Florida’s state beverage is, not surprisingly, fresh-squeezed Florida orange juice. The state flower is the delicately-scented orange blossom. The tall and stately Sabal palm is the official state tree. The Sunshine State is big on state symbols. Where most states have a state animal and bird, Florida has a whole menagerie, including a state animal (Florida panther), bird (mockingbird), butterfly (zebra longwing), reptile (alligator), marine mammal (manatee), saltwater mammal (dolphin), saltwater fish (sailfish), and freshwater fish (largemouth bass). Like a few other states, Florida also has a state rock (agatized coral), state wildflower (coreopsis) and state song (Old Folks at Home by Stephen Foster, better known as The Swanee River); but Florida has one very special honorific to which no other state can lay claim. Florida is the only state in America with a state chef.
Anointed by the Florida Department of Agriculture to promote Florida-grown food, Chef Justin Timineri travels the state whipping up delicious Florida citrus treats, shrimp kebabs, blueberry smoothies, grilled fish and a host of culinary delights that feature fresh Florida produce and seafood. The 37-year-old Tallahassee native and former event chef has held the post of Florida’s Top Chef since 2006. When he’s not on the road showing people how to incorporate healthy Florida citrus fruit and other locally grow foods into their diet, Timineri cooks for Governor Rick Scott and his family where fresh Florida citrus fruit, fresh local vegetables and fresh-caught seafood are always on the menu.
Next time: Chef Timineri’s recipes