Tampa's Refinery staff trading places for charity

click to enlarge Tampa's Refinery staff trading places for charity - The Refinery
The Refinery
Tampa's Refinery staff trading places for charity

click to enlarge Tampa's Refinery staff trading places for charity - The Refinery
The Refinery
Tampa's Refinery staff trading places for charity
  • The Refinery

Last year, The Refinery's dream team of Greg and Michelle Baker were trying to come up with a charity event to host at the Seminole Heights eatery.

"Eric McHugh [Refinery's chef de cuisine] said you guys all cook the food and we will serve everything," Michelle told CL last week. "He was just kidding but we were like, we're totally doing this."

And Trading Places, an annual charity dinner at the Refinery, was born. Chef Greg Baker and his kitchen staff will take over the dining room while wife/manager Michelle Baker and the front of house take over cooking on Wed., Dec. 18. Michelle laughs remembering last year's inaugural event. How often does a James Beard nominated chef wait tables?

"We, in the kitchen, killed it and our food came out fast and tasty," she said. "But Greg and the staff tanked. They were running around like chickens with their head's cut off. The kitchen guys are used to going to Greg for every answer. They would walk up and ask him a question right when he was taking an order. But everyone got tasty food."

click to enlarge Rebecca Krassnoski with her pigs at the Nature Delivered Farm in Bushnell. - Alex Quesada
Alex Quesada
Rebecca Krassnoski with her pigs at the Nature Delivered Farm in Bushnell.
  • Alex Quesada
  • Rebecca Krassnoski with her pigs at the Nature Delivered Farm in Bushnell.

Being a charity dinner, the overall effect made for a highly entertaining night.

"People thought it was hilarious. These guys thought it would be so easy serving tables," Baker said. "This year the kitchen is very confident they will make us look bad."

Michelle and the front of house staff design the menu ahead of time, prep all the food, and take over various cooking stations. "We know it won't be flawless, but it will be fun," she said.

For their second annual Trading Places menu, it's all about Southern goodness. Panfried smothered pork chops, fried green tomatoes, lemon sour cream cake and shrimp and grits.

"Everyone we know loves Southern food," Baker said. "And the point is to get you to spend money."

Nature Delivered Farm is this year's recipient. The locally owned pig farm, run by Rebecca Krassnoski out of Bushnell, wants to expand from 20 acres to 200 acres. The farm would be the sole supply for the Refinery's new restaurant Fodder & Shine. To do that, Kressnoski needs funds to get proper equipment to continue raising Duroc-sired pigs on pasture land.

"She just moved her farm and needs better fencing so the pigs can roam the forests of the farm," Baker said. "We choose her because of who she is and how she runs her farm. She's just awesome."

The Refinery's Trading Places dinner, Wed., Dec. 18, 5-9 p.m., 5137 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, 813-237-2000. All proceeds benefit the Nature Delivered Farm.

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