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Tampa Chef Rosana Rivera successfully ‘Beat Bobby Flay’ on Food Network

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Tampa Chef Rosana Rivera made history as the first Latina woman to beat Bobby Flay on the Food Network on December 26th, 2019. She first beat her husband and business partner, Chef Ricardo Castro, in an elimination round before Bobby Flay using the papaya secret ingredient on a special episode called “It Must’ve Been Love”.

Bobby Flay has a fairly high win-ration that is over 60% of his competitions so this is no small victory for Chef Rosana Rivera.

The dish that beat Bobby Flay. Chef Rosana Rivera’s classic empanadas. Photo Credit: BKN Creative

Chef Rosana Rivera beat Bobby Flay with her beef empanada recipe. Flay had equipment malfunctions during the battle and a track record of empanada fails.

“This experience has been one of the highlights of my year. I feel super proud as a Female Chef, Entrepreneur, Puerto Rican, and Tampanian to have had the honor to not only participate in Beat Bobby Flay but to have competed against Ricardo, my other half in business and life. Ricardo is a Chef that has my utmost admiration. Most importantly, competing against Iron Chef Bobby Flay is an experience I will never forget. I have a deep respect for his talent, charisma, and the amazing team that works with him. It is an honor that I was able to cook side by side with him, compete against him, and can proudly say I Beat Bobby Flay,” said Chef Rosana on her win.

The couple previously owned the French-inspired bakery Piquant and are currently proprietors of Xilo at The Hall on Franklin in Tampa. The Chefs also own R2 Provisions, a national catering company, and a gourmet food truck. Additionally, they also own Kofe, The Hall on Franklin’s in-house coffee bar.

You can watch the episode on the Food Network’s website here: http://watch.foodnetwork.com/tv-shows/beat-bobby-flay/full-episodes/it-mustve-been-love

Chef Rosana Rivera has shared her beef empanada recipe with us. Disclaimer: This recipe is not to be shared without the author’s permission. Chef Rosana can be reached at chefrosanarivera@gmail.com.

Carlos Eats

December 28, 2019 |

NEWS: Tampa chefs VS. Bobby Flay airing December 26th on Food Network

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Tampa chefs, Chef Rosana Rivera and Chef Ricardo Castro will take their talent to the masses in America on Thursday, December 26th when they compete on Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay”. The chefs currently own Xilo Mexican at The Hall on Franklin and focus on serving fresh Mexican-inspired cuisine. I stopped by last weekend to sit down with Chef Castro and discuss how they got here and where they are going.

Chef Rivera and Castro are best known for their past project called Piquant, a popular French bakery concept that was located first in Hyde Park Village and then West Tampa. The project was supplying the Tampa Bay area with fresh breads and pastries and certainly a local pioneer in that space where French bakeries are far and few between.

Their Kouign-Amann was a personal favorite and when I went west to San Francisco, I was amazed and how the ideas that Rivera and Castro brought to Tampa Bay area are so huge out there and still mostly unknown out here. Piquant went through various cycles, but was ultimately closed much to my dismay.

When Chef Rivera and Chef Castro opened Xilo at Hall on Franklin, I wasn’t sure what inspired the move to Mexican cuisine. Castro explained to me that the idea to make Mexican food came from their unique past. Castro was trained at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in New York City and he volunteered at a church where he was trained on Mexican sauces and cuisine.

Rivera previously worked for a corporation that regularly flew her around Mexico and exposed her to many of the regional cuisines of the area. When deciding on a concept, Mexican came to them as something both different for the area and something that they could both uniquely bring to the table.

Slowly the chefs have added items to the menu that are representative of their love for Mexican cuisine including brunch options such as chilaquiles. They are one of the only vendors that are open during breakfast at the food hall.

When the chefs entered Hall on Franklin they also took control of the Kofe Tampa shop and have slowly moved into coffee as a business, with prior experience selling their own proprietary roasted blend at their bakery. Soon they will move toward plans to provide their coffee on a bigger scale with a more wholesale focus.

Their coffee can best be described as a truly Latin roast with bold espresso flavors.

The future may hold more restaurant locations in the Tampa Bay area, although the chefs are still considering potential locations across the state of Florida. They are well-traveled and have received much of their inspiration from past culinary projects and mentors. Hopefully their love for baking will also be a part of these next moves.

One thing that is clear is that both these chefs are passionate about food and are passionate about baking. Their debut on the Food Network is a great win for Tampa and also for themselves. Latinx representation is still lacking on Food Network and in the food industry in general.

Let’s hope they can beat Bobby Flay. Catch Chef Rosana Rivera and Chef Ricardo Castro on Food Network at 10:30PM EST on Thursday, December 26th. Free tickets are available to their watch party on Eventbrite that will run from 8:30PM to 11:30PM at Hall on Franklin.

Xilo Mexican. The Hall on Franklin. 1701 N Franklin Street, Tampa, FL 33602.

Carlos Eats

December 9, 2019 |

What I’m Reading Food Media – November 11th

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Looking for some great food articles to read online? Here are some articles I am currently consuming and recommend:

Carlos Eats

November 11, 2019 |

NEWS: Italy Bottega food market and cafe coming to St. Pete’s EDGE District

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Local urban development news site St. Pete Rising is reporting that Italy Bottega, an Italian food market and cafe, is coming soon to 1045 Central Avenue in Downtown St. Pete.

The official website is under construction for Italy Bottega and is located at italybottega.com.

More information as it becomes available.

Carlos Eats

October 29, 2019 |

What I’m Reading in Food Media – October 28th

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Looking for some great food articles to read online? Here are some articles I am currently consuming and recommend:

BONUS:

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Carlos Eats

October 28, 2019 |

NEWS: Buccaneers debut new food offerings at Raymond James Stadium for 2019 season

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Buccaneers revealed new offerings at Raymond James Stadium today for the 2019 football season.

Buccaneers COO, Brian Ford, shared, “This season, we are excited to bring world-class partners like Legends and Fanatics, as well as homegrown companies PDQ and RumFish Grill, to Raymond James Stadium. Through these partnerships, we are providing the finest products and service to our fans. We are also proud to welcome superstar Tim McGraw this Sunday to provide our guests a great show before we officially kick off this special 100th season of NFL football against the 49ers.”

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PDQ will have a crispy chicken sandwich available for hungry visitors as well as serving as the official chicken tender of the Buccaneers.

The Buccaneers have a new and exclusive hospitality rights partner, Legends, which will manage the team’s concessions and restaurant dining. Legends Senior Executive Chef Jason Choate will add new items around the concessions menus including Pizza Box Nachos, Ropa Vieja (shredded beef) Grilled Cheese and Veggie Cuban sandwiches.

RumFish Grill will offer Mahi Tacos, Bucs Burger, Firecracker Shrimp, and Big Wave Fries.

Ropa Vieja Grilled Cheese by Rob-Harris-7893

Ropa Vieja Grilled Cheese made with locally sourced Cuban bread, sharp cheddar cheese, house-braised ropa vieja, peppers, and onions. Available at Ybor Press locations.

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Land & Sea Burger features a custom, all-beef burger blend with chuck, short-rib, and brisket, grilled and topped with slaw, crispy shrimp, and cannonball sauce. Available at Land & Sea locations as well as Bar 76.

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Fans of meatless burgers can enjoy the Beyond Burger at the Bay Burger stand located at Section 118.

Local Chef Showcase will return to the stadium this Sunday with Chef Gino Tiozzo of Donatello Italian Restaurant this Sunday, September 8th.

Single-game tickets for the 2019 season start at $ 45 and are on sale at Buccaneers.com and Ticketmaster.com

Photos used with permission from Buccaneers.

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Carlos Eats

September 5, 2019 |

Al’s Finger Licking Good Soul Food now serving up tasty southern eats

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Most people have heard of Al’s Finger Licking Good BBQ in Ybor City, but a few months ago they opened Al’s Finger Licking Good Soul Food while I was out of town and the buzz has been muted since then. The online footprint of the new spot is not too big and Google seems to confuse the listings, but if you make the trip along 7th Avenue to 23rd Street there is a surprise waiting for you with great food.

Swee Tea from Al's Finger Lickin' Good Soul Food

From fried chicken and baked chicken to pork chops, turkey wings, fried green tomatoes, and boiled peanuts with neckbones, Al’s Soul Food is offering eats you won’t find easily find around Tampa Bay. I was personally happy to enjoy a great sweet tea with my food after spending far too much time out of the south.

Collard Greens from Al's Finger Lickin' Good Soul Food

Mac and Cheese from Al's Finger Lickin' Good Soul Food

Fried Chicken at Al's Finger Lickin' Good SOul Food

I ordered a quarter of fried chicken during my visit (all white for a $ 0.99 upcharge) which came with two sides and cornbread. I went with mac and cheese (+$ 0.99) and collard greens as my sides of choice.

You can also find black-eyed peas, fried okra, green beans and potatoes, potato salad, french fries, white and yellow rice on the menu. Fridays also have an offering of cole slaw and grits. Daily specials are offered on the menu from Wednesday to Sunday and they have lunch specials as well.

Soul food isn’t my specialty since it is so uncommon here, but what I do know is good food and that is exactly what I enjoyed at Al’s Soul Food. The chicken was perfectly cooked and the attention to detail was exact. The collard greens were flavorful and the mac and cheese was unlike a mac and cheese I have enjoyed anywhere else and completely satisfying. Not super cheesy, but just enough.

Corn Bread at Al's Finger Lickin' Good Soul Food

Menu at Al's Finger Lickin' Good Soul Food

The best part was that this all tasted like home-cooking, it wasn’t overly greasy or acid-inducing. The corn bread was absolutely delicious and a perfect started to the meal. I enjoyed every last lick of my fried chicken down to the last piece of fried goodness. I was in a happy place, I looked around at the somewhat empty dining room during my visit and thought to myself how has nobody reviewed this place? There are still two major publications left in town.

Then I remembered I am a writer and I can do that myself. So here’s my thoughts: Get in your car and drive to Al’s Finger Licking Good Soul Food as soon as possible. You won’t regret it. Places like this deserve all our love and cash. Tell a friend. For as much as this town claims to love chicken, here is a spot doing it right.

Al's Finger Lickin' Good Soul Food

Restaurant Name: Al’s Finger Licking Good Soul Food

Neighborhood: Ybor City

Cuisine: Soul Food

Address: 2302 E 7th Ave. Tampa, FL 33605

Phone Number: (813) 405-8920

Hours: Wednesday-Thursday, 11:30AM-6PM, Friday/Saturday 11:30AM-8PM, Sunday 12PM-6PM, CLOSED Monday and Tuesday

Carlos Eats

May 20, 2019 |

Food Tech: Introducing Table Dot. Home Chefs on Demand

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Have you ever wanted to have a chef cook in your home for you and some guests but not been sure how to go about it? Hiring a private in-home chef can be a stressful affair, from trying to negotiate the cost per head, to sourcing ingredients, annoying callbacks, and trying to find someone who is available during your preferred time period. A new food start-up based in Tampa called Table Dot hopes to change that.

Table Dot’s mission is to provide quality, in-home chefs available on-demand to hungry customers. Whether it’s a romantic dinner for two, a family gathering, or a reunion with old friends, Table Dot hopes to simplify the process of connecting with a in-home chef and provide food tech solutions that will make it easier to book a party at your home.

Founder, Katherine Allen, has created a platform that allows customers to mix courses and options and get an upfront cost, avoiding any surprises along the way. The entire process is handled by Table Dot including shopping, food prep, and cleanup.

The goal is to provide access to chefs in a responsible way, enabling cooks a simple solution and diners a hassle-free method to connect with private in-home chefs. The cost will vary according to the menu items sought, but could be as low as $ 12 a head according to Allen.

The start-up is seeking chefs and cooks to join their program. Table Dot hopes to build a large community of cooks and chefs and to empower line cooks and other chefs who have aspirations to cook on a different scale to join their cause. Allen herself has a background in providing in-home chef experiences and was inspired by her own experiences and difficulties to create Table Dot.

There are plans for an iOS and Android app in-development for Table Dot and Allen hopes to have a system that will be as easy as taking out your phone and planning your next gathering or meal at home in the future. Table Dot sounds like a promising and innovative product that could be very successful with the right combination of chefs and tech.

To find out more about Table Dot, visit them online at tabledot.com.

Carlos Eats

May 15, 2019 |

What I’m Reading in Food Media – April 16th

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Looking for some great food articles to read online? Here are some articles I am currently enjoying:

Carlos Eats

April 18, 2019 |

WeWork Food Labs debuting in 2019 for food innovators

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WeWork Labs is launching WeWork Food Labs, an innovation lab that will be focused on powering future food, this year with programming starting this spring and a flagship space opening in late 2019 in New York City.

WeWork Labs currently operates in 49 locations including 32 cities and 15 countries and serves over 1,000 startups around the world. WeWork is known worldwide as a leader in the cowork space and opening a cowork location in Tampa soon.

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WeWork Food Labs will support growing startups by bringing together entrepreneurs, industry experts, and investors in the same space with a focus on food. WeWork is seeding $ 1 million in equity investments to its first Food Labs accelerator cohort as a display of its commitment to this sphere.

The flagship space will be in New York City at 511 West 25th Street and open later this year. It will feature a custom R&D space and food pantry with dedicated workspace, merchandising area, outdoor space for events, and more.

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Two programming tracks be available at WeWork Food Labs. The Food Labs Program will be an inclusive, flexible, workspace for startups across in the food industry and be available with a paid membership. The Food Labs Accelerator will follow a traditional accelerator model and be a direct arm for investments in early stage food startups.

Community will be a major focus of WeWork Food Labs as is the case with most cowork spaces with a goal of bringing together startups, policy makers, university partners, venture capitalists, and more to help startups bring their ideas to life.

Univos Partners and their VC fund New Crop Capital will join the space with their portfolio companies and review startups for potential investments in sustainable and plant-based solutions.

An advisory board will consist of leaders, innovators, and educators throughout the food realm including CHLOE founder Samantha Wasser and food scholar Marion Nestle of Food Politics and professor at New York University.

Marion Nestle shares, “From malnutrition to food safety to labeling, the food industry today is facing major challenges. With WeWork Food Labs, there’s an opportunity to propel the entrepreneurs that are building solutions. I’m excited to support WeWork Labs on their WeWork Food Labs initiative and look forward to seeing how we can create real impact.”

Applications are currently being accepted for startups to join the first WeWork Food Labs cohort in New York City. Those interested can find out more at http://www.wework.com/food-labs

Carlos Eats

March 26, 2019 |

4 food podcasts to subscribe to today

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When I first came to San Francisco, I was reading up about the new SF Chronicle Food Critic, Soleil Ho, and decided to check out a podcast she helped host in the past, Racist Sandwich. It was probably the first time I actually took time to listen to a podcast although I certainly intended (and failed) to make time in the past for podcasts. The conversations were interesting and gave me some new perspectives I may not have shared in the past about food and racial or cultural issues.

Since then I have looked around for some food podcasts to listen to that can give me some insight into thoughts in the food industry and just some great entertainment.

Here are 4 food podcasts to subscribe to today that I recommend:

#1 Carbface for Radio Podcast – This food podcast is wild and out there just like the hosts themselves and I love every last second of it. Carbface is a podcast about chefs and food writers. The podcast was produced by Anthony Bourdain in the past, but continues on with some great interviews. Certainly NSFW – but a great listen.

Listen: https://carbfacepod.com/

#2 Meatless: A Podcast About Eating – Alicia Kennedy explores the reality of eating animal products with specials guests including chefs, writers, and more. I’m not a vegan personally, but I do want to know about their thought process and more than just that veganism is a trend for restaurants. I find her podcasts to be enlightening and I enjoy the deep dives in this podcast.

Listen: https://howwegettonext.com/meatless-a-podcast-about-eating-cfeef8967f89

#3 Sit Down, Be Hungry – One of the chefs I know in San Francisco from Trademark recommended this show to me. It’s locally based in California, but has really interesting conversations about food in general. Hosts Chavid Dang and Dinepiece talk about all things food. Listening them argue over whether to give up Salt & Pepper Pork or Peking Duck for life and talk about Tinder for farm animals is quite enjoyable.

Listen: http://sitdownbehungry.club/

#4 La Ventanita – Down South in Miami, Food Editor Carlos Frías is doing good work covering the chefs and scene with interesting interviews in his La Ventanita podcast for Miami Herald. His podcast features interviews with national chefs such as Chef Jose Andres, Thomas Keller, Norman van Aken, and others.

Listen: http://bit.ly/2H8wXIs

Carlos Eats

March 8, 2019 |

Food Critic Laura Reiley leaving Tampa Bay Times

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Tampa Bay Times Food Critic, Laura Reiley, is retiring after a 10 year run at the paper and heading over to Washington Post.

Laura Reiley was an entity I always knew about throughout the last 9 years I have written this blog, but due to the anonymity of newspaper food critics, I had no clue what she looked like – so I would only imagine what she looked like as I perused her reviews and as chefs and restaurant industry folks constantly gossiped about her to me.

Most of the time we disagreed over the years about restaurants (especially when a top restaurants list was involved) and also the kinds of stories I would read from her, but there was a moment where Laura Reiley made a huge difference to Tampa and to the restaurant industry nationwide.

Laura’s Farm-to-Fable story was a super-sleuth investigation into how Tampa restaurants were manipulating and lying to their customers about organic and farm-to-table cuisine. Laura worked overtime to get to the bottom of this story and to be quite honest I am sure there could be an entire book filled with this topic alone.

The story was incredibly embarrassing for the City of Tampa, but also very necessary for the future of our city. Suddenly, I stopped receiving a thousand press releases claiming organic or farm-fresh cuisine, and when I started to question where the food was coming from when waiters or chefs spoke, they were more careful about their words and I warned them they wouldn’t want to be on another story like that.

For me the story didn’t just speak about the food industry, which is vast and complex, but also about the customers in Tampa who were not demanding more from restaurants. The difference between grouper and tilapia is quite great, yet diners were buying up fake Tampa Rolls at premium prices. Why do people in Tampa continue to support business that lie to them in their faces? I have questions.

Sometimes my discourse with diners in Tampa can be like this and ultimately along the way I came to appreciate Laura Reiley as a necessary being that operated in the shadows.

There is a benefit to having a critic whose job is simply to write and cover food. Not just to consumers, but also for people in the restaurant industry who are working on their craft. Laura asks the questions people do not want to answer and takes deep dives into what makes people and businesses tick and I do respect her for that.

Then – one day Laura exposed her identity and showed what she looked like which was a little strange for me to witness.

San Francisco Chronicle Food Critic Soleil Ho can attest that times are changing though and anonymity is no longer what it once was.

Many restaurateurs would brag to me that they had printed out photos of Laura Reiley hidden behind their counters. Indeed, being anonymous in today’s food critic world may be impossible for someone my age (thanks Facebook).

I wish Laura the best at the Washington Post and thank her for her hard work writing at the Tampa Bay Times.

Carlos Eats

March 1, 2019 |

10 food journalists to follow on Twitter

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Food Twitter has always been entertaining, but the world of food media is finally advancing and recovering from some tumultuous years (thanks Web 2.0).

New voices and personalities are appearing online, including plenty of writers that I personally enjoying reading on a regular basis both in newspapers and on Twitter.

Many of these writers are also incredibly funny and interesting people in general. One thing you’ll notice about food writing is how it is evolving from simple reviews or critiques to more thought-out pieces that reflect the people writing about it and their cultural roots…and I love that.

In a world where the media industry seems to constantly be in upheaval, there is quality content being rolled out all the time that could always use more love (and a paid subscription).

Here are 10 food journalists to follow on Twitter:

  1. Noah Cho (@NoahReservations): Noah writes a column called Bad Kimchi for Catapult that I can connect to on so many levels after living in South Korea in 2011 and coming back to an America that is experimenting and popularizing kimchi. His writing is very personal and enjoyable to read and he actually led me to start throwing American cheese in my ramen and boy is it good.
  2. Soleil Ho (@hooleil): The new food critic at San Francisco Chronicle is entering a giant food void that has been left post-retirement of Michael Bauer, who ruled SF for 32 years. Soleil is a partner in the Racist Sandwich Podcast, which explores race and food issues. Although she hasn’t published her first article yet, her tweets and social media posts are entertaining and she is very active in the food media ecosystem. From what I can gather, her style will be completely different from the previous era of food and that’s a good thing as the food media industry is evolving.
  3. Joseph Hernandez (@joeybear85): The current Travel Editor at Thrillist and former Food Writer at Chicago Tribune knows his food. There are not too many Filipino food writers on the internet nowadays and Joseph’s story about his experiences growing up are a great read.
  4. Gowri Chandra (@gowri_chandra): Gowri probably consumes just as much food media as I do and is a great person to follow to stay updated on what is happening around food online. Her hot takes are actually good. She also contributes to a number of publications including Food & Wine, Condé Nast Traveler, Thrillist, Los Angeles Magazine, L.A. Weekly, Vice, and more.
  5. Dan Q. Dao (@danqdao): My experiences with New York are limited, but Dan provides interesting commentary that makes me think of what I would encounter should I head to NYC someday. He is funny, sassy, and writes a good number of pieces for Food & Wine and other publications as a contributor.
  6. Serena Dai (@ssdai): Serena writes for Eater New York and sparked quite a debate recently when Yelp came for her local Thai neighborhood spot. Her tweets are very relatable as someone writing in the food industry.
  7. Gustavo Arellano (@GustavoArellano): Gustavo tweets a ton (215K+ tweets) but his opinions and responses about food are truly great. His stories and commentaries on Mexican food should not be missed including a recent one about Vegan Pozole. He is also the author of Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America.
  8. Carlos Frías (@Carlos_Frias): It’s a little surprising that there isn’t more Twitter activity in Miami for food considering how quickly restaurants open and close there and how many interesting concepts exist there. Also the unusual things that happen in Miami (think Florida Man) are constantly hitting the press. Carlos keeps everyone updated on Miami’s food scene as the Editor at Miami Herald Food and Miami.com. He writes and produce tons of engaging content in that sassy Miami vibe that I’ve come to love. Carlos is also a James-Beard Award winner.
  9. Mona Holmes (@monaeatsLA): This writer from Eater LA has some spicy tweets that I enjoy reading. Her tweets are’t always about food, but they generally involve something happening in the food sphere.
  10. Andrea Chang (@byandreachang): I am so happy that LA Times is beefing up their food content with a print food publication back in the market as a long time fan from the East Coast. Andrea Chang is the Deputy Food Editor there and there has been noticeably great coverage lately from her and her colleagues Peter Meehan (@pfmpfmpfm), Lucas Peterson (@lucaspeterson), and more. I’m rooting for this team and you should too. Go subscribe!

BONUS: Lauren Lee (@lauren_lee_la): This Audience Engagement Intern for LA Times sparked a battle across the internet this week about french fries that did not miss a single timeline and led to some interesting conversations between myself and a brand I hardly ever engage with: Checker’s. She has a promising future.

Carlos Eats

February 16, 2019 |

10 brands I recommend from Winter Fancy Food Show 2019 in SF

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I attended the Winter Fancy Food Show this year in San Francisco. This food-industry trade show features 80,000+ specialty food and beverages as well as thousands of new products, industry networking events, and 1,400+ exhibitors from around the planet.

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I was able to try hundreds of new products coming to the food industry. These are the 10 brands that left the biggest impression on me and that I’m recommending to my readers.

  1. Ithaca Cold-Crafted Hummus: A premium hummus brand that is achieved by using cold processing techniques that preserve nutrients that are normally lost when heating ingredients to make hummus. There are no GMOs, no preservatives, no citric acids, no artificial ingredients, no canola, and no soy. What’s really incredible is how fresh this hummus tastes with each bite. My favorite flavors were the garlic hummus and lemon dill.
  2. Proud Label: This is a new brand that makes spreads made with different vegetables. It was in the Incubator Village at the Fancy Food Show. Each one I tried was truly delicious with my favorite being the Product Label Red that is made with beets and pepper. It tasted like it would go great on a breakfast item (maybe even some Huevos Rancheros). The Proud Label Orange was also delicious and uses carrots, cauliflower, and spices to create a great spread. I hope to see these in stores soon.
  3. Blue Evolution: An incubator that grows seaweed in Baja California and Alaska and is finding new ways to introduce them the public. Right now they sell penne and rotini pasta to the public, but soon they will release seaweed popcorn which was an awesome experience to try and is something I’ve never thought of doing before. I want more soon.
  4. Ocean’s Halo: Speaking of seaweed. It seemed to be an emerging trend at the Fancy Food Show. Ocean’s Halo had a variety of products on display but their kelp-based ramen broth blew me away as well as their soy less sauces made with seaweed. There are so many things I want to try now from this brand after this experience.
  5. Villa Piva Jucies: Southern Brazil is creating 100% natural juices that have no preservatives, no added water, no added sugar, and juices that are gluten-free and lactose-free. They are quite tasty and my favorite was the apple juice made with hibiscus, cinnamon, and ginger. Their tangerine juice was also quite tasty and is made with lemongrass. I’d recommend giving them a look.
  6. Exotic Food Thailand: This brand from Thailand is beginning to sell Thai chili sauces made with Stevia which is a nice alternative to the sugary Thai products currently on the market and can be helpful for diabetics who still want to have some sweeter flavor in their food. Upon sampling these sauces, even I would make the switch if the product becomes available to me.
  7. Shimadaya: This Japanese brand makes Shin Uchi Frozen Ramen which was probably one of the booths I ran past the quickest, but actually had a lasting impression because it tasted quite good and requires very little preparation. Just 20-40 seconds boiling depending on whether you want standard or thick noodles. This product is not out just yet on the market, but is coming soon.
  8. Roam Free Bison Bites: Food with a mission describes Roam Free Bison Bites. The owner, Brittany Masters, hopes to make grass-fed bison a staple of the American diet again. She owns a sustainable start-up ranch in Western Montana that smokes premium bison meat in small batches and flavors with organic spices. The bison jerky snacks are high protein (24 grams per snack) and sugar-free. Farmers need Americans to eat bison again to help make their farms grow and become more sustainable. Personally, I found the snacks to be quick yummy and healthier than beef jerky.
  9. The Swiss Rosti: This is a product from Portland, Oregon that can be used as snack, side dish, or hor d’oeuvre and is made with vegetables blended with potatoes or sweet potatoes. The one I tried was the Curry Lentil flavor whcih is made with shredded parsnip, carrot and potato filled with Curried Acorn Squash and Cauliflower. It was gluten-free, vegan, and incredibly delicious! I would buy these.
  10. Aedan Foods: This is a local SF food business that makes fermented rice with something called koji which can be used as a food starter for different dishes. They offer different fermented items for cooking including miso, shio koji, amazake, and sagohachi. Their products use non-GMO and organic ingredients. I tried the shio koji and it was delicious. Fermentation is so important in Asian food cuisines and there is plenty of ways this can be used in cooking. I’ve never seen something like it in the Southeast. There’s a bit of a learning curve to their products, but they have recipes and plenty of information on their website.

Until next time!

Carlos Eats

January 18, 2019 |

10 food destinations to visit for a 24-hour trip to San Francisco

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San Francisco is packed with thousands of restaurants and cafes to visit. It’s hard to filter through all of it and really it is all about knowing where to go without getting caught up by the hype. Here are my recommendations on food destinations to visit for a 24-hour trip to San Francisco.

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No. 1 – Taqueria El Farolito – The King of the Super Burrito and Mexican food in San Francisco. Don’t let anybody convince you that the other spots are superior (they aren’t). El Farolito has been in this game for decades and still serves up the best burrito in San Francisco at decent prices. The best one is located on Mission and 24th Street. 2779 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110. (415) 824-7877. Multiple locations. http://www.elfarolitosf.com

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No. 2 – Balompié Cafe #3 – Salvodoran food can be found around SF just as much as Mexican cuisine. Balompié serves an authentic sit-down experience of the cuisine and is a hotspot for hungry customers. The signature dish is the pupusa and if you have never had one, I highly recommend trying one during your visit. You can get different stuffings inside this corn meal dish, but my favorites are beans, cheese, and mixed. 3801 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110. (415) 647-4000

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No. 3 – Ton Kiang – Good dim sum is hard to come by where I come from in the South (not true in SF), but Ton Kiang serves an excellent and wide-selection of dim sum that will keep it coming and the prices are reasonable. Their tea is excellent and the experience is one I need to have on every visit to San Francisco. 5821 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94121. (415) 752-4440 http://www.tonkiang.us

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No. 4 – Boba Guys – The best bubble tea in San Francisco hands down and maybe even the United States of America. Boba Guys has a commitment to quality and excellence that is a rare find in the fast upstart tea business. Their Matcha Strawberry bubble tea is a must as are their frescas. Multiple locations. www.bobaguys.com

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No. 5 – Señor Sisig – What started off as a random food truck bite to eat in SF during one Christmas has become an annual mission for me to find Señor Sisig wherever they may be roaming around the San Francisco Bay Area. Their Sisig Burrito is like no other. I LOVE it. It may not be traditional, but it packs flavor and understands the complexities between Mexican and Filipino cuisine and that is truly satisfying to my palette. Check website for daily locations. http://www.senorsisig.com

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No. 6. – Kitchen Story – This fusion restaurant is the perfect blend of Korean cuisine with brunch and American food. The mimosas do pack a punch and is totally worth buying the unlimited price. Try the Pork Belly Rancheros if you have a chance and you will not regret a thing about life. 3499 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114. (415) 525-4905. http://www.kitchenstorysf.com

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No. 7 – I’a Poke – I wandered into here one day when a sushi restaurant I was heading towards nearby was closed for lunch and I had the best sushi burrito of my life. No lie, I’a Poke uses quality ingredients and has great customer service. They have since expanded more in the city and with every bite having a heavenly taste to it, I’m not surprised. Multiple locations. http://www.iapoke.com

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No. 8 – Alioto’s – Most visitors will no doubt wander into San Francisco planning to get a bowl of clam chowder from Fisherman’s Wharf. An investigation a few years ago found that most restaurants in SF are actually using Campbell’s Clam Chowder soup which is disappointing to say the least. Alioto’s is one of the ones who serves quality clam chowder and you can buy it in a bread bowl downstairs if you want to have a quick bowl and go explore the waterfront harbor. 8 Fishermans Wharf, San Francisco, CA 94133. (415) 673-0183. http://www.aliotos.com

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No. 9 – Mitchell’s Ice Cream – An ice cream staple for over 65 years in San Francisco. Mitchell’s Ice Cream has survived generations of transformation for the Bay Area and one taste of their ice cream makes it easy to see why. My favorite is their Ube ice cream which is inspired from the Philippines, but you really can’t go wrong with anything on their menu. It’s so good that you’ll even find people there on rainy days in SF waiting in line for a scoop. 688 San Jose Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94110. (415) 648-2300. http://www.mitchellsicecream.com

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No. 10 – Stonemill Matcha – If you love matcha tea and a zen environment, then you will love Stonemill Matcha. One of the newer businesses to open on Valencia Street, they have more matcha dishes and drinks on their menu then you will know what to do with. Their popularity is through the roof so expect a bit of a wait to sit. 561 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110. (415) 796-3876 http://www.stonemillmatcha.com

Carlos Eats

January 6, 2019 |

Tampa listed number 11 place to visit in 2019 by Food and Wine

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Popular food magazine Food & Wine put Tampa, Florida on its list of top food destinations to visit in 2019 at number 11 out of 33 in a major win for the Lightning capital. Tampa beat out San Diego, Las Vegas, Memphis, and Portland in the list…to name a few.

The excitement over our new food halls at Armature Works and Sparkman Wharf seems to have much to do with all the press as well as Rooster and The Till. One interesting inclusion on the listing is King State Coffee which has yet to open its doors (although many local shops sell their coffee).

Check out my list of coffee shops to visit in Tampa

Photo via Reddit User u/thetampa2

Hopefully this attention on Tampa means that people will take a deep-dive into the local food scene we have here as well. Time to get writing.

Carlos Eats

December 21, 2018 |

Tampa Bay Food Fight 2018 a smashing success

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Metropolitan Ministries had their Tampa Bay Food Fight 2018 charity fundraiser tonight at Armature Works in Tampa Heights.

St. Pete edged out Tampa for the best food city with chefs claiming victory from The Mill, Parkshore Grill, Locale Market, Dr. BBQ, Red Mesa, Il Ritorno, The Birchwood, and The Peabody.

Metropolitan Ministries raised $ 250,000 at the event and is still aiming for $ 300,000 as their goal to help them in their mission to fight poverty, hunger, and homelessness.

The proceeds help their Culinary Arts Program that teaches valuable skills to those seeking to improve their lives and work in the food industry.

You can donate at 
http://secure.metromin.org/site/SPageNavigator/ITB_Culinary_Arts_Program.html

Here are highlights from the evening:

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Carlos Eats

October 18, 2018 |

Support Tampa Bay Food Fight October 16th at Armature Works

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The Tampa Bay Food Fight is returning this October in the fight against poverty and hunger. Chefs from Tampa and St. Petersburg will put out their best food in the name of charity. Which city do you think will will win? The fundraiser will occur on Tuesday, October 16th, 2018 from 6:30PM-9:30PM in Tampa Heights at Armature Works (1910 North Ola Avenue).


 


The competition will be hosted by WWE Superstar Titus O’Neil and Radio Personality Mike Calta. Tickets are $ 125 and are now on-sale. Buy your ticket at tampabayfoodfight.org Participating Tampa restaurants include:

  • Elevage
  • CENA
  • Steelbach
  • Oystercatchers
  • Armani’s
  • Hemingway
  • Ava
  • Oxford Exchange
  • Bern’s Steak House
  • Inside the Box
  • Dough Nation
  • Cru Cellar
  • Graze 1910
  • World of Beer
  • Zukku Sushi
  • Ciccio Cali
  • Ocean Prime
  • Mise en Place
  • The Rez Grill
  • Rooster & The Till
  • Forbici
  • Haven
  • Chismis

Participating St. Pete restaurants include:

  • The Mill
  • Parkshore Grill
  • The Avenue
  • Noble Crust
  • Better Byrd
  • Hawker’s
  • The Birchwood
  • Big Storm Brewery
  • Mini Doughnut Factory
  • Il Ritorno
  • The Peabody
  • Locale
  • Dr. BBQ
  • Red Mesa
  • Ichicoro

The line-up is truly exceptional. The event is organized by Metropolitan Ministries and benefits Metropolitan Ministries and Inside the Box which are working to fight homelessness, poverty, and hunger.

Carlos Eats

September 12, 2018 |
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