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The Zest

Because it’s strange and beautiful and hot, people from everywhere converge on Florida and they bring their cuisine and their traditions with them. The Zest celebrates the intersection of food and communities in the Sunshine State.

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  • The holidays mean food—and food waste. Today on our season 6 finale, we’ll meet a mother-and-son duo who are doing something about it while helping those in need.We’re about to meet a mother and son who are reducing food waste and tackling food insecurity in Northern Pinellas County. Ellen and Cameron Macleish [ma-KLEESH] are the cofounders of 360 Eats. The nonprofit turns surplus food into meals for the hungry and compost for gardeners. Cameron is the executive director, while Ellen is the executive chef. Dalia met up with them at Kitchen 24, a commercial kitchen in Oldsmar where they store and prepare the food. In our conversation, Cameron and Ellen explain why food waste happens, what they’re doing about it and how you can reduce food waste in your own kitchen.Related episodes:Conscious Cuisine: Rob Greenfield on How to Live without Grocery Stores and RestaurantsConscious Cuisine: Composting 101 with Miami Compost Project“Now Food Doesn’t Have to Travel”: Hyperlocal Agriculture with lemonGRAFT Founder Zach CorreaWhat’s the Buzz About Florida Honeybees?Conscious Cuisine: How to Choose Sustainable Seafood
  • Stephanie Love’s philosophy on wine is simple: “Wine is for everybody.”Through her company, Epicurious One, the St. Petersburg resident offers wine education trips and other experiences. Participants praise her down-to-earth approach, including Stephanie’s wine-and-comfort-food pairings and her descriptions of wine as people with different personalities.In this conversation, Stephanie shares the importance of supporting minority-owned vineyards, suggests wine to enjoy with chicken wings and offers advice for finding an affordable wine you’ll like.Related episodes:Mermosa Founder Desiree Noisette Makes Wine—and HistorySummer Reading and Wine Pairings from Book + Bottle’s Terra DunhamConscious Cuisine: Husband-and-Wife Master Sommeliers Andrew McNamara and Emily Pickral on How Climate Change Affects WineJournalist Judith Smelser on Zoom Wine Tastings, Disney Sommeliers and How to Find Your Next Favorite Bottle of Wine
  • For Deborah Keller of Tallahassee, the world is her oyster. After a 29-year career with The Nature Conservancy, Deborah turned her attention to sustainable shellfish. Nicknamed the OysterMom, she has been farming and selling fresh oysters for nearly a decade.In this interview, the conservationist describes the impact of climate change and hurricanes on oystering. She also explains the far-reaching economic impact of Florida’s oyster industry, recounts the bureaucratic red tape she encountered along the way and describes the serenity and stress she experiences on oyster harvesting day.And of course, we had to ask Deborah about her favorite way to eat oysters.Related episodes:Conscious Cuisine: How to Choose Sustainable SeafoodDive into Florida’s Spiny Lobster SeasonConscious Cuisine: Chef Justin Timineri of Fresh From Florida Offers Ideas for Eating What’s in SeasonChef Tenney Flynn’s Love Affair with The Deep End of Flavor
  • We always love digging into food history, so we’re excited to welcome back friend of the pod Dr. Frederick Douglass Opie. He’s an author and professor of history and foodways at Babson College outside of Boston. Among the courses he teaches is African History and Foodways. We always learn something from Dr. Opie, and he has the best stories. In this conversation, he explains the African roots of Southern staples like watermelon, beans and rice, and Coca-Cola. He also details how enslaved Africans brought their farming techniques and cooking methods to America, and how Reconstruction-era politics led to racist food stereotypes that persist today.Related episodes:James Weldon Johnson’s Foodie LifeZora Neale Hurston’s Foodie LifeToni Tipton-Martin Celebrates African-American Chefs in ‘Jubilee’Two USF Professors Offer a Crash Course in American Food History
  • He’s a little bit foodie, and a little bit rock ‘n roll. This week, we’re catching up with musician-turned-MasterChef contestant Derrick Fox.The Fort Myers native graduated from Estero High School and went on to enjoy a career as a drummer with the Naples-based rock band Later Days. After years of touring, Derrick recently put away his drumsticks in favor of his other passion: cooking. He now works as a private chef, splitting his time between Dallas, Fort Myers and Los Angeles—where he competed twice on reality cooking competition show MasterChef. In season 6, he was a runner-up. And in season 12, he tied for seventh place. While Derrick didn’t bring home the trophy, he parlayed his stint on the show into a podcast called A Bunch of Losers with Derrick Fox.On his podcast, Derrick interviews also-rans from reality TV competitions while they all drink from mugs with a FOX emoji. At the end of each episode, he puts guests through a blind taste test—because whether he’s making music, competing on a reality show or dreaming up new creations for his dessert brand, Epic Mega Cookie Company, Derrick is a foodie at heart.Dalia recently chatted with Derrick Fox, a.k.a., Derrick Peltz, about how his music career prepared him to be a chef, and what home cooks can learn from the MasterChef kitchen.
  • This week, we’re exploring the benefits of hyperlocal agriculture with Zach Correa, founder and CEO of lemonGRAFT. The Tampa-based tech platform allows neighbors to buy and sell home-grown foods.Zach’s idea has been getting a lot of attention lately. Last year, Zach scored a fellowship with NPR’s How I Built This podcast. And you may have heard him back in July on WUSF’s Florida Matters. In our conversation, Zach explains how lemonGRAFT works and how buying local—as in, your neighbor down the street local—can lead to a more sustainable and equitable food system.Related episodes:It’s Always Sunny at St. Petersburg’s Brick Street FarmsConscious Cuisine: Edible Gardening Tips from Albert RisembergConscious Cuisine: Rocky Soil Family Farm on How to Reconnect with Your FoodConscious Cuisine: Rob Greenfield on How to Live without Grocery Stores and Restaurants
  • Explore how Central Florida became a hotbed of Latino food businesses—and the cultural mashups that followed.Learn how marketing tactics by housing developers led to an influx of Puerto Ricans to Orlando in the 1970s and '80s. What followed was a proliferation of restaurants, supermarkets and small food businesses targeting Latinos in Central Florida. Our guest is Dr. Simone Delerme, author of Latino Orlando: Suburban Transformation and Racial Conflict.Related episodes:Food Memories of Latin AmericaHow to Have a Puerto Rican-Style Holiday Feast in FloridaMiami Herald’s Carlos Frías on Cuban Coffee, Edible Iguanas & Winning the James Beard AwardHow “Food Led the Way” for Cuban Influence in TampaHalal Food 101 with Florida’s Halal Food Guru
  • Today we’re geeking out on the details that can help your home-cooked meals taste more like restaurant-quality creations. For advice, we turned to Chef Dennis Littley, the food and travel blogger behind Ask Chef Dennis.Related episodes:How to Photograph Food Like a ProHow to Be a Food InfluencerNo Recipe? No Problem: How to Cook Using Your IntuitionConscious Cuisine: Chef Justin Timineri of Fresh From Florida Offers Ideas for Eating What’s in Season
  • As the war in Ukraine continues, meet a Ukrainian couple bringing a taste of their homeland to Florida. Oksana Petrova and her husband, Sergiy Petrov, own Oksa Cakes Bakery & Bistro in Flagler Beach. Oksana discusses her favorite Ukrainian delicacies and how the war has affected their business. Related episodes:Talking Seoul Food with Miami’s 2 Korean GirlsHalal Food 101 with Florida’s Halal Food GuruChef Alain Lemaire on Florida’s Haitian CuisineLamb, Baklava & Family: Going Greek in Tarpon SpringsChef Joe Isidori Wants You to Explore Florida’s Ethnic Food Markets
  • If you've ever dreamed of starting a community garden, then you'll want to take notes on this episode.Just north of the University of South Florida’s Tampa campus is an urban oasis: Harvest Hope Park. The 7-acre park is a sanctuary for residents, with a playground, sports fields, fitness stations, walking trail, tilapia fishing pond and more. It all started eight years ago with the park’s first feature: Harvest Hope Community Garden.Sarah Combs is executive director/CEO of the University Area Community Development Corporation, which oversees the garden. Derek Laracuente and Harvest Hope Community Garden volunteer.Dalia recently visited with them to learn how to garden got up and running, challenges along the way and advice for anyone looking to start and sustain a community garden.
  • Learn to simplify healthy eating with simple advice from Carly Paige of FitLiving Eats. The Orlando-based chef and cookbook author suggests easy recipe swaps and no-cook meal ideas.Related episodes:How to Snack SmarterHacks to Help You Eat More VeggiesFlorida Theme Parks Get Vegan
  • She’s the woman behind the men. Tracie Hartman serves as executive performance chef for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In the off-season, Dalia stopped by the Bucs’ AdventHealth Training Center to chat with Tracie. In this conversation, Tracie discusses how she went from working in finance to feeding the Bucs, which players love junk food and whether Tom Brady’s diet is as strict as everyone thinks.Related episodes:Super Bowl Chef to Showcase Florida FlavorsNutrition Tips for Young Athletes — And the Rest of UsTake Me In to the Ballgame: How to Make Stadium-Quality Hot Dogs at Home