Mountain Valley Spring Water flowed south earlier this month, refreshing the thousands of food lovers who attended the inaugural Tampa Bay Wine & Food Festival at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in historic downtown Tampa.
From the luxurious welcome party on the 42nd floor of the exclusive Tampa Club, to a VIP cocktail and wine pairing dinner, to a no-herbs-barred battle of 14 chefs, to a Grand Tasting featuring open bars and 35 Tampa-area restaurants, Mountain Valley was there for every delectable bite, sip and slurp of the four-day event.
As a Tampa Bay Wine & Food Fest presenting sponsor, our emerald-green bottles graced the tables on opening night. Our crisp, purely sourced water served as a palate cleanser between sumptuous courses. And it refreshed the competing chefs and cooks as they vied for seven title spots in battles for best pasta, burger, seafood dish, taco, sushi, fried chicken and truffle dish.
The Grand Tasting, however, was where Mountain Valley Spring Water truly shined — along with the relentless South Florida sun.
As temperatures climbed into the high 80s with not a cloud in the sky, the Mountain Valley tent became a festival oasis. Our hard working crew passed out hundreds of ice-cold aluminum bottles of Mountain Valley Spring Water to quench guests’ thirsts, while also serving as personal cooling devices. Our icy bottles were pressed to necks, cheeks and foreheads as guests lounged in the lush comfort of our airy tent.
For those seeking a bit more sparkle, we poured cup after recyclable-aluminum cup of our award-winning Mountain Valley Sparkling Spring Water and Sparkling Essence Spring Waters. From Sparkling White Peach to Sparkling Key Lime Twist to Sparkling Blackberry Pomegranate, our sweetener-free, no-calorie essence sparklers added another layer of fizz to the already-bubbling festivities.
Despite the heat, the festival’s 35 restaurants and their chefs put their best dishes forward during the Grand Tasting, wowing the crowds with everything from Filipino pancit to quesabirria tacos and hand-crafted biscuits infused with soul.
Festival-goers had the opportunity to vote for their “Best of the Fest,” and top honors went to Driftlight Steakhouse at the JW Marriott Tampa Water Street. Driftlight’s executive chef, Matthew Brennan, won over the Tampa Bay Wine & Food Fest masses with a grilled Creekstone Farms rib eye matched with Driftlight’s own steak sauce and bitter greens. Chef Brennan balanced that savory dish with the classic sweetness of carrot cake layered with a mascarpone and goat cheese creme, toasted hazelnuts, bruleed baby carrots and orange-carrot-ginger jam.
Winners from the 2023 Ultimate Chef Competition include:
- Battle Pasta: Chef Ricardo Nava, Cru Cellars
- Battle Burger: Chef Tyson Grant, Parkshore Grill
- Battle Seafood: Chef Manuel Arevalo, Rusty Pelican
- Battle Taco: Chef Christopher Yadid Garcia, Tacos Las Californias
- Battle Sushi: Chef David Reyes, Haiku
- Battle Truffle: Chef Matthew Zappoli, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa
- Battle Fried Chicken: Chef Joe Dodd, King of the Coop
From the first toast to the final bite, Mountain Valley Spring Water is proud to have sponsored this delicious event, with proceeds benefiting Tampa Bay-area charitable initiatives through the Community Initiatives Foundation’s EAT SMART campaign.
We are thrilled to have been there for year one, and we at Mountain Valley look forward to the many years ahead. Cheers Tampa Bay!