Cleveland’s “Taste of the NFL” duties passed to Fahrenheit's Rocco Whalen

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Rocco Whalen is going to the Super Bowl. Top toque of Tremont’s Fahrenheit, Whalen has been tapped as Cleveland’s new chef-representative to the Taste of the NFL, the league’s annual gala held on the Saturday night prior to the Super Bowl. In his new post, Whalen be filling the shoulder pads recently vacated by chef-restaurateur Paul Minnillo (Baricelli Inn), a 17-year veteran of the so-called “Party with a Purpose.” ... That “purpose” is raising money for hunger-relief programs across the country. First launched in Minneapolis at Super Bowl XXVI, the annual Taste of the NFL dinner is an enormous, and enormously successful, fundraiser, scoring more than $6.8 million since its inception in 1992. (The national blowout is augmented by smaller events in each NFL team city, including Cleveland’s 10-year-old Taste of the NFL, generally held in September at the Browns Stadium.) “It’s a great organization, and I’ve really valued my association with it,” says Minnillo. “But after 17 years, it was time to turn the job over to somebody new. I nominated Rocco, and the organizers loved the idea. I’m happy he’s going to be doing it.” Whalen is psyched, too. “I’m Cleveland proud!” he told C-Notes last week, noting that – beyond its philanthropic contributions – the event is another source of illumination for the region’s culinary talent. “I’m proud to be carrying the torch for Paulie, and to be carrying it for Cleveland!” Whalen’s debut as the Browns’ chef-representative will be on Saturday, Jan. 30, in Tampa Bay, where he’ll be preparing rare beef carpaccio for 1,000. Tix, by the way, are $500. --- Elaine T. Cicora Read Elaine Cicora's restaurant reviews, food news, and comprehensive dining guide on the restaurant page at clevescene.com.

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