And the top mango chef is...

Here a mango; there a mango; everywhere a mango, mango. Or, so it seems lately.

Making waves across the country is the national Mango Hometown Tour. Yes, there really is a tour for the world's most popular fruit, and it arrived in the Tampa Bay area last Friday.

In an effort to increase awareness and consumption of fresh mangos, the National Mango Board organized the tour, which will be visiting six U. S. cities.

I'm already a fan of mangos, so I gladly jumped at the chance to help judge the Mango Taste-Off at Cafe Ponte in Clearwater.

The two opponents were Clearwater chefs Ferrell Alvarez of Cafe Dufrain and Chris Ponte of Cafe Ponte. Each created a tantalizing fusion dish featuring, you guessed it, mangos.

To get things rolling... Mango Bellinis! Prosecco thickened and perfumed with pureed mangos was served to everyone. If I may channel my "inner-30-something voice," the drink was flipping awesome.

The lucky judges included Charley Belcher from WTVT FOX 13 (left), Creative Loafing writer Andy Huse (center) and me.

Chef Ponte was declared the winner based on his creative progression of mango and shrimp, Japanese-style. Fabulous presentation, flavors and textures!

Chef Alvarez prepared this mango in allspice brine Pasture Prime pork with mango arbol barbecue sauce and pickled mango on top of a tostone. It was delicious.

Stay tuned for more about the Mango Taste-Off. I'll be writing about it in an upcoming Table Scraps column in the South Shore News & Tribune and on tbo.com.

Chef Ferrell Alvarez on the left, and Chef Chris Ponte on the right.

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