Tag Archives: Jocelyn Brenner

Loco Moco… Tales of an Epic Brunch Party

Food War Brunch Brunch Group
The Brunch Edition of the Food War / Food Throwdown Party took place last Sunday.  For those unfamiliar with the dinner party concept that my good friends Katina and Justin started, it’s basically an episode of Chopped meets Top Chef played out among friends and fellow foodies.  [READ HERE for the specific event details & rules.]  From these parties, I somehow managed to  earn a Simon Cowell reputation for my harsh honest critiques, and am constantly asked to put my money where my mouth is by entering a challenge and preparing a dish.   I have only entered one previous challenge where my Peanut Butter Chicken Chili tied for the top spot.  Truth be told, I will only enter any contest if I know that I will come out victorious on top, hence why I never participated in the homemade pasta and Moroccan challenges.

My friends Jaime and Jaden put so much work into hosting these parties at my dream their house, and creating such fabulous dishes, that it would only be fitting that I participate in this edition.  So the challenge was on: contestants must prepare a Brunch Dish, savory or sweet and not limited to specific ingredients, to be critiqued by all guests, but ultimately selected as the winning dish by chosen judges.  The cocktail challenge: to create the ultimate Bloody Mary, not limited to specific ingredients.  Being that I can barely properly pour a beer, I stuck with preparing a Brunch dish for the challenge.

I have a reputation with my friends and co-workers for not knowing how to cook, solely because I may dine out often.  Truth be told, I am a fine, young cannibal chef in the kitchen, and when I throw down, I throw it the @#$! down.   For my brunch dish, I knew that I wanted to create a hearty dish.  I also knew that I wanted to prepare something from Hawaii or Samoa that didn’t involve spam.  (And yes I can make that joke!)  Although, I may have lost this Food War, I am very proud of my dish and had quite the challenge with all of the wonderfully prepared and delicious dishes.  I am looking forward to DESTROYING Jaime and Jaden participating at the next challenge.

Sunday afternoons don’t get much better than spending it with old friends, new friends, enjoying delicious cocktails and homemade food.

 

Here were the brunch dishes entered at this Food War / Throwdown: 

Food War Brunch Dish 02

Jessica & Amber’s Dish:  Peruvian fish ceviche  made with lime, onions, spicy peppers, fresh cilantro, and served with a sweet potato round and toasted corn kernels

 

Food War Brunch Dish 03

Lauren’s Dish:  Homemade almond, raisin monkey bread  served with creme anglaise

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Food War Brunch Dish 01

Areis’s Dish:  Southwest stuffed breakfast pepper – stuffed with eggs, spinach, potatoes, pepper jack cheese, and topped off with black beans, pickled onion, pickled jalapenos, avocodo scallions, and sour cream

 

Food War Brunch Dish 04

The Best Dish in the Universe My Dish:   Hawaiian Loco Moco: coconut beef patty and brown tapioca gravy served over steamed jasmine rice, topped with a fried egg and bacon crumble

 

And of course for the WINNING DISH:

 

Food War Brunch Dish 05

Jaime & Jaden’s Dish:  Sweet potato hash, tossed in a spicy curry and sundried tomato sauce, topped with an olive oil poached egg, bacon crumble, and fresh herbs, and served with a gin, honey, simple syrup, ginger liqueur, fresh lemon juice topped with an IPA.

 

Food War Brunch Winners Judges Food War Brunch Winners

 

A HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Jaime and Jaden for not only winning the Brunch Challenge, but for also winning the Bloody Mary Challenge.  And yes… they won Trophies for their victory.  We foodies take these challenges very seriously!

A SPECIAL THANK YOU to Nicholas and Allison with NHIE Tampa Bay, who judged the Brunch Portion, and were amazing troopers for putting up with my bribery, harassment, extortion tactics  allowing me to call them un-American graciously being a part of this challenge.  Be sure to check out their amazing NHIE: Never Have I Ever – Tampa Edition BLOG online at:  www.nhietampabay.com

 

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Pride & Passion 2014: an avant garde wedding

Yet another Pride & Passion event gone by!

In its 8 years, the event has slowly transformed into a fashionable night out downtown to dress up and party.  This year’s theme was an avant garde wedding celebrating the union of art + community + diversity.  I decided to play with the theme, and turned the pimp factor level up a few notches when dressing as my interpretation of an avant garde groom.  And that’s one of the many things that I love about Pride & Passion: how one can be decked out in leather and fur with opera goggles in Florida during the summertime, and not one person bats an eyelash at the ridiculousness of it all.  Pride & Passion is a night to play dress up, and an evening to play with one’s Uncle Karl Lagerfeld André Leon Talley Okie Fierce alter ego.

However, the true importance of this event is the $75,000.00 net that was raised from just one evening for the Tampa Museum of Art, its exhibits and community programs.  As an avid supporter of the arts and of Tampa raising its profile, I applaud this year’s Chairs Kevin Reder and Rick Scherer, the Museum staff, and the Pride & Passion steering and host committee for a spectacular event.

P.S.  Next year, I plan to dress even more ridiculously!

Photos courtesy of Nicole Abbett, Owen Hunt Photography, Todd Montgomery and Nicholas Cardello.

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“I Can’t Keep Up” by Tourist featuring Will Heard:  There’s just something in the way that Will Heard sings SANGS this song that does something to my soul.  When the frenetic pace changes up at the 3:00 mark, the song becomes pure, unadulterated audio ecstasy.

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Festa Italiana Weekend 2014

Four days of food, wine, cocktails, bocce ball, and live entertainment.  Months upon months of planning, securing, scheduling, ordering and promoting.  Years upon years, 17 to be exact, of culture, heritage and tradition.

This year’s 17th Annual Festa Italiana (i.e. the Italian Food & Wine Festival) opened with the Wines of Italy tasting event and concluded with the main Festa Italiana event in Centennial Park.  Over 20,000 attendees flooded the historic Ybor City district in celebration of Italian culture, the Italian community and of course, wine and pasta!

18th Annual Festa Italiana Weekend
Save The Date:  April 9 to 12, 2015
www.festaitalianatampa.com

WOI 14 GroupWOI 14 DessertsFesta Italiana 14 BocceFesta Italian 14 VinoFesta Italiana 13 FoodFesta Italiana 14 Paul SalosClub Italia 14 GroupClub Italia 14 BarFesta Italiana 14 DitaFesta Italiana 14 IC

 

“Jerk Ribs” by Kelis: God Bless Kelis Rogers! Unhappy with ever becoming yet another one-hit wonder, or the girl who sang that “Milkshake” song, or even the ex-wife of Nas, she has consistently reinvented her sound and image to stay relevant with the current musical landscape.  She fully embraced dance music on 2010’s Flesh Tone album, and now reveals a new electro-soul sound with her recently released, concept FOOD album.

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The ROAR of a Perfect Party

How to throw a PERFECT PARTY

Jaime Bday14

My friend Jaime knows how to throw a party!  Every year, she selects a different theme for her birthday and transforms my dream house her house into her very own magically themed wonderland for the evening.  From the catering to the decor to the handcrafted cocktails to the glassware and tableware, everything is handled with detailed attention and an atmosphere of hype among her invited guests is created.

This year, Jaime chose the roaring 20s as the backdrop for her celebration.  All of her guests were clothed in their most stunning flapper and Jay Gatsby ensembles.  Cocktail connoisseur and genius Ro Patel concocted a handcrafted cocktail menu of muddled and shaken masterpieces.  And a stunning dessert bar was on display parading cake pops and bite-size creations that resembled featured accent decor from Z Gallerie.  “Should I eat this?… but this is too pretty to eat,” constantly ran through my head.

Jaime Bday14 Dessert 02

Every party that Jaime and Jaden host should be the blueprint for any EVERY party thrower in their mid-30s to follow.  Food, cocktails, friends, and a helluva lot of personality and heart with a splash of creme de violette.  It also doesn’t hurt to have various theme props around your house for your silly friends to snap even sillier photos with at the end of the night.

Happiest Birthday again to my friend Jaime!

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“Sleeping With A Friend” by Neon Trees: Press play if you want this song to stay stuck in your head for the rest of the weekend! Let’s all sing along…


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The Rooftop Eve 2014 – Cabaret en Rouge

FINALLY… a New Years that was epic!

NYE14 Rooftop

Year after year of either last-minute or zero New Years Eve plans, I actually had a fabulous gameplan to welcome 2014.  Jocelyn secured a private cabana at the sold-out Rooftop Eve party in Hyde Park Village, and invited a few friends to help her “drank” bottles of Grey Goose and Moët.  It had been nearly a decade since I rang in a brand spankin’ new year at such a massive event that I completely forgot how much fun they truly were.  I had slowly become one of  those social naysayers who branded New Years parties as amateur night when in truth, getting older had gotten the worst of me.   Being hangover-free in my 20s had escalated to weeklong hangovers in my 30s.  Afternoon naps were necessities and not perks.  Given my recent track record, I had pretty much reverted into being an amateur myself.   So who really cares?  Amateur night or not… get me out of the house and let it rain vodka!

Any event that transports me out of Tampa with its energy, decor and pizzazz is a must-attend event, and I gladly add The Rooftop Eve party to that list of local events.  Any individual seeking a posh, swanky and fun New Years Eve partay, add The Rooftop Eve party to YOUR calendar list.  It’s definitely worth every penny of the admission price.

THANK YOU Queen Jocelyn for the tickets.  Happy New Year everyone, may 2014 be in your favor.

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“Ready” by Elizabeth Rose…
Neil has christened this hyptonizing dance single from Australian DJ Elizabeth Rose as the winter anthem of 2013-2014.

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Bow Ties & Clutches 2013

BTC13 Okie Corina Jess Areis

Earlier this month, I attended the 2nd Annual Bow Ties & Clutches event at the Florida Museum of Photographic Art (FMOPA).  It was my first time attending the Best of the Bay Award-winning event (which required all guests to either sport a bow tie or clutch) and stepping foot inside the FMOPA downtown.  Bow Ties & Clutches, presented by a local fashion events and marketing company The Fashion Movement was an enjoyable evening of fashion, cocktails and mingling.  Proceeds from the event benefited the Friends of Joshua House Foundation, Inc., an organization that provides a safe haven for abused, abandoned and neglected children.

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For the fashion event, I channeled my inner Lexx Miyake-Mugler and went for a K.Pop boy band meets Rhythm Nation look.  And YES I sported a bow tie… conveniently pinned to my coat.

Bravo to The Fashion Movement for hosting a wonderful event that benefited such a valuable cause.

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“Drunk in Love” by Beyonce with Jay-Z: Despite her obvious Rihanna impersonation in the music video, I just cannot get enough of Mrs. Carter’s new single. In fact, I cannot get enough of BEYONCE, her surprise album and music video collection that was quietly released to iTunes last Friday without any announcement or promotion. Love her or hate her, you have to bow down to Bey’s marketing genius behind this album’s surprise release. She relied on word of mouth buzz to spread the word of her new album’s availability, gave fans no option but to purchase the ENTIRE album, ensured that her entire album was listened to by releasing an accompanying music video to every single track, and sold nearly a million copies in a mere three days.

In today’s social media era of creating gargantuan hype around a project with trending hashtags, teaser photos and videos, release date countdowns, and “surprise” album leaks, Beyonce’s risky gamble of no promotion paid off BIG TIME. BEYONCE: The Visual Album sold more in its first three days than the COMBINED first-week sales of superstar Miss Spears’ Britney Jean, Katy Perry’s heavily-hyped Prism and Lady Gaga’s overhyped ARTpop , proving that you don’t need a golden semi-truck, a helicopter dress, or numerous “personal” Twitter Q&As to sell quality music.

To you Beyonce Giselle Knowles-Carter, I gladly bow down.

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Ken Walters’ 16th Annual Celebrate Sinatra 2013 Gala

Celebrate Sinatra 2013

News broke last week that Ken Walters‘ 16th Annual Celebrate Sinatra gala would be moved from The RITZ Ybor to The Cuban Club due to The RITZ’s remodeling schedule.  After four years of being held at The RITZ, it was a welcome change to experience Celebrate Sinatra at a new location.  Every longstanding annual event faces difficulties staying fresh, and changing locations every now and then is one perfect solution of reinvention.  The Cuban Club is a historic events venue in the Ybor City district.  It had been years since I last attended an event at that venue, so I completely forgot how massive the space was.  The event fit perfectly with the new location, although air conditioning thermostats should be set to 70 degrees during the early morning set-up of an event especially when preparing for one that is black-tie suggested in the summertime.

Celebrate Sinatra is an annual summer tradition for me and Jocelyn.  We continually boast that the summer season belongs to Jokie because of the must-see events that take place starting with Pride & Passion at the Tampa Museum of Art, and continuing with Camp Jocelyn, the Ultimate Bands Series at The RITZ, Celebrate Sinatra and concluding with her bday festivities.  The Jokie moniker was actually conceived (while over several martinis) at a Celebrate Sinatra gala, so the event has sorta become our friendship anniversary and ode to our summer season together.

Cheers to summer never ending!


“Hot Summer” by Monrose…
the ULTIMATE, SUPREME, REIGNING song of summer!

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Camp Jocelyn 2013

Camp Jocelyn 2013 A

What the hell is Camp Jocelyn?  Camp Jocelyn is the annual summer weekend where Jocelyn kidnaps her best friend Michelle’s boys from Orlando: Sean (12), Max (10) and Jake (7).  The entire time is devoted to the weekend’s packed schedule filled with trips to amusement parks, movie theaters, museums, bowling alleys, arcades, and (only because it’s Jocelyn) Drag Shows.

This year was no different.  I was able to join the gang for their first time tasting the infamous Cronut (Nutella-flavored mind you), Drag Show dinner at Hamburger Mary’s, movie date to see Grown Ups 2 (hands down, the most unimaginative movie ever made) and adventure at Busch Gardens where we ran through puddles and dodged potential bolts of lightning.

Camp Jocelyn 2013 CCamp Jocelyn 2013 D

Before & After the SPLASH!

Camp Jocelyn has become a much-anticipated summer tradition.  This is the fifth annual year of Camp Jocelyn, and my third year being involved as an unofficial Weekend Camp Counselor.  I seriously love Michelle’s sons, and only pray and hope that my kids turn out just as respectful, friendly, intelligent and fun.

Camp Jocelyn 2009

Camp Jocelyn 2013 B

Before & After: Camp Jocelyn 2009 & 2013

Until next summer…

Check out last year’s post about Camp Jocelyn 2012:  CLICK HERE

 

Mother Protect” by Nikki & The Dove:  There’s something about this Niki & The Dove song that makes me want to run naked through a forest covered in war paint and beating a drum.  The sound of this Swedish duo’s entire debut album Instinct can best be described as an audio marriage of indie rock and electronica with hints of Roisin Murphy, Kate Bush, Siouxsie Sioux and even Rihanna.

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The Event of 2013!

Okie Group 07

The beginning of summer.  The time of year when your AC thermostat lowers while your electric bill rises.  The start of beach season and sunbathing.  And that time of year when Pride & Passion, arguably one of thee top events in town takes place.

The 8th Annual Pride & Passion was held on Saturday, May 18, 2013 at the Tampa Museum of Art, which this wonderful event has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for each year.  In the four years that I have attended Pride & Passion, it has rapidly become one of Tampa’s signature fashion events known for its pomp, flash and extravagant entertainment and decor.  This year’s event was no exception and easily tops previous celebrations in grandeur and eminence.

This year’s Pride & Passion also happens to be the first that I sat as the Public Relations, Marketing & Host Chair.  So it was fulfilling to not only attend this kick-ass party but to also help plan this event with the rest of the fabulous Steering Committee members.  If you missed out on this year’s festivities or have (gasp) never attended a Pride & Passion, mark your calendars for May 2014 and make plans to be there!

Pride & Passion 2013Okie Boys Group 01Cake Areis Rayda 01Shane Aimee Mike 01Group 01Group 03Okie Boys Group 04Okie Jonathan Cheri Linley JocelynOkie Jess 02Okie Linley 02Okie Linley Billy 01Okie Jocelyn 01

Photography by Radko Keleman
Select Photography by Todd Montgomery & Ruslana.Studio
Noticeable Photography by Okie Tilo’s cellphone

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…and in dedication to my fan that became the it-prop of Pride & Passion 2013:

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Big Foodie Hoes

TOST 2013 Group 2

I relapsed at the beginning of April this year.  I didn’t mean to, but I am powerless against my lifelong addiction.  It completely spiraled out of control from then on out.  Perhaps its time I check into rehab?…  I am of course referring to my endless appetite and the numerous Food Festivals and Food Events that I attended last month silly!

My absolute favorite thing to do in the world is to eat.  I love food.  Everyone who knows me knows that I love, adore, worship food.  Eat, Pray, Love?  Nope… Eat, Drink, Eat!  There is nothing that I have not eaten.  There is nothing that I would not eat.  Seriously, if I were a contestant on Fear Factor, I would win every single one of those crazy food eating challenges.

So imagine my excitement when I nabbed tickets to three of Tampa’s signature Food Events last month.  I took a break from my usual routine of healthy clean eating so that I could binge eat overwhelm my taste buds and indulge.

YTT 2013 Improv 2

My Fat Ass Foodie Adventure began with the Ybor Tapas Trail (part of Ybor City’s Aficionado Days).  18 restaurant stops.  3 hours.  Food samples and a cocktail at each location.  By the time my friends and I passed the finish line, we were all completely spent. All of the eating and trekking in the humid weather took its toll, and I immediately climbed into bed when I got home from the event not wanting to ever think about food again…

TOST 2013 Group 3

…until the annual Taste of South Tampa at Hyde Park Village the very next day.

The Taste of South Tampa featured 27 local restaurants such as Timpano, Jackson’s and Catrinas Cocina y Galeria  each serving a sizable plate of food.  There was live entertainment, complimentary beer and wine, and a text messaging contest for patrons to vote for their favorite restaurant.  Piquant Epicure & Cuisine‘s savory-sweet croissant with sausage gravy was one of my votes, along with JusThai‘s offering of Pad Thai, Springrolls, Fried Rice and Thai Tea.

DCYC 2013 April

The last stop on my obesity marathon Food Adventure was Dishcrawl Tampa‘s Ybor City tour.  The concept of Dishcrawl Tampa is for patrons to dine at four principal restaurants in a specific neighborhood of the Tampa Bay area.  Patrons have zero clue where they will be feasting since each restaurant stop is revealed as you go along.  The chefs at each restaurant are commonly at the dinner table, answering any questions and providing details about their menu items and restaurant.

My friend and fellow foodie Tracy Guida organizes and oversees Dishcrawl Tampa.  She’s also quite a remarkable blogger.  Check out her review of the Ybor City Dishcrawl HERE along with her primary website HERE.

I highly urge any reader to experience a Dishcrawl Tampa event.  Future Dishcrawl stops include International Plaza on May 14th, Downtown Tampa on May 21st, the Westshore district on June 4th and the Dunedin area on June 11th.   Check out all of Dishcrawl Tampa’s events at www.dishcrawl.com/tampa.

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“Let It Be” by Blackmill featuring Veela…  Robby turned me onto this song a few weeks ago, but I swear I heard this song somewhere else way before his introduction.  It’s a melodic, tranquilizing, groovy tune that confuses me.  I don’t know if I should be dancing, performing sun salutations, or both every time I hear it!

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