Since they met at the World Food Championships years ago, Jennifer Daskevich and Lee Ann Whippen have shared a common bond. You guessed it: food.
Whippen is a renowned barbecue pit master, who has defeated Bobby Flay on television and ran high-profile restaurants from Chesapeake VA to Chicago IL. Daskevich meanwhile is among the winningest amateur cooks in the competitive cooking circuit, with over $100,000 in cash prizes to her name.
Now the award-winning chefs will share the experience of opening a restaurant in South Tampa. Dubbed the Deviled Pig — a name inspired by Tampa’s invention, deviled crab -- the meat-mined joint will feature barbecue, smoked meats, and sandwiches with a local flair. Consider, for example, the "Pitmaster Queban."
“We trying to infuse [the Deviled Pig] with the Tampa food scene,” Daskevich says.
Both Daskevich and Whippen moved to Tampa specifically to open the Deviled Pig. Their partner, Larry Oliphant, is a longtime local.
The building at 3307 South Dale Mabry Highway is undergoing about $250,000 in renovations, including new furnishing and full kitchen. The owners expect to open in October.
The restaurateurs have decided to focus more on the quality of their cuisine than offering a sparkling dining experience. The 1,000-square-foot establishment will have just a few dozen seats, but out back an Ole Hickory Smoker (the biggest ever built, according to Daskevich), which can accommodate 1,000 pounds of meat at one time. “We have a small footprint so anticipate a lot of takeout and catering,” she says. “We want to focus on our catering capabilities.”
You know the familiar saying: Give someone a fish and feed them for a day, but teach someone to fish and feed them for a lifetime? The same holds true with barbecue. With this old adage in mind, Daskevich and Whippen plan to offer classes and cooking experiences at the Deviled Pig once the operation is up and running smoothly.
Whippen has run high-profile barbecue joints around the country and has appeared on shows like BBQ Pitmasters and Chopped. Her potato salad won first prize at the World Food Championships. In 2013, Daskevich took home first place in the sandwich category. So, it’s safe to say students will be in good hands.