Students and faculty will compete in a "cook-off" Monday.

Bulls Notebook: USF Sarasota-Manatee unveils new dining events

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: December 16, 2016

SARASOTA, Fla. (Dec. 16, 2016) Look for a sweet touch and a more global view of cuisine this spring when USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Culinary Innovation Lab (CIL) opens its doors for two weekly events, the Bulls Bistro and the Global Culinary Connection.

The bistro, which gained popularity last fall when it debuted a mix of tapas-sized dishes, wine and craft beers, will return in the spring, but with a twist. Included with the sampling will be a specialty dessert crafted by chefs at USFSM’s College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership.

Chef Joe Askren said the addition of a sweet option will better compliment, and complete, what already is a popular evening at the lab, 8130 Main St., in Lakewood Ranch. Additionally, students at the college will take turns overseeing both “front and back of the house” operations, interacting with patrons and kitchen personnel.

“We’re really giving the dining community more of what they’ve asked for,” Chef Askren said. “These events are in response to what we’re hearing from the public.”

Tickets to the bistros, available at USFSM’s website,, typically sell out days in advance. The first is scheduled Jan. 19. All of the dining experiences run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and cost $25.

Askren said that’s not the only change to come to the CIL this spring.

As the semester gets underway, the lab will introduce a new program entitled the “Global Culinary Connection” that highlights cuisine from around the world, offering patrons a sampling of international favorites, cooking tips, recipes and a historical exploration of many of today’s popular dishes.

Longtime chef, London-born James Arnsby has been tapped to guide these gastronomic tours as diners are whisked to South and North America, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, India, France, Italy and across Europe. A graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York City, Chef Arnsby brings more than 25 years to the CIL’s demonstration kitchen.

The events are slated to run every other week. The tour’s first stop is in Italy on Jan. 11, from 6 to 8:30 p.m., as Chef Arnsby explores Italian cuisine and its complex, nuanced differences from one region to the next.

He’ll demonstrate how to make a marinara sauce, the basis of so many southern Italian classics, and introduce diners to a salad made with tomatoes, potatoes and haricots verts. He’ll also explore a hearty seaside favorite of spaghetti, shrimp, lemon, mint and pecorino and then guide diners toward a favorite regional dish of roasted eggplant with marinara and mozzarella.

Each of the Global Culinary Connection dinners, available by ticket at USFSM’s website, will cost $45 and include light refreshments upon request. Look for tickets to become available immediately following the holiday season.

For more about USF Sarasota-Manatee’s College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership, visit

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