Ella's version of Cheese & Crackers

So much food, so little time.

That was our sentiment Sunday as we mixed and mingled at the Fourth Annual Iron Chef Tampa Bay Challenge benefiting All Children’s Hospital. In the competition, local celebrities, chefs and entrepreneurs put on their thinking toques to create dishes that incorporated their “secret ingredient”  while attendees voted for their favorite dishes, took in live music and bid on silent auction items.

So how did they fare?

In the “professional” division, Carrollwood’s The Toasted Pheasant Bistro’s “Tipsy crew” created melt in your mouth phyllo-wrapped mushroom and boursin cheese bites while Seminole Heights’ Ella’s Americana Folk Art Café wowed the crowd with their version of “cheese & crackers”—which was so much more involved than any old cheese wiz and triskets, featuring some of Ella’s handmade cheese mixed with lavender, topped with smoked paprika and a little bit of jam on the side.

If it’s too hot, get out of the kitchen! Tammy Levent, Roy Naccour and Brandi Kamenar prepping their Shrimp Saganaki for the masses.

Vine Restaurant and Wine Bar’s Watermelon Goat Cheese Napoleon, topped with a perfect little bacon crisp, was also a highlight.

Meanwhile, the Elite Chef’s team (Tammy Levent, Roy Naccour, Brandi Kamenar and Gayle Guyardo) went Greek, serving up a succulent and spicy  Shrimp Saganaki with Yiayia’s Rice Pilaf that was a crowd favorite in the “amateur” division as was Lenny Cacioppo of Rooms to Go’s homemade sausage and ravioli with an “uncooked” tomato sauce.

Event goers had the opportunity to wash all these delectables down with an extensive beer selection supplied by Pepin Distributers (we loved the Bluepoint Blueberry Ale), Martinis and Bloody Marys featuring 360 Vodka, and wine supplied by Southern Wine and Spirits.

Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe on Urbanspoon

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