ExTravelganza

Be part of the 26th Annual ExTravelganza.

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. Mingle from serving to serving as you peruse the Silent Auction packages. Enjoy!

Thank you to our 2018 Participating Chefs!


 

Brett GardinerExecutive Chef Brett Gardiner
Renaissance International

Gardiner began his career in his homeland of Honolulu, HI at the Kobe Japanese Steak House that opened in 1971. He developed his passion for the culinary arts while working at the family-owned business. His father, Rod Gardiner, is one of the founders of Kobe Japanese Steak House. Brett Gardiner next served as sous chef at Sarento’s at the Top of the Ilikai in Honolulu before moving to Scottsdale, Ariz. to attend the Scottsdale Culinary Institute Cordon Bleu.

Upon graduation, Gardiner became a “Master Cook” through the MGM School of Leadership while creating “French cuisine with Pacific flair” at Gatsby’s, the signature gourmet experience at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.He briefly returned to Hawaii in 1998 to serve as sous chef at the Kobe Japanese Steak House in Maui before moving cross-country to Dunedin, where he was executive chef at Six Tables, a 30-seat, continental French restaurant, before returning to the hotel industry and becoming the chef of Oystercatchers at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay.

Gardiner later founded Hapa, the award-winning restaurant formerly located in Oldsmar which he owned and operated with his wife, Nina Gardiner, who is also an accomplished chef and graduate of the Scottsdale Culinary Institute. Together, they created the concept for Hapa, a fine dining restaurant known for its fusion cuisine and use of locally sourced, fresh ingredients. Under the couple’s guidance, Restaurant Hapa received a Golden Spoon Award from Florida Trend Magazine and was recognized as one of the “Best of the Bay” restaurants by Tampa Bay Magazine from 2006 – 2010.

At Pelagia Trattoria, Executive Chef Gardiner continued to earn Golden Spoon honors annually along with recognition from Zagat and rankings that included it among the Tampa Bay area’s leading restaurants. Gabriella’s offers indoor and outdoor seating and is located on the lobby level of the Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel, 4200 Jim Walter Blvd., Tampa, FL.


 

Justin Harry PhotoExecutive Chef Justin Harry
TradeWinds Island Resorts, St. Pete Beach, Florida

Spending five years in his youth in Naples, Italy, Chef Justin Harry fell in love with food, experiencing farm to table dining at a restaurant near his home. With all his childhood friends back in the USA, Justin started hanging around the local kitchens, helping out the chefs.  Here he learned a deep respect for the freshest ingredients and has embraced an ongoing exploration of old world and modern cooking techniques.Spending five years in his youth in Naples, Italy, Chef Justin Harry fell in love with food, experiencing farm to table dining at a restaurant near his home. With all his childhood friends back in the USA, Justin started hanging around the local kitchens, helping out the chefs.  Here he learned a deep respect for the freshest ingredients and has embraced an ongoing exploration of old world and modern cooking techniques.

His career path took him to resorts in Florida, Texas and Utah.  He took special pleasure in preparing a meal for guests of their afternoon catch.  “The aroma of fish grilling on an open fire, just feet away from the waters in which it was caught, is an experience that is long remembered,” observes Chef Justin.

Now Executive Chef at TradeWinds Island Resorts in St. Pete Beach, Florida, Chef Justin oversees the multiple kitchens and culinary staff of 14 dining and entertainment venues including RumFish Grill at the Guy Harvey Outpost.


 

Chef Michael Yacht StarshipExecutive Chef Michael
Yacht StarShip

Chef Michael, Executive Chef at Yacht StarShip, has extensive experience in the world of culinary arts from around the country and brings his innovation and leadership on the water with Yacht StarShip.

Originally from Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Chef Michael served under Chef Daniel Wisel, former Executive Corporate Chef for Griffin Management in Boston. His apprenticeship lasted six years and his classrooms consisted of some of the finest restaurants in Boston, such as The Dover Sea Grille, The Dover Grille, Easy Street, Devon on the Common and Devon at the World Trade Center, all of which received “Best of Boston” awards in various categories.

His developed inquisitiveness brought him deeper into cultural multiplicity with an extended study of tropical and Asian cuisine in Maui, Hawaii. Chef Michael then returned to his native Boston, as Executive Chef of Arne’s Fine Seafood at the Copely and captured Boston Magazine’s, “Best Seafood” accolade. While enjoying the attention his recognition was creating, the island spirit remained in his heart through the long cold Boston winters. Wanting to expand his horizons, the offer to relocate to the shores of Southern Palm Beach, Florida was a welcomed opportunity. He served as Executive Chef of Jupiter Beach Resort, which features Sinclair’s Ocean Grill. Chef Michael then took a role with The Palm Beach County Convention Center and ARAMARK as their executive chef before moving to his current role in Tampa, FL.

In addition to his many awards, citations, and contributions, Chef Michael was certified by the Culinary Institute of America's Pro Chef program. Chef Russell and his team also received the "Best Presentation" and "People's Choice" awards at the 20th Annual United Cerebral Palsy's Great Chef's Tasting Competition. This added to the Florida Table Magazine's "Editor's Choice" award at the Taste of Delray event.

Chef Michael looks forward to the opportunity to serve you and your guests.


 

Clear SkyChef, Mark Van Schaik
Clear Sky Restaurant's & Catering

Mark Van Schaick is the Chef for Clear Sky on Cleveland. He also is responsible for catering and special events.

A native of Connecticut, Mark was raised in Tampa, attended Florida State University and graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1996. He has worked at Strip House restaurants in Houston, Palm Beach Gardens, Naples and Key West.

Prior to joining Strip House, he worked with Larry Forgione at Beekman Arms Tavern in Rhinebeck, NY and An American Place in Manhattan. He also worked at Monkey Bar, Clementine’s, and Eleven Madison Park. His specialties include using local ingredients as well as seafood that is indigenous to The Keys and West Coast of Florida.

His culinary talents have been highlighted on NBC-TV and at numerous events, including the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Taste of Collier, and gala fundraisers.


Chef John Harris

Chef John Harris
Rusty’s Bistro

Before arriving in Florida, Chef John refined his culinary skills in Utah under the expertise of Bernhard Gotz, a classically trained German chef, as well as other great chefs from around the world, including Charlie Trotter, Norman Van Aken and Mark Franz. Utah’s southwestern influence is apparent in Chef John’s flavorful Caribbean fare. Using only fresh, bold- flavored foods and seasonal ingredients from local markets, Chef John and his team create unique culinary sensations. His soups have become legendary with the locals, who often come in to sample a bowl of his latest soup delicacy.

Chef John and his talented staff were recently honored when Florida Trend Magazine gave Rusty’s Bistro its 7th consecutive Golden Spoon Award, recognizing the restaurant as one of the best in Florida. The Tampa Bay Times also recognized Rusty’s Bistro as one of the top 50 restaurants in the Tampa Bay region. So, whether you’ve got an intimate dining experience in mind, or a large convention meeting in the works, Chef John’s culinary creations at Rusty’s Bistro are sure to bring you back for more.


 

Chef Van ToChef Van To
Kobe Japanese Steakhouse

Van To is the Director of Operations for Kobe Japanese Steakhouse. He is responsible for Kobe's research & development and oversees all the training of Kobe's teppanyaki chefs. Having been with Kobe for over 30 years, Van has helped grow Kobe to 11 locations in the Orlando and Tampa market with the 12th location to open in January 2019 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Inspired by traditional Japanese teppanyaki cooking, Kobe specializes in delivering fun and flare to guests as they prepare each dinner right before their eyes.


 

Chef Sean RaganSean Ragan - Executive Sous Chef
Wynhdam Grand Clearwater Beach

Sean has an extensive background of fine dining restaurants in New York City and Long Island. Since his arrival in Florida Sean has been the Chef de Cuisine for Oystercatchers at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, where he earned high accolades for Tampa Bay’s Best Brunch and Best Seafood Restaurant awards. Sean also held the position of Executive Sous Chef at the well known Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club heading their annual PGA Tournaments and special event functions. Most recently Sean spent five years as the Executive Sous Chef with the prestigious Sandpearl Resort where he reimagined their signature restaurant, Caretta on the Gulf. His well received cuisine continued to hold its honor of 4 Star 4 Diamond status year over year through his tenure. Sean has been an outstanding member of the prestigious Chaine Des Rotisseurs and has been a long standing member of the ACF. Sean received his Culinary Degree with honors from Johnson & Wales University from Providence, Rhode Island.


 

Chef DelburnChef Jon Delburn
BJ Restaurant and Brewhouse

Jon started his career at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Mobile, AL as a Sous Chef in 2008. Jon worked there for over 5 years, opening two restaurants during his time. Jon, joined BJ’s Brewhouse in Tallahassee, FL in 2013. Shortly after, Jon moved to Orlando to open the Oviedo location, where he was promoted to Executive Kitchen Manager. He went on to open locations in Pensacola, FL and Mobile, AL. Jon currently works in Tampa Bay Area as an Executive Kitchen Market Manager.


 

Chef Joe BejosChef Joe Bejos
23 Restaurant Services

•  Corp Chef and Director of Culinary for all 23 Restaurant Services brands (15 months)
•  Director of Kitchen Operations for BJ’s Brewhouse (11yrs)
•  Chef/Owner Chiles Y Acitron in Puerto Vallarta Mexico (2yrs)
•  Executive Kitchen Manager for Cheesecake Factory - San Diego, San Francisco, and Honolulu (9yrs)
•  Proud Father

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