My Tampa Bay

Where Tampa Bay - - Where / Tampa Bay / Summer/Fall 2015 -

Greg Baker The award-win­ning chef tells us about his area fa­vorites and his per­fect day in Tampa Bay.

Baker launched The Re­fin­ery in 2010 and Za­gat named it “Best Res­tau­rant” in 2012, 2013 and 2014. The Re­fin­ery was a James Beard semi­fi­nal­ist for Best New Res­tau­rant in 2011, and Baker was a James Beard semi fi­nal­ist for Best Chef: South in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Fod­der & Shine opened its doors in De­cem­ber 2014 to much ac­claim.

What do you want visi­tors to Tampa Bay to know about the area? While it’s fun to claim that we live on the Swamp Planet, the en­tire area is par­adise for nine months of the year. We have the old cul­ture and history of Ybor City, white sand beaches that are con­sis­tently rated as the best in Amer­ica, clear springs that pump mil­lions of gal­lons of 72-de­gree wa­ter year-round (awe­some kayak­ing and swimming), and yeah, we’re only an hour away from Dis­ney World.

What in the Tampa Bay area inspires you when it comes to cre­at­ing menus for The Re­fin­ery and Fod­der & Shine? We’re very for­tu­nate in the fact that our cli­mate al­lows us three dif­fer-

ent har­vests a year. The fresh, lo­cal pro­duce, rang­ing from the usual sus­pects to semitrop­i­cal fruits, is in­spi­ra­tion in and of it­self, but add to that the abun­dance and easy ac­cess to lo­cal seafood and it be­comes quite easy to present food that not only tastes good, but cre­ates a real sense of place.

How do you see the din­ing scene evolv­ing in Tampa Bay? We’ve long been a test­ing ground for new chain con­cepts from the likes of Darden and OSI (Out­back), but the last five years have re­ally seen a growth in the chef-driven res­tau­rant, fur­ther proof that Tampa is com­ing into its own as a mod­ern city that any­one vis­it­ing can en­joy.

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