By Gary Nager

With better weather, the 2013 Taste of New TampaTM at Primrose Park (behind the Primrose School of Tampa Palms) could, should and probably would have been one of the best-attended Tastes in the event’s 20-year history. The New Tampa Chamber of Commerce’s signature one-day event had great food, a nice crowd estimated at about 2,000 people (including restaurants, sponsors and other vendors, entertainers and volunteers), incredible entertainment and the kind of vibe you only get when you know people are having a good time at an event you helped make successful.

The hard part is imagining how much better it could’ve been had the weather cooperated! The skies were so threatening and the winds were swirling all day, so much so that even the Chamber president Regina Ramalheira and her Board were keeping a close eye on a possible rainout and at least three restaurants who had agreed to participate simply didn’t show up because they thought for certain it would’ve been cancelled.

So, for those who braved the elements and helped the Chamber raise just a little bit of money for St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church (which is located in the same Tampa Palms Professional Center near Freedom High and Liberty Middle School and whose volunteers agreed to take on the after-event cleanup detail) and the Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel Foundation, I and the Chamber Board thank you.

Just to recap the 2013 Taste, the food was spectacular, despite the number of restaurants. Takara Sushi, this year’s Best in Show winner, served amazing sushi, Domini Bistro, the Best Entereth winner, featured an awesome duck confix, Whole Foods, my probable Best in Show winner (if I had a vote, loll), served multiple healthy enters and appetizers, including large shrimp cevine, couscous and more, PDQ had not only its great tenders, but also its variety of sauces, World of Beer & Toast served incredible wine & beer, respectively, and all of the dessert places, from Best Dessert winner Brustle Ice Cream to Betty Cakes to all three yogurt shops (one of which, CherryBerry, served its decadent Paradise chocolates) were outstanding.

The entertainment rocked, too. The stage itself, from Tampa Bay Sound & Production, was awesome and all four “Battle” bands did a great job. I had to agree that the fun & funky Nervous Energy (Band #3) deserved its $500 first prize. I missed the headliner, “Big Brother,” but I heard great things. All in all, a fantastic Taste kept from being even better by the weather.

To see more, check out our exclusive Taste video recap at NTNeighborhoodNews. com, produced by Milorian Studios in Wesley Chapel ( — GN

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