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Chef Rich Mathis of Firestick Grill showcases skills, goes all in for charity too

by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning
As the Tampa Bay Lightning kicked off a three-game road trip Monday night, Chef Rich Mathis of the Firestick Grill at the Tampa Bay Times Forum was just as busy heating things up off the ice.

Mathis joined 11 other renowned chefs from around the Bay Area at A La Carte Pavilion in Tampa to attend the third annual Top Chef Of The Year Tampa Bay, a yearly awards ceremony and live auction event that recognizes prominent culinary artists in the limelight and raises much-needed funds for a charitable cause. By the end of the night, Mathis brought home two awards, including “Top Chef Of The Year Tampa Bay” and “Best Table Décor.” “It was quite an honor, and being that it benefited a good cause made it more special,” Mathis said. “It was a great opportunity for me to represent the Firestick Grill, and to introduce all those in attendance to many of the specialty plates that are prepared at the restaurant. Judging by the results, I think it’s safe to say the audience enjoyed what I had to offer, so hopefully they’ll come back for more before an event at the arena.”

Presented by Publix Supermarkets Charities, the event benefited the Child Abuse Council, which works to build stronger families in the Tampa Bay region through child abuse prevention and family education programs.

Beginning promptly at 6 p.m., all participating chefs were invited to bring their own ambiance and excellence to the area's elite for an evening of very fine dining. Each chef was responsible for designing their own menu and for preparing a five-course meal with accompanying wine for a table of twelve people. Chefs then received points in attempt to claim one of three awards distributed on the night, including “Top Chef Of The Year Tampa Bay,” “Top Philanthropic Chef Of The Year,” and “Best Table Décor.”

Mathis and his cuisine, paired with an appropriate presentation, nearly completed a straight sweep of the awards portion of the evening, as he brought home two of the three accolades on the night.

Utilizing many of the finely-crafted dishes akin to the menu at the Firestick Grill at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, Mathis brought a taste of Tampa Bay to the event.

Among the items prepared by Mathis throughout the evening were saffron poached Chilean sea bass, prosciutto and leek-wrapped terrine of veal, crispy confit of duck, Kobe beef tenderloin, braised lamb shank, a variety of salads and crème brulee for dessert.

The delicacies, however, were not to be marveled at solely by those in attendance on Monday night.

Guests of the Times Forum can actually experience many of the same entrees and more at the Firestick Grill themselves when they attend events at the arena.

The restaurant opened in the fall of 2011 and was included as one of the integral pillars outlined in Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment controller Jeff Vinik’s $40 million summer renovation project. With an enhanced dining area and ambiance with open fire action stations, menu items indigenous to the Tampa Bay area and world class service levels, Firestick Grill aims to meet all of its guests’ premier dining needs.

To make a reservation to experience first-class dining at Firestick Grill, individuals are encouraged to click here and visit the website.

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