Being a big fan of “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Celebrity Chef”, I was definitely looking forward to our own version of a chef competition at a beautiful club in downtown Tampa. The event promised great cocktails, good food and the opportunity to support three charitible foundations – not to mention the first public showing of my new hat from Portland Oregon, featuring real ostrich feathers!
As my friends and I were enjoying our first cocktail, we were introduced to some ladies at an adjoining table. Against all odds, there were three of us whose names were, not just Patricia, but Patricia Ann! We could only conclude that our mothers were from the same generation. Otherwise, we would be Jennifers or Brittanys.
As the chefs were slicing and dicing, we were introduced to our judges: Charley Belcher-Fox 13, Tim Marcum- Coach of The Tampa Bay Storm and Aaron Fodiman-Tampa Bay Magazine. I’m sure these guys have had a lot of dining experience. We had an hour before the buffet to mingle and meet new friends, so I decided to give my new hat a whirl around the room.
I was delighted to meet Charlie Belcher and his family, especially beautiful daughter, Lindsay Rose. She had an adorable personality and made sure that I understood that she too liked to wear hats! So I guess, not only are hats making a comeback, but there will be ladies enjoying hats for years to come.I also snagged a picture with Tim Marcum, Head Coach of The Tampa Bay Storm. Tim is widely regarded as the greatest coach in Arena Football History. (Is there anyone but me who wishes that the Tampa Bay Bandits could have come back and been part of this league?)
We finally headed to the beautiful buffet where we were rewarded with fabulous food from land and sea. I still don’t know which restaurant chef was named the winner, but if you ask me, it was all delicious. Congratulations to Shula’s Steakhouse and Season’s 52 Fresh Grille for preparing such a unique and varied menu. (I’m just glad there were no ostrich eggs!)
We moved into the ballroom where a dance band awaited us. It was a free-for-all. Everyone was dancing, although I don’t think everyone was doing the same dance! It didn’t matter. We were having fun. As Lucy was our designated driver, Shirley and I didn’t hesitate when offered yet another Martini. Our generous friend Jim just kept them coming!
As we headed home, we reflected on what makes a meal unique and enjoyable; a memorable occasion. Author Alice May Brock said “Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy Sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good” – I would add that , regardless of sauces or seasonings, eating it wearing a beautiful hat makes it “an elegant dining experience”.