LET'S HEAR IT FOR THE 'BURBS: The Rolling Pin Kitchen Emporium in Brandon easily has the strongest combination in the area of kitchen supplies and food instruction. Chef Dave West and his wife, Karen, consistently attract great instructors for their classes.
On March 11, the Rolling Pin will host the local franchise of the International Association of Culinary Professionals' "Gives Back" charity event. Proceeds will benefit Crescent City Farmers Market in New Orleans, which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
The international association is attempting to raise $30,000 nationally through cooking class enrollment.
The roster of local instructors includes: cookbook author "Dr. BBQ" Ray Lampe, SteamyKitchen.com blogger Jaden Hair, chef Fabrizio Schenardi of Pelagia Trattoria in Tampa, chef John McGlinchey, chef Gui Alinat, 2007 IACP cooking instructor of the year Giuliano Hazan and barbecue judge "Rib Dog" John Verville.
Tickets are being sold for two areas in the Culinary Center: on the kitchen island for $175 per person and table seating for $150 per person. Wines and beverages are included in the pricing. For information, go to rollingpinonline.com or call (813) 653-2418.
DR. BBQ IN NYC: Speaking of Lampe, he recently was hired as executive chef to revamp the menu for singer Justin Timberlake's Memphis-style Southern Hospitality barbecue joint on the upper east side in Manhattan. If it's a success, the restaurant might try and franchise.
ATTENTION EGG HEADS: Staying with a barbecue theme for the column, owners of Big Green Egg smokers will gather for the sixth annual Florida Eggfest in Ocala on March 14 and 15 at Silver River State Park. (For non-Egg heads, think of it as a Harley-Davidson gathering, only with smokers instead of motorcycles.) For information and early registration, go to lazygatorqcrew.com/eggfest.
FLORIDA EATS: Don't miss Andrew Huse's lecture on Florida's gastronomic history at 7 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Bloomingdale library. I caught the presentation last month at the Brandon library and filled in my gaps on the area's culinary history.
Huse, a Florida Humanities Council Roads Scholar, features a ton of great old photos from Tampa's restaurant past in his presentation.
SIP FOR ANDREA: The second annual Andrea's Sip for Life event is coming up March 14 at the Ybor City State Museum and Garden. The event, organized by Columbia Restaurant president Richard Gonzmart to raise money for cancer research in honor of Andrea Dicks Hartley, will feature samplings of 250 premium wines from Spain, California and South America. A $100 donation is required to attend. For reservations, call Lauren Gonzmart Schellman at (813) 248-3000, Ext. 31. Proceeds will go to the Amandalee Pediatric Sarcoma Fund and the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa to support research and treatment.
SHOWDOWN UPDATE: A few weeks ago I wrote about the "Ultimate Recipe Showdown" on Food Network and how winners would have their dishes featured at T.G.I. Friday's. First up, a Peruvian Herb-Roasted Chicken seasoned with lime, garlic, cumin and herb created by Amparo Alam, a 51-year-old from Syracuse, Utah. At 9 p.m. March 16, local representative Lorraine Stevenski of Clearwater will go to battle with her Stuffed Manicotti With Fresh Marinara Sauce recipe.