Quick Bites: Evening with the Chefs, Banyan Cafe, Burg Diner, Kahwa Coffee, Craft Kafe, Kings Street, and Fresh Kitchen
On May 16, Sarah Wells, a senior at Tarpon Springs High School, will serve hundreds of people at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort on Clearwater Beach. That’s a pretty big order for an 18-year-old. But she’ll have help in the form of an impressive lineup of area chefs, along with other culinary students, during Evening with the Chefs, a fundraiser for the Ryan Wells Foundation.
Sarah (no relation to the foundation’s namesake) grew up cooking with her mom, developing a love for the kitchen. When she saw an opportunity to pursue the culinary arts at school, she took it. “I absorbed everything I could,” Sarah says. “I learned recipes, participated in competitions and focused on learning new skills.”
A lover of baking and pastries, Sarah plans to pursue her degree at the Johnson and Wales University in Miami and hopes to study abroad in Belgium in the future.
Sarah is one of hundreds of students who have participated in this event over the last decade. Coming back for a second year, she’ll work alongside the likes of Mark Hrycko of Island Way Grill, Chris Ponte of Café Ponte, Doug Bebell of Mystic Fish and John Harris of the Sheraton Sand Key, to name a few.
Evening with the Chefs is the featured event of the Ryan Wells Foundation. Ryan was a student at Tarpon Springs High School who joined the culinary program, discovering a passion he intended to turn into a career. Unfortunately, Ryan passed away and was unable to see his dreams come true, but the foundation supports others who have similar aspirations.
All proceeds from this May’s event support the 2015 Ryan Wells Foundation Culinary Student Scholarships and the culinary programs of Dixie Hollins High School, Jacobson Culinary Arts Academy of Tarpon Springs, Northeast High School Culinary Arts Academy, Osceola High School and Pinellas Technical College. In the past ten years, the foundation has given upwards of $514,000 in scholarships and $300,000 to schools.
Besides the gourmet fare, the evening will also feature libations, a silent and live auction, and music, as well as scholarship presentations.
Ashley Giasone, Ryan’s sister and the executive director of the foundation, is excitedly anticipating the event, which she says gives students a hands-on experience, as well as a sense of pride. “The students get to fulfill their dreams, while fulfilling Ryan’s dreams too.”
Evening with the Chefs: A Culinary Arts Dream Come True, Saturday, May 16, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., Sheraton Sand Key Resort, 1160 Gulf Boulevard, Clearwater Beach. Tickets start at $125 and can be purchased
online at ryanwellsfoundation.com.
Words by Kayla Currier
In our increasingly homogenized world, choosing to support small, independent businesses not only keeps money in the local economy, but increases the well-being and vibrancy of the Tampa Bay area.
When it comes to eating local, we’re pretty lucky. And several homegrown businesses are expanding thanks to folks in our community doing just that.
BANYAN CAFE + CATERING
701 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg
Head to the original Banyan Cafe on a weekend and you’ll likely be greeted with a line out the door – and rightly so. The small eatery is usually packed thanks to its refined menu of inventive breakfast, brunch and lunch offerings. As of mid-March, fare-seekers can get some breathing room with the opening of a second location.
Attached to the Morean Arts Center, Banyan Cafe’s new spot is slightly larger with more indoor and outdoor seating than its Uptown location. And while the menu features favorites like the breakfast burrito, there are slight differences from the original (think steel-cut oats topped with a generous scoop of cinnamon ice cream and dried fruit). You’ll also find similar lunch offerings, with additions including salads and a smoked salmon dish topped with sautéed spinach and fresh tomatoes.
THE BURG DINER
2950 49th St. N., St. Petersburg
The Burg Bar & Grill in downtown St. Petersburg’s Grand Central District has made a name for itself with indulgent offerings like the Double Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger and Fried Twinkie a La Mode. Now, owner Bill Georgiou is expanding with The Burg Diner – a throwback to the diners he grew up in.
The Burg Diner opened its doors the first week of March and serves breakfast favorites (from cereal to French toast) and also pays homage to Bill’s Greek roots – think pita breakfast sandwiches with gyro meat and feta – as well as to the Cuban restaurant that was previously in the location, with a generous serving of pork, rice and beans served with eggs.
11588 Fountainhead Drive, Tampa
Since husband and wife duo Raphael and Sarah Perrier opened the first Kahwa in 2005, the local coffee roaster has become a staple in the Tampa Bay community. Serving up coffee beverages alongside a selection of baked goods and small bites, Kahwa is on both sides of the bay, with the latest in the works at the Altis at Highland Park in Westchase. They’re also the roaster of choice for many restaurants in the area, and recently took over the coffee contract for the Tampa Convention Center, with more stand-alone locations on the horizon.
6653 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg
Those who shy away from gluten or avoid it all together know the pain of living without bread – well, good bread anyway. Now, Craft Kafe is here to save bread lovers, gluten-free or not. New to the scene, this spot is a dedicated gluten-free establishment serving up traditional baked goods, artisan sandwiches, organic salads and homemade gelato. While Craft Kafe ditches the gluten (the food is so good you’d never know it), they embrace all things local, which means serving coffee from Tampa-based roaster Buddy Brew and growing fresh produce with the help of Tampa’s Urban Oasis Hydroponic Farm.
KINGS STREET FOOD COUNTER
937 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg
Local restaurant favorite The Avenue is known for its creative burgers, serving up options like ‘The Cracka,’ which features fried green tomatoes, coleslaw, pimento cheese and southern cider all piled on an Angus beef patty. Now, owner Stephen Schrutt is expanding his culinary repertoire with KINGS Street Food Counter. A diner that meshes vintage (hot dog joint) and modernism (gastropub), KINGS features hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches, milkshakes and more alongside poutines and an extensive selection of craft beer – most brewed locally, of course.
The new spot in the EDGE district of St. Petersburg features ample seating indoors and a dog-friendly patio. And while KINGS is different than The Avenue, good food with an easy-going vibe is a trait that’s been passed down.
Although Craft Kafe isn’t a direct restaurant expansion, owner and chef Teddy Skiadiotis is a second-generation restaurateur who also owns and operates Skidder’s restaurant on St. Pete Beach. Skidder’s and Craft Kafe may be two completely different concepts, but passion for quality and fresh foods has undoubtedly carried over into this new venture.
1350 South Howard Ave., Tampa
The Ciccio Restaurant Group heads a lofty list of local eateries. From the modern Mexican fare of Green Lemon to diner-style Daily Eats and the West Coast-inspired cuisine at Ciccio Cali, the group has a diverse palette. Now offering a “healthy fast-food concept,” Fresh Kitchen recently joined their foodie family.
Offering “clean eats,” Fresh Kitchen prepares everything with fresh, quality ingredients. Customers can create their own healthy bowl where they choose a hearty base (think brown rice, quinoa and the like) followed by a choice of veggies, protein and a sauce. If that’s not your thing, the spot provides healthy items for vegan, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Also offered are fresh juices bottled daily in-store and healthier versions of sweet treats.