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Masterful nibbles, sips await at the Don

Savants of food and drink plan a diverse menu.

By MARY JANE PARK
Published May 13, 2007


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Robert Irvine, who has cooked for several U.S. presidents and the British royal family and stars in the Food Network's Dinner: Impossible, will be the top celebrity chef at the Tampa Bay Wine & Food Festival at the Don CeSar Beach Resort in St. Pete Beach.

At the festival Thursday through Saturday, Masaharu Morimoto, another Food Network personality and Iron Chef winner, will join Tim Curci, founder of Bonefish Grill; Tim Gannon, founder of Outback Steak House; Jim Nuetzi, Capital Grille corporate chef; and Damien Mandola, co-founder of Carrabba's.

Southern Wine & Spirits of Florida and the Abilities Foundation are hosting the festival, which is designed to bring attention to the Central Florida and Tampa Bay area culinary scene.

Participants will be able to sample the work of bay area chefs, including John Harris of Rusty's at Sheraton Sand Key; David Miller, Savant Fine Dining; Eric Neri, the Don CeSar; Jeannie Pierola, Bern's Steak House and Side Bern's; Chris Ponte, Cafe Ponte and Tuscan Grill; Tom Pritchard, Salt Rock Grill and Island Way Grill; Dan Tederous, Capital Grille; Tyson Grant, Parkshore Grill; Marty Blitz, Mis en Place; B.T. Nguyen-Batley, Restaurant B.T.; and Robert Masson, 717 South.

A range of ticket packages is available, from golf outings to wine tastings to a black-tie gala to a beach barbecue. All proceeds will improve the lives of people with disabilities.

Only six years ago, Southern Wine & Spirits organized the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, now known as SoBe, which now draws nearly 50, 000 participants. Organizers of the Tampa Bay event say they hope it eventually will be as successful a destination.

To purchase tickets, go to www.abilitiesfoundation.com or www.tampabaywineandfood festival.com.

[Last modified May 12, 2007, 19:20:11]


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