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Tampa chef brings new menu to Teak St. Pete

Ashley Morales

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Felicia Lacalle, executive chef at Teak St. Pete, will unveil her new dinner menu in March. Photos: Ashley Morales.

A well-known Tampa chef has brought her talents across the bay, and will debut her first menu as executive chef of Teak St. Pete next month. 

Felicia Lacalle, most recognizable from her former ventures Hemingway’s at Armature Works and Kuba Cocina on St. Pete Beach, has brought her extensive experience and passion for flavorful cooking to Teak St. Pete, the upscale dining restaurant on the fourth floor of the pierhead building on the St. Pete Pier. 

Lacalle began her career in kitchens throughout Tampa, including Bern’s Steak House, before striking out on her own, opening Cuban restaurant Hemingway’s at Armature Works in early 2018. Lacalle left Armature Works in 2021 and found herself looking for a fresh start after closing her restaurant on St. Pete Beach at the end of 2022.

Teak St. Pete is located on the fourth floor of the St. Pete Pier pierhead. The restaurant boasts floor-to-ceiling windows for 360-degree waterfront views.

“I went through a mourning season,” Lacalle told the Catalyst. “Yeah, it was a mourning season, but I had to let go because it just wasn’t working. I was doing the [accounting], running payroll, picking up supplies and prepping and closing and dishwashing. I got burned out. It’s also hard when you don’t have the financial backing.”

After putting out feelers through her network in the Tampa Bay area, Lacalle landed at Teak, one of three dining concepts from Chuck Prather, who also owns The Birchwood on Beach Drive. Teak began welcoming customers when the St. Pete Pier opened in July 2020, but Lacalle said when she started her new role as executive chef in March 2023, she noticed significant changes needed to be made to the menu, back-of-house operations and the kitchen culture.

A few of the small plates and entrees coming to Lacalle’s new dinner menu at Teak St. Pete.

“Just from me walking in, we’ve gone from things being purchased prepared to now everything is made from scratch, it is a true scratch kitchen,” Lacalle explained. “The rooftop menu [at Pier Teaki] was the first challenge. Now, we are transitioning over to our new dinner menu [at Teak]. No more handhelds, more elevated dining options. I’m going for a modern Floribbean flair with lots of flavor.”

Lacalle’s new menu will also feature a fresh catch daily seafood option and her award-winning Cuban sandwich. Her goal is to bring more St. Pete residents and Tampa Bay natives to Teak, hoping that a renewed focus on quality ingredients, interesting dishes and overall consistency (on top of unbeatable views) will become Teak’s winning formula.

“My cooks in there needed love. They needed to show what true passion and true love in the kitchen was; to have respect for the food, to slow things down and be patient. They’re learning and getting educated with new ingredients,” Lacalle said. “I’ve just been concentrating on making a beautiful menu. Before I had my restaurant, I was always in fine dining, so this has really brought me back home. It’s full circle.”

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1 Comment

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  1. Avatar

    mark baker

    February 29, 2024at12:49 pm

    You go Babe!!!!❤️

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