New chefs named at local eateries as another competes internationally

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes and other good news hit the Tampa Bay chef scene.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes and other good news have recently hit the Tampa Bay chef scene.

Before celebrating its second anniversary in August, South Tampa's Roux announced it had welcomed a new executive chef, James Williams. Around this time last year, the Cajun-meets-Creole nouvelle restaurant hired Williams's predecessor, seasoned Louisiana chef and restaurateur Bonnie Breaux, who's now acting as "chef at large" for Roux, "delivering authentic inspiration via I-10 from her hometown of Lafayette to Tampa on a regular basis."

Williams, a Winter Haven native, got his start shucking oysters for a Walt Disney World property and has cooked in the kitchens of NOLA-based Commander's Palace, Bourbon House and the San Antonio steakhouse Bohanan's. At Roux, he'll continue to serve up the restaurant's New Orleans flavors in Floridian fashion.

click to enlarge Edward Steinhoff, the new executive chef for the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. - Straz Center for the Performing Arts
Straz Center for the Performing Arts
Edward Steinhoff, the new executive chef for the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.

An executive chef was also newly appointed further north. As of Friday, downtown Tampa's Straz Center for the Performing Arts has brought on Edward Steinhoff to fill the position.

Steinhoff's culinary experience includes executive chef roles at Temple Terrace Golf & Country Club and Hunters Green Country Club in Tampa, as well as a six-year stint at Wesley Chapel's Saddlebrook Resort. The chef will develop menus for the Straz's four eateries (Maestro's Restaurant, Maestro's Café, Maestro's on the River and Steam Heat), plus corporate and social clients with catering needs, and oversee the kitchen's operations.

And earlier this month, Rococo Steak executive chef Matthew Rainey was promoted to corporate executive chef for Caledon Concepts. The boutique Tampa restaurant group owns Ceviche South Tampa, St. Pete and Orlando in addition to downtown St. Pete's Rococo.

Rainey, who uses flavors from his French cooking background and simple, fresh ingredients to define his style, will manage culinary operations for the restaurant group's four dining spots and future projects. Originally from Atlanta, the chef has worked at Poste Moderne Brasserie in D.C. and Atlanta's Bistro Niko Chops Lobster Bar and Pano's & Paul's. Rainey was voted Best New Chef by Jezebel magazine in 2014 during his time at STK Atlanta as well.

In a statement, Caledon Concepts President Lee Karlins said Rainey's refreshed Ceviche menu, launched at the Tampa location Aug. 24 alongside the restaurant's spruced up look, will reignite the brand.

"I am pleased to announce Matthew as our Corporate Executive Chef. His culinary talent will bring a renewed energy and enthusiasm to all of our brands," Karlins said.

Amidst all the shuffling, another local kitchen maestro, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino executive pastry chef Stephan Schubert, is gearing up to rep the region on a global stage. Schubert will travel to Thessaloniki, Greece, to compete in the Global Pastry Chefs Challenge on Sept. 27, which has him facing off against some of the world's best chefs.

New to Tampa's Seminole Hard Rock, the 25-year pastry business veteran has experience working at highly rated hotels and restaurants in Germany, Greece and Switzerland, along with companies like Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas and the Naples Ritz-Carlton. Schubert, who is originally from Germany and won the 2014 American Culinary Federation Chef of the Year Award, served as the regional executive pastry chef for Pinnacle Entertainment properties in St. Louis before joining Seminole Hard Rock.

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