Be part of the 31st Annual ExTravelganza.

For those patrons attending in person, experience the “Tours of Taste” by sampling delectable delights and libations from some of the top Bay Area Chef’s, Restaurants and renowned wine/spirits from top area producers. Enjoy!

Thank you to our 2023 Participating Chefs.

Congratulations to Chef Nelly Blueje and the Floridan Palace for winning this years Tours of Taste!

Executive Chef Brett GardinerExecutive Chef Brett Gardiner
Renaissance Tampa International Plaza

Renaissance Tampa International Plaza is delighted to have Chef Brett Austin Gardiner as Executive Chef and director of the culinary team since 2011.

Chef Gardiner’s career started at the Kobe Japanese Steak House in his hometown of Honolulu, HI. There he developed his passion for the industry, working his way through his family’s business. He became Sous Chef at Sorrento’s Top of the “I” in Honolulu then relocated to Scottsdale Arizona to attend culinary institute. Following graduation, Gardiner became a Master Cook through the M.G.M. School of Leadership while creating “French cuisine with Pacific flair” for diners at Gatsby’s, the signature gourmet experience at the M.G.M. Grand Hotel Casino in Las Vegas.

Gardiner is locally known for his award-winning restaurant “Hapa” which he owned and operated with his wife Nina Gardiner. Together they created a fine dining restaurant well known for its fusion cuisine and use of the freshest ingredients available. Both accomplished chefs

Chef Gayean BachChef Gayean Bach
JW Marriott Tampa – Driflight Steakhouse

Chef Gayeon started her culinary journey in her mother’s kitchen in Busan South Korea. Her Culinary journey commenced at the iconic Ritz Carlton South Beach as a lead cook demonstrating excellence in all areas of the culinary operation. In 2019 she moved to Tampa and was a key member in the opening of Anchor and Brine, following that she then opened the JW Marriott Tampa in SIX and then in Driftlight Steakhouse her menu is inspired by her Asian background and her style is classic yet artistically unique.

Her signature Driftlight sauce based on Demi glaze with Korean fermented chili paste called “Gochujang” is sweet, spicy, and tangy in flavor. She got the idea from Korean BBQ which is perfect for pairing with fatty steak such as ribeye.

Executive Chef, Dernier “Nelly” Blueje Executive Chef, Dernier “Nelly” Blueje
The Floridan Palace Hotel

Buleje brings worldly experiences to The Floridan Palace Hotel as executive chef. After starting his culinary career cooking room service orders and slicing the weekend prime rib buffet at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa in Wisconsin over 17 years ago, Chef Nelly has fast-tracked to executive chef of the Floridan Palace Hotel after traveling the world in search of learning about regional foods. Not afraid to experience new things, Nelly Buleje has traveled from the Philippines to Peru and throughout Central America. He’s returned home with a refined palate, ready to inspire diners with a memorable experience and friendly demeanor they’ll never forget.

Executive Chef, Javier JaramilloExecutive Chef, Javier Jaramillo
Tampa Airport Marriott

Chef Javier Jaramillo was born in the States but raised in Puerto Rico. Has more than 25 Years of Culinary expertise and has trained and work with various Chef from around the world and had the exposed to different techniques and had the opportunity to demonstrate in different Hotels and restaurants around Florida and in His actual role as an Executive Chef for Tampa Airport Marriott.

Executive Chef, Jonathan AtanacioExecutive Chef, Jonathan Atanacio
The Epicurean Hotel

Jonathan’s love of food began as a child, growing up with a mixture of Italian and Puerto Rican cuisines. Growing up in New York City, he was exposed to a wide range of flavors on a daily basis. He decided to take his passion for food to the next level and complete culinary school at The Art Institute, previously New York Restaurant School. After graduating with honors, he took an externship with Francois Payard, learning classic French techniques. He eventually ended up at famed Soho seafood staple, Aquagrill, where he climbed the ranks and became Chef d’Cuisine. After seven years of service, Jonathan explored other avenues and finally took a job as Executive Sous Chef at Todd English’s Olives in The W Hotel Union Square. There, he learned about hotel restaurant operations and took part in exciting ventures such as the TV program, Chef Hunter on The Food Network.

Jonathan decided it was time to experience a new city and chose Tampa, partly due to the growing culinary scene. He accepted a position on the opening team for the Epicurean Hotel and was promoted to Chef de Cuisine. Being part of a food-driven concept was exciting and challenging.

Since working at Epicurean for 5 years, Jonathan accepted a new role as Executive Chef at The Karol Hotel in Clearwater. Being part of the opening team was one of the single best career choices he ever made. Being able to lay the Food and Beverage groundwork for this property is an experience that he will carry with him for the rest of his career.

Now accepting the Executive Chef role at The Epicurean Hotel, Jonathan is excited to stay part of the family and have a more influential role revolutionizing the food scene in Tampa and across the bay area.

Chef Isaias BurgosChef Isaias Burgos
Savor the Moment

Originally from Mexico, Isaias started working in restaurant kitchens at the young age of sixteen. He had an instant passion for creating a wide variety of cuisine.. Isaias had a desire to learn everything about the restaurant industry and every aspect of how to run the kitchen. Working in every station, he quickly moved up into a head chef and kitchen manager role. He has over thirty years of fine dining experience including American, Italian, Greek, Serbian, Mexican, and Seafood, to name a few. He is also a banquet and catering master serving parties of 500 plus guests, including menu creeations. He spent 13 years as the Head Chef at The Wine Cellar in North Redington Beach and has assisted in opening new restaurants and clubs throughout Pinellas County. He is now the Head Chef for The Original Crabby Bill’s on Indian Rocks Beach and Head Chef for Savor the Moment a Big Clay Management Company.

Jennifer SalhoffExecutive Chef, Jennifer Salhoff
Sal Rosa Restaurant
Le Meriden Hotel

Jennifer Salhoff is the Executive Chef of the new Sal Rosa Restaurant at the historic Le Meridien Hotel in downtown Tampa. Formerly a final four contestant on Hell’s Kitchen season 13, her resume is impressive as it is diverse and includes stints with some of the most prestigious and well known chefs in the country. Honing her skills in New York City and Philadelphia, she was the Executive Chef at the Le Meriden Hotel in Downtown Philadelphia and The Sarasota Modern. Before taking over at Le Meridien Tampa, The Courthouse in Tampa, she was a private chef and worked at the prestigious Don Cesar Hotel in St.Petersburg.

With over 22 years of experience, Chef Salhoff has led the curation of menu offerings at Sal Rosa restaurant along with their café + scoops offerings of house made gelatos and sorbets. There you will see inspiration from all of the Caribbean and Latin American signature dishes. Salhoff uses their unique flavor profiles and multitude of spices & chiles, to reinterpret their comforting food she presents it in an elevated fashion that resonates with Le Meridien Tampa’s guests while also paying homage to the humble and time honored traditions of the Caribbean.

Ben HooperChef Ben Hooper
Berkley Beach Club / The Dewey  Beach Bar & Grill 

Dewey Beach Bar  Berkley Beach Club

Chef Rosana RiveraChef Rosana Rivera
Providing Specialty Dessert

Rosana Rivera has been a successful entrepreneur and Chef in the Tampa Bay area for over 15 years, co-creating the culinary vision behind some of the area's favorite eateries. She is currently creating and directing her own brand under her eponymous name, Chef Rosana, an e-commerce retailer of hand crafted gourmet foods and custom kitchenware for the discerning epicurean. She is a rare breed of both culinary artisan and successful entrepreneur. Born at the hem of three generations of Puerto Rican cooks, their love of food and country made an early impression on Rosana.

Over the course of her career Chef Rosana has been featured in Tampa Magazine, South Tampa Magazine, Voyage Tampa, Tampa Bay Business Journal, winning 2015's Businesswoman of the Year - Hospitality, Tampa Bay Metro, Creative Loafing's Best of the Bay awards, Tampa Bay Times, Friends of the James Beard Foundation & Whiskey Tampa Foxtrot. Chef Rosana has also been the featured speaker for Tampa Bay Urban Land Institute, Creative Mornings St. Pete & Lean In - Buckhead chapter. In addition, Chef Rosana collaborates with Humanity Wine Co., & the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

More to come.
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