With so many celebrity chefs clamoring for our attention on the airwaves, it’s easy to forget that most chefs toil beyond the glare of the spotlight, especially when their kitchen is deep inside an enormous hotel. On June 14 at the luxurious Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, 11 up-and-coming chefs from Hyatt hotels across Florida and the Caribbean got their chance at a star turn during Hyatt’s inaugural Good Taste Series, a culinary competition designed to showcase young culinary talent within the company.
Relying heavily on local ingredients, each chef created three dishes — breakfast, lunch/dinner entree, and a kid’s meal — reflecting his hotel’s regional influences, to be judged by a panel of Tampa-area chefs and food writers. Orlando contestants Chef Eric McBride of Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress and Chef Raul Reveron of Hyatt Regency Orlando International showcased Central Florida’s bounty with aplomb. McBride topped pancakes (right) with macerated Florida peaches and drizzled them with Palm Ridge Reserve Whiskey syrup, and dressed a Palmetto Creek Farms porchetta (above) with cheddar grits and local mustard greens. Reveron used Lake Meadow Naturals eggs in a breakfast strata accompanied by Florida blueberry jam, and topped his seared filet of beef with pickled royal red shrimp.
Royal reds also also appeared with Cedar Creek clams and heart-of-palm “scallops” in a Florida Chowder (below) by Chef Noel Willhite from Hyatt Regency Coconut Point. Willhite took the day’s top honors and won a spot at the national competition on November 4, 2014 at the Andaz Wailea Maui.
Hyatt’s commitment to regional cuisine is evident in a special menu available during July and August at Hemingway’s at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. For a set price starting at $64 per couple ($89 per couple with wine pairings), the three-course menu designed by Executive Chef Kenneth Juran includes Florida favorites such as rock shrimp chowder with sweet corn, black fin snapper with coconut yucca cake, and a Key lime tart.