Finally, there's a Tampa Bay dinner series driven by female chefs

Rooster & the Till's meeting of the culinary minds returns next month.

click to enlarge Rooster & the Till chef/co-owner Ferrell Alvarez preps for an installment of last year's Dinner Series. - Skyler June
Skyler June
Rooster & the Till chef/co-owner Ferrell Alvarez preps for an installment of last year's Dinner Series.

Regionites won’t need to take a cross-country road trip this summer to grub on adventurous, one-off meals. That’s because some of the most exciting female chefs around are bringing their eats to Tampa starting next month (and every month thereafter through October), when the annual Dinner Series returns to Rooster & the Till.

The five-part series of 40-seat dinners showcasing a minimum of six courses collaboratively executed with R&tT chef/co-owner Ferrell Alvarez and company at their Seminole Heights home base has curated another bill of visiting kitchen wizards who are eager to share their distinct cooking styles and personalities with the region’s food-obsessed residents.

This year, that bill features four chefs who’ve scored semifinalist and finalist nods from the James Beard Foundation Awards over the years: Brittanny Anderson of Richmond, Virginia, presents the first Dinner Series spread on June 24 — followed by St. Petersburg’s Lauren Macellaro on July 29, New Orleans’s Kelly Fields on Aug. 19, and Asheville, North Carolina’s Katie Button on Oct. 28. The fifth chef — Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins of San Diego, a standout during season 15 of Top Chef — also does her thing on Sept. 30.

“I’m hyped to meld minds and come up with menus that Bay area diners would usually have to hop on a plane to experience,” according to a statement from Alvarez, who has cooked with Anderson, Macellaro and Zepeda-Wilkins in the past and met Fields and Button through mutual friends.

Each course is paired with a wine picked by R&tT co-owner Ty Rodriguez. He wants the selections he makes on the beverage end to be as bold as the dishes.

“Playing it safe isn’t much fun, so I plan to tweak some of the rules that the wine world has told us are safe and secure,” said Rodriguez. “If the chefs are doing it with food, then why can't we do the same with wine?”

A one-hour cocktail reception with the featured guest chef also precedes every meal in The Dinner Series — a concept Alvarez and Rodriguez tested two years ago with pals, including Edouardo Jordan, who took home Best New Restaurant and Best Chef: Northwest from the 2018 JBF Awards.

Last year we were fortunate to have cuisine and culinary approaches that were wildly diverse, and this new lineup is us getting lucky again,” Alvarez said.

To start, a $900 season pass to all five feasts is available for purchase online (whoa, baby). R&tT plans to sell individual tickets for $200 once availability has been assessed.

“I’ve been lucky to have mentors of all genders in my career, so inequality wasn’t always smack dab in my face, but then the global conversation about inclusion and exclusion opened up. The opportunity to indirectly have some [of] that discourse in our space is a blessing,” said Alvarez. “Food tells a story and gives both chefs and diners a chance to grow into better people with every plate. Someone’s gender or nationality should only enhance those stories — not inhibit them.”

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