Sun, sand and serious eats in St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Florida

The festival is Credit: Visit St. Pete/Clearwater
The Enjoy Arts & Tastes St. Pete festival is Nov. 15-17.
Credit: Visit St. Pete/Clearwater

You might think of New York, New Orleans or San Francisco as the ultimate must-experience cities for foodies in our nation. But one — make that two cities are beefing up their culinary presence, and people are taking notice.

From Nov. 15-17, star chefs including Todd English, Ming Tsai and Curtis Stone will descend upon St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Fla., for the first-ever Enjoy Arts & Tastes St. Pete festival celebrating food, wine and the arts. Gulf Coast seafood is naturally the specialty for the three-day party, but celeb and local chefs will play around with other native ingredients too, like strawberries, heirloom tomatoes and sweet corn. Events include cooking demos, a “senses immersion” dinner curated by six chef and artist duos, a late-night dessert jam, a best-burger contest and more.

Culinary offerings are at the heart of the fest, but they’re not everything. The weekend also includes a chance to peruse local galleries and museums, plus hit award-winning beaches (Florida’s No. 1 beach town, per USA Today readers, is Clearwater Beach). With 361 days of sunshine a year, your odds of getting a nice beach day are pretty good. And while you’re in the area, pop by Bright House Field in Clearwater to see where the Phillies do their spring training. The weather should be a balmy 77 or so degrees, so it should even feel like spring in November.

Food Network stars Donatella Arpaia and Ingrid Hoffmann will both host events this year. Arpaia, who’s leading Sunday’s burger contest, says the fest “is just what St. Pete needs to showcase the unique culinary and art scene that this city has to offer.” And Hoffmann, in charge of Saturday’s Latin-inspired walk-around tasting, says she is “thrilled about the resurgence of our wonderful Gulf seafood.”

Each individual event is ticketed, so you can mix and match which sessions appeal to you. Prices range from $50 for a cooking demo to $225 for the aforementioned Latin-inspired showcase. All of the proceeds benefit Florida ProStart, a nonprofit that prepares students for careers in the restaurant industry. Tickets are available at www.enjoyartsandtastes.com.



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