By Thom Smith

   Alex Callegari should know how to handle heat. After all, he’s been fighting fires with Boca Raton Fire Rescue for 10 years. But he can also stand it in the kitchen. Callegari’s a finalist in the Bud & Burgers Championship, a national contest to find the nation’s best amateur burger chef. It’s set for July 11 in St. Louis. He qualified by winning a semifinal at Taste of Cincinnati with his Ladder 7 Burger (named for the fire truck he drives).

7960585453?profile=originalABOVE: The winning Ladder 7 Burger, created by Boca firefighter Alex Callegari. Contributed by Instagram: @TheFirefighterFoodie


    He starts with half a pound of ground chuck for each burger blending with sea salt, black pepper and Worcestershire sauce. In a cast iron skillet preheated to medium-high, he sears the chuck for three minutes on each side, tops it with a slice of Gouda and transfers the skillet to a hot oven for eight to 10 minutes. He then removes the patties to a plate to cool for eight minutes. The buns, potato rolls buttered on both cut sides, are then placed in the skillet and popped back in the oven till golden brown.
    Toppings include a garlic herb aioli, red onion relish, Portobello mushrooms baked for 20 minutes in a balsamic vinaigrette (balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey and Dijon mustard) and oven-browned sliced pancetta.
    Assembly: to the bottom of each bun add two tablespoons of aioli, then the meat, topped by two slices of pancetta, three tablespoons of relish, the mushrooms and the bun top. Simple.

7960585858?profile=originalCallegari is headed to the finals. Contributed by Rebecca Massimino


    For the backyard chef, the recipe may be daunting; for Callegari, it’s a chance to display his skill and raise money for the John Snow Memorial Scholarship fund. Snow, a 15-year veteran and acclaimed firehouse chef, was killed in 2011 while riding a bike near his home in Jupiter. Sponsors of last year’s Steak-Umm Firehouse Challenge were so impressed by Callegari’s dedication that they raised his first-place award for “Boca Steak-umm Sliders” from $1,000 to $5,000.
    A Bud & Burgers victory would generate an additional $100,000, plus an invite to a new series, United States of Burgers, on the Esquire Network.
    “I’m excited about it, and I’m a little nervous,” said Callegari, a longtime resident of southwest Miami — but he’s adjusting to the spotlight. The Steak-Umm win was announced on Steve Harvey’s show, and he cooked live on Fox & Friends. He prepped for Bud & Burgers by cooking for 75 firefighters in convention at the Boca Raton Resort & Club.  
    But his favorite audiences remain the crew at Station 5 on Glades Road, and especially his wife and four kids: “They like everything I make.”

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Ch-ch-ch-changes, as David Bowie once sang, have come to Lantana and to Delray Beach. And they’re all the doings of one person — Dak Kerprich.
 For several years, he’s run one of the most popular eateries along Ocean Avenue — Pizzeria Oceano. Lots of small, personal pizzas, some simple, some elaborate, some unpredictable with ingredients such as venison and octopus. Equally surprising and delectable are the appetizers and small plates accompanied by an assortment of craft beers.
 Well, the pizzeria part is gone — actually, more to the point, moved . . .  to Delray.
  “I’ve been working on this for several years,” said Kerprich at the counter of his new venture Swell Pizza. Set in the Pineapple Grove District on Northeast 2nd Avenue just north of Third, Swell is a prototype: custom pizzas fired in a wood-burning oven specially designed by Kerprich for takeout and delivery only.
 Swell opened in early June and business already is brisk, Kerprich said.
As for Lantana, it’s no longer serving pizza, just the specialty plates, appetizers and salads.
 “I had a night off from here a few nights back, so I had dinner at Oceano for the first time ever,” Kerprich said. “And you know, it was really good!”
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Hard to believe it’s been 35 years since Bill Murray and Rodney Dangerfield tore up the fairways at Boca Raton Resort & Club for the comedy classic Caddyshack. In 1989, the legendary hotel was a location for Stella with Bette Midler and for one of Burt ReynoldsB.L. Stryker episodes, but not much since — until a few weeks ago when director William H. Macy yelled “Action!” for The Layover.  No golf this time; it’s a sexy comedy starring Sports Illustrated swimsuit star Kate Upton and Parenthood’s Alexandra Daddario. They play close friends who compete for the character played by Matt Barr after a hurricane diverts their flight to St. Louis. Macy, who also stars, is making his directorial debut.
    Shooting wrapped in early June for a January release.
                                    ***
The night before his June 9 concert in Miami Beach, David Crosby, who turns 74 on Aug. 14, wife Jan Dance and son Django enjoyed dinner at Farmer’s Table in Boca Raton with longtime friend, entrepreneur Steve Sponder, wife Randi and daughter Sarah. Crosby is no stranger to the Palm Beaches — some visits inspiring, others not so.
7960585871?profile=original    In 1985, he was sinking ever deeper into a maelstrom of drugs, health issues and criminal charges. According to one account, he stole a car and drove from Texas to Jupiter, where his beloved schooner Mayan, the inspiration for Wooden Ships and Southern Cross, was moored in the Intracoastal. His goal: sail to freedom in Costa Rica, which had no extradition treaty.
    However, friends here intervened and persuaded him to turn himself in. He was sent back to Texas, served some time and ultimately came to terms with the drugs and his health and his growing family.
    In 1998 he played the Carefree Theatre in West Palm Beach with CPR, a band that included his son, James Raymond — the product of a dalliance in the ’60s. Crosby only learned of Raymond’s existence in 1994, weeks before a liver transplant that kept him alive.
               ***                    
  Eerie coincidence. Jaws’ 40th anniversary, swimmers bitten, and now sharks in Phil Foster Park — concrete evidence that art can be dangerous and danger can be artistic. The park’s 800-foot Snorkel Trail has gained some new inhabitants: a trio of 5-foot-long concrete hammerheads.
    Sculptor/photographer/diver Tom McDonald, who splits his time between West Palm Beach and Roanoke, Va., wants humans to better understand what it’s like to live in the shark’s realm. Plus the concrete sharks’ intentionally rough texture will provide habitat for marine life — from algae to octopus and even the occasional live shark.   
                                    ***
    Boca resident Ron Wells is a civil engineer, who has done quite well in the construction business. He’s built bridges and dams, highways and power plants. He likes things that last, he’s curious about how things work and he knows what it takes to finish a job. So when the New Jersey native happened to meet some of the folks who run the George Snow Scholarship Fund, his natural curiosity was aroused.
    The Snow Foundation is a homegrown program that provides scholarships to worthy students, who otherwise might not have an opportunity to attend college. “The more involved I became, and the more I learned, the more it hit me, ‘I need to be a part of this in a big way,’ ” Wells said.
    Wells recently wrote a check for $100,000, but he hasn’t stopped there. To develop a permanent funding source for scholarships, the fund has launched an endowment campaign with a goal to raise $1 million in 2015. Wells has issued a challenge to the foundation and the community. If they can raise an additional $200,000, he’ll match it.
    “Ron has inspired us to raise at least $1 million over the next year, which will be added to our current $1,200,000 endowment,” Fund founder and President Tim Snow said. “His generous gift will serve as the foundation of what we hope will be a $20 million endowment that will serve the young people of our community in perpetuity.”
    “There is a tremendous amount of philanthropy in Boca Raton,” Wells said, “but many people really do not know where to give their money, whether it’s legacy gifting or people with excess money and no place to send it. There are a number of people who do not know about The George Snow Scholarship Fund, and they need to learn about it. That is now my mission.” (www.scholarship.org)
                                    ***
    One of the biggest shows of the summer no doubt will come from Tim McGraw, who has made Coral Sky Amphitheatre a regular tour stop for more than two decades. The show, however, likely won’t be as incendiary as those Spontaneous Combustion tours because Mrs. McGraw (Faith Hill) is staying home this summer … unless she just decides Tim needs company.
    Those shows were more searing than a six-burner grill. During their first visit in June 1996, sparks obviously were flying when the two, both recently divorced, joined on stage, first dancing, then kissing behind his Stetson. Rumors had them sharing the same bus, although tour managers played dumb: “We don’t get involved with our clients’ personal lives or their personal relationships.”
    Four months later they married.
                                    ***
    The Fourth of July kicks off the Coral Sky season, actually on July 3 with country star Dierks Bentley. A younger crowd will enjoy fireworks on several stages the next day as the Vans Warped Tour returns with a trainload of alternative rockers. Who wouldn’t be intrigued by acts with such names as Kosha Dillz, Lee Corey Oswald and I Killed the Prom Queen. Plus, parents get in free.
    The Coral Sky calendar is loaded with country: Rascal Flatts and Scotty McCreery on July 11; Toby Keith, Aug. 2; Lady Antebellum, Sept. 6; Kelly Clarkson, Sept. 17; Luke Bryan, Sept. 19 and 20; Brad Paisley, Oct. 3; Jason Aldean, Oct. 24; and a closing cookout Nov. 15 with Zac Brown.
    On the rock side, it’s Kid Rock and Foreigner on July 16; Slipknot (heavy metal from Iowa), July 24; Dave Matthews’ double header, July 31 and Aug. 1; Steely Dan and Elvis Costello (possibly the summer’s best!), Aug. 12; Incubus and Deftones, Aug. 14; Van Halen and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Sept. 15; hip-hopper J. Cole, Aug. 18; and Australian rockers 5 Seconds of Summer, Sept. 13.
    Coral Sky may have reverted to its original name, but sunsets can only be seen from the higher elevations of the grass berm. For a better view, head down to west Boca, where patrons at Sunset Cove Amphitheater can turn their lawn chairs around and watch the sun sink into the Everglades. Two shows are set there: Barenaked Ladies, Violent Femmes and Colin Hay on July 10 and Slightly Stoopid July 25.
    At Mizner Park Amphitheater, California pop rockers R 5 play July 8 and Tony winner Idina Menzel makes an early stop on her world tour July 26.
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7960585884?profile=original
    Gulf Stream residents and long time library supporters Mark and Becky Walsh gave a surprise gift of $100,000 to the Delray Beach Public Library’s Foothold on the Future Campaign to renovate and expand the library’s children’s department. The gift was announced at a cocktail party given by Delray Beach residents Harvey and Virginia Kimmel. The Kimmels have also committed $100,000 in the form of a matching grant.
                                    ***
    The Sandbar at Boston’s on the Beach is the eighth best beach bar in Florida. So claims floridabeachbars.com, which compiled 15,000 online votes from 100 cities. While it’s good for Boston’s, the news comes with a few caveats, such as coastal favoritism.
    Of the top 10 bars, seven are on the Gulf Coast and six less than an hour’s drive from Clearwater, home of  floridabeachbars.com. Bars also got points for — another west coast bias — access to sunsets.
    The guide does give travelers some idea of where they can soak up the local vibe, although less than half of the more than 270 watering holes are listed as “on” or “by” the beach. Boynton Beach’s two listings, Banana Boat and Two Georges, are listed as “on water,” as are the Old Key Lime House in Lantana and Deck 84 in Delray. But they’re on the Intracoastal, not the beach.
    Hudson’s, directly across from Deck 84, isn’t mentioned. Nor is Bradley’s in West Palm Beach. And you can’t get much closer to the beach than the Dune Deck in Lantana, but it closes at 4:30 p.m.

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Not exactly sure what’s going on, but Delray libation army icon Sail Inn is shuttered... but only temporarily, people say. The half-century-old bar, a popular watering hole long before the street was renamed George Bush Boulevard, allegedly is being brought up to code — primarily improved handicapped access. But we also hear that owner Rick Janke wants to bring back limited food service. But that would make it a restaurant... and restaurants and smoking don’t mix.  But if he builds a patio, the smokers can stroll outside for a few carcinogenic puffs. Stay tuned.
                                   ***
No summer shutdown at The Wick, which now offers an on-site restaurant. And we’re not talking sandwiches and a soda machine. If the décor at Tavern at the Wick resembles another “tavern’ in New York, it’s no accident. And the food? Well, founder Marilynn Wick didn’t fool around, grabbing William Walden, who has run kitchens from D.C. to Boca, including The Goodstone Inn in Virginia horse country and Bistro Gastronomie locally. Look for a menu of modern American, French continental and country cuisine themed to the current production.
    That offers plenty of flexibility for The Wick’s next production, George M! In Concert, which runs through July 19. The cast of 20 includes narrator Susan Powell, who was crowned Miss America 1981 and then pursued a career in theater and TV. Filling the role of George M. Cohan is Scott Leiendecker, a veteran of Broadway, national tours and regional productions. After George M, he’ll return to his previous role as Flotsam in the national tour of Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
    Another classic follows with a “high-flying” version of Peter Pan from Aug. 6-30.
                                    ***
    Summer also means repertory, which is in high gear at FAU. The Department of Theatre and Dance is offering multiple performances of the George S. Kaufman-Edna Ferber classic The Royal Family; the musical She Loves Me; 352 Keys: Piano Gala Extravaganza and Big Band Hits from the Golden Age through July 25. For show times and tickets: www.fauevents.com.  
                                    ***
    She was the first queen of beauty, and while Helena Rubinstein was having famous artists design jewelry for the business, she had them capture her as well. Picasso, Dali, Man Ray, Warhol — those portraits are on display in Helena Rubinstein: Beauty Is Power through July 12 at the Boca Raton Museum of Art. The exhibition also includes selections from her jewelry and clothing collections, photos of her residences, spas and salons and even advertisements. (www.bocamuseum.org)
                                    ***
    Thanks to a gift from Damon and Katherine Mezzacappa, the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach is offering free admission every Saturday … for two years. Current exhibitions include Going Places: Transportation Designs from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection. The multimedia assemblage features planes, automobiles and trains … although nothing from All Aboard Florida.
                                    ***
    The Delray Center for the Arts and Arts Garage have busy calendars starting July 3. World Music 5 offers jazz in the Garage while Higher Ground plays pop tunes on the Old School Square lawn.
    Grammy-nominated percussionist Sammy Figueroa plays the Garage on July 10, followed by jazz vocalist Lenard Rutledge, July 11, Nicole Henry, July 25, and Little Feat alums Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett, Aug. 15.
    The Old School Square dance parties — backed by food trucks —continue with free shows on the outdoor stage by Mike Mineo, July 10; Flavor, July 17; Libido, July 24; and The Clique, July 31. (www.artsgarage.org or 450-6357; www.delrayarts.org or 243-7922.
                                    ***
The Allman Brothers Band may have “broken up,” but while its members may be slowing down, they aren’t about to desert the music. Gregg Allman, Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks — all have their own bands, and now founding member and drummer Butch Trucks is back in the picture.
On Sept. 19, Butch Trucks and the Freight Train Band will take the stage at the Funky Biscuit in Boca. Joining him will be Florida west coasters Berry Duane Oakley (bass),  Damon Fowler (guitar) and Biscuit owner Al Poliak (keyboards).
Freight Train isn’t Trucks’ first other band experience. A couple of decades ago, the Palm Beach resident ventured into the realm with Frogwings, a jazzy-bluesy-rock group with a flexible lineup comprised of members of the Allman extended family and assorted friends. It even played in Delray at the Musician’s Exchange, long ago reconceived as City Oyster.

Contact Thom Smith at thomsmith@ymail.com.

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