On this national day set aside for giving thanks in our country, it is a sad day for foodies here in Tampa Bay. The Tampa Bay Times announced the loss of Tom Pritchard, one of the “most inventive and influential executive chefs” who died at his St. Petersburg home on Wednesday (11/25) at the age of 74. Pritchard was responsible for shaping some of the most popular restaurants in Tampa Bay – Salt Rock Grill, Island Way Grill, Marlin Darlin’, Rumba Island Bar & Grill and Salt Rock Tavern.
The article mentioned that Pritchard always had a story to tell and I have my own of how our paths crossed. At the time, I was a figure skating judge and came to Clearwater often to skate and judge younger skaters. One of those skaters was an dark haired boy with a charming smile named Adam Ostfeld. This boy had talent and really loved skating. I had the opportunity to meet his mother, Jody Hale. Fast forward to 1994 when I met and started dating my future husband. One of restaurants where we went on dates was The Grill at Feathersound, where Tom Pritchard’s talents were being praised as one of the biggest things to come to the Tampa Bay food scene. One evening Jody saw us in the restaurant and introduced us to the affable Tom. I think we were in as much awe of his cooking talent as he was of me being a skating judge. One year, Tom cooked an amazing private dinner for skating officials who were judging the Suncoast Open competition that was hosted by the Florida Suncoast Figure Skating Club each fall. Sadly, the Feathersound restaurant closed, but we watched over the years as success unfolded for Tom with each new restaurant opening. We shared in the sadness when Adam was tragically killed in an auto accident after returning safely surviving 14 months of dangerous duty in Iraq with the U.S. Army.
We have enjoyed dining at Island Way Grill and Rumba, where we have attended dinners held for skating officials. Rumba has the most sinfully delicious Rum Cake. We continue to dine at the Salt Rock Tavern, a gem of a place that has proved to be crazy popular here in Oldsmar.
Thank You, Tom Pritchard, for the legacy you have left to the Tampa food scene – fun restaurants with great food. We will remember you with each delicious bite.