The city of St. Petersburg was once considered the mecca of retirees and early bird specials -- but it's now younger and hipper, especially when it comes to food and drink.
A three-day art and food festival called "Enjoy Arts & Tastes-St. Pete" beginning Nov. 15 will feature several celebrity chefs and dozens of local restaurant owners. It's expected to draw around 5,000 people.
The festival is co-sponsored by home shopping network operator HSN, which is also based in St. Petersburg. HSN will air some of the festival live. Parties and events will take place at the city's most recognizable venues, such as the Dali Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts.
The celebrity chefs -- who all sell items on HSN -- are Top Chef and Chopped judges, Food Network hosts and successful restaurant owners. They will host culinary demos at the Mahaffey Theater on St. Petersburg's waterfront. Among the lineup: Lorena Garcia, Ingrid Hoffmann, Donatella Arpaia and Iron Chef Masahari Morimoto.
"The national celebrity chefs who are going to be in the area says a lot about what's happening in St. Pete and Tampa," said Zack Gross, the owner of Z Grille, a downtown St. Petersburg restaurant that's competing in a beachside hamburger challenge.
Gross said he came to the Gulf Coast city 10 years ago and has seen lots of demographic changes.
"I think it's an incredibly cool place to live," he said. "It's not what it was five years ago."
Another goal of the festival will be to highlight Florida foods. Oil giant BP was gave a $250,000 grant to the festival's promotions firm to showcase Gulf of Mexico seafood.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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