TAMPA - Michelle Faedo has never been to Las Vegas. She's never left Tampa, for that matter. In November, she will compete for $300,000 at Caesars Palace during the World Food Championships. The championships contacted Faedo on Friday to invite her and her husband, Robert, to compete. The Faedos in March won the 2013 Cuban Sandwich Festival in Ybor City, their second consecutive victory. The win qualified them to cook for the big money this year in Las Vegas. Last year, the championships invited Skipper's Smokehouse owner Tom White and his girlfriend, Cricket Larson, to compete with the restaurant's Grouper Reuben sandwich. They were bested by Las Vegas chef Robert Butler's Duck Fat Crisped Pork Butt Sandwich and his Sweet & Cheesy BBQ Pork Sandwich.
Faedo intends to make her trademark Cubano, but she also must decide on a second sandwich to serve for judges during the first round. If she wins her sandwich category, she goes to the final judges table to compete against food in seven other categories, including barbecue, chili, burgers and dessert. Faedo already is thinking about how to get her ingredients and a sandwich press to Las Vegas to make her food correctly. She also needs sponsors so they can afford the trip. "I'm a perfectionist and I don't want to take any shortcuts," she says. "At least Las Vegas will get a little taste of Tampa."