JOIN US NEXT YEAR - October 16, 2018 for our 2nd Annual Tampa Bay Food Fight

TAMPA versus ST. PETE

Teams of chefs from both sides of the bay, judged by Top Chefs, gathered at the St Pete Coliseum to see which city reigned supreme in our inaugural chef battle of the Bay.

Restaurants from Tampa and St. Pete competed and guests had an opportunity to vote for the Best City, Best Restaurant, Best Cocktail, People’s Choice – Food.

Tampa Bay Food Fight guests had a chance to enjoy fun, friendly food competition, live music, food, drinks, and more!

Team Tampa won the inaugural battle. Will it be able to stay at the top next year? Or will St Pete chefs and restaurants turn up the heat and take the lead? SAVE THE DATE – October 16, 2018 to join us and witness the ultimate foodie battle of the Bay!

The location for the 2nd Annual Tampa Bay Food Fight will be announced at a later date.

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.

A love for food, people, and providing a great culinary experience fuels this young professional.

Growing up, self-taught chef & TV star Jeff Philbin watched Julia Child, Lidia Bastianich, & Jacques Pépin with his mother on Saturday afternoons on PBS. An appreciation for their craft was instilled in him, and has spanned nearly 15 years in the culinary industry.

Jeff has held many positions, working his way up from a waiter, to bartender, to trainer, to events coordinator, to area sales manager, to director of marketing and now restaurant consultant. With help from independent and corporate backing, he has led the brand strategy and implementation for all marketing projects by developing research plans and providing teams at the store level the tools necessary to drive sales, customer engagement, and a desirable work culture. His love for guest interaction and engagement was paramount to achieving double the sales growth of the industry average. With relevant content, systematic processes, consistent branding & messaging, coupled with a servant leadership style of coaching and mentoring his team, he strives to deliver the best customer experience.

At a family dinner, his brother-in-law said to him, “Jeff, all you need to do is show up in Orlando. I did all of your paperwork because I believe in you. I signed you up for MasterChef.” It was in that moment that life changed for him. After many months of waiting, he became a contestant in season 8 of MasterChef on FOX. Jeff humbly represented the city of Tampa and placed 5th overall after being a major personality for the duration of the show. It was an incredible journey that humbly changed him forever.

He believes in “paying it forward” and gives back to his community by serving as the Vice-Chairman of the Board for Habitat for Humanity of Hillsborough County. He is also a former “big” in Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Tampa Bay, Eagle Scout & supporter of the Boy Scouts of America, and is engaged in several leadership and networking organizations in the Tampa Bay area. He was a recipient for Up and Comer in the category of “Top 30 Under 30” by the Tampa Bay Business Journal in 2013 and is a member of the Leadership Tampa Bay Class of 2018. While MasterChef season 8 aired, he hosted a local watch-party each week, raising thousands of dollars collectively for local charities in the Tampa Bay area.

In his spare time, he enjoys cooking, exploring the Tampa Bay area, sports and entertainment, and most of all spending quality family time with his beautiful fiancé Beth, son Holden & dog Ruby!

JUDGES

ART SMITH

A two-time James Beard Foundation award winner, Art Smith is a familiar face on the national food scene, with restaurants in Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort; Naples, Fla.; Chicago; Atlanta and Washington, D.C. His new concept ArtBird is opening in New York City in 2018.

Television viewers know him from the “Today” show, “BBQ Pitmasters” and “Top Chef Masters.” He was Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef for 10 years and cooked for two Florida governors.

When Art Smith recently returned to live in his hometown of Jasper, Fla., he was overwhelmed by the culinary memories of his youth in north Florida, his college days at Florida State University and his subsequent internships including a stint in the Disney College Program at Walt Disney World Resort.

“We live in such a diverse state with lots of culinary inspiration from growers, ranchers and the waterways,” said Smith.  Jasper is in Hamilton County in the northern lowlands between Jacksonville and Tallahassee and south of Valdosta, Ga. This region of his native Florida boasts cooking traditions as traditionally Southern as the Sunshine State gets.  Local poultry, beef, sugar cane, fresh pecans, citrus and more were important ingredients in his mother’s recipes. Her repertoire of hearty straightforward food continues to influence family fare in his restaurant Chef Art Smith’s Florida Homecomin’ Kitchen & Shine Bar at Disney Springs.

Smith’s culinary influence is global. In 2012, he became part of U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Culinary Partnership, developed in conjunction with James Beard Foundation. Smith and other prominent chefs are dispatched around the globe to promote American cuisine and ingredients. His 2016 strategic missions have included trips to the Middle East and Cuba.

 

CORY BAHR

Cory’s welcoming smile and down bayou accent and attitude endeared him to millions of viewers of Food Network’s 2017 Next Food Network Star this Spring, where he made it to the final round. Bahr sings the praises of North Delta Cuisine in his menus at his pop-up’s. Bahr is a culinary leader in his state of Louisiana and deeply involved in the conservation and preservation of his beloved South. He has been a spokesman for the Louisiana Tourism Culinary campaign, a director on the board of the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association, and the only non-New Orleans chef serving as a member of the Audubon Nature Institute’s Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries Chef Council.

Bahr, has a national reputation for his inventive take on classic Southern dishes and presents beautifully executed plates with a focus on the past infused with all the innovation and inspiration of the 21st century – honoring everything that’s important in his South: community, culture, and culinary heritage. He’s been recognized as Food & Wine’s ‘People’s Best New Chef’ [2014 & 2015], Taste of the South, Taste 50 [2015] Food Network’s Chopped! Champion [2012], King of Louisiana Seafood [2011], and Louisiana Cookin’ magazine’s ‘Chef to Watch’ [2011].

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.

MIKE CALTA

Mike “Cowhead” Calta has risen to No. 1 in the area on his program, The Cowhead Show, which can be heard from 3 to 7 p.m. on 102.5 The Bone. (Photo courtesy of Mike Calta)
It wasn’t until a friend told him about internships at 93.3 FLZ in the early 1990s that Calta began to wonder about a career in the radio industry.
“A friend of mine got an internship at FLZ, which was The Power Pig at the time, and I thought that would be a great way to learn something about the entertainment business when I was trying to get in,” Calta said. “I had never listened to FLZ for one second in my life, but I was a big fan of the talk radio station (970 WFLA). He got me an internship that was really easy to get; you just had to be willing to work for free.”
That’s when Calta’s career took off.
Not long after his internship started, Calta began producing the nightly Todd “Bubba the Love Sponge” Clem Show. The only problem for Calta was he didn’t know Clem.
A simple T-shirt changed that.
“They had these shirts called Air Bubba, and there was this caricature of Bubba looking like Michael Jordan dunking a doughnut instead of a basketball,” Calta said. “On the back of the shirt, he had long hair that he wore in a ponytail and a giant hoop earring and sunglasses. I had never met him before. … Two seconds later, that same person, looking exactly like he did on the T-shirt came walking up and introduced himself.”
Calta went on to work as Clem’s producer when the host moved to mornings on 98 Rock from 1996 until 2000, helping the program grow into the highest rated morning show in Tampa Bay history.
He then moved on to produce at 1010 The Team.
He was soon hired and got his first major on-air position as host of a midday sports show in 2001 with Brent Pearson. Calta said he didn’t know much about sports.
Though his career has been a roller coaster ride at times, Calta cherishes everything that has happened along the way.
In addition to hosting The Cowhead Show, Calta also plays the bass guitar in the program’s band, Pitbull Toddler, which consists of Calta, his co-host Greg Galvin and producer John Brennan, among others.
He and his wife, Amanda, are expecting their second child sometime this month.
“I’m living the greatest life,” Calta said. “I always tell Galvin that we’re living in (the movie), Vanilla Sky. This can’t be real that this (stuff) has happened to us.”