Countryside Café, Clearwater
28050 US 19N
About Chef Ge and Countryside Cafe
Chef Ge specializes in sushi and other Asian foods, fusion and seafood.
The restaurant, which may be one of the only in the area that offers breakfast delivery, in addition to lunch, has been recognized for its outstanding food, service and friendly staff.
"I don't know if I would win or not, but I do know my food will taste good!" Chef Ge writes.
The Stone Soup Company, Tampa
1517 E 7th Ave in historic Ybor City
About Chef Ilya and The Stone Soup Company
The Stone Soup Company has no stones and offers much more than soup. so why the name? They explain on their Facebook page: "Similar to an old children’s story about a woman who makes an elaborate stew out of stone and feeds an entire village with it, this place may not use a stone, but it does focus on the same concept—simplicity. Taking a few fresh ingredients and whipping them into a wide selection of hearty soups, sandwiches and salads, it offers an elaborate menu that can feed an entire village for the week."
With a background as an industrial engineering rather than formal education in cooking, Chef Ilya explains that cooking really is all about breaking down things and recreating them. Why join the culinary world? "Beautiful women, they like to eat, so I learned to cook for them," Chef Ilya writes. "I am more of a hack breaking all the rules.
I don't take myself too seriously"
"At the Stone Soup Company we donate a cup of soup for every cup sold, in return we get Karma points," writes Chef Ilya. Those Karma Points are a powerful thing" and will help us win the Top Local Chef title.
Red Mesa, St. Petersburg
4912 Fourth St N
About Chef Chris and Red Mesa
Red Mesa owners Peter and Shawn Veytia, started out in the restaurant trade with their popular 4th Street seafood restaurant, Seabar, in 1981.
In 1995 the Veytias were joined by Executive Chef Chris Fernandez, who grew up in the kitchens of Oaxaca, Mexico, where he was exposed to a great variety of regional foods and flavors from around Mexico. Chef Fernandez and the Veytias drew from their shared Latin heritage and Red Mesa was born. The Red Mesa family has since grown to include the Veytia's two sons Dana and Pete.
In 2009, the Veytias opened Red Mesa Cantina, (redmesacantina.com) in downtown St. Petersburg, and most recently the Red Mesa group expanded into St. Pete's Edge District, with Red Mesa Mercado, which quickly became a local favorite for fast fare and takeout options.
Chef Chris is executive chef of all three restaurants.
Reading Room, St. Petersburg
6001 Central Avenue
About Chef Lauren and Reading Room:
Chef Lauren, the executive chef of Reading Room, has an impressive resume: previously from Rooster and the Till in Tampa, which was just nominated for a James beard award; former sous at Cucina 24 in Asheville, NC, where Chef Brian Canipelli was nominated last year for a James beard award; and formerly from New York and Philly where she worked under Floyd Cardozo of the amazing Indian restaurant in New York called Tabla.
The philosophy behind the Reading Room, according to its website, is to "create a space that unites the community with a culture, a food culture. We are a group of individuals who love restaurants, food, wine, and hospitality. This is our attempt to create an environment that reflects years of experience, decades of taste buds, and lifetimes of ideas. A modern approach at nostalgic tastes while trying to create new taste memories along the way. Our garden is to inspire and connect us with food in the way it was always intended to be."
"We are going to win because our team cares and has passion and we ate honest and our good is different," Chef Lauren writes.
Iberian Rooster, St. Petersburg
475 Central Avenue
About Chef Collins and the Iberian Rooster
Chef Collins is the former chef at the Refinery in Tampa. "We are bad ass!" he writes. The Iberian Rooster serves "splendid, simple colonial Portuguese fusion" and hand-crafted cocktails..
Iberian Rooster is "where the complexity of colonial street food meets the simplicity of tapas, interlocking in unexpectedly seamless ways to create innovative, dynamic flavors worthy of the harmony that exists between the culinary cultures of Mozambique, Macau, Brazil, and Goa," according to their website.
Downstairs you’ll find Subcentral, a modern speakeasy offering "delicious – and potentially dangerous (yet always entertaining)" hand-crafted cocktails, and entertainment. Depending on the day, you may find jazz quartets, bawdy burlesque or perhaps even silent film.
Da Sesto Italiano Ristorante e Vino, Pinellas Park
7199 66th Street North
727 209 2695
About Chef Sesto and Da Sesto Italiano
"Da Sesto Italiano is the No. 1 rated Italian restaurant in Tampa Bay and we have an amazing following," Sesto says. "Most of our weekend nights are on a reservation-only basis and we turn away hungry customers. Our new location will allow us to satisfy even more hungry customers catering the authentic cuisine that we offer. I pride myself on offering authentic Italian cooking with a modern flair. Simply put, I am the best Italian chef in the Tampa Bay area and my reputation proves it."
Marchand's Bar & Grill, St. Petersburg
The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club 501 5th Avenue NE, St. Petersburg
About Chef Ross and Marchand's
One of the most popular restaurants in downtown St. Petersburg, the award-winning Marchand’s Bar & Grill offers the finest in American dining and features a sophisticated atmosphere. Enjoy fresh seafood and succulent cuts of meat accented with a unique mix of Florida and Caribbean flavor.
Chef Ross, formerly the chef at Ritz Carlton in Sarasota, is the 2015 winner of Top Local Chef and he is back to reclaim his title.
"I will win with hard work, skill and dedication," he writes. "I am a fierce competitor. I move with precision and confidence. Losing is not something I do. I love the heat of the moment and will back down to no one."
Hurricane Seafood Restaurant, St Pete Beach
809 Gulf Way, historic Pass-A-Grille Beach
About Chef Gary and the Hurricane
As a breakfast chef, the ingredient in this year's event is right up my alley! There are so many options in cuisine with this product. Nobody does a better job of coming up with a dish using traditional breakfast foods than me!
The Falkenstein family from Baltimore opened The Hurricane in 1977, offering favorites from back home, including fresh wild grouper and homemade conch. A ground floor was expanded in 1986 to offer outdoor seating and a few years later they added an additional level and a nightclub called "Stormy's, allowing patrons to enjoy the breath-taking sunsets of St. Pete Beach from a whole new perspective. Now 40 years later, the Hurricane continues to be a popular destination for both locals of St. Pete Beach and vacationers from around the world. The Falkenstein family still operates the restaurant, which features original menu items such as "Mom's 1945 Crab Cake Melt," a third-generation family recipe.
Deuces BBQ, St. Petersburg
911 22nd St S
About Chef Patrick and Deuces BBQ:
Great, Memphis style BBQ right in the heart of downtown St Petersburg Florida! Enjoy our 'fall-off-the-bone' ribs, chicken, pulled pork and brisket!
I own the #1 BBQ restaurant in St Pete. All recipes and techniques are mine.
Menu includes traditional barbecue including pulled pork, smoked chicken and ribs, and specialties such as the The Deuces Porky Mac Daddy: A massive mac and cheese waffle, made fresh and topped with slow-smoked pulled pork.
Smokin' J's BBQ. Gulfport
5145 Gulfport Blvd
About Chef John and Smokin' J's
Our company is based on the belief that our customers’ needs are of the utmost importance. John is committed to meeting those needs. As a result, a high percentage of our business is from repeat customers and referrals. John started cooking Real Texas BBQ as a hobby in competition cooking in Dallas, soon his hobby turned into a passion and he felt he needed to share this great BBQ with all he came in contact with. After bringing his Real Texas BBQ from Dallas, Texas to South Pasadena, he started selling his BBQ at Ahearn’s Chevron. Soon after he found a location just 1.7 miles east of his location. Wanting to keep his local loyal customers from the area, he soon began the transition to his new location. He will continue to serve the same great Texas BBQ you have grown to enjoy. He believes in serving you the Best Texas BBQ at a very reasonable price. He welcomes the opportunity to earn your trust and deliver you the best service in the industry.
When you visit Smokin’ J’s BBQ, you’re in for a treat. Experience our Real Texas BBQ. John has created some of his fabulous Texas BBQ dishes. Whether it be a tender juicy rack of baby back ribs or one of his family recipe homemade sides we are sure you will enjoy your visit. Our warm country atmosphere will bring your childhood back with our uniquely decorated sitting area. Our restaurant is primarily take out however, we have added indoor and outdoor seating if you desire a place to sit and enjoy your BBQ. We have now added more indoor seating, come check out the new “Alamo Room.”
Smokin’ J’s BBQ is the perfect destination for your next night out, whether it be a quick lunch, dinner for two or a group celebration. We serve lunch and dinner 6 days a week.
We make some awesome BBQ and coffee can be added to amplify my flavors.