When Gerald Bennett began work as head chef at the InterContinental Hotel in Cleveland, he was accustomed to whipping up dishes for celebrity clientele. But when the royal family of Dubai came to visit and he served them in their opulent suite, he never thought they'd ask him to leave with them as their personal chef. Since returning to the states and stepping into his role as the president of the Private Chef Association, Gerald has worked to bring his gastronomic prowess to the masses through Food Fun Adventure’s classes and tours. He passes along a visible passion for culinary fusion, which shines through in dishes blending French and Thai or American and German influences.
Culinary tours take participants to local sushi houses, steak houses, and bistros, each highlighting specialty dishes. When head chefs come out to greet their visitors, they often divulge culinary secrets and answer questions about curfew hours for free-range ingredients while doling out tapas and other small plates.
In a more hands-on culinary experience, customers gather in classes and learn to refine dishes based on a chosen theme. Using mostly local and organic ingredients in two kitchen classrooms, chefs show students how to craft delicacies such as scallion waffles with orange-zest chicken and tagine-roasted rack of lamb. In one kitchen, which doubles as an art gallery, knives flick through ingredients, and pots clatter at island stations and small burners. The company’s event center, Heaven, fills with chatter as up to 40 pairs of students filter in. Beneath projectors for screening chef demonstrations and documentaries about the life of a paring knife, separate kitchens equipped with ovens and burners fill with the bustle of creation, which gives way to reverent exhalations as patrons finally sample the fruits of their labor.
The state of Florida was once entirely underwater—and Florida Eco-Adventures’ tours explore the parts that still are. Founders Mac and Suzanne McCormick lead adventurers through waters such as Kings Bay that, thanks to its 72-degree waters, is a wintertime refuge for West Indian Manatees. The Silver River, meanwhile, hosts a more eclectic array of wildlife, ranging from gators—although they’re too shy and skittish for regular sightings—to sunfish and rhesus monkeys.
White sand beaches spread out into the distance, running into the cerulean-blue sea, where seaweed and fish can be seen drifting below the surface. Tree-studded islands and winding sandbars pass underneath, and a white suspension bridge stretches across the horizon like a length of thread. Tampa Bay Aviation's visitors take in these elevated, panoramic views of the Florida coastline from the passenger’s seat or behind the controls of an airplane or helicopter.
Its team of certified flight instructors and experienced commercial pilots operates a fleet of Cessna 172 and Piper Cherokee planes, Robinson R22 helicopters, and an FAA-approved helicopter simulator. During flight experiences and pilot-training programs, they let clients take the aircraft's controls without having to first duel the ghosts of the Wright brothers. They also take clients skyward for aerial surveys and photography sessions.
Renters must be at least 21 years old, and a credit card and ID are required as a deposit during rental periods. You must be 23 or older to operate the jet ski alone, and people ages 18–21 can ride alone with a boater-safety card. Previous boating experience is required to drive the pontoon, and guides are available to drive-inexperienced boaters.
In a monthly, newsletter-style magazine, Insight Tampa keeps Bay-area residents updated on the people, places, and happenings within their community. Articles serve a broad readership, appealing to culture connoisseurs with art listings, athletes with features on marathons, and night owls with reviews of the most fruitful vole-hunting grounds. Besides reporting on local events, Insight Tampa also gets in on the fun by throwing parties that range from culinary celebrations to pirate pub crawls.
As they flock to the nearby beaches of Clearwater or the nightlife of Tampa, most tourists overlook Dunedin, a pretty burg known for its sweeping views of the Gulf of Mexico. But, thanks to the segway-riding guides at Sun Glide Tours, the region’s hidden gem just became much more accessible. Astride their two-wheeled steeds, visitors can explore the Pinellas Trail that cuts through downtown, steering their segways alongside runners, bikers, and the town’s famous rollerblading squirrels.
Sun Line Cruise's 45-foot catamaran, the "Island Star," transports its passengers to local spots where they can enjoy views of everything from lovely sunsets to pods of dolphins. Passengers sip beer and wine and watch the sun sink below the Gulf of Mexico on evening cruises, and learn about the local marine wildlife and eco-system on Sea Fari cruises around Anclote Key. This locale, which is the northernmost barrier island in the Gulf, is also home to a historic lighthouse built in 1887.