October 17th at the Coliseum

TAMPA versus ST. PETE

Teams of chefs from both sides of the bay, judged by Top Chefs, will compete on stage at the St Pete Coliseum to see which city reigns supreme.

Restaurants from Tampa and St. Pete will be competing and guests will have an opportunity to vote for the Best City, Best Restaurant, Best Cocktail, Best Craft Beer, and Best Food by Type.

Tampa Bay Food Fight guests will enjoy fun, friendly food competition, live music, food, drinks, and more!

Titus O’Neil or Thaddeus Bullard is a professional wrestler, actor, TV host and motivational speaker, best known as “Titus O’Neil,” one-half of the former World Wrestling Entertainment’s, World Tag Team Championship duo, “The Prime Time Players.”

At a very young age Thaddeus realized that being successful and helping others was important to him.  From that point on, the pursuit of excellence and altruism have been the key motivators in his life.  In high school Thaddeus was a football All-American. He went on to become a star defensive end for the University of Florida, helping lead the Gators to the 1996 NCAA College Football National Championship. Thaddeus also played professional football for the National Football League’s Jacksonville Jaguars and in the Arena Football League. He debuted with the WWE in 2012 and has since become a fixture on WWE programming, including RAW, Smackdown and WWE Divas as well as in marquee WWE pay-per-view events such as Wrestlemania and SummerSlam.

Thaddeus’ family and charitable work are key aspects of his life outside of the ring. He and his two sons were recently featured in the Ad Council’s national “Take Time to Be a Dad” campaign and in 2015, Thaddeus won the MEGA Dad Award for Celebrity Dad of the Year. He is also active in many charitable organizations, including the Special Olympics, the Wounded Warriors Project and the WWE’s “Be a STAR” anti-bullying campaign.

JUDGES

NORMAN VAN AKEN

Norman Van Aken has been described as ‘legendary, visionary and a trailblazer’ as well as ‘the culinary Titan of Florida.’ He is “the founding father of New World Cuisine,” a celebration of Latin, Caribbean, Asian, African and American flavors. He is also known internationally for introducing the concept of “Fusion” to the culinary world.

He is the only Floridian inducted into the prestigious James Beard list of “Who’s Who in American Food and Beverage.” His restaurant “NORMAN’S was nominated as a finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Restaurant in America”. He has been a James Beard Foundation semi-finalist for “Best Chef in America.”  The Orlando Sentinel placed him in the “Florida Hall of Fame.”

He is an internationally acclaimed author. His memoir titled, “No Experience Necessary The Culinary Odyssey of Chef Norman Van Aken.” The book has been praised by many including Thomas Keller, Mario Batali, Emeril Lagasse, Jeremiah Tower, Wolfgang Puck and the late, great Charlie Trotter. The book was also nominated for the prestigious IACP/Julia Child Award.

In 2006, he was honored as one of the “Founders of the New American Cuisine,” alongside Alice WatersPaul Prudhomme, and Mark Miller at Spain’s International Summit of Gastronomy ‘Madrid Fusión’ event. In 2014 Chef Van Aken will represent Florida at the USA Pavilion at EXPO Milano as part of the World’s Fair, titles “American Food 2.0, United to Feed the Planet.”

Norman Van Aken has published five cookbooks and one memoir: Feast of Sunlight 1988, The Exotic Fruit Book 1995, Norman’s New World Cuisine 1997, New World Kitchen 2003 and My Key West Kitchen 2012, (with Justin Van Aken), No Experience Necessary, The Culinary Odyssey of Chef Norman Van Aken, 2013. His next book is scheduled for 2016 and will be titled, My Florida Kitchen (with Janet Van Aken).

RAY “Dr BBQ” LAMPE

Barbeque has been Ray Lampe’s first love since entering his first rib contest in 1982. Before he quit the family trucking business after 25 years to become a full-time pit-master, the Chicago native had spent 15 years testing different barbequing styles, participating in cookout competitions, and shifting his growing interest in barbeque from a serious hobby into a full-time career.

Only then did he buy a van in which to haul his smokers, and on which to show off a license plate with “DR BBQ,” the moniker by which he would gain recognition as one of the world’s prime professional pit-masters. He’s got top celebrities and chefs on speed-dial, and he has written the book on the New American Barbeque—nine of them, to be exact. They include Slow Fire: The Beginner’s Guide to Barbecue, Dr. BBQ’s Big-Time Barbecue Cookbook, the official NFL Gameday Cookbook he penned in collaboration with the National Football League, and his new Big Green Egg Cookbook.

Inducted into the BBQ Hall of Fame in 2014, Lampe is routinely seen as a judge on shows like Travel Channel’s American Grilled, FYI Network’s World Food Championships, and the Food Network’sChopped and Tailgate Warriors with Guy Fieri. He also hosts a cooking segment on Fox Sports Network’s “Fishing the Flats,” as well as a monthly “Ask Dr. BBQ” Q&A segment on the BBQ Central Radio Show.

MARTY BLITZ

Chef Marty Blitz apprenticed under a Master Chef at the Golden Mushroom, a well-known restaurant outside Detroit. He began his career as a teenager in delis gaining invaluable experience, about pace and working the line, that would never leave him. Blitz then studied under Chef Milos – an amazing classical teacher who honed his raw talent and formed the foundation of his career, including how to calibrate his palate. Once formally trained through this apprenticeship and the American Culinary Association, he spent his nearly 35 plus years in the industry, expanding a culinary repertoire that now includes the worldwide cultures and flavors with a specialization in the bold tastes of Tampa Bay.

Under Chef Blitz’s guidance, Mise en Place expanded both its catering business and its in-house capabilities, growing from a six-table diner in 1986 to its current evolution as a full-service restaurant- seating up to 240 people and preparing as many as a 1,000 meals in an evening.

An avid reader and owner of at least 5,000 cookbooks, Blitz continually seeks inspiration from those around him; absorbing new tastes, ingredients, techniques and skills from the diverse community that is the restaurant industry.

Blitz combines this passion for learning with a remarkable skill. Like a musician composing sonnets, he first creates dishes in his mind, mentally combining flavors and food until it is complete – finished – done. He then works with his team to produce and serve the meal without ever testing the recipe. Using simply his classical training, knowledge of food, and legendary palate, Blitz builds menus from scratch that feature some of the most exciting food served in the region.

As a result of this eagerness to learn, over the past 30 years, Mise en Place’s dishes have continually grown in complexity and depth, elevating expectations and providing a dining experience that continually reinvents itself.