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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: For cherry season, four ways to use the sweet fruit

    Cooking

    Living in Florida, there are a lot of reasons to hate summer: Unpredictable thunderstorms ruin many an activity. That thing where you're never appropriately dressed because you have to bare all outside but stores set their air conditioning to 57 degrees. Sweat puddles. Actual puddles.

    But one of life's true delights this time of year is the prevalence of fresh fruits, especially stone fruits: peaches, plums and cherries....

    Cherry Salsa atop steak tacos. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times Food Editor.
  2. For something different this summer, try a grilled salad with one of these lettuces

    Cooking

    There are plenty of go-to grillables: chicken wings, thick steaks, chunky vegetables skewered with a kebab. But the smoke and char of this specific cooking method can do wonders for something less expected: lettuce.

    Grilling lettuce completely transforms the watery, crunchy salad base into something more sumptuous. The heat of the grill wilts the insides slightly, charring the outer leaves and warming the stalk. I know, it sounds kind of weird, but there is something about the almost-bitter flavor that, especially when paired with a creamy dressing or a fresh squeeze of lemon, will make you think about a piece of romaine in a different way. ...

    Grilled radicchio. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  3. For National Ice Cream Day, we tested four low-calorie options

    Taste Test

    Low-calorie ice cream is everywhere by the dainty pintful right now, because manufacturers of frozen treats are here for us. They know that to survive summer, we need a cold and refreshing bowl of dark chocolate and peanut butter without feeling like a sea cow in the morning.

    In honor of National Ice Cream Day on Sunday, we put four low-cal or health-conscious ice creams to the test.

    Did the contents of the pints resemble actual ice cream? Not always! Were ingredients like "cream" present in any discernible form? Sometimes no!...

    Halo Top peanut butter ice cream
  4. Recipe for Sour Cream and Onion Popcorn (with how-to video)

    Cooking

    This recipe was born out of desperation, when I came home to an empty fridge and an even emptier stomach. I snacked on it and a few other things as my dinner, before discovering it's also a perfect movie-night snack. Feel free to spice it up with some cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes added just before eating.

    ...

    Sour Cream and Onion popcorn. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  5. From the food editor: Thoughts on the New York Times charging for its cooking content, and who owns online recipes

    Cooking

    A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times announced it would start charging for access to its digital cooking content. Over the past few years, the Times has steadily built up its presence in the world of digital food content, particularly when it comes to recipes. Their website Cooking has a database of almost 20,000 recipes, plus a Pinterest-like way to organize and store them. They have a daily newsletter dedicated to Cooking content, and a bevy of instructional food videos....

  6. Main squeeze: Why lemons are one of the most crucial cooking ingredients

    Cooking

    When life gives you lemons, use them in everything.

    The tart fruit is a crucial ingredient in the home kitchen, as important to cooking as key flavor builders like garlic and onions.

    You know how on Food Network shows, judges always complain that a dish is lacking acid? That's because good cooking is all about balance, and something acidic like citrus can help bring unity to a recipe, make other ingredients pop and provide a necessary zing. ...

    Gin and Jam Twist is made with gin, jam and lemon juice.
  7. From the food editor: I love Greek yogurt, and you can too

    Cooking

    There are a few things I eat on a near-daily basis that make some people want to gag. You probably have things like that, too: Pickles (yum). The increasingly popular kimchi. Something more innocuous, perhaps, like mayonnaise.

    Food judgment is real, especially if you're someone who likes to eat semihealthy on a regular basis. Let's just say I've never had anyone pressure me into eating a handful of spinach, or, inversely, chide my order of french fries. And I've adjusted to the fact that some of my favorite snacks seem to be foods that elicit strong opinions....

    Stone Fruit Yogurt Bowl with cherries, nectarines and plums. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  8. How I almost watched Guy Fieri film 'Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives' at Buya Ramen

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first thing I noticed was the car.

    It was covered with a beige tarp and nestled into a parking space along Central Avenue in front of Buya Ramen, where Guy Fieri was inside filming an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Fieri's red convertible Camaro, trying to be all inconspicuous right here in the 'Burg.

    I had been invited by Buya owner Mike Sponaugle to attend the DDD filming on Thursday as one of his guests. The idea: to get a glimpse at how Fieri films his popular Food Network show, the one where he travels the country and spotlights usually small, mom-and-pop type restaurants. If you've turned on the Food Network, you've seen this show....

    Guy Fieri poses with a burger at Disney Springs in Lake Buena Vista in February 2017. [Eve Edelheit | Times]
  9. Video: How to make a Gin and Jam cocktail

    Bars & Spirits

    Looking for an easy cocktail to make at home this summer? Jam is a simple, low-key way to get the job done.

  10. From the food editor: Almond-Crusted Chicken Tenders will be your new favorite go-to

    Cooking

    I decided my almond chicken obsession was becoming a bit much.

    Whenever I needed a quick lunch, or didn't know what to eat, or wanted to be kind of healthy but not go all in on a lame salad, I opted for almond-coated chicken tenders over kale slaw and sweet potato noodles from Fresh Kitchen (locations in Tampa and St. Petersburg).

    It's still my go-to bowl, but I realized I should pull back a bit, mostly because it was not an efficient use of my precious funds. I am no stranger to cooking, I thought. And I could definitely make the star of that bowl, the almond chicken, at home. ...

    Almond Crusted Chicken Tenders. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  11. From the food editor: A recipe for enchiladas, a good thing to make ahead for your future self

    Cooking

    By the time you read this, I will be back from spending a couple of days bopping around New York City with a friend.

    There will be lots of meals I don't have to cook, lots of gallivanting the night away. But as I'm writing this, I am in the throes of vacation prep. How will I fit everything into one suitcase? What subway line do I take from the airport? How soon can I get my hands on a slice of pizza?...

    Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  12. Get cooking inspiration, recipes and more in our new weekly Cooking email

    Cooking

    Looking for cooking inspiration? Get recipes, cooking tips, food videos and more delivered to your inbox every week when you sign up for our new Cooking newsletter.

    On June 22, we debut a weekly email from Tampa Bay Times food editor Michelle Stark that will offer ideas for what to make for dinner, point you to some of her favorite recipes from the past week and showcase things like food videos and photos. ...

  13. From the food editor: For Father's Day, steak with a side of mushroom risotto

    Cooking

    My dad is not what you would call an adventurous eater.

    But that doesn't mean he doesn't appreciate a good meal. In fact, he has come a long way from the more limited diet I remember growing up. A true meat-and-potatoes man, he now embraces zucchini as well as hot dogs, broccoli in addition to pork chops. He has recently discovered the wonders of things like short ribs and risotto.

    I don't think he would call himself an avid cook, but he's no stranger to the kitchen, always up for helping to grate cheese or slice potatoes. There are some things he makes regularly, lending his Dad touch to dishes including grilled cheese, zucchini noodles, hash browns. His scrambled eggs are still the best egg dish in town....

    French Onion Soup Risotto. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  14. From the food editor: Three ways to curb bread cravings, for after you try this Hazelnut Toast

    Cooking

    Every time I try to unfriend bread, it finds its way back to me.

    Like a no-good-for-you ex you really need to stop hanging out with already, it's alluring, dangerous, delicious.

    I am not one to condone a no-carb lifestyle unless it's absolutely necessary. Everything in moderation and all that — plus it's difficult and often unsatisfying. But even I will admit that the easiest way to get back into pants that have been feeling a little snug lately is to forego the puffy starches that are so easily consumed and rarely that satiating....

    Hazelnut Toast, with lemon zest, honey and mint. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  15. St. Petersburg's Story Brooke Craft Coffee Bar brings a cocktail flair to coffee shop menu

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG

    There are a lot of things to notice the first time you walk into Story Brooke Craft Coffee Bar, which opened just south of downtown in late January: the bright turquoise walls, the reclaimed wood pallets that hold clear bottles of syrups and teeny espresso mugs, the long line of matted photographs hung from the ceiling with jute.

    None is more crucial than the long, tiled bar behind which owner Story Stuart stands. It's a specific choice, her place behind the bar, customers on stools in front of it, that nods to Stuart's dream of one day owning a space that serves martinis instead of espresso....

    nThere are also shrubs, vinegar-based fermentations used most often in cocktails. Most places don’t make their own shrub due to the time- and labor-intensive process.