The excitement continues to escalate for the second-annual Tampa Bay Wine & Food Festival with the announcement of the chef duel matchups for Friday’s “Chef Showdown” , presented by Irvine Spirits, and the anticipation of the first-ever “Breaking Bread with Heroes” breakfast, both hosted by celebrity chef, Robert Irvine.


Recognized by Travel + Leisure in 2023 and 2024 as a top Tampa attraction, the Tampa Bay Wine & Food Festival, brought to you by Breakthru Beverage, exclusive wine and spirits provider of the festival, presented by GOYA FOODS, and hosted by Publix and the Hillsborough County commissioners, promises to captivate the city from April 9 to April 13, uniting eminent personalities and brands from Tampa’s food industry.


A pivotal event on Friday morning, “Breaking Bread with Heroes,” hosted by Robert Irvine and the Robert Irvine Foundation, emphasizes the festival’s charitable spirit by honoring our nation’s heroes. Robert will be bringing along his friend, Chef Geoffrey Zakarian, to join him for the morning’s meet and greet and breakfast event. “We’re immensely proud to host the premiere of Chef Irvine’s Tampa ‘Breaking Bread with Heroes’, an event that not only underscores our commitment to charitable causes but also pays tribute to our nation’s service members in a manner that truly celebrates their sacrifices and valor. It’s an honor to have chefs of the caliber of Robert Irvine leading this homage being joined this year by Geoffrey Zakarian for the festivities as well,“ says Valerie Roy, Director of Marketing and Client Strategy at CI Management, the organization behind the festival’s production.


This heartwarming prelude sets the stage for the evening’s highly anticipated “Chef Showdown,” where top regional chefs will compete in culinary excellence. Attendees can expect first-rate entertainment, with the “Chef Showdown” serving as a festival highlight, showcasing intense competitions among the area’s leading chefs on the evening of Friday, April 12. The chefs will take to the brand-new Publix Showcase Kitchen stage, backed by GOYA Foods and Mountain Valley Water.


This year’s participating restaurants and competition lineup will include the reigning champions from last year (listed first) versus their new competitors: 


  • Battle Burger: Chef Tyson Grant of Parkshore Grill vs Chef Jay Narvaez of Cru Cellars 
  • Battle Seafood: Chef Manuel Arevalo of Rusty Pelican vs Chef Jon Walker of The Tides Seafood Market
  • Battle Fried Chicken: Chef Joe Dodd of King of the Coop vs Chef Cheyanne Misurelli of Sugar Wing
  • Battle Tacos: Chef Christopher Yadid Garcia of Tacos Las Californias vs Chef Dernier Buleje of The Dan at Hotel Flor
  • Battle Truffle: Chef Matthew Zappoli of Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Tampa vs Chef Paul Morrison of Ponte
  • Battle Sushi: Chef David Reyes of Haiku vs Chef Mike Morales of Sunda New Asian
  • Battle Pasta: Chef Ricardo Nava vs Chef Anthony Pellicone of DeVito’s Italian Specialties


This year’s event will be hosted by celebrity guest and official “Chef Ref” of the evening, Chef Robert Irvine. Irvine, alongside Java Ingram from “Great Day Live,” will assist in crowning this year’s champion, supported by his latest venture, Irvine Spirits. Irvine’s Precision Distilled Vodka and Irvine’s American Dry Gin, distributed through Breakthru Beverage Florida, are “chef curated” spirits distilled in the U.S. at the award-winning Boardroom Spirits Distillery in Lansdale, PA, of which Chef Irvine is a part owner. Proceeds from the sale of every bottle of Irvine’s Spirits – and all of Chef Irvine’s products such as FitCrunch protein bars and Robert Irvine Foods – benefits the Robert Irvine Foundation which supports service members, veterans, first responders and their families.


For the Chef Showdown, the guests act as the judges for the night, receiving their official chef showdown poker chips upon arrival, and visiting each battle tent to sample each chef and vote on their favorites of the night. Throughout the night, the chefs will then take the Publix Showcase Kitchen stage to battle LIVE in front of a panel of esteemed judges who will help weigh in with their official votes. This year’s panel of judges includes: Chef Sean Brasel of Meat Market, Chef Ferrell Alvarez of Proper House Group, Chef Fernando Desa of GOYA, Shawna Wiggs of Tampa Magazine, and Commissioner Harry Cohen.


Friday is just one of five distinct festival days, making for an exciting week. The celebration commences on Tuesday, April 9, with an exclusive gathering, “An Evening at The Tampa Club,” reserved for invitees only. The excitement continues into the next evening with the debut of “Experience Water Street,” inviting ticketed guests to explore one of the city’s vibrant neighborhoods. This event features a four-course pairing dinner at sought-after dining spots in the thriving district, enhanced by special collaborations with celebrity chefs. On Thursday, attendees with tickets will have the opportunity to explore another selection of renowned dining destinations during “Experience Hyde Park,” highlighting Tampa’s Hyde Park district’s top culinary talents with multi-course pairing dinners. The festival’s grand finale on Saturday at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, known as the “Grand Tasting,” is set to be the culmination for festival-goers. This afternoon event is poised to offer an extraordinary array of delicious bites and refreshing beverages from the finest dining venues across Tampa Bay. With an impressive roster of both new and familiar faces, the festival is excited to present a diverse collection of culinary delights.


CI Management, renowned for orchestrating some of South Florida’s premier wine and food festivals, including the highly acclaimed South Beach Seafood Festival, is poised to spotlight Tampa Bay’s finest dining establishments and culinary innovators with a series of events dedicated to bolstering community projects aimed at nurturing the region’s emerging leaders.


The festival not only showcases the area’s exceptional culinary talents but also supports the CI Foundation’s EAT SMART initiative, a charitable 501(c)(3) organization focused on delivering nutritious meals and dietary education to the local populace and the youth of Florida. This is achieved through collaborations with local school systems and educational non-profits in the festival’s host communities. Since its inception, the EAT SMART program has successfully generated over $1 million in support of various non-profit organizations throughout South Florida, demonstrating a profound commitment to the well-being and future success of the community.


Second Annual Tampa Bay Wine & Food Festival Event Schedule



This exclusive, invite-only event sets the tone for the festival, offering a glimpse into the culinary delights to come with a beautiful evening overlooking all of downtown Tampa on the 42nd floor at the exclusive Tampa Club, a premier private business and social club set in the heart of Tampa.


Tickets: Invite Only.

Where: 42nd Floor of The Tampa Club



Boulon Brasserie, Predalina, Small Giant, and Rooster & The Till will showcase their unique culinary styles in this new addition to the festival, where celebrity chef collaboration dinners will be created with unique wine and spirits pairings and with various dinners presented by Meats by Linz. Prepare to celebrate the best of Water Street, a waterfront community in downtown Tampa, which is flanked by the ultimate in dining establishments.


Tickets: $225-$350

Where: Water Street



Featuring four celebrated establishments, Meat Market, RO Hyde Park, Bouzy and Sur La Table, this evening promises a diverse culinary exploration with an additional set of four and five course dinners and unique wine and spirits pairings set in the timeless allure of Hyde Park Village.


Tickets:  $135-$350

Where: Hyde Park Village



BREAKING BREAD WITH HEROES is a new event added to this year’s schedule, which will be an invite-only morning breakfast, where Chef Robert Irvine will host 200 veterans and first responders for an intimate meet and greet in partnership with The Robert Irvine Foundation and with the help of Chef Geoffrey Zakarian. This morning is proudly presented by Publix and Castaway Coffee.


Tickets: Invite Only.

Where: Tampa Museum of Art, 120 W Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa, FL


CHEF SHOWDOWN, brought to you by Irvine’s Spirits and presented by GOYA Foods and Mountain Valley Spring Water, is expected to be one for the books. Expect a level up of last year’s sold-out excitement, with reigning champions returning to defend their titles in seven different showdown battles, held on the all-new Publix Showcase Kitchen Stage. Battles will include: Truffle, Pasta, Burger, Seafood, Sushi, Taco, and everyone’s favorite, Fried Chicken. The full restaurant lineup is now LIVE!


Tickets: $150 or $225 Weekend Pass (Chef Showdown + Grand Tasting)

Where: Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, 600 N. Ashley Dr., Tampa, FL



The festival culminates in a grand tasting event at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, brought to you by Breakthru Beverage Florida and presented by GOYA Foods, with an all-new culinary demo stage sponsored by Publix, new lounge experiences, plenty of additional shaded areas, and live music acts. Get ready to enjoy 40+ restaurant partners across the Tampa Bay area; samplings from 40+ exclusive wine and spirits supplier partners of Breakthru Beverage Florida; and all the fun you can have. This day-long celebration will showcase the best of Tampa Bay’s culinary scene.


Tickets: $125 or $225 Weekend Pass (Chef Showdown + Grand Tasting)

Where: Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, 600 N. Ashley Dr., Tampa, FL



For more information and to purchase tickets to the inaugural Tampa Bay Food & Wine Festival, please visit tampabaywff.com. Follow along on Instagram at @tampabaywff and on Facebook at @tampabaywff.