loved the photo op!

Fellow Diners

This was no “Kitchen Nightmare”. These chefs prepared scrumptious dishes tableside that looked and tasted like those from any five-star restaurant! I got up several times to check out the other menus and found unbelievable courses, e.g. “Oysters menage ‘a trois” (Gaspar’s Grotto), “Bronzino Saltimboca” (Armani’s), “Anise Butter Braised Sablefish” (Blue Water Grille), “Mint & Sage Marinated Lamb Tenderloin” (A La Carte Pavilion), “Browned Butter Pistachio Tart” (Fleming’s), “Alaskan King Crab Salad” (Capital Grille), “Fennel Crusted Scallops” (Chef Kelly) and “Veal & Spinach Ravioli” (Pelagia Trattoria).

Oystercatcher Chefs Carey & Kory

I have to admit that I was partial to our Oystercatchers chefs and their menu. They were adorable and entertaining. And most importantly – generous with the wine! I loved our “Kobe Beef Strip Loin” which they served with “The Prisoner”, a blended red wine that was delicious. And, the “Deconstructed Key Lime Pie” was served with Moet & Chandon Nectar Imperial. Chef Kory Foltz was definitely out to impress!

The Four Food Groups!

During the live auction, my friend Lucy bid on and won a 4-day/3-night stay at the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, Colorado plus breakfast and signature massages. Immediately, Shirley said “I’ve got the airline passes”, Donna said “I’ve got the locale experience” and I said “I’ve got the ski clothes”. We can only hope that she will somehow pack up all three of us for the trip!!

Chef Kelly Marshall - Wyndam's Blue Water Grille

When the points were counted for all categories, it was a dazzling victory for Chef Kelly Marshall of Wyndam’s Blue Water Grille. She wins “Best Decor” for accessories and menu based on the song, “My Favorite Things”, from “The Sound of Music”.

And Kelly claims the title of “Top Chef of the Year Tampa Bay”. She also wins the esteemed title of “Top Philanthropic Chef of the Year”, which is awarded to the chef who raises the most money in donations/sponsorships prior to the event and with their live auction item. So, congratulations to Chef Kelly Marshall, our “triple crown” winner!

Coveted Chef Jacket

With the overwhelming appeal of famous television shows featuring outstanding chefs who have been praised for their culinary genius, this wonderful event has definitely put our own accomplished Tampa Bay chefs in the limelight. My friends and I have already made reservations at some of their restaurants. We will surely participate again next year to see who will earn the honor of being called “Top Chef Tampa Bay”.

Congratulations to Maria Lewis and The Child Abuse Council of Tampa Bay for this impressive and delightful evening, which raised $26,650.00 to help towards its mission – to build stronger families through child abuse prevention and family education programs.

About myhataffair

This blog is about my life-long passion for wearing ladies hats. I will be blogging on a year-long event series that features my prized hat collection.
This entry was posted in Entertainment & Fashion, Ladies Hats. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Top Chef Tampa Bay

  1. Shirley says:

    Wow……….loved your blog. I suggest you send it to all the restaurants who were represented at the event. I am sure they would love your comments and would be especially pleased to know we plan on visiting each and every one of them during our future “girls nite out” adventures.

  2. David M Behrend says:

    I loved reading about this event as you know how I love food. Along with the beautiful story I enjoyed the pictures but next time take some of the food. The picture of you and the girls is great and I love the table one you took but it came out sideways. I now have a crook in my next from trying to see everything in the picture. Thanks again for sharing!

    Dave and Steve

    • myhataffair says:

      LOL, I corrected the position of the place setting. This is a “free” blog site and it sometimes is ornery! It will be just fine – until it isn’t…
      I miss you both and love you so much. How are plans coming for La Femme?
      Am I invited again???

  3. Maria Lewis says:

    Yes – it was a wonderful event – if I do say so myself!!!


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