Tampa’s Food Scene Gets Elevated With Top Italian Chef Teaching A Hands On Cooking Class At Toast On The Town’s Inaugural Cooking Class

Tampa's food scene gets elevated yet again.

In a town where Chefs are treated like celebrities and new dining concepts are opening at every turn, it’s safe to say that in Tampa Bay there are no shortages of places to eat and new menus to discover. To be honest it’s difficult to imagine what Tampa’s food scene was like before all the hype.

As Tampa natives, we can take a quick trip down memory lane and remember when the choices for exceptionally executed cuisine were slim. Which means with equal memory we can recall when Chef Michael Buttacavoli loosened his tie from acclaimed SideBerns, Boca, Seminole Hard Rock, and Council Oak to embark on his own gastronomical masterpiece, Cena.


When Cena’s doors first opened we remember thinking that the ambiance was closer to an established industrial city locale rather than a mid-Florida restaurant. We knew that we had stepped into something truly special. Chef Michael was a major part of ushering in the new culinary era of Tampa Bay; (you can imagine our excitement to have him now be a part of the Toast Family).

Tampa's Italian Food Scene

The menu was somehow eclectic and familiar. It was Italian food but none like Tampa had ever seen. Naturally, when we were looking to launch our inaugural cooking class series for Toast On The Town, we knew that we wanted a pioneer in the Tampa Food scene to lead the helm. Let’s be honest, what better to have a cooking class than with a family-style Italian meal!



Inaugural Cooking Class

We are honored and pleased to feature Chef Michael and his team at Cena for our September Chef Cooking Class. On Thursday evening, September 13th, Chef will be teaching to a sold-out class of foodies. The event will take place at the beautifully situated Show & Tell demo space at Armature Works.

As we began to share with our Toastees about our upcoming event and the acclaimed Chef that would be joining the Toast Family, many enthusiastically asked what does ‘Cena’ mean? And how does one properly pronounce it? So before you join us or hear even more about this event let us take a moment to understand how relevant the Tampa restaurant name is to our Toast On The Town dining experience.

Cena (ch-ee-naa), means ‘dinner’ in Italian. Here at Toast we emphatically proclaim the importance of gathering around the table to bring the community together. So how better to bring our community together to learn how to cook than with one of the best Italian restaurants in town? How better to collectively enjoy and experience an unforgettable evening then how the Italians do it...around the table, lingering, laughing and truly living in the moment.

The Food Line-up

The evening’s menu will be quintessentially Italian. Furthermore, it is approachable and still challenging. Here’s the best part, you’re not only going to learn for one of Tampa Bay’s best Italian Chefs, but you’ll also get to learn from the leading cheese and meat purveyor to kick off the evening. Gourmet Foods International is going to show off and educate our guests. So cheese and cured meat lovers, get ready because you’re surely in for a journey of the mind and the taste buds.



Next up you’ll be introduced to the illusively addictive and classic bruschetta. Why is bruschetta on the menu you might ask? You might even think you know how to make this customary, easy and oh so scrumptious antipasto. However, you’d be surprised in the details and ‘secret’ techniques that take this classic up a notch and make it one that you and your guests will never forget.

You see, not all Italian cibo (food) is created equal. It’s all about the ingredients and the technique. Furthermore, it’s about how to utilize those ingredients to create the perfect morsel every time. Chef will showcase his ‘secrets’ of the trade in this timeless ancient Roman classic.

As for the main course, Chef will endow us with an authentic ‘alla cacciatora’ which translates to - a meal that has been prepared hunter style. This style of cooking is time-honored and oh so delicious tradition. It’s tried, true and when done right, comforts the soul. Chicken cacciatore is a type of alla cacciatora. The recipe will be unique to Chef Michael’s pallet, experience, and expression.

Main Course

The evening’s main course will be accompanied by the perfect and oh so Italian, polenta. Polenta is also known as the ‘Italian grits’. The hearty porridge is an excellent complement to the cacciatora style protein plate. What you might unaware of regarding this versatile ingredient is that it reigns from the northern region of Italy and it was a staple in a peasant's life. However, in today’s age, this awesomely textured grain can be elevated with varying techniques and other additional rich flavors.

Cena not only has Chef Michael as an anchor, they wisely introduced the other side of Italian indulgences - desserts! Chef Evan Schmidt creates stunning and delectable renditions on Italian classics. His tiramisu is unlike anything we’ve ever tasted. (and we’re Italian, born and raised). This course’s showcase will be a secret revealed only to our guests in attendance.

As customary to any great meal, each course will be accompanied by a perfectly paired wine. 


The Scoop 

Catch us on our Instagram stories to see each meal revealed, guest’s reactions and to discover what secret dessert Chef Evan will showcase.

Cena is located at the corner of the Grand Central building in the Channelside District at

1208 E Kennedy Blvd, Tampa, FL 33602. Cena is a chic, white-tablecloth eatery serving elevated spins on classic Italian fare, from pasta to seafood.

(813) 374-8840

***Reservations suggested through OpenTable.
















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