2011 Chili cook-off winners

They came out swinging with all their spices. There were 11 participants in the E.G. Simmons Park Chili Cook-off. The event raises money for the Friends of the Park.

Pictured are first place winners Jack Stephens and Gary Feicke, aka Margarita Jack and the Chili Bandits. Second place was awarded to Tracy McLellan and Ronnie Barnes, aka The Butcher Boys, and third place was a tie between Robert Allen and Patrick Pruitt.

Smokin' chili, frosty brews, live music and blue skies, who could ask for anything more?


Holy award nominations, Batman!

Wow. I mean, wow! I'm so excited for Chef Greg Baker and his partner, Michelle Baker. Owners of The Refinery in Seminole Heights, they've captured a nomination for "Best New Restaurant" in the nation by the James Beard Foundation.

All it takes is one visit to understand why.

I wrote about the dynamic duo and their restaurant soon after they opened their Seminole Heights eatery.

Good luck, guys. I'm rooting for you.

Read the rest of the nomination list here.

The Refinery
5137 North Florida Ave.
Tampa, FL 33603
(813) 237-2000


Come and have chili!

I'm judging chili at the annual E. G. Simmons Park Chili Cook-off Saturday in Ruskin. Wish me luck. For the sake of my stomach, I hope there will be less than 15 competing pots of the spicy stew.

Come and get in on all the fun, including live music, a flea market, classic car show and lotsa chili!

E. G. Simmons Park, 2401 19th Ave. N.W. Ruskin, FL

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19

Cost is a $2.00 park entry fee per vehicle and $3.00 for a bowl to sample the chili.

Call (813) 671-7655.


Strawberry pizza, baby

Want something different as a topping for your next pizza? How about strawberries?

I went to Goodson Farms recently with a craving for strawberry shortcake; that is, until I saw the sign for strawberry pizza.

Ohhh... talk about heaven. It was love at first bite!

I shot these pictures last week during my visit to Goodson's. I polished this puppy off in no time!

Eat your hearts out non-Floridians... It's strawberry season!

In today's SouthShore News & Tribune, look for my column and a scrumptious recipe for strawberry pizza.

Goodson Farms
12405 C. R. 672, Balm
(813) 634-7790


Say "I love you" with carats... or carrots.

It's good to have a twin sister. And when your twin sister is really talented, it's even better.

Here's a simple Valentine's Day menu item you still have time to pull off.

Tonight she's serving her guy bison sirloin steaks with these sauteed sugar peas and heart-shaped carrots.

Carrots are rumored to help you see the object of your desire more clearly. I think I've just found my Valentine's Day menu.


Riverside Bar & Grille

From today's column in the South Shore News & Tribune, I got the recipe for Chateaubriand with Wild Mushroom Madeira Sauce from Chef Ted Hastings at Riverside Bar & Grille in Ruskin. It's his Valentine's Day dinner special on Saturday night and the ideal recipe for a romantic dinner for two.

Actually, the dish is quite easy to make at home. But, there'll be dirty dishes to clean before the candles burn out.

The Riverside Bar & Grille team: Michael Rauda, Silbano Gonzales, Chef Ted Hastings, Courtney Hastings and Tess Harden.

Riverside Bar & Grille
1 Pier Drive
Ruskin, FL 33570
(813) 641-1600


Amateur chili cooks can win at E. G. Simmons Chili Cook-off

It's time for chili enthusiasts across the county to gather their spiciest ingredients, get into the kitchen and perfect their best recipe for this year's ultimate test: the annual no-holds-barred E. G. Simmons Park Chili Cook-off on Feb. 19.

You'll find a recipe for cornbread wafers in my Table Scraps column in the SouthShore News & Tribune. The column also includes more details about the cook-off.

Also, there was no winner in last week's guess-where-I-ate lunch contest. The restaurant was Chef Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill inside Caesar's Palace in the city of sin, Las Vegas.

The dish, by the way, was a crispy preserved duck salad with spicy pecans and a Concord grape dressing.

Thanks, everyone, for playing. Better luck next time.