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Michelle Stark, Times Food Editor

Michelle Stark

Michelle Stark is the Food Editor for the Tampa Bay Times, overseeing the food content online and in print, including cooking and restaurants. She also manages social media accounts for the Entertainment department, including food. Previously, she was part of the Things to Do crew and co-host of Play Tampa Bay. She has designed and edited the Times' daily entertainment page, and wrote weekly about television at The Feed blog. Stark joined the Times after graduating from the University of South Florida in 2010 with degrees in mass communications and international relations.

Phone: (727) 893-8829

Email: mstark@tampabay.com

Twitter: @MStark17

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  1. From the food editor: I love that food is a huge part of Master of None's transcendent second season

    Cooking

    Deep into a late-night binge of Master of None, Aziz Ansari's Netflix series that returned for its second season May 12, I realized I was laying as far back on my couch as possible, blanket clutched up to my chin, eyebrows permanently raised.

    I wasn't scared in an oh-no-the-killer-is-right-there way. I was giddy.

    Ansari's show, in which he stars as the lead character as well as writes and directs along with co-creator Alan Yang, feels like essential viewing for the modern human, a meditation on the things in life that make us feel, and feel a lot: friendship, travel, success, love....

    The Thanksgiving episode of "Master of None."
  2. Three 'MasterChef' contestants from the Tampa Bay area talk cooking inspiration and more

    Cooking

    When Gordon Ramsay's MasterChef begins its eighth season tonight, the Tampa Bay area will have three contestants to root for. A marketing director from Tampa, a dentist and Palm Harbor native, and an employee for a steel supply company are all trying to impress a trio of judges with their home-cooking skills.

    Ramsay's show is all about the home cook. These people are not professional chefs; you'll find those over on Bravo's Top Chef. Instead, contestants often have other, unrelated jobs that they balance with their passion for kitchen creativity. It's often like that in our own lives, reality show or not. ...

    Jeff Philbin in MasterChef. (Photo courtesy of Fox)
  3. From the food editor: Up your sauce game with these simple recipes

    Cooking

    Most food is incomplete without a sauce. At the very least, almost everything benefits from the addition of it, a creamy capper to your dish that has the miraculous ability to tie everything together.

    But sometimes, you don't have the energy or skills (or butter) to create a luscious pan sauce. That's where no-cook sauces come in to make your life better.

    I realized how deep my love for a good no-cook sauce goes recently when I was heating up some leftover falafel. Chickpea falafel? Yum. Chunk of feta cheese? Exquisite. Bed of mixed greens and herbs? Fresh as anything....

    Tzatziki sauce is easy to make at home. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  4. Got corn? How to use up the season's bounty

    Cooking

    Corn takes a lot of flack.

    There's all the confusion about its identity, whether it's a grain or a vegetable. The fuss over whether it's nutritionally beneficial. The fact that it's not easy to digest. And don't get me started on high-fructose corn syrup, one of the most maligned ingredients of our time.

    But as we revel in the summer corn season, we're sticking to one basic fact above the rest: Corn is delicious. ...

    For Charred Corn Tostadas, corn tortillas are heaped with beans, onion, tomatoes, japaleno and fresh corn.
  5. Video: How to make tzatziki sauce

    Cooking

    Tzatziki sauce is a yogurt-cucumber condiment that makes a variety of dishes way better than they already are: falafel, chicken, most vegetables, anything involving a pita. It's simple to make, and really benefits from some common but specific ingredients.

     ...

  6. From the food editor: Zucchini provides the base for a light summer meal

    Cooking

    Where do you find inspiration in the kitchen? It's a question I've been asking myself lately, in an effort to become more creative with my meals in the weeks ahead.

    We're heading into one of the most ho-hum times of the year for cooking. From about September to December, we're in holiday cooking mode. Even though we don't get seasonally appropriate temperatures in Florida, things feel cozier, more festive. January and February bring challenges of trying to eat healthier and cook meals that can help counteract the gluttony of the previous months. March and April offer a bit of spring. ...

    Zucchini with Hazelnuts and Goat Cheese. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor
  7. Bitters: What exactly they are, and how to use them in cocktails and more

    Bars & Spirits

    Think of bitters like the spice rack of the cocktail world.

    That's the first thing Hunter Bryant, bar manager at Haven in Tampa, tells me when I sidle up to the restaurant's bar on a recent weekday for a Bitters 101 lesson. It instantly helps me understand the allure of the alcoholic extracts.

    Like most people, I was familiar with bitters, those mysterious dark dashes of potent liquid gingerly administered to a cocktail, but never too sure what function they served. I've seen Angostura and Peychaud's, two popular national bitters brands, in the liquor store, always intimated to bring them home. Up until a couple of years ago, I only regularly encountered them in something like an Old Fashioned, a classic drink made up of a spirit (usually bourbon or whiskey), water, sugar and bitters. ...

    Campfire Story at Story Brooke Craft Coffee Bar in St. Petersburg blends sweetened condensed milk with house-made vanilla syrup, chocolate bitters and coffee.
  8. Video: How to make Rosemary Spiced Nuts

    Cooking

    These are an ideal snack if you're craving something salty and flavorful but still want to err on the side of healthy. They also work really well as bar snacks, so stock up your mixers and have these ready for your next home happy hour.

    Rosemary Spiced Nuts

    3 cups mixed raw nuts such as pecans, walnuts and peanuts

    2 tablespoons water

    2 tablespoons maple syrup...

    Michelle Stark
Rosemary Spiced Nuts
  9. Recipes and tips for celebrating Mom on Mother's Day

    Cooking

    This Mother's Day, food is likely to be a major part of the celebration. But before you honor Mom by making her sit down to a two-hour brunch at a fancy restaurant, or keeping her in her bed while you bring in breakfast dish after breakfast dish, talk to her.

    It's her day, right?

    We've come up with three recipes to keep in your Mother's Day arsenal and deploy based on how much time Mom actually wants to spend celebrating herself....

    A nice lunch of Sauteed Shrimp With Arugula and Tomatoes will come together in just about 15 minutes. LARA CERRI   |   Times
  10. From the food editor: This Mother's Day, ask Mom what she wants

    Cooking

    This one's for you, moms.

    We are devoting much of this week's issue to Mother's Day, which is May 14.

    I don't know about you, but food is always top of mind when I begin planning anything celebratory. I think I get this from my mom, someone who, more often than not, knows what she's eating for dinner when she gets up in the morning. When it comes to birthdays, holidays or major food outings, what we are going to eat is always a priority. ...

    Looking for a sweet treat for Mom? Make her a batch of Lemon Bars.
(Photo by Associated Press)
  11. How to make Watermelon Lime Granita

    Cooking

    Granita is a must for summer, a simple recipe that can be endlessly adapted. The basic components are fruit (or some other flavorful product, like coffee), sugar, and a freezer. Granita can be eaten on its own as a light and low-calorie dessert, or atop fruit or even a cocktail for a bit of textural variety.

    ...

    Watermelon Lime Granita [Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor]
  12. From the food editor: I got groceries delivered to my house with Instacart

    Cooking

    I am not someone who likes to shop online. As Sex and the City's wise newspaper columnist Carrie Bradshaw once said, shopping is a form of cardio.

    I also just like going out, being around people, perusing the shelves, being swayed by a sale.

    But when I heard that a new grocery delivery service was going to be expanding further in the Tampa Bay area, part of me was very into the idea of not having to stop at the store on my way home. ...

    Instacart delivers from Publix and other stores in Tampa Bay and now the Sarasota area. Photo courtesy of Instacart.
  13. From the food editor: How to quick pickle red onions

    Cooking

    Like mom jeans and every TV show you loved 20 years ago, fermenting is an old (ancient, even) thing trending with a new generation.

    You'll learn all about how in this fermenting story, which identifies some major players in the local fermentation scene and breaks down the various techniques for preparing food in this way. ...

    Quick Pickled Red Onions. Photos by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  14. Review: Animal Kingdom's new restaurant Tiffins offers fine dining inside the theme park

    Food & Dining

    One of the newest restaurants out at Walt Disney World is also one of its most high-end. And unlike other fancy options like California Grill in the Contemporary Resort, this one is located inside a theme park.

    Tiffins, which opened about a year ago in the Discovery Island area of the Animal Kingdom park, sits right on the edge of what will become Avatar land on May 27. The name refers to an Indian word for a type of container used to carry food....

    Cocktails at Tiffins, a new restaurant at Animal Kingdom. Photo by Scott Watt, courtesy of Walt Disney World.
  15. From the food editor: How to make balsamic vinaigrette and creamy lemon salad dressing from scratch

    Cooking

    There are some foods you make from scratch at home that fail to live up to the versions of more experienced chefs or processed foods producers. I make a very decent homemade pizza crust, but it doesn't compare to one from a restaurant that cooks its pies in an 800-degree brick oven, or a frozen DiGiorno (just kidding, it's way better than that).

    I thought salad dressing would be one of those things. "How could I ever recreate the genius that is gloppy, white ranch from a bottle?" I have thought many times. Well, fellow dressing lovers, it can be done. ...

    Creamy lemon dressing made with mascarpone cheese, olive oil and mustard. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.