Florida — and Florida foods — around the world

| State chef creates culinary masterpieces with Gulf seafood at the Olympics |

JUSTIN PATRICK TIMINERI, Florida’s culinary ambassador, went to London to promote the state’s seafood at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. “It was a huge success. We got to showcase Florida seafood and other agricultural products,” he says.

Timineri whipped up Crispy Pan Seared Florida Gulf Swordfish, Florida Firecracker Corn Relish and Spicy Florida Blueberry BBQ sauce for some Olympians during his 10-day visit. He also met with Olympic legend Jackie Joyner Kersee.

“It was an event of a lifetime,” he says. “We got a lot of press.” His London visit was part of BP Oil’s “Spirit of the Gulf” initiative during the games. Timineri was one of eight chefs from the Gulf states to participate. The fare was healthy, in keeping with the athletes’ need for good fuel.

The trip enabled Timineri to demonstrate that Florida’s seafood is delectable – and safe to eat once again after the devastating oil spill that occurred in 2010 when a BP oil rig exploded off the Louisiana Coast. “Florida Gulf seafood is tested by us, the Department of Agriculture. It is safe. It is wholesome. It is good,” he states.

Timineri also was able to promote some of Florida’s home-grown crops. The relish he prepared, for example, included honey, corn kernels, radishes and flat-leaf parsley grown in Florida. The barbecue sauce featured onion, jalapeno and blueberries grown in Florida. “They were able to have a taste of America while being in London,” he
says. “They weren’t just dishes. These were highly styled and thought out.”

While in London, Timineri met with Olympic gold winners and touted Florida agriculture through nine satellite interviews. He let folks know that Florida agricultural products are available when United Kingdom farmers can’t produce them because it’s too cold. “The UK is one of Florida’s top agricultural trading partners in Europe,” he points out. Florida agricultural products can be purchased in UK stores like Waitrose, a supermarket with 280 shops in the UK and Channel Islands.

Timineri’s job as an agricultural chief is unique. Florida is the only state to have a full-time chef researching, marketing, and promoting its products. “The only thing similar is the White House chef,” he explains. He has traveled across the world to help promote Florida agriculture. Since he assumed the state chef job six years ago, he has traveled to Hong Kong, South Korea, Africa, and several other areas promoting Florida food to foreigners. “It’s an incredible job,” he says. “I’m really blessed to be that ambassador for my home state.”

For the past 15 years, he’s also been a part-time chef at the Florida Governor’s Mansion, helping with special events and cooking for visiting dignitaries like former U.S. President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara.

The author of The Florida Chef, Flavorful Seasons, Timineri creates healthy recipes, does photo shoots, and teaches healthy eating to schoolchildren. He gives hands-on demonstrations to children about fun ways to make food for themselves, as well as developing baby food recipes for moms so they can use the freshest Florida produce.

Timineri also does a cooking segment on “How to Do Florida,” a 30-minute syndicated outdoor adventure show airing in Florida throughout June and August. The show, which is in its third season, is the brainchild of its host, Florida native Chad Crawford. It includes adventures such as horse surfing, cave diving, and a space-age jetpack experience. The Florida Department of Agriculture is partnering with the series — highlighting the Fresh from Florida campaign.

Interest in Timineri’s work has been “snowballing,” he elaborates. “When I started this, I never thought I would be working for state government. It’s really been phenomenal,” he adds. “I really believe in what I do.”

THE FLORIDA CHEF, FLAVORFUL SEASONS is available at www.florida-agriculture.com/brochures/P-01546.pdf.


article by CHERYL ROGERS

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