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Tampa crab fest to honor traditional dish, help homeless

Special Correspondent
Published: July 23, 2013 Updated: July 23, 2013 at 01:56 PM
Robbie Faedo works with his wife, Michelle Faedo, to operate Michelle Faedo's On the Go food truck. They will prepare food for Tampa Crab Enchilado Feast on Aug. 3. LENORA LAKE

TAMPA A bit of local culture and cuisine - crab enchilado, also known as crab chilau - will be celebrated Aug. 3 in what organizers hope will become an annual event.The inaugural Tampa Crab Enchilado Feast will feature the crab entree` (an original Tampa fusion food of blue crabs and tomato sauce), salad and fresh Cuban bread.The event also includes music by Judy Tampa & Bunko Squad, Crabgrass Cowboys, Ray Viladonga and Linda Pottsberg.The feast is from noon to 5 p.m. on the Hillsborough River at the Tampa Cruis a Cade Club, with some of the proceeds going to Trinity Cafe, which provides meals for the homeless.The public event is part of the Cuban Sandwich Show, an annual month-long series of arts and cultural events, including cinema, poetry and art, about the Cigar City. The Cuban Sandwich Show runs through Aug. 8.Artist David Audet, who oversees the cultural series, said the idea for the feast came when he and food truck owners Michelle and Robert Faedo were talking about the history of the Cuban sandwich."Then she said, 'But do you know about crab chilau?' " Audet recalled.The crab entree` is a favorite family dish in Tampa, with families gathering crabs and making pots of the rich sauce."We decided we would like to do something to call attention to it," Audet said.Robert Faedo said it was a good match "because David is very passionate about Tampa."The Faedos previously operated a restaurant and now own Michele Faedo's Food on the Go truck. They'll prepare the food for the crab feast."We grew up eating crab enchilado," Michelle Faedo said. "We wanted to bring the community together to taste Tampa together."Faedo said she and her husband expect to make about 10 80-quart pots of sauce for the event, which will be limited to 500 people. Tickets cost $25 in advance or $30 at the door."What makes it good is we make it all with fresh tomatoes, garlic and crab. And we cook the sauce at least 10 hours or all day," said Faedo, who recently was selected to represent Florida at a national food festival in Las Vegas in November.Audet said they chose Cruis a Cade as the venue because the nonprofit boat club offers a big open porch, a stage "and a cool place to do it. It's Tampa - and it's on the river."He plans to have a camera set up to record oral histories of guests who would like to share memories of Tampa and/or their families.Faedo said they selected Trinity Cafe, which feeds a hot, three-course meal to about 200 homeless people a day, as a beneficiary because "they have an awesome establishment. It's our obligation if we are doing good to help others."Cindy Davis, director of Trinity Cafe, said she's pleased the feast organizers chose the charity."It's an event in which purchasing tickets to buy a fabulous and historic Tampa meal will result in a donation that will help feed people who are unable to purchase a meal themselves," Davis said.