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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


Twitter: @MStark17

  1. From the food editor: Three ways to indulge your red meat cravings


    After a certain point in my life, it became a reliable joke at the house of one my best friends: Michelle loves meat.

    I went over there a lot through many stages of life, from elementary school to the weird preteen years up through college, and was often invited for dinner. (Hi, Kiebzaks!) Over the years, the notion stuck: Michelle enjoys a hearty burger or a rack of ribs and is not ashamed to dig in. If ever there was a steak going on the grill, or a meatloaf in the oven, my friend's dad would get a glimmer in his eye, and the playful, er, ribbing would begin. More than once I ate my friend's share of meat, especially when it was, to her chagrin, meatloaf night....

  2. Recipe for Nutty Quinoa Carbonara


    If you've never made carbonara, consider adding it to your weekday dinner lineup. It is a traditional Italian pasta dish in which eggs are mixed with cheese and then swirled into cooked pasta just before serving. The result is a luscious bowl of food you won't believe contains so few ingredients. This recipe swaps quinoa for spaghetti to great, protein-packed effect.

    The original recipe calls for bacon, which I don't really keep in the house and didn't have time to buy when I cooked this in a pinch for dinner one night. In the end, it didn't matter: My husband quickly declared this one of his two favorite meals I've ever made. (The other: chicken and dumplings.)...

    Quinoa Carbonara. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  3. From the food editor: For cherry season, four ways to use the sweet fruit


    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.
  4. For something different this summer, try a grilled salad with one of these lettuces


    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 romaine. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  5. 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
  6. Recipe for Sour Cream and Onion Popcorn (with how-to video)


    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.
  7. From the food editor: Thoughts on the New York Times charging for its cooking content, and who owns online recipes


    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....

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


    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. ...

    The Gin and Jam Twist, which makes use of lemon juice and lemon peels, is sure to refresh.
  9. From the food editor: I love Greek yogurt, and you can too


    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.
  10. 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, left, sits at a table inside Buya Ramen in St. Petersburg during filming for his series "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives." [Courtesy of Buya Ramen]
  11. 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.

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


    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.
  13. From the food editor: A recipe for enchiladas, a good thing to make ahead for your future self


    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.
  14. Get cooking inspiration, recipes and more in our new weekly Cooking email


    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. ...

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


    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.