Savor St. Pete Brings New Focus on Culinary Art
St. Petersburg is known as the “arts capital” of Florida with its five spectacular arts districts. But the inaugural “Savor St. Pete Food and Wine Festival” proved that it also deserves recognition for the city’s contributions to the culinary arts.
Held in beautiful North Straub Park, Savor St. Pete’s two huge white tents were bracketed by busy Beach Drive and the Vinoy Yacht Basin. Attendees strolled over the grass holding freshly cooked food and drinks from some outstanding local restaurants, wineries, and craft beer breweries. The rising St. Pete Pier was a stunning backdrop, symbolizing the dawning and rebirth of a new city. This was a foodie’s paradise.
The first Savor St. Pete event on Saturday, Nov. 2, began with a cooking contest among some of the best local chefs. Judging was by local food reviewers, bloggers, and critics. The representatives included Red Mesa, Roy’s, Brio, The Library, Paul’s Landing, and Birch and Vine. Rachel Bennett, head chef of The Library, won for her culinary dish.
I sampled craft beers, and since my usual likes are pale ales, my favorite was the Key Lime from Big Storm. However, Swamp Thing’s Wildflower Honey was a close second. Publix was a major sponsor and all of the wines showcased, could be purchased there. One of the more interesting finds was Kodiak Cakes Pancakes. Just add water, microwave and you have pancakes. I can’t explain it but it works and they tasted great.
Other delights were the Short Rib slider from the Watercolour Grillhouse at the Marriott on Gulf Blvd, and their spiced carrot cake. BJ’s Restaurant and Brewery had great ribs and Red Mesa had a seafood ceviche cocktail finished off with tortilla ashes. Yes, the burnt ashes were scattered on top to give a smoky flavor.
Multiple chefs interacted with the crowd while their skills were shown on a big screen television as they demonstrated their techniques. Early on Saturday afternoon, there was even a “pop-up” wedding where one of the event’s organizers was wed. All in all this was a well-run event that displayed St. Pete as a leader in culinary arts.
By David Mokotoff, photos provided by Savor St Pete.