Authors Posts by Ricky Ly of

Ricky Ly of

Ricky Ly founded in 2008 as a local Orlando food blog dedicated to finding the tastiest bits and pieces of Orlando as well as around the world. His first book, Food Lovers' Guide to Orlando: The Best Restaurants, Markets & Local Culinary Offerings (Food Lovers' Series) is available now on and Photography is taken using a Canon EOS 6D and a Sony Nex-3. E-mail him at tastychomps(at) Google

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I still remember those days in college, traveling up to visit friends at the University of Florida in Gainesville way back in 2003, with everyone excited to line up for this new restaurant called Bento Cafe. We called it Bento Blue even then because of its blue decor. We lined up to take our orders at the register and waited patiently for our bowls of Taiwanese beef noodle soup or teriyaki chicken bento boxes, with great delight.

Now based in Orlando, Bento Asian Kitchen + Sushi, a quick-casual pan-Asian restaurant, enters its 15th year of business this fall.

To honor the benchmark and its customer base fueling the restaurant’s longevity, Bento Café kicked off a “15 Days of Bento” celebration starting on September 15, 2017.

Established in Gainesville during the fall of 2002, Bento Café’s original location opened at 3832 West Newberry Road. It is known as “Bento Blue” due to its vibrant use of blue neon décor, as reported by a Gainesville Sun article covering the opening.

To meet growing demand after the Newberry location launched, the second location on Archer Road (affectionately named by locals as “Bento Red” also due to its décor, and to differentiate between the two) opened in 2007.

Locations in Orlando, Jacksonville, and more recently, Davie and Tallahassee gradually popped up throughout the 15-year run.

“Fifteen years ago when we first opened, we never dreamed of expanding out of Gainesville, and now we have plans to expand out of Florida,” comments owners, Jimmy and Johnny.


The group plans to give back to the customers and community as reaching this anniversary wouldn’t be possible without the support of its loyal following. Bento Café will recognize promotions at participating locations, daily giveaways, and rotating specials from September 15th through September 29th.

Also for every check-in and tag on social media, the group will donate $1 to benefit local charities through the Bento Foundation. The total amount donated will be announced October 1st.

The 15 Days of Bento include:

DAY 1- FRIDAY Sept 15
Spend $20 to receive a free t-shirt while supplies last
Half off boba teas
DAY 3- SUNDAY Sept 17
Free combo upgrades
DAY 4- MONDAY Sept 18
Half off any classic roll
DAY 5- TUESDAY Sept 19
10% of all proceeds to benefit local charities through the Bento foundation at
Half off Spicy Cream Chicken Rice Bowl
Gift card Giveaway
Purchase a $50 gift card, get a $10 gift card
DAY 8- FRIDAY Sept 22
Half off beer and sake
20% off call-in order – mention “bento turns 15” at checkout
DAY 10- SUNDAY Sept 24
Family Day – free kids box with purchase of any entree (roll, bowl or box)
DAY 11- MONDAY Sept 25
One free build-a-poke protein upgrade
DAY 12- TUESDAY Sept 26
BOGO appetizers
Half off catered lunch coupon
Must drop a business card to receive instant print coupon for half off catering order (limit
DAY 14- THURSDAY Sept 28
College Day
Bring your friend, get BOGO Chicken Teriyaki Rice Bowls with student ID
DAY 15- FRIDAY Sept 29
Announcing winner of FREE BENTO FOR A YEAR

We spoke with the founders of Bento to get some more background about the history of the restaurant empire:

How did the story of Bento begin?

Bento began with a small Taiwanese family in Gainesville Florida that had a history of opening and operating traditional Chinese restaurants from small take out places to large Chinese buffets. While attending the University of Florida, the two brothers, Jimmy and Johnny, wanted to open something more modern and hip that could be a cool college hangout and quick place to grab a bite to eat being near the University of Florida.

Johnny Tung, Momma Tung, and Jimmy Tung of Bento

Quick service Asian restaurants then were pretty much non existent in 2002 so it would be a unique place that had more of a cool decor rather than hanging traditional Asian lanterns and golden dragons. Having been sushi trained we decided to make Bento more of a pan Asian cuisine adding some Thai Curry dishes and Korean dishes. Bento boxes were also already very common in Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese, and Chinese cuisines. Lastly we had to wait for the perfect location that was small, convenient, and near UF and Bento was born at a 40 seat restaurant on Newberry Road.

The Original Bento Blue

What was it like in the first year?

The 1st year of opening started off very slow but ended with a line out the door for hours at a time. No one really knew what Bento was all about. People came in confused and looking for a hostess but soon realized the Bento can be a quick stop for good quality Asian food dine-in or takeout.

We started with a staff of 5 and quickly grew to 30 in the first year to meet the demand. We had to change our kitchen layout a few times and had to keep figuring out more ways to produce the food quickly and efficiently without sacrificing the quality.

Once the Gainesville Sun wrote about how unique Bento was, that’s when the lines started. It was challenging to double, triple, quadruple the volume out of such a small restaurant without disappointing our growing fan base.

In the past 15 years, what do you think has changed the most regarding the American palate towards Asian cuisine at Bento? Why?

In 15 years, our fan base has grown a lot and we have seen different items become popular. At first, it was more about the items that people were used to seeing at different Chinese restaurants such as shrimp fried rice and General Tso’s Chicken but have seen more of a shift to more customizable options with our Build a Poke bowls. People are starting to become more adventurous with eating and have started to appreciate more ethnic and fresh ingredients. Also, at Bento, having an open kitchen and sushi bar follows the trend of transparency and making everything in house.

What were some of your biggest challenges through the years?

In the last 15 years, the most common challenges are to continue to stay fresh and stay with the trends in our offerings and our marketing strategies as time passes. As we grow, challenges of product consistency will always be a priority. As we keep building new stores, we have to dedicate the same attention to the aging stores that have been around for 10+ years. Luckily, we have had the same passionate core management team in place for over 10 years now to keep Bento moving in the right direction.

Bento partners Jimmy Tung, Jurel Serrana, Johnny Tung, and David Yu

Where do you see Bento in the next 5, 10 years?

Our goal for the next 5 years is to continue to expand to major cities and universities throughout Florida. Tampa Bay has long been part of our expansion and we recently were pleased to announce our downtown St. Petersburg location. We are looking at some locations in Atlanta now as that is the next area we want to target in the Southeast. In 10 years, we would like to be in every major metropolitan city across the U.S

Bento Jacksonville

Bento is hugely popular in college areas, how do you think Bento can reach out to more of the mainstream American audience?

One of Bento’s biggest milestone was opening the 1st Bento outside of our Gainesville college town in downtown Orlando in 2008. It was a big test to see if Bento would do well in a non college market and it was an instant hit with the office professionals downtown. We then opened our Dr.Phillips location in 2009 which was a more residential and tourist area with no university nearby and that store was successful as well.

Once we opened Jacksonville late 2009 that was when we were confident enough that Bento was not just a college spot anymore and that this concept could be open in most markets. We have very recognizable menu items but also have many authentic items that would appeal to both a mainstream crowd and also for people that appreciate more of the hard to find authentic dishes such as Szechuan beef noodle soup and Ginger scallion chicken.

Top Five Best Selling Dishes at Bento

1. Spicy Cream Chicken
2. Teriyaki Chicken
3. Tuna Poke bowl
4. Pork Katsu Curry
5. Pad Thai

Sushi Best Sellers

Special Mexican Roll
Crunch Roll
Avocado Roll

Also, a new menu item – build-a-poke bowls – are on the rise in popularity.

Wishing Bento a happy 15 year anniversary and many more to come! Visit for menu, locations, and more.

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Hurricane Irma Information

In times of disaster, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and its network of 550 nonprofit feeding partners represent a vital emergency food supply for the community.

They are are providing extended relief service to storm victims in Brevard, Volusia, Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Lake Counties.

Emergency Food Assistance

If you find yourself in need of food assistance, please call 407-295-1066 and we will help you locate an emergency food pantry near you. You can also click on the county below and find food pantries that are open around you this week (list is updated daily).

If you need other help find a list of Community Resources here (pdf download).

How To Help

After the storm, ways for the local community to help Second Harvest help people in need are very specific:

  • Monetary Donations. Your $10 gift can help us provide 40 meals into our community during this time of need.   
  • Food and cleaning supplies donations: 
    Non-perishable food donations and cleaning supplies can be delivered to our distribution center in Orlando at 411 Mercy Drive, Orlando, Florida 32805. (see attached list of needs).
  • Volunteer opportunities:

Donation Drop-offs:

Tuesday – Friday 8am to 4pm
Second Harvest Food Bank, 411 Mercy Drive Orlando, Fla. 32805   Phone: 407-295-1066

Tuesday – Friday 7am to 3:30pm
Volusia County:  320 North Street, Daytona Beach, FL 32114         Phone: 386-257-4499
Brevard County: 6928A Vickie Circle, West Melbourne, FL 32904   Phone: 321-733-1600


Basic Categories:

  • Canned Goods
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Cooking items
  • Personal Care
  • Bottled Goods
  • Charcoal/Sterno
  • First Aid Supplies
  • Paper Goods
  • Flashlights/Batteries
  • Dry Goods
  • Water & Ice
  • Infant Care items

Level 1 Priority (in addition to basic categories)

  • Peanut Butter
  • Assorted drinks
  • Cooking items
  • Jelly
  • Cereal
  • Paper Goods
  • Canned Meats
  • Canned Fruits & Veggies
  • Bread
  • Diapers
  • Baby Formula ? Food
  • Snacks
  • Bleach
  • Cleaning supplies

Level 2 Priority (in addition to other categories)

  • Cookies & Crackers
  • Toilet Paper
  • Feminine Hygiene
  • Instant Coffee/Drinks
  • Toothpaste & Brushes
  • Non-perishable milk
  • Tea Bags
  • Soap
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo
  • Candy
  • Staples (sugar, salt)

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Weekends, September 15 – November 12
Complimentary transportation to Epcot® and the Disney Theme Parks.

Food & Wine Weekends at Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek is a celebration of fine wine and the culinary arts…the perfect complement to the Epcot® Food & Wine Festival, for the serious epicurean.

Food & Wine Weekends events will be held from September 15 through November 12, 2017.

Friday & Saturday, 6pm – 10pm,
Bull & Bear

Experience an exclusive tasting five-course menu comprised of exquisite food and wine pairings – prepared by the illustrious chefs of Waldorf Astoria Orlando.
Reservations recommended, please refer to, “The Taste of Bull & Bear,” when making a reservation. Call 407-597-5413. ($)

Please note: The Taste of Bull & Bear menu will not be available on the following dates: September 22, October 13, October 27 & November 11.


Friday & Saturday, 6pm – 11pm,
La Luce

From the kitchen of La Luce at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, enjoy an exclusive four-course menu with recommended wine pairing featuring the best of La Luce. Menu may be paired with wine flights for an additional fee.
Reservations recommended, please refer to, “The Taste of La Luce,” when making a reservation. Call 407-597-3600. ($)


Friday & Saturday, 5pm – 10pm,
Zeta Asia

Guests can enjoy an exciting epicurean journey at Zeta Asia, exploring perfect pairings of sake or beer with favorite Asian-inspired dishes. ($)


Saturday 4:30pm – 5:30pm,
Peacock Alley

Muddle, mix and sample! Guests partake in an interactive experience creating their very own specialty cocktails.

Friday & Saturday, 5pm – 7pm,
outside of La Luce

Before dinner, sample an array of wines which will be offered as a complement to The Taste of La Luce dinner menu.
Regardless of your wine knowledge, this is a wonderful opportunity to learn more from an experienced sommelier.

Friday & Saturday, 7pm – 10pm,
Peacock Alley

A decadent selection of à la carte chocolate treats hand-crafted by Waldorf Astoria Orlando’s world-class pastry team. A selection of champagnes are available, as well. Highlights include chocolate truffles, exotic chocolate cakes and bowls of beautiful bon-bons. ($)

Friday & Saturday, 7pm – 10pm,

Whether indulging in a pre or post-dinner treat, guest can visit the Macaron Bar to try an assortment of flavors, hand-made by the resort’s world-class pastry team. ($)

Nightly, 6pm – 10pm
Peacock Alley

Enjoy live music while taking in the fabulous vibe of Peacock Alley.

Sundays, 2pm – 4pm,
Peacock Alley

Treasure time together as you savor finely-prepared tea sandwiches and house-made pastries, while sipping premium hot tea and listening to live piano music. Add a glass of champagne for a “Grand Royal Tea.”
Reservations are required 24 hours in advance. Please see Concierge or call 407-597-5450. ($)

Friday & Saturday, 6pm – 10pm,
WA Kids Club

Adults are not the only ones to have fun. The WA Kids Club is offering a nightly children’s program including dinner and a non-stop roster of fun activities – providing parents some “adult time” in which to experience Food & Wine Weekend activities. ($)

Daily, Waldorf Astoria Spa

Experience the powerful antioxidants of red wine powder, red grape seed extract, crushed grape seeds and pure grape seed oil as you indulge in an extravagant Tuscany Wine Wrap or Pedicure.
To book an appointment at Waldorf Astoria Spa please call 407-597-5360. ($)

August 31 – November 13,

Sip, savor and stroll your way through 35 delicious destinations in a fun and flavor-filled celebration of the 35th anniversary of Epcot®.
Waldorf Astoria Orlando offers complimentary luxury transportation to and from Epcot®.

Taste Around Food & Wine Weekends Highlights:

Bull & Bear®  
– Green Pea Cappuccino with White Asparagus Foam and Lemon Meyer Dust
– Carved Beef Tenderloin with Mushroom Ash, Purée of Charred Eggplant,
Confit Potato with Juniper Berry Salt, Madeira Demi

La Luce®  

– Ravioli Al Nero Di Sephia, Crab, Tomato, Fennel Brodo

– Chimay Braised Beef Short Rib, Risotto, Porcinis, Melted Leeks, Butter Squash,
Horseradish Gremolata

Zeta Asia

– Kanji Signature Roll, Spicy Salmon, Cucumber, Avocado, Tobiko, Siracha
– Mont Fuji Roll, Crab, Avocado, Cucumber, Hamachi, Salmon, Tuna, Wasabi Aioli, Tobiko

– Tuna Poke Bowl, Avocado, Pickled Cucumber, Spinach, Mushrooms, Bean Sprout,
Sushi Rice, Furikake, Matsu Dressing

Bar du Chocolat  
– Chocolate and Raspberry Religieuse
– Oreo Cheese Cake
– Milk Chocolate Eclair
– White Chocolate Cheesecake Pop
– PB And Mascarpone Cream Dome
– Old Fashion Chocolate Brownies
– Cherry Double Fudge Cookie
– Crispy Chocolate And Caramel Bar
– Chocolate Bonbon, Caramel And Candy

Macaron Bar
– Caramel Fleur dé Sel
– Piña Colada
– Strawberry and Cream
– Peach and Raspberry
– Bananas Foster
– Lemon

Cocktail Creations
– Bull & Bear’s Spicy Margarita: Patrón Barrel Select Añejo Tequila, Green Chartreuse, St. Germaine, Organic Agave, Lime Juice, Gracias A Dios Mezcal, Avocado, Egg White

Private Labels
– Chardonnay – Hill Family Estate, Bonnet Creek Reserve “Carly’s Cu Cuvée,” Napa Valley, CA
– Pinot Noir – Leatitia, Bonnet Creek Reserve, Arroyo Grande, CA
– Tequila – Patrón Barrel Select Añejo, Hilton & Waldorf Astoria Bonnet Creek Resort, Lot # 129/336
– Bourbon – Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve, Hand selected by Bonnet Creek Resort Barrel # 4194
– Beer – “Bonnet Creek Bliss”, Belgium Strong Ale, aged for 3 months in Bonnet Creek Resort’s bourbon barrels, Crooked Can, Winter Garden, FL

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This September we’re looking for hunger heroes to help provide an additional 40,000 meals through our #ShareAMeal campaign. 

A hunger hero, just like you, has pledged to match all donations – up to $5,000! You can help unlock this matching fund and help feed more people today.

Take the #ShareAMeal Challenge

Step 1: Share your favorite meal with us using the #ShareAMeal hashtag on social media.

Step 2: Donate the cost of your meal here to help feed hungry families. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar.

Step 3: Challenge 3 friends to share their meals by tagging them in your post. Use the hashtag #ShareAMeal, so we can share it too!

Together we can make a difference for thousands of children, families, and seniors in our community. We look forward to seeing your shared meals!

Take the #shareameal challenge

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Join 10+ award winning, well known, and most popular Central Florida restaurants and chefs for an epic, battle-style burger competition unlike anything you’ve seen before at the brand new Ace Cafe in Downtown Orlando. Cast your vote for the Best Burger in Orlando alongside a distinguished panel of celebrity judges as you sample burger creations from all across the area! Experience a sensation for your taste buds as Central Florida’s top chefs present their take on Orlando’s Best Burger.

Attendees enjoy free beer, wine, spirits, and all the burgers they can eat! With live music, performers, fun zones, and of course, some of the rarest and most sought-after motorcycles in the world on display, this battle cannot be missed! Are You Ready To Crown A Champ?

Sep 23, 2017 from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm

at Ace Cafe Orlando, Orlando, FL

Tickets are on sale now  / $55 General Admission / $75 V.I.P.

General Admission Tickets include:
• All you can eat burgers from each participating restaurant
• Beer, wine, and cocktail bars
• Milkshake bar
• Concert
• Games

VIP Tickets include:
• All general admission items plus …
• Early admission to the event
• Exclusive VIP Lounge with Ace Cafe catering
• Private butler service
• V.I.P. gift bag
• Meet-N-Greet with celebrity judges

For more information, please contact or call 407-318-7264!

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The Halal Guys is a halal Middle Eastern fast casual restaurant that began as a food cart in 1990 on the south-east corner of 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. We actually visited the original 53rd and 6th Ave Halal food cart way back in 2009 after a late night of walking the city.

Gyro sandwich

The place always had a long line, especially in the late hours of the evening after the night clubs would close, and people loved their signature white sauce over chicken and rice platters. In addition to rice platters, there are also pita sandwiches and salads, where you can choose beef gyro, chicken, or falafel as your main.

Chicken and Rice Platter

Today, the company has grown from one small food cart to over 200 new restaurants all over the world, including one right here in East Orlando, just south of UCF by Waterford Lakes.

Eater NY recently named the Halal Guys’ rice platter as “one of New York City’s most iconic dishes.” The platter includes meat (chicken, gyro, or both) or falafel, rice, iceberg lettuce (or, instead, extra rice), and slices of pita bread.


In addition to the signature white sauce, there is a very spicy red hot sauce, I believe it is of Egyptian or North African origin because it reminds me a lot of harissa sauce.


The Halal Guys
688 North Alafaya Trail Ste. 103
Orlando, Florida, FL 32828
Highlights info row image
(407) 271-8606

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“The world of sweets is for everybody. No matter your taste, you can always find something on the dessert menu that will make you happy.”

Rabii Saber, Executive Pastry Chef at Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® Resort, oversees the dessert options for the Resort’s five restaurants, in-room dining, and banquet operations.

Saber was born and raised in Morocco, and recalls helping his mother late into the night creating sweets from honey and almonds for morning holiday festivities. Though it was “a little bit nuts for men to be in the kitchen in Morocco those days,” Saber kept at it, fashioning cakes for siblings and friends before studying the culinary arts and heading off five-star restaurants across Europe and the US.

His path took a pivotal turn in the mid-‘00s when Top Chef Michael Voltaggio offered him a position as head pastry chef at a new restaurant in Los Angeles. His boss at the time, Frederic Monti, a renowned master patissier in his own right, advised Saber to consider his decision. “He told me if I wanted to be a well rounded pastry chef, I should stay in hotels,” he recalls. “He was right. There are so many possibilities to take part in, including restaurant plated desserts, banquets, in room dining and special events. It’s great exposure to so many things.”

Saber keeps a close eye on new techniques, noting that pastry is a “whole other world” within the culinary arts that demands the exactitude of chemistry rather than dashes here and best judgments there. In 2016, Saber was honoured to participate on the American team for the Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie competion in Lyon, France – known in the pastry world as the “Pastry Olympics.” The selection process to qualify for this prestigious competition involved more than fifty national rounds and four continental selection events in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe. In total, 22 teams competed, and the American team placed fourth.

Like Hawaii, Saber has found Orlando to be a little slice of paradise. “The skies, the trees, the sunsets here are so beautiful, and the perfect backdrop for my photographer wife.” And for himself? Passionate about fishing, Saber likes to go Florida bass fishing whenever he can find the time.

Tell us a little bit about your background in pastry arts.

I was fortunate to do a solid training and apprenticeship in the begging of my career in French pastry. I came to live in the U.S.A., the land of opportunities, a little over 10 years ago. I applied the foundations of French pastry to redefine my style and develop and a new flavor profile. This new flavor profile is what I believe made me successful in my task here. Embracing the culture, opening my mind to new horizons and working hard made everything come together harmoniously.

What inspired you to become a pastry chef?

I discovered my passion for pastry at an early age. I was 15 when I started making cakes and sweets for family members and friends. Growing up in a family that loves food and a mother that is passionate about cooking was a big inspiration for me.

Cooking for guests that came over frequently to our home was a part of my family’s life.

I was always involved in our family in the process of making traditional Moroccan pastries for holidays, parties or even for daily consumption as they are a big part of our daily meals.

As a teenager, I made most of the birthday cakes for friends and family members, and that’s when I started learning about the French pastry. I recall a very well-received cake that I used to make. It was a vanilla sponge filed and finished with creme fraiche. It was very simple and super tasty.

When I finished high school, I was determined that pastry was what I wanted to do. It was hard to convince my peers that going into the culinary field was a good decision for me. At the time, there weren’t many opportunities for this field in Morocco. However, I had huge support from my small family. After that, becoming a chef became my goal.

What was life like in Morocco growing up?

Everywhere I lived, I heard the melting pot expression. My life in Morocco was exactly a reflection of that as well. Morocco is a rich, diverse and multicultural country. Historically, the country went through various influences from indigenous Berber populations passing by the Arabs, Jews and to the recent days with the strong European influence. I grew up in a multilingual family and I feel truly blessed to have these skills. Currently, I am working with my children to follow my steps.

What was the Pastry Olympics like? What were some of the biggest challenges you had preparing or during the competition?

Having the privilege to participate in the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie for me was the most exciting experience of my career. I had the opportunity to experiment with many different techniques and recipes. This experience allowed me to learn so many new skills, helped me to expand my knowledge, and grow in my career.

There are multiple achievements that one accomplishes by doing the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie. Despite the awards, one walks away feeling stronger and more confident.

The biggest challenge, especially for the American Team, is that our team consisted of chefs from all over the country. We had chefs from Nevada, California, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Colorado, New York, Michigan, and Florida travel to Chicago every month to practice for the composition for sixteen months. Coordinating logistics and connecting with the team members and coaches, was the biggest challenge that we faced as a team. It was also hard to pack and ship everything to France that we needed for the competition. We had to do this six weeks in advance.

Geographically, European teams had it easier being close to Lyon. However, finishing in 4th place and being very close to the podium was a good achievement. We also won prizes in different categories: Best Ice Sculpture, Best Chocolate Cake and a brand new category that was added this year. We worked supper clean and utilized the product to its maximum by controlling waste.

This was a big area of focus for us and the organizers.

In the end the U.S.A was the first to win the Best Eco Friendly Team award in the history of the Coup du Monde de la Patisserie.

What are some of your favorite desserts served on site at the Four Seasons?

We serve over 40 plated desserts beside other pastry offerings at Four Seasons Resort Orlando. Each restaurant has at least one of its own signature dessert: Tres Leches in Plancha, Key Lime Pie in PB&G, Stracciatella and Tiramisu in Ravello, Churros, Fuego and Valor in Capa, the fabulous Buttermilk Chocolate Cake in In Room Dining, and the Peanut Butter Pie in the Lobby Bar. The Gelato Selection at Lickety Split is a highlight of our Resort, as well as the new introduction of the to-go Dessert Cups concept.

What are some favorite eats that you had growing up?

Morocco is known for it’s Couscous, Tagines and Kebabs. On the sweet side most of traditional pasties are made of almonds and honey. I grew up enjoying the Moroccan cuisine. My favorite meal was Lamb Kebab with a small traditional pastry and Moroccan mint tea.

What is the most elaborate dessert you have made for an event?

I recall having a group in house that wanted a Wonderland themed dessert. We created a small mushroom centerpiece made of chocolate for each plate beside the actual dessert. It was challenging, however, the guests loved it.

What are some other dessert assignments you take on for the hotel?

Pastry has an important role at Four Seasons Orlando. There are many different aspects beside restaurants that involve pastry. Banquets and special events are a big portion of what we do on daily basis. We create sumptuous buffets for special groups, occasions, and holidays. Our Easter, Christmas and New Year’s Buffets are becoming a local favorite within the short time we have been operating. Lickety Split, our Coffee Shop is another opportunity for me to work in other pastry arenas such as gelato and other boutique style desserts. We are working on an exclusive cake program that hotel guests and locals alike enjoy.


Award-winning Coupe du Monde chocolate cake, wine parings by Master Sommelier George Miliotes, plus Capa’s fireworks make this dessert party a true finale of the day
August 15, 2017, Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort, U.S.A.

Partake in sweet celebration of National Chocolate Day this September 13, 2017 at a one-of-a-kind Dessert Party at Capa restaurant at Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort. Executive Pastry Chef Rabii Saber has prepared a delicious assortment of desserts, and will showcase his award-winning “Curtain Rise” chocolate cake. In addition, the Resort will welcome Master Sommelier George Miliotes for this special event, who will present dessert wines and specialty drinks to accompany the sweet smorgasbord.

Saber is truly a dessert genius, and due to his talents, he was invited to participate in the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie – often referred to as a “Pastry Olympics” – in Lyon, France in January 2017, where Team USA took home 4th place overall. One dessert, a stunning chocolate cake called the “Curtain Rise” took home the highest honour in the chocolate category. The special cake features several layers: a thin, crispy layer of chocolate with pieces of caramelised hazelnut; two layers of chocolate sponge cake; a delicate layer of Caraibe chocolate cremeux; and a layer of coffee bean crème brulee. The entire cake is wrapped with a thin chocolate glaze.

“I consider chocolate art one of my strengths, and I am pleased that the cake won for this portion of the event,” sayes Saber. “I’m excited to unveil it to the local Orlando community for National Chocolate Day.”

In addition to the Curtain Rise cake, guests will experience confections including:
Hazelnut and chocolate kisses
Peanut butter and jelly choux pastry
Chocolate olive oil tartlet
5-spice blueberry cheesecake
Passion fruit baba cake
Matcha and black sesame lollipop

Miliotes, one of only 236 worldwide industry professionals certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers, is opening Wine Bar George at Disney Springs. Wine Bar George will be the only Master Sommelier-led wine bar in the Sunshine State. The menu will feature a range of varietals, vintages and prices, and a large selection of wines by the glass.

“I’m thrilled to share my enthusiasm and passion for wine with each and every guest, and look forward to a fun dessert event at Capa,” notes Miliotes, who is sourcing wines not typically offered at Capa for this exclusive event.

Space is limited as this event will be held in one of the private dining rooms at Capa. Tickets are USD 55 per person and must be purchased online. The September 13 event will begin at 8:00 pm and conclude at 10:00 pm.

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Featuring the area’s most accomplished chefs, brewers, wine purveyors and spirit vendors, Taste! Central Florida took place this past weekend at the Orlando World Center Marriott.

This annual celebration of the community’s culinary excellence is a volunteer-driven event with local chefs, brewers and distilleries donating their time, talent and creations to make this event one of the largest fundraisers of the year for Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida.

The funds raised by Taste! Central Florida help Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida provide shelter and services to more than 140 children and their families each night and serve more than 270,000 nutritious meals in the coming year.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida directs the funds raised from Taste! Central Florida to childhood hunger relief programs at their agency to assist the 1 in 4 kids in Orlando who struggle with hunger.

Here are some of our favorite bites from the event!

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Chef Emeterio “Tello” Luna adds authenticity and creativity to each dish at Harry’s Poolside Bar & Grill while he also concurrently oversees 98Forty Tapas and Tequila’s menu.

As head chef of Harry’s Poolside Bar & Grill, his blend of old-world techniques learned in his mami’s kitchen in Mexico, travels to the Caribbean, and his skills honed in New York City’s finest restaurants creates a unique and upscale offering of authentic Caribbean dishes.

Harry’s Poolside Bar & Grill items such as the “Mojito Salmon,” tropical chicken, and grilled rib eye steak marinated in Jamaican coffee is basted with his years of culinary experience and research.

Chef Tello and his staff prepares items daily from scratch using fresh aromatic herbs and spices and authentic Caribbean techniques such as steaming banana leaves to unlock distinct flavor for the “Island Mahi Mahi.” In every bite, you’ll taste the fresh creativity and the delicate attention to detail.

Tell us about your background and how you came to become chef at Rosen Centre
I came to NYC at the age of 16 from Mexico looking for culinary opportunities as there weren’t many in Mexico at the time. I worked in many kitchens as a dishwasher, prep and assistant until I decided to attend culinary school. I continued to work in NYC for a couple of years until I moved to Florida where I worked at other hotels until I finally arrived at Rosen Centre. In NYC, I worked at Metrazur by Chef Charles Palmer, Demi restaurant by chef Herb Wilson, café grazie (Italian restaurant ) and Rosen Deli.

What were some of your first and favorite memories around food growing up?
My first memories are those of my mother cooking. She always chose fresh ingredients and did everything by hand. She made fresh tortillas daily. I remember she would grind the soaked corn by hand in a metate or grind stone. She would grind it by hand until perfect. Then she would take the masa and flatten it in a tortilla maker. It was hard work especially having 13 kids but mom always made it happen. Another great memory I have is of Mole. It was only made on special occasions usually for Christmas. It took an entire day to make Mole. My mother would grind over half a dozen spices by hand in her metate to be able to create the rich Mole sauce. You could smell the fresh spices being grinded and creating a fusion of delectable aromatics.

What are some of your favorite dishes on the menu at Harry’s?
Some of my favorite dishes at Harry’s are coffee and soy marinated rib eye. The meat is juicy and tender and then you get an explosion of flavors in your mouth from the marinade that has fused into the meat. Another favorite of mine is the Mahi Mahi wrapped in banana leaf. It is served with Jasmine rice, tostones (fried plantains) and coconut curry sauce. The flavors fuse together wonderfully and make you feel like you’re eating in the Caribbean.

Where do you draw your inspiration from in your cooking?
I draw inspiration from my mother who always chose fresh ingredients and other great chef’s in NYC that I have worked with in the past.

What were some favorite dishes to cook for your family or yourself at home?
There is really not one particular food that I enjoy preparing, I enjoy them all but my wife does most of the cooking when I’m off from work. I have to admit she cooks really good food. My favorites include Arroz con gandules (rice & pigeon peas ), Pernil (slow roasted pork), Pollo guisado (chicken stew), and Chicken mole.

What are some of your favorite local Orlando eats?
My favorite local eats are usually small mom and pop restaurants. These restaurants where the food tends to be made fresh with great ingredients and you can taste the freshness in every bite. Some include Gubambilias (Mexican restaurant ), Andy’s House (Chinese restaurant ), Tu Casa (Caribbean restaurant), and
Chuck Wagon home cooking (breakfast coffee shop).


Inside Harry’s Poolside Brunch Menu

Influenced by the flavors of the Caribbean,  this may be the most unique brunch in Orlando!

Island Berry Blast
Raspberries, Blueberries, Strawberries, Pineapple Juice
Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
Served with Island Berry and Mango Compote and Guava Jam
Baked French Toast
Layered French Toast topped with Caramelized Pecans and Bananas with Fresh Strawberries
Polenta and Eggs
Two Poached Farm Eggs on a Sweet Polenta Cake with Ropa Vieja Braised Beef, Sautéed Spinach, with Cayman Hollandaise
Harry’s Crab Cake Benedict
Bubba’s Mango Crab Cake Benedict topped with Cayman Hollandaise
Harry’s Tropical Bakery Basket:
Pineapple Coconut Bread, Mango Muffin, Guava and Cheese Pastelito
Chimichurri Filet and Eggs
Grilled Filet Mignon topped with Caramelized Grapefruit, Two Eggs any style and Harry’s Potatoes

Harry’s Poolside Bar & Grill is conveniently located next to the pool within the Rosen Centre Hotel on world-famous International Drive.

Harry’s Poolside Bar & Grill
9840 International Drive
Orlando, Florida 32819

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In celebration of the upcoming Visit Orlando Magical Dining Month (, we are partnering with Paddlefish at Disney Springs for a special 3 course preview dinner on Sunday August 20th!

Beginning August 25 during a special preview week, and continuing through October 1, over 100 Orlando area restaurants will offer prix fixe dinners for just $35. Indulge in imaginative appetizers, entrees and desserts sure to leave you spellbound.

Through Visit Orlando, one dollar from each meal supports Freedom Ride and BASE Camp Children’s Cancer Foundation.

The tickets for this special event can be purchased at:


Cocktail Reception with passed cocktails at 6:00pm

3-Course Dinner served at 6:30pm

Choice of Appetizer
Paired with: Joseph Drouhin Chablis

Fried Green Tomatoes
elote, pickled watermelon, queso fresco, remoulade
Green Salad
romaine hearts, cucumber, grape tomato, red onion, yuzu

New England Clam Chowder
bacon, potatoes, cream

Conch Chowder
Bahamian conch, spiced tomato broth

Wheat Berry Salad
farmer’s market vegetables, arugula, lemon vinaigrette

Choice of Entrèe
Paired with: Lemelson Pinot Noir
Fish & Chips
beer battered flounder, sweet potato fries, tartar sauce
Shrimp & Grits
cheddar grits, spicy black pepper butter sauce

Half Chicken
Carolina mop sauce, edamame bacon succotash, pickled watermelon

Pork Chop & Applesauce
house-made applesauce, green beans

Catch of the Day
select one of our chef’s preparations:
Bearnaise – béarnaise sauce, whipped potato
Beurre Blanc – white wine-caper butter sauce, whipped potato
Floribbean – Jerk spices, papaya-mango salsa, red skin potato

Choice of Desserts
Carrot Cake
cream cheese mousse
Key Lime Pie
graham cracker, meringue

Strawberry Shortcake
farmer’s market berries, whipped cream


Sun, August 20, 2017
6:00 PM – 8:30 PM EDT
Add to Calendar

1670 Buena Vista Drive
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830


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Tucked inside the busy Dr. Phillips Marketplace (seriously how many restaurants can fit in there??), you can find La Carraia, a new gelato shop for us here in Orlando.

La Carraia is recognized by @condenasttraveller @voguemagazine and @culturetrip for being one of the best gelato ???? shops in all of Florence, Italy ???????? and has now opened its first shop in Florida in Dr Phillips!

I loved my pistachio and sinfonia gelato from La Carraia this weekend – creamy, yet velvety smooth gelato. Bravo! They even serve house made gelato cakes.

La Carraia Gelateria in Dr Phillips Marketplace
7600 Dr Phillips Blvd #38, Orlando, FL 32819
Phone: (407) 864-8400

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Featuring both food and drink specials, Carrabba’s recently announced that their Happy Hour will be available seven days a week.

Some Menu highlights include:
$5 Specialty Cocktails (Pomegranate Martini, Blackberry Bellini, Sicilian Prickly Pear Margarita and Sparkling Tuscan Lemonade)
$5 Premium Spirits (Absolut, Beefeater, Bacardi, Altos Plata, Jim Beam, Crown Royal and Dewar’s)
$4 Well Spirits
$2 – $3 Draft Beers ($3: Stella Artois, Blue Moon and Peroni; $2: Bud Light)
1/2 Price Appetizers (Mozzarella Marinara, Zucchini Fritte, Wood-Fired Italian Wings, Shrimp Scampi, Calamari, Tomato Caprese with Fresh Burrata, and Mussels in White Wine Lemon Butter)

We recently dropped by to check out the menu, here are some of our favorites!

Pomegranate Martini

Hand-breaded to order and served with marinara sauce

Garlic, white wine and our lemon butter sauce served with baked ciabatta

Seasoned with spicy Italian peppers. Served with gorgonzola dipping sauce

Creamy burrata mozzarella, tomatoes, fresh basil, red onions, balsamic glaze, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil

Prince Edward Island mussels steamed in white wine, basil and lemon butter sauce

At most locations, Happy Hour will be available from from 3 – 6 p.m.

There are multiple locations in Orlando, visit: to find the one nearest you.

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This year, the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival 2017 takes place from August 31 to November 13, 2017. This year the festival lasts longer-than-ever with a 75-day run.

This food aficionado’s paradise is replete with delicious dishes, fine wine, craft beer, spirits and other beverages sure to satisfy every palate—from over 35 individual marketplaces, including new Active Eats, Light Lab, Coastal Eats, Cheese Studio, and Flavors from Fire marketplaces.

In addition, India (2009) and Spain (2010) marketplaces will return for an encore. For a third year, global marketplaces will extend into Future World to offer brand-new taste sensations. Disney chefs are in the kitchen whipping up delicious new bites like the Madras Red Curry vegetarian dish and Pistachio Cardamom Bundt Cake to be on the menu at the India marketplace. At the Spain marketplace, delectable Charcuterie in a cone promises to be a guest favorite.

Photos by Suzy Farmar of @SOOZIETHEFOODIE

Here’s the latest festival buzz:

  • New marketplaces will be announced this summer. In addition, India (2009) and Spain (2010) marketplaces will return for an encore. For a third year, global marketplaces will extend into Future World to offer brand-new taste sensations. Disney chefs are in the kitchen whipping up delicious new bites like the Madras Red Curry vegetarian dish and Pistachio Cardamom Bundt Cake to be on the menu at the India marketplace. At the Spain marketplace, delectable Charcuterie in a cone promises to be a guest favorite.
  • Three times nightly Eat to the Beat concerts – 225 concerts in all on the America Gardens Theatre stage — will rev up the World Showcase vibe with new musical acts and returning festival favorites spanning a broad range of eras and genres such as rock, pop and rhythm and blues.
  • “Mix It, Make It, Celebrate It!” hands-on workshops, which debuted in 2016 at the Festival Center, return with fresh opportunities for guests to interact with visiting chefs, bakers, mixologists and other pros. Event hosts and topics will be announced this summer.
  • Popular TV chefs and other culinary icons will entertain foodies and inspire their palates at Festival Center demonstrations. Those same stars of the kitchen also will create new dishes for premium events such as Party for the Senses grand tastings with new concepts and themes.
  • Festival focus on family will spotlight inspired dishes geared toward children’s palates and culinary demos designed to inspire family fun.
  • Throughout the festival’s 75-day run, park guests can pair wines, beers and ciders with savory and sweet dishes as they stroll the World Showcase Promenade using their complimentary festival passports as a guide.

As guests explore, they’ll find something for everyone in the family:

  • A Ratatouille-inspired adventure will return as Chef Remy gives families a chance to play together during this culinary scavenger hunt.
  • The complimentary Back to Basics Festival Center weekend series will share epicurean tips and tricks from the pros. Book and bottle signings by some of the world’s top vintners will be scheduled, and The Chocolate Experience: From Bean to the Bar, hosted by Ghirardelli, will offer guest samples.
  • Culinary Demonstrations and Beverage Seminars will offer daily learning and tasting opportunities at the Festival Center. On select Saturdays, Cheese Seminars will be a fromage aficionado’s delight.
    Bookings for premium festival events will open this summer.
  • Party for the Senses grand tasting events will showcase creative bites and palate-pleasing sips from eminent chefs and beverage experts plus new live entertainment.
  • Resort premium events will include a Grand Floridian Brunch with a Twist and Culinary Adventures with a Master Chef.
  • Specialty Dining and Pairing events will be on tap at a number of World Showcase participating restaurants.

Included with Epcot Admission:

Back to Basics series, book signings, Eat to the Beat concerts, cultural adventures, Festival Passport and all attractions and park entertainment are included with regular Epcot admission.

Special Programming by Reservation:

The Party for the Senses grand tasting events, signature dinners and other special wine and culinary programs require reservations and separate event admission. When a reservation booking date is announced this summer, guests can call 407/WDW-FEST (939-3378) and get details at

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Saturday, August 19, 2017
6:45 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

at Orlando World Center Marriott
8701 World Center Dr.
Orlando, FL 32821


Featuring the area’s most accomplished chefs, brewers, wine purveyors and spirit vendors, Taste! Central Florida invites the community to enjoy an evening of tasting portions of signature dishes accompanied by fine wines, craft beers, and specialty cocktails.

This annual celebration of the community’s culinary excellence is a volunteer-driven event with local chefs, brewers and distilleries donating their time, talent and creations to make this event one of the largest fundraisers of the year for Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida.

An all-volunteer steering committee, more than 300 day-of event volunteers, tremendous in-kind support from a variety of local business partners, and the generous backing of Orlando World Center Marriott who donates the event space each year allows us to direct every dollar raised to our beneficiaries while generating profound awareness and relief for the children of Central Florida who face hunger on a daily basis.

Tickets are $150 per person, and can be purchased at Every dollar raised fights hunger and homelessness in the Central Florida via the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central FL and Coalition for the Homeless of Central FL.

This year’s participating restaurants:

4 Rivers Smokehouse & The Coop
American Culinary Federation – Central Florida Chapter
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
Cala Bella at Rosen Shingle Creek
Ace Cafe Orlando
Canvas Restaurant & Market
The Capital Grille
Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida
CFHLA Food & Beverage Council
Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen
Cress Restaurant
Dragonly Robata Sushi and Grill
Eleven Restaurant at Reunion Resort
Empress Sissi Cake & Pastry
Florida Nitro
Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center
Hemisphere Restaurant at Hyatt OIA
The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grand Lakes
Rosen Shingle Creek
Marlow’s Tavern
Orlando Food Department Co.
Orlando World Center Marriott
Plancha at Four Seasons Resort
Primo at JW Marriott, Grande Lakes
Raglan Road
The Ravenous Pig
Red Wing Restaurant
Satu-Li Canteen at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Savor…Osceola Heritage Park
Seasons 52 Fresh Grill
SeaWorld Parks & Resorts Orlando
Universal Orlando Resort
Urbain 40 American Brasserie
The Whiskey
Yak & Yeti

This year’s participating beverage vendors.
Acqua Panna & S. Pellegrino
Beam Suntory
Beso Del Sol Sangria
Big Top Brewing Company
Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant
Crooked Can Brewing Company
Florida Dairy Farmers
Jackson Family Wines
Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards
Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Company
NOI Caffe by Rico Foods
Orange Blossom Brewing Co.
Orlando Brewing
Pabst Brewing Company
Palm Ridge Reserve Whiskey
Red Cypress Brewery
Rogue Pub
Scavi & Ray Winery
Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits
Tito’s Handmade Vodka
Wild Buck Whiskey/Njoy Spirits

The funds raised by Taste! Central Florida help Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida provide shelter and services to more than 140 children and their families each night and serve more than 270,000 nutritious meals in the coming year.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida directs the funds raised from Taste! Central Florida to childhood hunger relief programs at their agency to assist the 1 in 4 kids in Orlando who struggle with hunger.

Hunger Facts

  • In Central Florida, 1 in 6 people struggle with food insecurity.
  • Approximately 498,000 individuals turn to Second Harvest’s food pantries and meal service programs to feed themselves and their family each year.
  • 193,000 kids don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
  • 1 in 4 kids in our community is at risk of going to bed hungry every night.
  • 27% are children under the age of 18
  • 113 million more meals a year are needed to fill the hunger gap in our community.
  • 44.5% of Florida households cannot afford basic needs such as housing, childcare, food, health care, and transportation – the vast majority of these families are working.


Leading up to this year’s Taste! Central Florida gala on August 19, select Orlando-area restaurants are participating in the annual Golden Ticket game, with the prize of two tickets to this year’s event.

How It Works

Each participating restaurant (listed below) will receive a bundle of envelopes. Within each envelope is either a “silver ticket” with a discount code for real tickets, or a “golden ticket” with instructions on how to redeem your complementary event tickets.  Tickets are $150 per person, and can be purchased at Every dollar raised fights hunger and homelessness in the Central Florida via the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central FL and Coalition for the Homeless of Central FL.


Participating Golden Ticket Game Locations

 Ace Cafe Orlando

100 W. Livingston St.
Orlando, FL 32801

Twitter: @AceCafeUSA
Instagram: @AceCafeOrlando_Official

Benihana – Lake Buena Vista
1751 Hotel Plaza Blvd.
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830

Benihana – International Drive
12690 International Drive
Orlando, FL

Twitter: @Benihana
Instagram: @benihana

Canvas Lake Nona
13615 Sachs Avenue
Orlando, FL
Instagram: @canvaslakenona

Capital Grille – Millenia
4200 Conroy Road STE 146A
Orlando, FL 32839
Twitter: @thewineexpert & @CapitalGrille
Instagram: @ thecapitalgrille

6967 Lake Nona Blvd,
Orlando, FL 32827
Instagram: @chromalakenona

Dragonfly Robota
7972 Via Dellagio Way
Orlando, FL 32819
Twitter: @DflyOrlando
Instagram: @dragonfly_orlando

Marlow’s – I-Drive
9101 International Drive
Orlando, FL 32819
Marlow’s – Winter Park
1008 S. Orlando Avenue (17-92)
Winter Park, FL 32789
Marlow’s – Lee Vista
6889 Eagle Watch Drive
Orlando, FL 32822
Marlow’s – Waterford Lakes
547 N. Alafaya Trail Building J1
Orlando, FL 32828
Twitter: @MarlowsTavern
Instagram: @marlowstavern

MOOR – Gaylord Palms Resort
6000 W Osceola Pkwy,
Kissimmee, FL 34746

Old Hickory Steakhouse – Gaylord Palms Resort
6000 W Osceola Pkwy,
Kissimmee, FL 34746
Twitter: @GaylordPalms
Instagram: @gaylordpalms

Plancha at Four Seasons
10100 Carthay Drive
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32836
Twitter: @FSOrlando
Instagram: @fsorlando

Raglan Road
1640 Buena Vista Drive
Orlando, FL 32830
Twitter: @raglanroadpub
Instagram: @raglanroadpub

The Ravenous Pig
565 W Fairbanks Ave
Winter Park, FL 32789
Twitter: @ravpig
Instagram: @theravenouspig

Seasons 52 – Sand Lake
7700 W Sand Lake Rd
Orlando, FL 32819
Twitter: @seasons52
Instagram: @seasons52

1580 E Buena Vista Drive
Orlando, Florida 32830
Twitter: @eatSTK
Instagram: @theonegroup

Urbain 40
8000 Via Dellagio Way
Orlando, FL 32819
Twitter: @Urbain40
Instagram: @urbain40

Wreckers Sports Bar – Gaylord Palms Resort
6000 W Osceola Pkwy,
Kissimmee, FL 34746

The Whiskey
7563 Sand Lake Rd
Orlando, FL 32819
Twitter: @whiskeyorlando
Instagram: @whiskeyorlando

Yak & Yeti
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
2901 Osceola Pkwy
Orlando, FL 32830
Twitter: @WaltDisneyWorld
Instagram: @WaltDisneyWorld

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Yuki Hana Sushi in Oviedo recently underwent some changes from menu to the culinary team.

Here are some new updates at Yuki Hana: 

New Chef’s Team at Yuki Hana

Shane Stinnett- his expertise is in Edo style Japanese cuisine as well as French techniques, was trained along Iron Chef Morimoto as part of opening team for Morimoto Asia, Orlando.
Steven Phan – well experienced sushi chef, great team player, self-motivated. Worked as sushi head chef at Sushi Pop for 2 years, and Kabooki for 2 years.
Albert DeSue – Formerly Jr Sous Chef & Head Sushi Chef at Dragonfly Sushi Gainesville & Orlando FL from April 2007 to January 2014. Worked at Paris Bistro and other French restaurants around town previously.
Kitchen manager – Eduardo Mena has been with us for more than 2 years, keeping things well organized in the kitchen.

Ping Jiang is the owner of Yuki Hana, tells us “It gives me great energy when I see the whole team work together to bring our guest a memorable dining experience.” She is the mother of two beautiful girls, a student at Seminole State College, and a self described food lover.

House Cured Salmon ( house cured salmon, edamame crème fraiche, pickled shallots, house beet chips, cilantro dust, micro herb).

– New Robata Grill – Japanese bbq grill style with finest Japanese white charcoal- Binchotan charcoal, they are smoke free, create high temperatures to sear in all the juiciness.

Special menu on the weekends – different fish comes in every week, such as Amber Jack, flying fish, Cobia, Madai, Hirame…..Specials in the past have included Otoro Tartare ( Bluefin tuna belly, blue crab, avocado crema, crispy shallot, served in dashi soy, with a cloud of applewood smoke). House Cured Salmon ( house cured salmon, edamame crème fraiche, pickled shallots, house beet chips, cilantro dust, micro herb). Wagyu Carpaccio ( wagyu thinly sliced, served with charred negi vinaigrette, ginger salt, and organic greens). Ginger Scallion Rock Shrimp ( Cape Canaveral rock shrimp wok seared with ginger and scallion). Citrus Roll (Yellowtail, avocado and shallots inside, topped with cobia, finished with orange bail vinaigrette, serrano garlic salt). Also including new local organic produce from Frog Song Organics.

Otoro Tartare ( Bluefin tuna belly, blue crab, avocado crema, crispy shallot, served in dashi soy, with a cloud of applewood smoke)

Custom Omakase
If you are looking for a extraordinary sushi/ Modern Japanese cooking experience, come to Yuki Hana, call their team with your preferences, and they will custom design a dinner just for you, give three days notice.

New Ramen
– Ping tells us, “Ramen is something on our bucket list, we so glad we finally started serving it. The key is the broth as everyone knows, ours is tri-broth made with chicken, pork and beef. We also made the noodle in house fresh as well, with squid ink currently ( the one in the picture from last month was with green tea). The toppings are braised pork belly, six-minutes egg, roasted corn, beni shoga, pickled bamboo shoots, enoki. scallion, nori, and miso dust.”

Soft Shell Crab Bap
House Gyoza
Blue Crab Fried Rice

Yuki Hana Sushi & Japanese Fusion
3635 Aloma Ave #1033, Oviedo, FL 32765
Facebook page at
Instagram –

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Jinya Tonkotsu Black Ramen - pork broth: pork chashu, kikurage, green onion, nori dried seaweed, seasoned egg*, garlic chips, garlic oil, fried onion, spicy sauce »served with thin noodles

The ink is now dry and the lease has been signed. In an exclusive to, we have been notified that 8 N Summerlin Ave, the location in Thornton Park once home to Tijuana Flats and most recently Tex-Mex restaurant Verde Cantina, will now soon be home to Jinya Ramen Bar. Construction and re-modeling will be underway in the coming months.

Brandon Delaniois, an associate at JLL, told us, “We had a blast working on this deal representing these passionate restauranteurs at an iconic mixed-use development in the trendy Thornton Park neighborhood of Downtown Orlando. JINYA Ramen Bar will deliver exceptional quality and enhance the diversity of dining choices in downtown. #JLLRetail #RetailIsntDead #BusierThanEver #TastyChomps.”

Partners Taff Liao and Eric Jakab are bringing Jinya Ramen Bar, the modern Japanese restaurant featuring authentic ramen along with a variety of tapas dishes, to Orlando sometime in early 2018.

Currently, there are over 20 Jinyas worldwide from Houston to Las Vegas to Vancouver and DC.

Jinya in Washington, DC

Partner Taff Liao tells us, “Orlando has always been home to us and with its booming food scene, we think that JINYA would be a great addition to the city.”

“After living in Houston, one of the biggest culinary hubs in the U.S. and traveling to Japan, we’ve had the opportunity to try many ramen shops. We found that JINYA’s ramen rivaled the best and so we wanted to bring JINYA’s world class ramen to our hometown.”

Jinya in Houston

What is special about Jinya?
Tomonori Takahashi, the founder of JINYA, is a very successful restauranteur in Japan and the United States. His ramen recipes are the most authentic and delicious of any ramen shop in the states. A significant focus is placed on the broth which is slowly simmered for more than 10 hours to create a thick, flavorful, and delicious eating experience.

Jinya Bun – steamed bun stuffed with slow-braised pork chashu,
cucumber, and baby mixed greens served with JINYA’s
original bun sauce and kewpie mayonnaise

Most Popular Dishes at Jinya Ramen Bar:
For Ramen: Tonkotsu Black and Spicy Chicken.
For Tapas: Jinya Bun, and Crispy Chicken.

JINYA introduces ramen to all palettes with chicken and vegetarian broth options aside from the traditional pork.

Jinya Takoyaki – battered octopus over egg tartar topped with kewpie
mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce, fresh cut green onion and
smoked bonito flakes

Stay tuned for more information coming soon on the development of Jinya in Thornton Park. To find more about Jinya, visit

Jinya Tonkotsu Black Ramen – pork broth: pork chashu, kikurage, green onion,
nori dried seaweed, seasoned egg*, garlic chips, garlic oil,
fried onion, spicy sauce »served with thin noodles

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Here are a few awesome local places to try Tequila today Monday July 24th 2017 – National Tequila Day!

Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen

  • Garden Rita – Mini Bell Pepper, Cilantro, Cucumber, Lemon, Cointreau, Roca Patrón Silver Tequila
  •  6967 Lake Nona Blvd, Orlando;

Paradiso 37


Planet Hollywood at Disney Springs

  • Stellar Margarita – An Out of This World Blend Riazul Blanco Tequila, DiSaranno Originale, Cointreau and fresh margarita mix
  • 1506 East Buena Vista Drive, Orlando; 407-27-7827;

The Polite Pig at Disney Springs

  • Tequila & Grapefuit – House-Made On Tap Cocktail with Tequila, Citrus and Grapefruit Liqueur
  • 1536 Buena Vista Drive, Orlando;


PLUS,  Paradiso 37 at Disney Springs is offering the below specials in celebration of the holiday!


  • $4 Mango or Strawberry Margaritas all day!
  • Free Samples of 100% Agave Tequila from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Plus, guests can choose from a selection of more than 50 tequilas and watch as their margaritas are made tableside, right before their eyes

Mount Dora

  • 1921 by Norman Van Akenenjoy your tequila with a side of modernist art and sip on the Con Quina ($12) made with fresh lemon and strawberry rhubarb sugar

Lake Nona

Restaurant Row

  • Dragonfly Orlandotry the Musashi’s Paddle ($10), because everyone love a little yuzu and jalapeño in their cocktail


  • The Rusty Spoonorder the La Diosa…well, because it sounds so pretty!

Shout out to Rockaway PR for this great list – send us your recommendations for Tequila by emailing us at tastychomps at!

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I recently dropped by Brio at the Mall at Millenia for a media preview of their new Art of the Grill menu and National Lasagna Day. It had been a while since I’ve dropped by and was glad I did. The flavors were fresh, and I particularly enjoyed the beef carpaccio appetizer.

This, we are told, is among the highest selling items out of the entire nation for Brio right here in Orlando – and it’s because of the high volumes of Brazilian tourists – who certainly know and love their beef – who call Brio’s carpaccio the best in town. I can see why – thinly sliced eye round beef with lovely capers and lemon aioli – the beef is fresh and the setting is beautiful.

Spicy Shrimp & Eggplant
Pan seared shrimp, Romano crusted eggplant, black pepper cream sauce 12.75

Beef Carpaccio*
Field greens, capers, mustard aioli, Parmesan 13.50

Lobster Bisque
Sauteed shrimp garnish 6.95

BRIO Orlando Area Locations are Firing Up the Grill with “The Art of Grilling”
Special Menu Selections, Including Fish, Chicken, Steak and More, June 13–July 30

Grilling is a Tuscan tradition dating back hundreds of years, and preparing the ideal dish is an art to be admired. BRIO Tuscan Grille locations at the Mall at Millenia in Orlando and Winter Park Village in Winter Park,  are featuring “The Art of Grilling” two-course special menu for a limited time, Tuesday, June 13–Sunday, July 30 which includes one grilled dish paired with a dessert.

With The Art of Grilling promotion, guests can enjoy an entrée and dessert from the following choices:


  • Grilled Branzino & Summer Panzanella Salad: Arugula, cucumber, tomato, grilled red pepper, chickpeas, red onion, croutons, Feta, red wine vinaigrette ($27.95)
  • Grilled Half Chicken: Mint cilantro relish, grilled fingerlings, bacon, caramelized onions, arugula, lemon vinaigrette ($21.95)
  • New York Strip Steak: 14 oz., pearled couscous pilaf, grilled zucchini, red onions, tomatoes, kale, Feta, Poblano vinaigrette ($31.95)

Dessert — Choose One

  • Dolchino dessert selections include: Crème Brulee, Caramel Mascarpone Cheesecake and Strawberry Shortcake Crumble

Reservations at BRIO can be made online by visiting For a list of locations, please visit

National Lasagna Day is Saturday July 29th but Bravo and Brio are celebrating a little early.

 On Wednesday, July 26, BRAVO locations will honor National Lasagna Day with 50 percent off their Mama’s Lasagna Bolognese. During dinner, only the full-size portion will be served; during lunch, the half- and full-size portions will be available.

  • Lunch — Mezza Lasagna & Insalata, featuring a half portion of BRAVO’s signature Mama’s Lasagna Bolognese, paired with a Chopped, Caesar or Insalata Della Casa salad, for only $7. (Or, guests can order a full-size lasagna for $7.50.)
  • Dinner — Mama’s Lasagna Bolognese, featuring BRAVO’s signature meat sauce, creamy Alfredo, ricotta and mozzarella, for $8.99.


On Thursday, July 27, BRIO locations will honor National Lasagna Day with 50 percent off their Mama’s Lasagna Bolognese.

  • Lunch – Guests can order Mama’s Lasagna Bolognese & Insalata, featuring a half portion of Mama’s Lasagna Bolognese, paired with a BRIO Chopped Salad, Bistecca Insalata or Caesar Salad. A full-size portion can also be ordered during lunch.
  • Dinner – Only the full-size portion will be available.


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This year’s crop of Northwest sweet cherries has arrived on grocery store shelves and they have been one of the best cherry seasons I have seen in recent memory. The cherries are large, plump, and sweet – as cherries should be.

In 1847, a man named Henderson Lewelling traveled from Iowa to western Oregon by ox cart and brought with him nursery stock which became the first cherry trees planted in the Northwest. The Bing cherry is named after Seth Lewelling’s (Henderson’s younger brother) Manchurian orchard foreman and friend, Ah Bing.

Growers in the Northwest anticipate a record crop size lasting through August, so consumers can plan to enjoy their fresh and delicious sweet cherries through the thick of summer.

Cherry Varieties

The Northwest is known for seven varieties including Bing cherries, the most popular cherry in North America, and the unique golden-blushed Rainiers, born at Washington State University in 1952 and celebrated each year on July 11 as National Rainier Cherry Day.

Other popular varieties include the deep juicy sweet Tietons and heart-shaped Chelans on the shelves now, and late-season Lapins, dark Skeenas and bright red Sweethearts coming over the next few weeks.

The Darker the Berry…

Aside from the light-hued Rainier (and its many sub-varieties), consumers can typically spot sweet cherries by their darker red skins – in general, the darker, the sweeter.

Keeping Cherries Fresh

Fresh cherries should be kept in a tightly sealed bag or container and will keep for approximately two weeks when refrigerated. Rinse just before eating for best longevity.

Tips to Enjoy Cherries Year Round

Sweet cherries can also be enjoyed year-round by simply rinsing, packing and freezing them. To freeze cherries, select four to five pounds of firm, ripe cherries. After rinsing and draining, spread whole cherries with stems in a layer on a baking sheet, freezing until firm and then packing into freezer-proof containers or plastic freezer bags being sure to remove excess air and cover tightly. Add frozen, pitted cherries to smoothies or juices, defrost and put in hot cereals, pies, turnovers, cobblers, or enjoy frozen as sweet late-night treat.

Recipe Ideas

Add some cherries to your yogurt parfait…

Or enjoy in a cherry beverage like this non-alcoholic Shirley Temple

For more information on sweet Northwest Cherries, seasonal and preservation recipes, health information and more, visit

Photos by So May Ly Photography. Cherries courtesy of Northwest Cherries.

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Papa Llama was born in 2016 by Kevin Ruiz and his wife, Maria. After several years of planning and recipe experimentation, Kevin decided to launch as a pop-up concept.

The pop-up would offers flexibility to test new recipes and quickly get feedback from Orlando foodies.

Kevin and Maria were both born in Peru and still have strong family roots there. They grew up savoring delicious plates like Aji de Gallina, Lomo Saltado, Ceviche, and Arroz Chaufa.

Kevin’s goal is for Papa Llama to be the future of Peruvian food in Orlando by serving these traditional recipes with modern and fresh ingredients, while still honoring the culture and history that created these flavors.

Today, the pop up operates twice a week at GB’s Bottle Shop and Tasting Bar on Saturdays and Redlight Redlight Craft Beer Parlour on Wednesdays, including the occasional Tasty Takeover in the Milk District.

Each recipe, including the Queso Papa Rellenas, the Braised Carne Bowls and the latest creation: Spicy Tuna Causa, is handmade with craft beer in mind. The goal is to complete the experience at these bars by complementing the flavors, textures, and aromas with unique Peruvian cuisine.

Kevin plans to bring Papa Llama to a brick and mortar in the future, either at a food hall or a dedicated space. Papa Llama will bring more exciting recipes to Orlando very soon. The best way to keep tabs on new menu items and upcoming events is by following on Facebook and Instagram.


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Urbain 40 American Brasserie and Lounge is a throwback to all the nostalgic swank and sophistication of the 1940s (hence the 40 in Urbain 40) Big Band era with a classic yet seasonally changing American and European continental menu.

Several months ago, after 9 years as executive chef of the award winning Flying Fish Cafe at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, Chef Timothy Keating joined the Boulevard Restaurant Group as Director of Culinary Operations. The group owns and operates both Urbain 40 on Orlando’s Restaurant Row and Paradiso 37 at Disney Springs.

“Can you guess where these clams are from?,” Chef Tim Keating asks as I looked over longingly at the intoxicatingly aromatic cup of creamy New England clam chowder placed in front of me.

“Cedar Key – just north of Tampa! There’s lovely bits of pork belly, chopped leeks, vegetables, with the chopped clam in there, all in a roux of bacon and duck fat.”

 New England Clam Chowder

Born in New Jersey, Chef Keating began his culinary career in his early teens – “the school of hard knocks,” says Keating.

Working at several high end hotel restaurants, he eventually became Executive Chef of the Five Diamond rated Four Seasons Hotel in Houston, Texas and Executive Chef of the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables before joining Flying Fish in Orlando.

Among his many accolades, he was nominated four times for the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef-Southwest – in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004.

At six feet, eight inches – a former college basketball player – Chef Tim Keating towers in the kitchen, both as a figure and with his great intangible love and care for his dishes and the sourcing of his ingredients.

He loves to bring creativity into his work, using the freshest and highest quality ingredients from local farmers, fish mongers, and more.

At Urbain 40 – he is bringing more of the “American” into the “Brasserie” with new touches of Asian inspired dishes – like the coconut curry ginger yellowfin tuna filet – while maintaining the French favorites that guests have grown to love. Pieces and patchwork and cultures together making a great, big, delicious quilt called America.

We were recently invited to chat with Chef Tim Keating and preview some of the new dishes in season at Urbain 40 right now.

Some of my favorites of the evening included the Duck confit and duck sausage trofi di abruzzo Ligurian style pasta dumplings and the char-crusted Angus NY striploin. The char is a delightful medley of spices that give the steak an addicting, flame-kissed taste without being burnt. It’s black magic.

House baked bread and butter – addictive.

Crispy Jonah Crab Cake
Savory Slaw, Sauce Verde, Piquant Mango-Pepper Coulis

Rock Shrimp and Cape Bay Scallop Ceviche Cocktail
Radishes, Cucumbers, Palm hearts, peppadew peppers, Citrus and Tequila

Duck Sausage and Duck Confit Trofie Di Abruzzo
Twisted Ligurian-style pasta dumplings, duck confit, duck sausage, wilted rhapini, alba mushrooms

Bolognese Pasta
Handmade pappardelle pasta, 11 hour Slow Braised Beef, Veal, and Heritage Pork Ragout
Arugula and Parmigiano Reggiano

12 oz Char-Crusted Angus NY Striploin

Ginger-Teriyaki Char-Crusted Yellowfin Tuna “Filet”
A massive cut of premium tuna steak, swimming in a delightful coconut-carrot-lemongrass curry butter emulsion, topped with lotus roots and mushrooms. I could still imagine slurping that curry up right now. The curry itself would be great with some noodles turned into a noodle soup with some duck confit – maybe next season!

Shrimp Lo Mein
Not your old neighborhood Chinese take out shrimp lo mein – this is an elevated lo mein dish with Wild Gulf Shrimp, Asian Vegetables and Mushrooms, Mirin, Miso, Lemongrass Emulsion

Urbain 40’s Pastry Chef Amanda McFall, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, may be one of the best, if not the best pastry chef in Orlando.

Her desserts are a work of art and it is almost feel a pity to eat them because they are so beautiful.

I say almost because they taste even more delicious than they look so I have no regrets.

The Tropical Sundae Deluxe, conjuring memories of the Caribbean with rum soaked angel food cake and toasted coconut gelato and spiced pineapple, may well be THE Dessert of the Summer.

Sinful Chocolate & Peanut Butter Creation
Layers of dark & milk chocolate, peanut butter crèma, and Florida raspberries.

Tropical Sundae Deluxe
Toasted coconut gelato, rum soaked angel food cake, caramel sauce & pink peppercorn spiced pineapple.

Lemon Meringue Tart
Blueberry-lavender sorbet, poppy seed crèma, and Florida blueberries.

There is a sense of playfulness in the creativity of all of Chef Keating’s dishes at Urbain 40 that is genuinely refreshing.

Urbain 40 since its opening had been one of my favorite restaurants in Orlando – those sizzling mussels are the stuff of dreams even still today – and not only is it in skillfully good hands with Chef Tim Keating, but the changes to the menu are refreshing and have elevated the restaurant higher.

Urbain 40 American Brasserie and Lounge
8000 Via Dellagio Way, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 872-2640

Photos by So May Ly Photography

With the recent addition of The Gourmet Muffin to the four other bake shops in our Audubon Park Garden District, at the intersection of Corrine Dr and Winter Park Rd, we’ve reached a critical mass – and the time has come for us at Tasty Chomps to officially call the area our “Orlando Bakery District”.

It’s all arbitrary and very unscientific, but this corner of Orlando now has the highest concentration of bakeshops featuring pastries and other baked goods in our region.

So throw your carb and calorie counter out the window, here is:

A Guide to Orlando’s Bakery District:

Olde Hearth Bread Company

Address: 3201 Corrine Dr – East End Market Orlando, FL 32803
Phone: (407) 622-0822

From croissants to peanut butter cream cookies, you can find the retail arm of the Olde Hearth inside East End Market. The veritable mother of fine artisan baking in Orlando, Olde Hearth Bread Company was founded in Orlando in 1988 by culinary artisans Shannon Talty and Janice Talty, each with classical training in some of our nation’s most acclaimed bakeries.

Their original vision was to “establish a retail and wholesale business offering high quality artisan breads and pastries.” Unbleached and unbromated flours and preservative-free ingredients are essential to their baking process. Minimal automation and a commitment to old-world “hand-made” processing ensures their breads are pure and flavorful.

Blue Bird Bake Shop

3122 Corrine Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
Phone: (407) 228-3822

Specializing in cupcakes, Blue Bird Bake Shop features flavors from Red Velvet to Sweet Cakes, Ch-chocolate to Peanut Butter & Jelly, rotating on a daily basis.

They bake everything from scratch daily, and also offer brownies, cookies, scones, muffins and other bakery fare.

P is for Pie Bake Shop

Address: 2806 Corrine Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
Phone: (407) 745-4743

P is for Pie Bake Shop specializes in artisan pies, pie pops, & desserts. Everything is scratch baked fresh by hand.

Everything is made from scratch, by hand, incorporating natural, seasonal and local ingredients to every extent possible.

Whole and small pies are available on a first come first serve basis on Fridays and Saturdays. Order your pies aheaed though to be sure at least 24 hours for sweet pies and at least 48 hours for savory pies.

Gideon’s Bakehouse

3201 Corrine Dr, Orlando, FL 32803

This relatively new gothic/Victorian themed cookie shop inside the East End Market has been lighting up Instagram feeds everywhere with their wild chocolate chip cookies. Cookies are a must, but they also serve up cakes, pies, and dessert coffee. Get there early cause they sell out.

The Gourmet Muffin

Address: 2909 Corrine Dr Suite B, Orlando, FL 32803
Phone: (407) 751-4134

Owner-Chef Catherine Hilgerson hails from New Orleans, baking in some of the finest bakeries in that region. She carries her muffin creations throughout Central Florida, as far as Gainesville at local farmer’s markets. But now, she has found a home in the Orlando Bakery District (officially the Audubon Park Garden District), selling also Italian cookies and specialty coffees.

Muffin flavors range from banana and chocolate chip to raspberry and more. My favorites are the “cruffins”, croissant-muffin hybrids, sometimes filled with cannoli cream, other times filled with strawberry mascarpone depending on the day and new ones are always rolling out.

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On July 29, Morimoto Asia will be hosting “Craft Beers & Bites Festival,” benefitting Children’s Home Society of Central Florida.

Taking place on the second level of Morimoto Asia, this event will feature eight Florida craft breweries with individual food pairings prepared by Morimoto Asia’s Executive Chef Yuhi Fujinaga.

The event will take place from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Ticket price: $49.80, which includes unlimited beer and bites. 100% of the profit is being donated to The Children’s Home Society of Central Florida. Tickets are limited. See featured breweries and menu pairings below.

Event Link:

Crooked Can Brewing Company
peking duck tacos

Copper Tail Brewing Company
morimoto sticky ribs

Redlight Redlight Brewery
sushi handroll – spicy hamachi – spicy tuna

Cask & Larder
chashu pork quesadilla

Bowigens Beer Company
churros with nutella

Two Henrys Brewing Company
poke bowl – ahi, tako, hamachi

Hourglass Brewing
okonomiyaki – seafood pancake

Red Cypress Brewery
yakitori – bulgogi beef with ginger miso paste

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Festival of the Sea was a family event that had a few seafood themed vendors to it. I think it would be better with some more planning and more vendors. It felt more like a farmer’s market plus food truck event.


But I was able to check out a few tasty bites while there:

Blue Bunny® Ice Cream’s ice cream food truck served up gourmet, customizable ice cream cookie sandwiches.  For a list of the food truck’s stops this month in Orlando, visit:

These things are perfect for the Florida summer – just bring a lot of wet naps to clean yourself up after trying them!

I had the chocolate chip cookie and chocolate chocolate chip cookie with vanilla ice cream and heath bar and mixed nuts!

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The restaurant that started as a craving
Hunger Street Tacos was borne of a husband’s desire to make his wife happy. Luckily for all of us, what made her happy was a taco.

Joseph Creech was a “missionary kid” born in Guadalajara and raised in Acapulco where his parents, Joseph Sr. and Rita, started a Presbyterian church. He loved the weather and people of the area, and especially the food. But the family moved back to Central Florida when Joseph was six and he fell right into being the All-American kid. He went to school at Auburn, but by his sophomore year, he was restless.

“I was majoring in International business and marketing, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life,” Creech said. “I figured a year off would help me figure it out.”

So this time, he became the missionary and went back to his beloved Mexico. During his childhood there, his parents had discouraged him from eating street food because of health concerns. But as a young man, he discovered what turned out to be the fresh, scratch-made food of the ubiquitous taco and quesadilla hawkers. He trolled the street vendors and markets in every city he visited.

“It became an obsession with me,” he said. “I couldn’t get enough of it.”

Creech quotes his favorite chef Enrique Olvera from Mexico City about what attracted him to the food.

“Olvera says there is a ‘wealth in poverty,’” Creech said. “Meaning that out of need comes amazing creativity. People were using ingredients they may not have tried if they could afford other things, but out of that comes incredible food.”

He points to some of the unique but affordable ingredients used in Mexican cuisine such as insects, cactus and flowers to make his point. He also appreciates the history of the food.

“People have been making this food for generations,” he said. “Much of it in the exact same way they are now.”

Nine months into his time in Mexico, he met a young woman named Seydi Plata. A Mexico City native, she had as much appreciation for street food as Joseph did. She also had a favorite taco – the taco de suadero.

Suadero is a term used to describe the type of beef used on the tacos. The cut of meat is found in between the belly and leg of the cow. In the U.S. Suadero is usually ground for burgers. Closest in taste and texture is brisket, which is also frequently used in Mexico for the tacos de suadero. The meat is slow cooked to tenderness and then seared on a hot griddle or pan before going on corn tortillas with the traditional toppings of cilantro, onion, salsa and lime. The only taco originating in Mexico City, it is also one of the most loved. Joseph and Seydi ate a lot of them; especially at a place right outside of Mexico City called La Calle Del Hambre or Hunger Street.

“Street food is everywhere in Mexico,” Seydi said. “Everybody eats and loves it, especially if you don’t have a lot of money.”

Seydi jokes that she had to “school” Joseph to get him to appreciate some of the traditional Mexican ingredients.

“He didn’t like chorizo or salsa verde,” she said. “But he does now.”

Joseph moved back to the Florida but he and Seydi maintained a long-distance relationship for four years. She moved to the States in 2005 and the two were married. Joseph dabbled in the restaurant business, at one point even dreaming of becoming a chef, but ultimately took a more “pragmatic” career path, working in finance. Two daughters were born, Bella and Mia.

And that’s when Seydi’s craving started. She missed her beloved taco de suadero.

“We would go to 4 Rivers and get the brisket, but I don’t like bread,” she said. “I would dream about eating that brisket on a tortilla.”

She kept telling Joseph they should try to make suadero.

“My wife had a craving,” Joseph said, “And I finally started paying attention to it.”

The couple had always entertained, so Joseph started using his friends and family as Guinea pigs, trying out different suadero recipes. They watched YouTube videos, they bought and learned how to use a pressure cooker because that’s how Seydi’s mother cooked “everything.”

“My mother used a pressure cooker every day,” Seydi said. “Many times, dinner ended up on the ceiling when one blew.”

They started researching and experimenting with different cuts of beef, finally settling on the brisket that Seydi loved so much.

“It has the right mixture of tender meat and fat,” Joseph said. “When you sear it on the flat top, the meat browns and the fat melts perfectly.”

The response was positive, to say the least.

“People were overwhelmingly blown away,” Joseph said. “It was great.”

They started making some other favorite dishes like Esquites, fresh corn simmered in a rich bone-marrow broth, and a refreshing cucumber and radish salad. Many of the recipes had been in Seydi’s family for generations, others, like mushroom quesadillas and squash blossom quesadillas, came straight off the street.

“We realized we had something special,” Joseph said, “And it wasn’t anything you could get here in Central Florida.”

In the meantime, Joseph’s little brother, David was working for Chick-Fil-A, in its employee training division. Joseph approached him about starting their own food business using the recipes he and Seydi had been developing.

“My time was coming to an end at Chick-fil-A,” David said. “So, I said yes, let’s go with our passion.”
Those summers the family spent in Mexico affected David much as they did Joseph. He fell in love with the people, the culture, the food. In college, he did a semester abroad in Mexico and found a calling to learn the language and the food.

“At that point I was thinking about going to culinary school,” he said, “but I decided to learn from Mexican grandmothers instead.”

As part of his missionary work, he lived in a house with 27 Mexican high school students. He went to the market every day and helped with the cooking.

“It was an amazing experience,” he said. I learned to really appreciate fresh, local ingredients.”

The brothers didn’t want to jump right into a restaurant, and food trucks seemed problematic, so they went with a catering company. The worked private and public events from under a 10’X10’ tent, lugging two cast iron flat top grills with them. They got rave reviews. The most interesting and valuable experience during that time, David said, was acting as the concessionaire for Maitland Little League.

“We learned a lot about organization and having procedures in place,” David said. “Catering was the perfect way to work on menu development and building a customer base.”

But a bricks and mortar restaurant was always in their sights.

“We always had that vision; that was always the goal,” David said. “We wanted to be able to deliver a modern Mexican ambience in the restaurant and share Mexico through not just our food, but the art and music too.

The brothers set a goal to have a restaurant open in five years.

“We had a five-year plan that turned out to only last a little more than two years,” Joseph said.
Joseph calls Seydi (and her taco cravings) the “driving force” behind Hunger Street Tacos, so it’s logical that future plans include a string of restaurants, but not franchised. All under the “corporate family” umbrella. And the catering operation that got them started will continue.

For now, Joseph and David plan on honing recipes and policies in their first location. The two have gotten help from a local restaurant legend, John Rivers of 4 Rivers Barbecue. While not an official part of HST, John is “like family” and is giving the brothers advice on everything from customer service to sourcing ingredients.

“We have so many people who support us and want to see us succeed,” Joseph said. “We’re very fortunate.”


All tacos are made on gluten-free, soft corn tortillas

Brisket 3.5
Seared brisket, onion, cilantro, avocado-tomatillo salsa, lime

Campechano 3.5
Seared brisket, chorizo, onion, cilantro, avocado-tomatillo salsa, lime

Chori-Pollo 3
Chorizo, shredded chicken, onion, cilantro, avocado-tomatillo salsa, lime

El Mañanero 4
Seared brisket, chorizo, refried beans, scrambled egg, Chihuahua cheese, avocado-tomatillo salsa, lime

Hibiscus & Guac 3
Sautéed hibiscus, guacamole

Chicken Tinga 4.7 (Dine-in only)
Shredded chicken, chorizo, refried beans, red cabbage, sautéed onion, tomato, garlic, chipotle, crema fresca and sliced avocado on a crisp corn tortilla

Brisket 6
Seared brisket, Chihuahua cheese, avocado-tomatillo salsa

Chicharron de Queso 5 (Dine-in only)
Seared cheese wheel, served with guac and salsa

Esquites 3.3
Corn off the cob, bone marrow broth reduction, epazote, queso cotija, lime

Hunger Street Tacos
2103 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789

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The Dinner Party Project and Orlando Artist LeAnn Siefferman present
“Making Conversations,” a unique series of dining and dialogue events.

ORLANDO – (June 9, 2017) Orlando ceramics artist LeAnn Siefferman, in partnership with The Dinner Party Project, will present Making Conversations, a new series of dining events where people will share a meal and share ideas on topics not often discussed around the dinner table.

Making Conversations, which will hold its first event on Thursday, June 29, is a unique opportunity for guests to talk about critical community issues while eating off handmade dinnerware with topical illustrations.

This six-month series will address six topics, with each dinner representing a different conversation:

-Mental Health
-A Changing Climate
-Race and Privilege
-Aging and Staying Engaged
-and Gender & Identity.

Professional facilitators from the Peace and Justice Institute at Valencia College and select community leaders will moderate each Making Conversations dinner.

Siefferman, a longtime artist who works out of the City of Orlando Pottery Studio in Parramore, will create unique dinnerware for each dining event, featuring illustrations and designs meant to challenge people’s thinking and get guests talking about difficult topics.

Having started the Making Conversations project in January, Siefferman’s partnership with The Dinner Party Project creates a public space for her work to inspire story sharing, active listening and community building over fine food and drink.

“Social media has led many of us to surround ourselves with like-minded individuals,” Siefferman said. “Our aim in presenting Making Conversations is to create an environment for people to have a meaningful exchange of ideas.”

“It is our hope that these small, intimate events can contribute to the larger conversations going on in the Central Florida community,” said Dana Marie Roquemore, Founder of The Dinner Party Project, a weekly invitation-only dinner party that brings together strangers for a night of fine foods, incredible drinks and great conversation.

Making Conversations will be held at 6:30p at 1010 West Church Street in downtown Orlando. The monthly event will be held on the evenings of June 29, July 27, August 31, September 28, October 26 and November 16.

Tickets are $75 per person and includes Tito’s cocktails, a 4-course meal paired with wine, and Credo coffee. A portion of the proceeds collected from ticket sales will be donated to a local charity.

For more information, please contact LeAnn Siefferman at or 256-665-5726

What: Making Conversations, presented by The Dinner Party Project and LeAnn Siefferman
When: 6:30 p.m. on June 29, July 27, August 31, September 28, October 26 and November 16
Where: 1010 West at 1010 West Church Street in downtown Orlando
Tickets: $75 per person, includes a Cocktail, 4-Courses, Wine and Credo coffee

Photos courtesy of LeAnna Siefferman and The Dinner Party Project

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