Cappys Pizza | Seminole Heights, FL

If you haven’t been to this gem, you are truly missing out. On top of the delicious NY and Chicago style pizzas, owner Scooter Gabel has made Tampa’s #1 pizza joint truly one-of-a-kind with an epic collection of vintage memorabilia. Cappys is located at 4910 N. Florida Avenue in Tampa.


Faedo Family Bakery | Seminole Heights, FL

The first time I went to Faedo Family Bakery (formerly Mauricio Faedo’s Bakery) was sometime in the early 1990’s while attending USF. I lived in Seminole Heights at the time, a few blocks away from the bakery, and fresh Cuban bread became a regular staple in my apartment. A single loaf was huge, inexpensive, and so darn delicious warmed and with a healthy spread of butter or pressed for toast in the morning. (Also, if I am being completely honest, fresh Cuban bread also made for a fantastic 2am snack after a late night of mulling about Ybor City.) I loved watching the bread makers work at supersonic speed while laughing and listening to music. I truly admire their craft and love of tradition and was so happy to revisit the bakery and capture what made me fall in the love with this place many years ago. Faedo’s is famous for a lot of reasons (the tradition of the palm fronds, for one), but I always remember their neon sign in the window which illuminated “HOT BREAD NOW” when they had just removed fresh loaves of Cuban bread from the ovens. I was thrilled to see the sign is still in the window.


Mother Kombucha | St. Petersburg, FL

I really enjoyed working with Tonya and Vic Donati of Mother Kombucha a few weeks ago. If you haven't sipped on a bottle of Mother Kombucha, I highly recommend you give them a whirl. They are available throughout the Tampa Bay area and beyond.

"Mother Kombucha brews small batch living kombucha hand crafted from fair trade organic teas, tisanes and natural flavors. Rich with probiotics, beneficial amino acids and antioxidants – our kombuchas make a delicious alternative to sugary sodas and juices. And because we believe that things that are good for you should also taste great – we create flavors that enhance and build upon the natural acidity and tartness of kombucha rather than trying to hide it. The result is crisp, effervescent and invigorating."


Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters – Atlanta, GA

Ren Doughty, the Outreach and Customer Support Coordinator for Batdorf & Bronson Atlanta, sent me a Facebook friend request sometime earlier this year after seeing some photos I took at  the last Team Hidi event. It sort of goes without saying, everyone associated with Team Hidi is no doubt someone with a good heart and someone I want to know. We have been "friends" ever since. 

Last week though, I had the pleasure of meeting Ren in person. Based on my status updates, he knew our family was back in Atlanta, escaping Tampa due to impending Hurricane Irma. He extended a kind offer of distraction – bring whoever you are with and come tour the roastery. I'm so happy we took him up on his offer.

My friend Rebecca and I were greeted by Ren who soon introduced us to CheFarmer, Matthew Raiford and Alchemist, Jovan Sage, fellow storm refugees from Brunswick, GA (Check out their farm and restaurant, Farmer and Larder). Ren took all of us through the Batdorf & Bronson training kitchen and roastery and swirled our heads with more coffee history and facts than most will ever have the privilege of learning from someone with such extensive coffee knowledge.

Did you know the average coffee tree produces an annual yield of 1-ish pounds of roasted coffee? So that pound of coffee you buy? Yep, one tree. Per year. Whaaaa?

Also, a peaberry. I had no freaking clue what a peaberry was. Google it. Mind blown.

Oh, and that coffee grinder in your kitchen? Unless it's a burr grinder, you may as well just toss it. 

And guess what. Did you know there is a proper coffee "slurp?" There is. And you will never, ever see a video of me doing this.

Ren kindly and proudly made us multiple cups of coffee, which were all amazing. I was a little embarrassed to mention it at the time, but my benign heart condition (aka: Supraventricular Tachycardia) had come out to play after all the caffeine intake. Nothing a pitcher of water didn't solve. 

I hope you enjoy these images and will consider placing an order with Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters. I can assure you, no one cares more about their product and customer satisfaction than they do. Except maybe Elvis. Look closely, he oversees every roast they send out.


Team Hidi 5.0 | Atlanta, GA

I had no idea when I offered to help photograph this event 5 years ago how emotionally invested I would become in this cause. As a result of being touched by just one sweet soul, Ryan Hidinger, I have in turn made countless new friends. This sea of people – these are people with beautiful hearts who are kind to their core, compassionate, and generous beyond words. Every year at Team Hidi I connect with old and new friends, share hugs, cry a little, and try to capture the emotion in the room which I feel blessed to have experienced five times now. It's truly a sight, ya'll. In light of all that is going on in the world, Team Hidi takes it all away, even if just for a day. So honored to be a part of something so magnificent.

Staplehouse | Atlanta, GA

As a longtime supporter of Team Hidi and The Giving Kitchen, I could not have been more excited and humbled to attend a Guest Chef Dinner at Staplehouse last Friday night (queue Katy Perry). It was such an honor to be under this roof and share an amazing six-course meal prepared by some of Atlanta's most dedicated and talented chefs and served by a knowledgable and friendly waitstaff. Even the valet was beaming ear to ear on our way out.

I know Ryan has a big 'ole proud smile on his face as his shared dream takes off on the wings of a thousand paper cranes. 

PS: Hugh, if I'm lucky enough for you to even glance at this…thanks for the selfie. 

[Guest Chefs: Josh Hopkins and Richard Neal.]

Local Three

I love a good behind-the-scenes look into a hustlin' and bustlin' kitchen. The heat from the ovens, the heavenly smells, the lively staff, all working together to present their guests with outstanding service and fresh flavors. This is Local Three. One of my favorite restaurants in Atlanta and I'm honored to share a glimpse into their weekday lunch service. 

Most Memorable Meal of 2014 | Atlanta Chefs Spill It

What was your most memorable food experience of 2014? That's a tough question, right? It is for me anyway. Here in Atlanta, we have access to some of the most amazing chefs and restaurants in the country, with influences from all around the world. Whatever you are craving, you will find it here, somewhere. But the most memorable dish from everything I had the pleasure of tasting this past year? How will I ever choose?!

Chef Kevin Gillespie's "Closed-on-Sunday" chicken sandwich (his heavenly version of the classic Chick-fil-A sandwich) sure did strike my fancy. Or was it the whole roasted fish with olives I devoured at St. Cecilia? (All that remained was a perfectly picked fish skeleton.) Ooooh, and that fried shrimp Po-Boy, dripping with fresh remoulade and crispy pickles from The Crawfish Shack was pretty spectacular, too. And you, Kimball House, I am in love with everything you stand for. Your fresh oyster selection and cocktails are superior and my time with you was certainly memorable. Alas, none of these made the cut for my most memorable dish. But, more on this in a bit.

I thought it'd be fun to ask a few local chefs and foodies I admire to answer this same question. Let's see if they had as hard of a time as I did, shall we? 

Ben Portman, Founder and Executive Chef at PorKman's Table 

"The most memorable thing I've eaten this year was a line-caught Mahi Mahi we caught while on a boat in Costa Rica. We grilled it on the boat with mangos picked that day, a simple salsa, and of course, some Lizano sauce. Super fresh and simple always wins."

Jen Hidinger, Spokesperson for The Giving Kitchen

"My most memorable dish this year was at BoccaLupo. I was sitting at the bar by myself on a Friday night and ordered the large Penne with fresh corn, summer tomato, and fresh veggies. I literally didn't look away from the bowl until it was gone. Something about being alone and in deep thought about what I was eating, and the fact that it was so damn good, kept me very happy."     –Photo courtesy of Catrina Maxwell of CatMax Photography.


Guy Wong, Chef and Owner of Miso Izakaya and the highly anticipated, Le Fat

"I have been lucky enough to visit many great food cities this year. Chicago, NYC, Nashville, and many more. I've had many memorable dishes there. But Atlanta is home. No food city compares. And home is where the heart, or good food always is. Every dish I eat in Atlanta is memorable to me. But one that stands out this year was Beef Rolls. There's a new Taiwanese place that my best friend always takes me to eat. It's called TJ House. Their Beef Rolls are amazing. You get this thin, crispy onion pancake roll filled with slices of tasty beef, pickles, cilantro and kimchi slaw. It has crunch and texture and flavors of sweet, salty, spicy, vinegary and savory. Simply delicious!"

Asha Gomez, Chef and Owner of The Third Space and Spice To Table

"I'm kinda known for my fried chicken and I have eaten some of the best. There's something so appealing about taking a bird, brining it, drenching it in flour, and frying it. There's a primal universality to it. Karl Worley of the Biscuit Love food truck in Nashville makes the most amazing fried chicken. It's one of the top five best dishes I have ever eaten. Incredibly crisp, brined to perfection with a flawlessly balanced blend of's crave-worthy and to me the holy grail of fried chicken. Get in your car or grab a flight and get yourself to may find me there enjoying some "hot chicken" bliss."

Now that we're all starving, let's just keep going with that theme. As I was saying, I had a hard time deciding what made my belly truly at peace this past year. After many casual meals, fine dining experiences, and Buford Highway stops, what really hit my core was a delicious and comforting cassoulet made by my great friend, Rebecca. Rebecca is an ah-mazing cook, so it's no surprise she whipped up something so memorable. And as you may have expected, I'm going to tell you how she made it. In fact, I may or may not have asked her to make it again just for this blog post.  

Now, this is no Fancy–Pants–I–Flew–to–France cassoulet, but Rebecca certainly strives for perfection here with authentic methods and ingredients. But let's get real here, people. Ain't nobody got time to make homemade duck confit. Rebecca may swap out a few things here and there, but no real meat lover could walk away from this bowl of heaven.

Before we get to the recipe, just look at all this gorgeous meat. Nomnomnom. You already know this dish is going to pack some serious flavor.

Here's some other stuff you'll need. Now I'm not going to go all Pioneer Woman on you and show you 32 images. Like I said earlier. Ain't nobody got time for that.  

Here is Rebecca chopping onions and carrots. You know, in case no one knows what chopped up veggies look like. Wow, look at those knife skills. Wait, are you left-handed, Rebecca?

Hey, Santa, in case you're reading this, I'd like one of those giant Dutch ovens. Also in blue, please. 

Okay, let's get started. Now this may say "quick," but you're still going to need a little time for this one. Plan ahead, grab a good friend (and maybe a glass of wine), and give this one a try. 

Rebecca's "Quick" Cassoulet

Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook time: 3 hours
Servings: 6-8 


1.5 pounds pancetta, whole
2 ham hocks
1 lb spicy pork sausage in casings, cut into thirds
2 lbs boneless pork spare ribs, cut into one inch pieces
4 duck leg quarters
7 ounces duck fat, at room temperature (Rebecca found this at The Fresh Market)
12 ounces can of whole plum tomatoes
1 pound dried cannellini beans
2 large carrots, diced
2 yellow onions, diced
15-20 garlic cloves, smashed
16 ounces enriched chicken stock
1.5 cup dry white wine
fresh thyme, 6 sprigs
fresh oregano, small handful
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4-6 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste


1. Soak beans overnight. Drain.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large cast iron Dutch Oven (or large heavy-bottomed pot) over medium high heat. Once the oil is heated, add half of the chopped onion, half of the smashed garlic, and half of the diced carrots. Sauté until soft, about 8-10 minutes.

3. Add drained beans, ham hock, and pancetta to the pot with the vegetables. Add 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Barely cover pot contents with warm water. Cover with lid, leaving a little room for some steam to escape. Simmer 1 to 1.5 hours or until beans are soft.

4. After the beans are soft, let cool slightly and drain entire pot into a fine mesh colander. Remove the hunk of pancetta and ham hocks, and dice the meaty portions, omitting as much fat as possible. Reserve ham bones.

5. In the same pot used to for the beans, heat 2 more tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Add diced pancetta and sauté until lightly browned. Remove pancetta pieces with a slotted spoon and transfer to large plate. Lightly sprinkle pork shoulder pieces with salt and pepper and add to hot pan. Brown all sides of pork, then transfer to plate. Lightly salt and pepper duck quarters, browning all sides, then transfer to plate. Lastly, brown sausages and remove from pan. (It may be necessary to add a little more olive oil when browning meats). 

6. Heat oven to 300 degrees. 

7. Add a smidge more olive oil to the pot used to brown the meat, heating over medium high heat. Sauté the remaining onion, garlic and carrots until soft. Add tomato paste and stir for two minutes. Add white wine and reduce by half, scraping brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add tomatoes and their juices, breaking the tomatoes apart with the back of a spoon. Add all of the meats, beans, chicken stock, duck fat, and remaining vegetables, layering as you go. Toss in bay leaves, 3-4 sprigs of thyme, and a small handful of fresh oregano (no need to chop.) Return the ham bones to the pot and give it all a stir.

8. Cover and cook in 300 degree oven for 2-3 hours until meat is falling apart. Check halfway through cooking, adding more chicken stock if needed. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Pull the duck meat from its bones and return meat to pot. Discard bones, ham hocks, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs before serving.

Garnish with remaining thyme leaves. Serve with a light salad and crusty bread. #happybelly