A native of Jamaica, chef Jackie Hill has carried her home country's cuisine with her in her travels, creating her own brand of Caribbean cooking infused with culinary styles sourced from America and the Mediterranean. At Catering by Saffron's Cuisine of the Sun, she and her staff cater eclectic meals customized to most clients' requests as long as they don't involve building an entire house out of lamb chops, which wouldn't keep out any wolves. Appetizers include grilled shrimp skewers and empanadas filled with guava and spicy beef, while the signature jerk chicken entree is marinated in a special blend of spices and finished with house-made jerk sauce and onion vinaigrette.
Prepare 1,000 lunches in less than 20 hours. That was the challenge posed for The Brunchery’s catering staff. The eatery’s experts met the daunting request, quickly assembling the hefty sandwiches that The Brunchery has perfected throughout its more than 25 years in business. When President George W. Bush came to Tampa, the White House called upon The Brunchery's catering. In addition to corned beef, grilled grouper, and shaved steak piled on deli rye bread and kaiser rolls, The Brunchery plies guests with half-pound burgers seasoned by chipotle mayo and dill pickles.
But as its name implies, the restaurant doesn’t just craft food for lunch; it’s possibly best known for its morning treats. Made-from-scratch hollandaise sauce for benedicts and golden pancakes have earned The Brunchery awards including Best Place for Breakfast/Brunch from readers of the South Tampa Community News in 2010. When NBC interviewed owner Greg Elliot, the feature zeroed in on the restaurant’s signature french toast, which mingles cream-cheese sauce, bananas, strawberries, and slivered almonds.
Guests devour this lavish creation and others while dining among the dining room’s decorative dishware, Coke bottles, and shelves. Many of the objects come from Greg’s family, such as a hutch his great-great-grandfather built in the 1800s, making guests feel as at home as a rabbit in a top hat.
Chefs Anthony Sanschagrin and Matthew Beilstein fuse their culinary passions for Italian, Latin, and Asian cuisine, designing menus for special events and divulging their secrets at hands-on cooking classes. Equally capable of creating edible display pieces or full dinner buffets, the duo can forge eclectic spreads with baked lasagna, crispy beef empanadas, or sweet 'n' sour chicken.
They also share their insights by leading internationally themed cooking lessons, which allow students to try their hand at basic recipes and then taste their results afterward. Much like the number of centimeters in a mile, the menus change constantly, incorporating new recipes and accommodating students' food allergies.
Located in the Sherwood Forest Shopping Center, Old World Cheese Shop, a longtime staple of the area, forges freshly sliced feasts from food and folklore. The Robin Hood cold sandwich ($6.75) robs from the kitchen and gives to the stomach with delicious ham and turkey, crisp bacon, cheese, and golden dressing stacked between three slices of pumpernickel bread, while the Sir Galahad steamed sandwich ($6.75) is a gallant warrior of roast pork, cheese, and sweet-pepper jelly served hot on an onion roll. Those hungry for tie-dye-tinted trips into the subconscious may opt for the Pita Fhonda pita ($5.95), featuring Old World Cheese Shop's acclaimed tuna salad.
MecaFresh, owned and operated by experienced chefs Robert Stea and Louis Venne, culls fresh produce, quality meats, artisan breads, and gourmet sauces from around the world to inform a globally-inspired menu. Grilled chicken joins forces with mixed greens, roasted peppers, gorgonzola cheese, and walnuts to create aptly named walnut-and-gorgonzola chicken salads ($8.50), while Boar's Head roast beef paninis instill incisors with elation they haven't felt since being chosen to replace baby teeth ($8.25). MecaFresh's chefs also sling a variety of Asian noodle bowls such as shrimp-topped pad thai to satiate seafood cravings ($9.75) and tofu-topped long noodles to leave vegetarians brimming with soy ($8.50).