Authors Posts by Ricky Ly of

Ricky Ly of

Florida native 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

Morimoto Asia, the highly anticipated collaboration between Chef Masaharu Morimoto and Patina Restaurant Group, officially opens for dinner this Wednesday September 30th, 2015 as part of The Landing, one of four neighborhoods in the new Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort.

It is the Japanese master chef’s first pan-Asian dining experience and showcases flavors from across the Asian continent with an emphasis on China, Korea, Japan and Thailand.

Chef Morinoto and Peking duck

The menu is an eclectic take on some of Chef Morimoto’s favorite Asian flavors including L.A. BBQ kalbi ribs, moo shu pork, Morimoto Peking duck, lobster chow fun, sweet and sour crispy whole fish, pho ga, pad Thai, sticky ribs and Singapore laska noodles. Chinese dim sum includes items such as dumplings, shumai, shrimp har-gao and grilled chicken bao.

In addition, the 14-seat sushi bar offers pristine sushi and sashimi options from around the world. Items include toro, kanpachi, Japanese red snapper, uni, sea eel, hamachi, fluke, and salmon, as well as more ocean delicacies. A variety of specialty sushi rolls and selections from the raw bar are also offered to the guests not seated at the sushi counter.

Assorted Sushi

Chef Masaharu Morimoto, most known for his role as Iron Chef Japan, originally began his life as a baseball catcher in Japan before a shoulder injury ended that career and he began his second life by studying sushi in his hometown of Hiroshima.

He quickly grasped the technique of this exacting food art and, at age 24, opened his first restaurant. Five years later, he moved to America to expand his culinary repertoire and explore the opportunities and possibilities he saw for a cuisine that would combine the best of both continents.

In 1994, Morimoto was recruited to join the team at the original Nobu restaurant, and in 2001, he opened his first eponymous restaurant in Philadelphia. He debuted Wasabi by Morimoto at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai in 2004, followed by a second Wasabi at the Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi in 2008.

Morimoto has received numerous accolades for his cuisine and aesthetic, including several appearances on San Pellegrino’s “Top 100 Restaurants in the World” list, a James Beard Foundation Award for “Outstanding Restaurant Design” for Morimoto New York, and in 2010, Morimoto Napa was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s “Best U.S. Restaurant Openings.”

Today, there are additional Morimoto restaurants in Honolulu, Mexico City, and Maui, a Morimoto Sushi Bar in Boca Raton, Japonais by Morimoto in Chicago and Morimoto South Beach in the Shelborne Wyndham Grand Hotel in Miami. In 2015 and 2016 a few more restaurants will be open in Bangkok, Las Vegas and Toronto.

Morimoto Asia Forbidden Lounge

Patina Restaurant Group ( has a portfolio of restaurants including Tutto Italia Ristorante and Via Napoli at the Epcot World Showcase, as well as Michelin-starred Lincoln Ristorante, STATE Grill and Bar at the Empire State Building, Stella 34 Trattoria at Macy’s Herald Square, The Sea Grill at Rockefeller Center, Brasserie, Brasserie 8 1/2, The Grand Tier Restaurant at the Metropolitan Opera, La Fonda Del Sol at Grand Central, and The Rink at Rockefeller Center.

On the West Coast its portfolio includes the renowned Los Angeles Times’ four-starred and Michelin-starred Patina Restaurant in Walt Disney Concert Hall, Café Pinot, Ray’s & Stark Bar, Catal and Naples in Anaheim’s Downtown Disney District, Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge, and catering and food service in museums and cultural centers throughout California.

Morimoto Asia Private Dining Room

Morimoto Asia’s 36-foot tall, two-story layout has been designed by STUDIO V Architecture, including an exhibition kitchen that allows guests a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the culinary action. The second-level sushi bar and lounge have a separate entrance and is known as the Hidden Lounge.

“This has been a project of passion for our team and Chef Morimoto. We can’t wait to open our doors to everyone visiting Disney Springs this fall and beyond,” said Nick Valenti, restaurateur and CEO of Patina Restaurant Group.

The beers will feature mostly Asian varieties in both bottle and on draft, including the Morimoto signature beer by Rogue Ales. In addition to the collector’s edition Imperial Pilsner and Morimoto Soba Ale and the highly coveted Black Obi Soba will also be available by the bottle.

The restaurant will also offer an assortment of sake, including the Morimoto signature line, plus a wine list showcasing wines of the world, signature cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks.

Chef Morimoto - Vertical

“I am excited to create a menu that allows so many of my favorite Asian flavors to come alive all in one place,” said Chef Masaharu Morimoto. “I hope the guests at Morimoto Asia have as much fun eating this food as I have creating it.”

We had the opportunity to interview Chef Morimoto via e-mail this week ahead of the opening.

TastyChomps: Chef Morimoto, what are you most excited about for the new Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs?

Chef Morimoto: This restaurant has a completely new culinary theme; for the first time I created the menu of Asian cuisine, not just Japanese. As a Japanese, I grew up with eating many different types of Asian cuisine. So I always had all kinds of ideas about Asian cuisine. I am very excited about the new challenge.

TastyChomps: What is your favorite dish so far for the new Morimoto Asia?

Chef Morimoto: I cannot pick a dish, just like you cannot pick your favorite child among your children. All these new dishes are my favorite!

TastyChomps: How did the vision for Morimoto Asia come to be?

Chef Morimoto: It is in Disney, so the target guests are different from those of other Morimoto restaurants. There will be a lot of kids. People will come from all of the world, expecting first-class entertainment. People love Asian food because it’s approachable, delicious, and fun, so I thought the theme would be perfect for the location.

TastyChomps: What is your favorite dish to cook at home?

Chef Morimoto: I never cook at home because my wife does. She cooks mostly vegetables thinking about my health.

TastyChomps: What was your most challenging experience in your cooking career and how did you overcome it?

Chef Morimoto: I enjoy cooking for the guests at the restaurant. However, when I cooked at the Kitchen Stadium for the judges in the original Iron Chef, I was extremely stressed out and nervous. But of course, becoming an Iron Chef changed my career completely.

TastyChomps: Where are your favorite places to visit in Asia and why?

Chef Morimoto: I would like to visit Southeast Asia because there are a lot of interesting and delicious street food. Those dishes inspire me in many ways.

TastyChomps: What do you eat when you are traveling and working?

Chef Morimoto: I try to eat the local food wherever I visit because that’s the best food. If I don’t have the time to eat out, I eat simple food, such as onigiri (rice balls) and miso soup, at my restaurant.

Morimoto Asia will be open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. serving lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch with dim sum.

Menu and Photos – Courtesy of Morimoto Asia

Sticky Ribs Half Rack
Sticky Ribs Half Rack
Singapore Laska Noodle
Singapore Laska Noodle
Peking Duck
Peking Duck
Orange Chicken
Orange Chicken
LA BBQ Kalbi Ribs
LA BBQ Kalbi Ribs
BowWow Kids Meal
BowWow Kids Meal
MochiMochi Annin Tofu
MochiMochi Annin Tofu

Morimoto Asia Sushi Menu Morimoto Asia Forbidden Lounge Menu Morimoto Asia DINNER Menu


click to zoom: Morimoto Asia Kids Menu Morimoto Asia Dessert Menu

Scenes from the Grand Opening event at Morimoto Asia



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I was so honored to be asked by Universal Orlando to blog for them in this special piece on unexpected eats at Universal from Islands of Adventure to Universal Studios to CityWalk. Click the link below to read all about it!

At Universal Orlando Resort, adventure is always at hand. And every wandering adventurer needs to refuel and recharge with deliciously daring food and drink.

That’s right, it’s not just smoked turkey legs any more. Thrilling action and a culinary journey into the unknown await at both Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme parks, with many foodie gems hidden in plain sight.

To uncover just that, Universal Orlando invited me to spend a couple of days seeing if I could find tantalizing tastes and hidden bites for your next epicurean expedition.

Here’s my list of my favorite, and most daring, dishes:



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The LFWF is a culinary extravaganza with a Latin flair. Consumers can purchase perfect-size dishes from some of Central Florida’s local restaurants and distributors, wonderful wines/spirits and beers all celebrating the world of Latin cuisine.

The event will also feature:

Main stage with Latin music and entertainment
Artisan Area with local artists showcasing their artwork
Cooking demonstrations by renown local chefs
And much more!

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2015 The+Event+2015

Sponsors  2015
12:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M.

ORLANDO, FL, 32801

This event is free to the general public

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Tabla Cuisine in Orlando – new renovations, new menu items to include Indian, Thai, and Chinese

Tabla recently underwent major new renovations and have a new menu featuring our executive chef Ian Piamonte, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, and an expert in Asian cuisines who was most recently the Banquet Chef at the Ritz Carlton in Amelia Island.

Tabla was also recently featured on as one of the top 20 new hot and rising businesses in Orlando, Florida

They are conveniently located off of Kirkman Rd near Universal Studios, Florida and feature at their gorgeous new location some globally inspired dishes from the chicken tandoori and Biryani rice to the Pad Thai and Hakka Noodles.

Also popular are the chocolate samosas and mango tiramisu for dessert.

Tabla Cuisine – Indian, Chinese, Thai
Address: 5827 Caravan Court, Orlando, FL 32819

Come and celebrate with Tabla its grand opening after many months of renovations and reinvention at this exclusive event for Yelp Orlando – nosh and sample our local favorites including Indian classics like chicken tikka masala, garlic naan, lental dal soup, mango tiramisu, chocolate samosas as well as new Thai and Chinese favorites like green curry chicken and general tso’s chicken. Typically we are closed Mondays but will be open specially this night for Yelp friends – RSVP is required – first 40 to respond here on yelp page – .

E-mail for questions. Thank you Orlando Yelp!

Tabla Grand Opening Party for Orlando Yelp
Monday, October 5, 2015 6:30 pm -8:00 pm

Tabla Indian Chinese Thai
5827 Caravan Ct
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 248-9400


Photo by Isha Shah
Photo by Isha Shah

The Osprey Tavern recently began Sunday brunch service in sunny Baldwin Park.

The restaurant  by owners Jason and Sue Chin, is led by an impressive team of acclaimed pedigree including Executive Chef Joseph Burnett, Executive Sous Chef Elek Kovacs, and Kristy Carlucci, Pastry Chef.


WAFFLE 11 – caramelia cream, salted caramel, toasted peanuts

The decor and interior was designed by owner Sue Chin and it deserves to be praised as one of the most gorgeous new restaurants in all of Orlando – a truly breathtaking, rustic, yet refined Southern feel to it. It’s like walking into a page of Southern Living magazine.


My dining companions and I were in the mood for brunch and so decided to drop by the Baldwin Park location to try out the new menu.

During brunch hour, they have a little charming push trolley full of pastries that get rolled around – kind of like at a dim sum restaurant, known as gueridon service by the French – filled with wonderful house made scones, coffee cakes, chocolate hazelnut turnovers, and more made by the talented pastry team led by chef Kristy Carlucci.


First, we started with some seasonal oysters – all very fresh and delicious, with some house made cocktail sauce accompaniment. I also enjoyed the crunchy shisito peppers, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, served with a tarragon aioli sauce for dipping.



OYSTERS 11/21 – cocktail sauce, crackers


FRIED SHISHITO PEPPERS 5 – tarragon aioli

If you are in the mood for something light, but are tired of the “usual” salads, try the farm stand crudite – a colorful and unique arrangement of the season’s freshest vegetables and produce, featuring some of the most vibrant colored veggies we’ve ever seen – and they are as delicious as they are beautiful to look at.


FARM STAND CRUDITE 9  – creamy herb & french dressing

For my entree, I chose the porchetta with eggs, a healthy slab of pork served with roasted potatoes and an Italian red eye gravy. The nido, a house cured ham with manchego cheese, egg, and tomato sounded tempting but the last one had just been ordered before we arrived, so my dining partners chose the tavern sausage burger and the spicy egg pizza, both very delicious from what I had sampled. I liked the meatiness of the sausage burger and how well all the components went together – a perfect “breakfast” item. The spicy egg pizza was savory and had a sunny side up egg baked right into the middle, perfect for dipping


sunnyside up egg, italian red eye gravy, roasties


beef summer sausage, english muffin, avocado, fried egg, roasties


spicy marinara, snow peas, manchego, bantam egg

Overall, one of the best brunches we’ve had in Orlando so far – and I really think you should try it soon. Truly, a favorite.


The Open Kitchen
The Open Kitchen
The Chef's Table area
The Chef’s Table area


Wood fired oven
Wood fired oven
House cured meats in process
House cured meats in process


The Osprey Tavern
4899 New Broad Street
Orlando, FL 32814 407-960-7700

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by Chelsea Rugg

Mini Pecan Crusted Honey Cake recipe:
2 Eggs
2/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup honey
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
3 tbsp milk

1tbsp butter
1/3 cup pecans
1/3 cup honey
A little sugar if you’d like them sweeter.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a cupcake pan, I’ve found this recipe makes about 6-7 regular cupcakes, or 3-4 jumbo cupcakes (you can also do a 8×8 pan easily instead.

Sift together dry ingredients and set aside. In a separate bowl combine eggs, sugar, and honey until smooth and then add in the milk. Add your dry mix into the wet one. If it seems too thick, add another tbsp of milk.

Pour into prepared cupcake tins and bake for about 16-18 minutes. Once they have risen and the middle has set, remove from the over and run a knife quickly around the edges of the cakes. Carefully flip the cakes out of the pan. I like to take a baking sheet, lay it on top of the cakes, then flip the cakes over onto the sheet.

At this point drizzle as much honey as you’d like over top of the cakes, and don’t be afraid to be generous. Spoon optional pecan topping on top if you’d like at this point.


To make the topping:
Lightly crush up whole pecans. Melt a tbsp of butter over medium heat in a sautee pan. Add pecans to the butter and toast for about 2-3 minutes. Lower the heat and add in honey and mix to coat the pecans. Once the pecans are coated in honey you can add a bit of sugar or more honey if you’d like. This process should take less than 5 minutes.

Add to the top of your cakes and enjoy!


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Recently, Chef di Cucina Matthew Cargo of Prato announced that he will be leaving for the new Otium in Los Angeles, California as Chef De Partie.

Otium is the first solo project founded by Chef Timothy Hollingsworth who represented the US at Bocuse D’Or in 2008 and then rose to Chef de Cuisine at The French Laundry, a three Michelin star restaurant in Napa Valley.

The post below is written by Prato’s former front of house manager Emily Brainard.

We wish him all the best in LA! Make Orlando proud, Chef!


If you’ve ever been to Prato you know Matthew Austin Cargo, whether you’ve met him or not. You know him in the food you’ve adventurously indulged in. He’s in the rustic décor at Prato, whose walls envelope you and take you to a faraway city.

He’s in the atmosphere and energy that make you feel alive and full of passion. You may never again know someone as intimately as you know Cargo, for he’s opened himself completely, become as vulnerable as the industry will allow, and left his entire being on the table.

Cargo’s journey to Prato began at age 16. He worked at various restaurants absorbing habits, techniques and knowledge that he liked and working hard to not pick up the bad habits he didn’t. It wasn’t until 2008 that he found his home at Luma on Park and his mentor in Brandon McGlamery.

He walked into Luma bright-eyed and eager for knowledge and found the “golden-resumed” McGlamery butchering fish. Throwing Cargo’s freshly printed resume and beaming reference letter away, he told him to “come back and we’ll see what you got.”

When that day came, he proved himself more than adequate in helping with prep and hot appetizers throughout the morning, afternoon and evening, finishing service with the other chefs. He was hired that night. And after trying the foie parfait, he realized what a monumental experience this was going to be in his life.

Cargo was surrounded by other young men we’ve come to know and respect. Brian Cernell and Derek Perez were amongst those that were fresh-faced at the time. They all grew up together and encouraged each other in various ways. Luma was Cargo’s first real community experience in a kitchen. Eager for late night chats over the next day’s menu after a draining service, the chefs would fill back up by bouncing creative ideas off one another.

McGlamery would test the men, secretly ordering food for himself, checking that his standards were being met. Cargo recalls one specific night when he was on garde manger duty (keeper of the pantry) and running low on avocados for a salad. He didn’t want to admit he was low and worked hard to stretch them. After Brandon tried the salad, he came to Matt and told him to never lie to him. “If we’re going to make this work, I have to trust you.”

Matt put his head back down and continued working hard to prove himself. He moved around the kitchen quickly, getting to know the menu and the stations, learning the food and techniques. He watched his friends develop their styles and advance. When Perez was promoted to sous, he got a closer look at the pressure and hours that come with that responsibility. Perez had the patience and charisma with which many are not gifted, and he taught Cargo “how to talk to people and how to have a strong mind.”

Cargo didn’t necessarily dream of the titles so much as the vote of confidence that comes with them. He wanted his superiors to trust him. “I never wanted them to worry about me or my station. I wanted them to feel that I was always in control.” He accumulated knowledge in and out of the kitchen and spent all of his time off reading or traveling.

Cargo would travel with other chefs and on his own to practice technique and expand his palate and imagination and hone his skills. He would learn from the best, bring it home and put it into practice, bringing him closer and closer to coming into his own as a chef.

The Prato concept blossomed on one of the aforementioned food trips. Cargo went to San Francisco to stage where he learned to use a pasta extruder and made pasta all day. He went to Atlanta and South Carolina to learn more about curing meats. California and New York to study pizza. On one of those ventures, the Widowmaker was born.

He spent three years of his professional life at Luma before Brandon McGlamery approached Cargo with the task that was to change his life. He said to him, “Listen Cargo, this is your time. I’m going to put your name on the menu.” From that moment on, he felt the pressure build with equal accordance to the trust that was bestowed upon him. Shortly after, a trip to Italy ensued. “We’re going to Italy and you’re going to be the Chef de Cuisine,” Brandon told him. “I believe in you, but know that this is going to be the hardest thing you ever do in your life.”

Arriving in Italy with an interpreter, driver, and itinerary, Cargo didn’t know what to expect. Recounting their tour, Prato’s menu comes to life. Thick ragus and porcini mushrooms greeted them in Bolognia. In Modena, our own gnocchi fritto was discovered. Positano brought us the seafood we adore. Parma brought the nose and the cheese to the table. They watched our ovens come into being in Napoli.

Upon arriving home, he was tasked with finding his team and fine tuning the menu, (as much of it was written on their trip to Italy.) He called his friends, the ones he admired and respected and wanted to grow with: Brandi Delhagen, Timmy Lovero and Bryant Thorpe, the core of what we know as Prato today.

Cargo and Delhagen worked tirelessly at Luma day in and day out for about 6 months. They were preparing for the opening of a restaurant they had never cooked in. They cured 150+ pounds of meat, made endless amounts of fresh pasta and they spent hours each day trying to get organized for what they didn’t know was coming.

Weeks were dedicated to building relationships with local farmers and visits in and out of the restaurant to ensure they were finding the freshest product possible. Cargo learned from McGlamery that knowledge of and dedication to sustainability was a commitment he had to stand by if Prato was going to set a new standard in Orlando.

After Prato opened and the chefs were able to use their new kitchen, the problems that faced them were all too palpable. Staying organized, prepping enough for the masses, and remaining true to the product they believed in were highest on that list.

Cargo worked hard to gain control and once he brought the team together, they were nearly unstoppable in what they could accomplish. One of his favorites along the way was the garlic crostini with a foie gras torchon, masumoto peaches, balsamico and crescenza. The challenges of seasonality, originality and respecting the tradition while making it their own were foreboding, but only served to push this group further as none would back down.

Over Prato’s lifespan this team has produced endless dishes we’ve come to know and love. One watermelon salad comes off the menu as the season ends and we wait for the next. We’re devastated and convinced we’ll never be as satisfied, but as the season approaches again, we’re overwhelmed with the innovation and flavors of the new.

Most of us have tried things at Prato we had never even seen on a menu. Collar, crespelle, triangoli: things that aren’t teeming out of every restaurant in Orlando are brought to life here. Some of Cargo’s favorite ingredients to work with, Cipollini onions, chilies, porcini mushrooms, kaffir lime, we’ve seen in ways we never imagined.

Cargo fought for Prato for a long time, constantly carrying around the weight and pressure to make sure the restaurant was true to what he and McGlamery thought it should be. As a leader, he worked hard and was humbled trying to earn the respect of his team. He was never as satisfied and overjoyed as when he realized that his team believed in him and that he had become a mentor to many.

Now that it is time for Cargo to pave a new path for himself, he is at peace with his decision. Cargo leaves Prato with his best friend, Lindsay Maser, at his side. She has ignited the courage and confidence in him to expand beyond his comfort zone and challenge himself.

He is, of course, leaving on a bittersweet note. His mentor, Brandon McGlamery, his brother, Derek Perez, his redheaded step-brother and Willy Wonka of Winter Park, Brian Cernell will be sorely missed. He is so grateful to his team for believing in him, supporting him and helping him grow into the chef he is today. However, he finds comfort in knowing that they will continue to pave the way for knowledge, dedication, integrity, hard work and incredible food in Orlando.

Cargo is confident that Prato will remain a trendsetting restaurant in Orlando. His core team and those he’s most proud of, Delhagen, Lovero, and Thorpe, will continue running the show, ensuring that the evolution of the food scene here will not stop. Prato will always be home to Cargo.

It was created by a special group of friends and teammates who stuck it out through all the difficulties and adversity and succeeded in making their mark on the Orlando food scene. “We will always feel it and never forget it.”

- Emily Brainard

Otium – A New Chapter from Otium on Vimeo.

When most folks think of authentic Chinese cuisine, it’s often the Cantonese regional cuisine that comes to mind as many of the first immigrants to America came from that region, hoping to strike gold in California during the 1800s, only to be hired as low waged rail workers building the Transcontinental Railroad.

From char siu roast pork to shrimp wonton dumplings and all the wonderful little bites from dim sum, Cantonese cuisine’s strength lies in its use of fresh ingredients from the sea and land. Canton, or Guangzhou, is a coastal region near Hong Kong known for its seafood and great harbors.

In Orlando, when I want Cantonese cuisine – particularly noodles and Chinese barbecue, I usually choose Tasty Wok or Ming Bistro.


At Tasty Wok, you will see a classic familiar scene of roasted ducks and barbecued pork and squid hanging from hooks in a display case near the counter. Recently, I learned there is a difference between the types of roast duck – ask for the hanging roast duck as it has been double marinated in duck juices.  SONY DSC

Roast duck can be fatty, but is a great dish served with rice.  SONY DSC SONY DSC

Shrimp wontons, little dumplings served with egg noodles in a chicken broth soup.  SONY DSC

Three meat platter – roast duck, Char siu – or Chinese barbecue pork – and soy sauce chicken on rice.  SONY DSC The fish with black bean sauce, stir fried with vegetables.

Chinese roast pork – char siu – with shrimp and noodles.

Salt and pepper fried trio of scallops, shrimp, and squid SONY DSC

Not the most refined nor the most healthy, it serves its purpose – it’s Chinese soul food.

Tasty Wok
1246 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
+1 407-896-8988
Hours: 10:30 am – 9:30 pm

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Just north of the SR 408 on busy Semoran Blvd is an often overlooked restaurant called Cafe Caobana that specializes in Cuban dishes.

At the entrance is a small bakery area decked out with trays of cheesy quesitos, guava pastries, and other beloved Cuban pastries.


Just a little further to the back is a rather unexpectedly large dining area.

You can order all the Cuban favorites from vaca frita to ropa vieja and carne guisado or arroz con pollo, and of course, a whole list of Cuban sandwiches. There’s a breakfast menu as well for the early risers.

Service is a bit brusque, on our visit there seemed to be only one server (who might also be one of the owners).

I am not the biggest fan of Cuban sandwiches – I find them to be a bit dry sometimes and a bit plain with just ham and cheese, and pickles. But I do love the tripleta sandwiches, which is often full of three types of meat such as pork, beef, and chicken.


Inside the dining room at Cafe Caobana.


The Cuban Sandwich at Cafe Caobana

Coconut cup pastries  SONY DSC

Guava pastries



Cafe Caobana
73 S Semoran Blvd, Orlando, FL 32807
Open from Monday to Thursday until 8.30 pm and Friday and Saturday until 10.30 pm

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MARLOW’S TAVERN WATERFORD LAKES NOW OPEN – Chef-inspired American Tavern Fare with an Upscale Twist

Marlow’s Tavern opens its third location in Central Florida this past June in serving chef-inspired American tavern fare and handcrafted cocktails in a comfortable and unique atmosphere. Marlow’s Tavern is now open across from Regal Cinemas at the Waterford Lakes Town, conveniently located off the East-West Expressway (SR-408) at 547 N. Alafaya Trail (SR-434) in East Orlando.

As a longtime Orlando resident and local restaurant industry veteran with decades of experience, Alan Palmieri, knows that Marlow’s Tavern is a perfect fit for the East Orlando community. Palmieri is responsible for the day-to-day operations and future development of the Orlando market. Palmieri opened the first Marlow’s Tavern in Florida in 2012 with additional locations at Pointe Orlando and in Winter Park.

“We are committed to be a valued partner in the East Orlando community with an authentic neighborhood tavern experience each and every day,” says Palmieri.


“Each Orlando neighborhood is so unique,” says Executive Chef and Co-founder John C. Metz. “Alan’s local perspective, community relationships, commitment to quality and strong affiliation with values in which we believe are important factors to operate a successful restaurant within the Waterford Lakes Town Center.”

Daily Happy Hour: 3 to 7 p.m., $3 Domestic Drafts $4 Glasses of Select Wines $4 Premium Wells
Girls Night Out Specials: Wednesdays 5 p.m. to Close, $5 Martini and Appetizer Specials
Live Entertainment: Wednesdays and Saturdays Starting at 7 p.m.

The restaurant opens daily at 11:30 a.m. to serve lunch, happy hour and dinner.

Become an Insider for specials and preview event invitations at, like on Facebook and follow on Twitter using #MarlowsTavernWaterfordLakes.

A Look at the Menu at Marlow’s

Crispy Potato Chips Crowned with Gorgonzola Cheese, Bacon, Roma Tomato and Scallion

Rock Shrimp, Crab, Pepper Jack Cheese and Fresh Jalapeno


White Cheddar Grit Cake, Spinach, Roma Tomato, Shallot and Roast Tomato Beurre Blanc

Your Choice of any Cheese in the Kitchen


Crisp Red Snapper, Udon Noodles, Tiny Carrot, Squash, Zucchini and Shiitake Mushroom with Thai Basil Leaf and Rich Miso Soy Broth


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Morimoto Asia Announces Opening Date of September 30, 2015 as Downtown Disney Nears Its Transition to Disney Springs

Morimoto Asia, a highly anticipated collaboration between Chef Masaharu Morimoto and Patina Restaurant Group, is pleased to announce a scheduled opening date of September 30, 2015 as Downtown Disney nears its transition to Disney Springs.

The Japanese master chef’s first pan-Asian dining experience will showcase flavors from across the Asian continent.

Morimoto Asia’s eye-catching, 36-foot tall, two-story layout has been designed by STUDIO V Architecture. It includes lounges, dining spaces, and an exhibition kitchen that allows guests a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the culinary action.

The second-level sushi bar and lounge have a separate entrance. Morimoto Asia will debut as part of The Landing, one of four neighborhoods in the new Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort.

“This has been a project of passion for our team and Chef Morimoto. We can’t wait to open our doors to everyone visiting Disney Springs this fall and beyond,” said Nick Valenti, restaurateur and CEO of Patina Restaurant Group.

Chef Morimoto

Menu including Dim Sum, Sushi

The menu is Chef Morimoto’s eclectic take on his favorite Asian flavors including moo shu pork, Peking duck, lobster chow fun, sweet and sour crispy whole fish, and kung pao chicken.

Dim sum will be served during weekend brunch service, and will include a variety of dumplings, shumai, bao, spare ribs and more.

Being a true family-friendly destination, kids will have a variety of Asian-infused dishes including chicken ramen, kakuni pork bao, and karaage fried chicken.

The sushi bar will be a culinary experience unto itself.

The intimate, 14-seat counter will offer pristine sushi and sashimi options from around the world. Items include toro, kanpachi, Japanese red snapper, uni, sea eel, hamachi, fluke, and salmon, as well as more ocean delicacies.

A variety of specialty sushi rolls and selections from the raw bar will also be offered.

While traditional sushi service will be limited to the guests seated at the sushi bar, a selection of specialty rolls and sushi platters will be available to the main restaurant’s diners.

The beers will feature mostly Asian varieties in both bottle and on draft, including the Morimoto signature beer by Rogue Ales.

In addition to the collector’s edition Imperial Pilsner and Morimoto Soba Ale and the highly coveted Black Obi Soba will also be available by the bottle.

The restaurant will also offer an assortment of sake, including the Morimoto signature line, plus a wine list showcasing wines of the world, signature cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks.

“I am excited to create a menu that allows so many of my favorite Asian flavors to come alive all in one place,” said Chef Masaharu Morimoto. “I hope the guests at Morimoto Asia have as much fun eating this food as I have creating it.”


The restaurant’s main entrance features a three-story glass corner, revealing the dramatic interior design including a multi-level bar and spiraling chandelier made of illuminated glass bottles.

Chef Morimoto’s exclusive sushi bar is sculpted from hundreds of pieces of hand-selected ash wood, backed with a wall of hammered copper. Morimoto Asia’s two-story outdoor terrace provides patio seating with sweeping views of Disney Springs.

Morimoto Asia will be open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. serving lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch with dim sum.

About Patina Restaurant Group
Patina Restaurant Group ( is a bicoastal boutique company and leader in the premium segment of the restaurant industry. In New York, its portfolio features the Michelin-starred Lincoln Ristorante, STATE Grill and Bar at the Empire State Building, Stella 34 Trattoria at Macy’s Herald Square, The Sea Grill at Rockefeller Center, Brasserie, Brasserie 8 1/2, The Grand Tier Restaurant at the Metropolitan Opera, La Fonda Del Sol at Grand Central, and The Rink at Rockefeller Center. Other East Coast properties include Tutto Italia Ristorante and Via Napoli at the Epcot World Showcase in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. On the West Coast its portfolio includes the renowned Los Angeles Times’ four-starred and Michelin-starred Patina Restaurant in Walt Disney Concert Hall, Café Pinot, Ray’s & Stark Bar, Catal and Naples in Anaheim’s Downtown Disney District, Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge, and catering and food service in museums and cultural centers throughout California.

About Masaharu Morimoto
Perhaps most recognizable as the star of Iron Chef and Iron Chef America, Chef Masaharu Morimoto has created a bridge between the culinary traditions of his native Japan and the American palate, bringing intense excitement, exquisite technique, and perfectly balanced flavors to thousands of diners throughout the world. He has garnered critical and popular acclaim for his seamless integration of Western and Japanese ingredients and has effectively created a signature style that positions him as one of today’s foremost chefs. In 2001, Morimoto opened his first eponymous restaurant in Philadelphia, which was followed by Wasabi by Morimoto in Mumbai in 2004 and another in New Delhi in 2008. Today, Chef Morimoto has expanded his culinary empire across the globe, with restaurants in Boca Raton, Chicago, Maui, Mexico City, Napa, New York City, South Beach, and Waikiki. Morimoto’s restaurants have received numerous accolades throughout the years, including Morimoto Napa which was named one of Food & Wine Magazine’s “Best U.S. Restaurant Openings” in 2010, and Morimoto New York which won the James Beard Award for “Outstanding Restaurant Design” in 2008, as well as a “2006 Hot List Restaurant” by Conde Nast Traveler, one of New York’s “Top 50 Restaurants” by Travel + Leisure, and one of New York Magazine’s “Best New Restaurants.”


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Chicken Salad Chick Orlando Opening Today -Fast-Casual restaurant concept to open 40th location

Chicken Salad Chick, the nation’s only southern inspired, fast-casual chicken salad restaurant concept, is scheduled to open today in Orlando.

The restaurant is located in the Plaza at University at 12101 University Blvd, Suite 201, Orlando, FL 32817, next to Spoleto’s and Bar Louie.

They specialize in chicken salads – available in scoop or sandwich form and have over 15 different flavors as well as soups and other deli sandwiches. Check out their menu here.

Guests are welcomed to celebrate the Grand Opening with special offers this week.

Today, starting at 11am, the first 100 guests will receive a “Meet the Chicks” tasting and will receive a free scoop of chicken salad per week for 16 weeks. Thursday, the first 100 guests to order a Chick Special will receive a free coozie.

Friday, guests who purchase 2 pounds of chicken salad will receive a free small cooler while supplies last.

Owners Carol Lynn Upshaw and Adam Reeves of the City Chick, LLC look forward to welcoming guests to the first of three locations in the Orlando market. “To be able to provide the best chicken salad in the south to a new community is a very exciting venture for our team” said Adam Reeves. “We hope that the Orlando community will enjoy their experience with this brand just as much as we enjoy providing it!”

“When you combine a delicious meal, a welcoming environment and a friendly staff, you create an experience that is unforgettable,” said CEO Scott Deviney. “I know the City Chick Group will serve the brand well as they offer this superb experience to the Orlando market.”


The Chicken Salad Chick concept, born in Auburn, Alabama, was established in 2008 in the kitchen of founder, Stacy Brown. Stacy quickly learned that selling a homemade recipe from her kitchen is against the law, and after being shut down by the health department, she decided to solicit the business expertise of her future husband and fellow founder, Kevin Brown. Together, they opened a small takeout restaurant which quickly grew to enormous demand and additional locations.

Chicken Salad Chick puts an edgy twist on a Southern classic, offering guests a “custom fit” chicken salad experience, with 15 original flavors to choose from, as well as gourmet soups, flavorful side salads and freshly-baked desserts. Today, the brand has 40 locations across the Southeast, and has currently sold 141 franchises to be developed across the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North & South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. The brand was recently named as the top chicken salad in the country to try in the March/April issue of Cooking with Paula Deen, as well as one of’s top Movers and Shakers. Corporate offices are located at 724 North Dean Road in Auburn, Alabama. See for additional information.


How did Mrs. Stacy Brown come up with the concept?
Chicken Salad Chick was actually started out of necessity in 2008, when Stacy, a recently divorced stay-at-home mom, needed to provide for her three children. Knowing she was a good cook and had an obsession with chicken salad, she began to make and sell chicken salad to her neighbors & friends. She quickly learned that selling a homemade recipe from her kitchen is against the law, and after being shut down by the health department, she solicited the business expertise of friend & future husband, Kevin, to open a small takeout restaurant in Auburn, Alabama.

Having sold out continuously for the first few days, it became clear that Chicken Salad Chick was something people were quickly falling in love with. Within a few short years, Chicken Salad Chick began franchising and has continued to grow rapidly across the Southeast. Today, the brand has 39 locations open, with a total of 131 locations to be developed across the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North & South Carolina, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas.


What does the name Chicken Salad Chick come from?
The name was created when Stacy was delivering food to her neighbors and friends. Knowing she needed a name that was easily recognizable on a car magnet, she wanted the words chicken salad in it. Since she’s a “Chick” that would deliver “chicken salad”, Chicken Salad Chick was born.


What is the chicken salad experience like – like what is it like to order there at the restaurant?
Each person’s view of the perfect chicken salad is different, which led to the idea to create one for every palate. Most places that offer a chicken salad only offer one, but with us, you have 15 varieties to choose from. Whether you like it sweet and salty or hot and spicy – we have something for everyone.

When a guest walks in the door, they’ll be greeted with the bright and refreshing colors of green and red, contrasting with striking, black and white photos of local landmarks. They’ll walk to the front register, where a team member will cheerfully walk them through the menu of 15 varieties of chicken salad, flavorful side items, gourmet soups, and freshly baked desserts…and for those who are dragged there by a chicken salad lover and are refusing to try something new, we also offer deli sandwiches and pimento cheese!

Our restaurants are full of warm designer fabrics that beg the guests to sit a while and enjoy the chicken salad as well as their dining experience. This is a place you will want to meet someone you really like, because you won’t be in a hurry to leave. We like to think we provide guests with a full service experience, at a fast casual price.


What are the top dishes to order at Chicken Salad Chick? Is it only chicken salad available?
In regards to best sellers, our #1 spot remains to be the Classic Carol, our “plain” chicken salad, however other favorites include the Fancy Nancy with apples, grapes and pecans, and the Sassy Scotty with bacon, ranch and cheddar cheese. Our Kickin’ Kay Lynne is a powerhouse of flavor, combining buffalo sauce, ranch, bacon, cheddar cheese and jalapenos all in one, and is quickly growing in popularity. The fans of more traditional chicken salad opt for Olivia’s Old South, which has sweet pickles and egg.

Outside of chicken salad, our fans rave about our flavorful side items, particularly the grape salad and broccoli salad. We also offer homemade pimento cheese, pasta salad, fresh fruit, a seasonal lettuce salad, gourmet soups and deli sandwiches.

As an additional note, all of our chicken salads and side salads are made in-house daily, offering guests a healthy and fresh dining option in an environment where they feel at home. And they are all gluten free as well! Feel free to check out our nutritional information on the website if you’re interested in that as well.

Our recipe is a secret that only our founders know! As far as how our unique recipes are prepared, our chicken salad is made in-house each day to ensure freshness and quality. We use all white-meat shredded chicken, finely minced celery, barely enough mayonnaise to mention and our secret seasoning. Some guests are convinced that we put something else in it to keep them coming back for more, because it’s certainly addicting!

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McDonald’s is in the midst of a great reinvention and change. It recently reported its worst same-store sales decline in more than a decade. For the first time since the 1970s, McDonald’s may be closing some of its stores.

Changing tastes, greater emphasis on local, natural, foods, and the encroachment of new competitors such as Shake Shack and Chipotle have all slowly chipped away McDonald’s marketshare. The fast casual segment has slowly become more prominent as customers shy away from “fast food.”


Folks want to eat healthier, delicious tasting food – pretty much the opposite of the traditional thought of greasy, so called mystery meat fast food.

Nonetheless, McDonald’s is still the worldwide leader in sales and will continue to dominate despite slowing sales.

Locally in Central Florida, the restaurant recently unveiled their new “Create Your Taste” program – a build your own burger concept within existing McDonald’s that allow customers to customize their own burgers with custom toppings, artisan bread buns, and meat from a giant electronic touchscreen kiosk. A giant touch screen? all the options I’d want to get? custom to me? It’s a millenial’s dream.


It’s available now at the UCF location as well as another store in Lake Mary with more on the way. We were recently invited to test out the new system – here is a run down of how things went.

You walk up and put in your order at the giant ipad-like kiosk screen. So many choices – death by choices? It can get confusing at times with all the different options if you don’t have someone to help guide you through the first time.


After choosing your ingredients, toppings, meat type, and bun style (butter toasted ciabatta or artisanal bun), the order is sent back to a special area of the restaurant where the burgers are made to order.

After it’s ready, the order is sent to your table by an employee in quite a nice presentation – burger wrapped in special paper, fries in a fancy, little mini fryer basket. Note, you can only order it inside the restaurant and not in the drive thru, where many McDonald’s do 70% of their business.


The burger is actually quite good – the bun is soft, but not too spongy, and quite tasty – as are the meats and ingredients. It may be the best burger I’ve had at McDonald’s in a long time. But it does come at a price, around $2.50 more than your regular burgers, more or less depending on what your toppings and ingredients are. My sirloin burger with bacon meal with medium fries and dasani water came out to $8.50 – comparable to pricing to some of the craft burger places out there, but actually on par to taste as well. For comparison, a Big Mac meal comes out to $6.00.


Customization is a new and possibly daunting task for such a large corporation accustomed to value meals and preset menu items. Though the price is much higher than their value menu items, it may help draw in that coveted youth demographic that have slowly begun to explore new restaurants using their new apps like yelp and posting photos of their meal on instagram and other social media. Will they be posting custom McDonald’s Create Your Taste burgers soon?


There are so many burger places in the area now by UCF, each with pricing about the same as McDonald’s – some do it better, some do it worse. If McDonald’s can keep up the quality, keep prices in check, I’d definitely come by again for a custom burger.

The future of McDonald’s is here.

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To celebrate their opening, after months of construction delays, Blaze Pizza will be hosting a FREE PIZZA DAY on September 4, giving away free 11-inch artisanal pizzas all day from 11am-11pm

assembly-line format

Blaze Pizza is a modern day “pizza joint,” known for its custom-built artisanal pizzas, freshly made salads, blood orange lemonade and s’more pies.

Their first Orlando location is at 4100 N. Alafaya Trail, across from the main University of Central Florida campus, near Bar Louie and Burger Fi.

The fast-casual concept, known for its chef-driven menu and casually hip restaurants, will custom-build its newest location to suit the 3200-square foot space which includes seating on an outdoor patio. The restaurant will be open from 11:00 a.m. to midnight, Sunday through Wednesday, and will stay open until 1:00 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Blaze uses an interactive assembly line format that allows guests to create their own artisanal pizzas. Customers choose an unlimited amount of toppings from a wide variety of house-made sauces, fresh vegetables and hand-selected meats and cheeses – all for under $8. The 11” personal pizzas are then sent to a blazing hot open-flame oven — the centerpiece of the restaurant — where dedicated pizzasmiths ensure that the thin-crust pies are “fast-fire’d” in under 180 seconds.

“The Orlando community expects greatness for every venture, and that’s just what we’re giving them with this unique pizza experience,” said Laurie Ruggles Managing Partner for Blaze in Florida. “Blaze Pizza is great for UCF students looking for a fast, quality pizza option that won’t break their budget. We are bringing back the classic pizza joint, but with a modern, fast-as-lightning twist.”



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A year ago, parent company Darden Restaurants cut loose the Red Lobster chain, selling it off to Golden Gate Capital. In the year since, the Red Lobster folks moved their headquarters to offices in downtown Orlando, right next to City Hall.

As an independent company, Red Lobster can now focus on long-term initiatives, is more nimble and can execute on decisions more quickly. Over the past year, Red Lobster has begun:

  • Introducing a seafood-focused menu, which was the most significant menu improvement in decades
  • Launching a new “Fresh” advertising and marketing campaign
  • Implemented key operations initiatives to improve execution
  • Opened its new Restaurant Support Center and Culinary Development Center in Downtown Orlando
  • Positive one year results include:
    • Record Guest Satisfaction Scores
    • Comparable restaurant sales growth each quarter since separation

This year, Red Lobster is focused on four key areas:

  • Quality, handcrafted seafood dishes (e.g. Signature Shrimp Cocktail, Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes and Beer-Battered Fish and Chips)
  • New types of fresh, seasonal seafood (e.g. Wild-Caught Bairdi Crab and Wild-Caught Alaska Salmon
  • Signature Events (e.g. Crabfest, which features the largest variety of crab-based dishes and new types of wild-caught Alaska seafood)
  • Contemporary beverage program (e.g. High Tide Cocktail)

Chef Dustin Hilinski is the Executive Chef and Director of Culinary for Red Lobster, where he leads the team of chefs who develop all of the menu items across Red Lobster’s more than 700 restaurants.

Chef Dustin told us, “I’ve grown up in the foodservice business, following in the footsteps of my father who worked as a chef. After deciding that culinary development and creation was my passion, I attended the Culinary Institute of America and began my professional career working in hotels and restaurants across the United States and Europe.”

“Ultimately, I got into research and development, and I began to offer my expertise to various clients as a culinary consultant before going to work at H.J. Heinz, where I led food development for foodservice and specialized in innovation. I joined the Red Lobster team a few years ago and am excited about all the opportunities to create new and exciting dishes for our guests.”


Where were you before becoming Executive Chef at Red Lobster?

Before coming to Red Lobster, I was Senior Corporate Chef at H.J. Heinz, where I led development of foodservice concepts and products. My specialty is innovation, and I got many opportunities to leverage my skills by helping to create things like a new line of breakfast condiments. I know “breakfast condiments” doesn’t seem very exciting, but it actually is. I really enjoyed playing with different flavor combinations to develop these new recipes, like strawberry jalapeno jelly or cinnamon honey mustard.

What are some of your favorite dishes on the menu now?

That’s a tough one. I would say my absolute favorite is the Wood-Grilled Lobster, Shrimp and Salmon. I love the variety of seafood in the dish, and the wood-grilling and delicious brown butter sauce really gives it a nice flavor.


The Lobster Scampi Linguini is also fantastic. It has just as much lobster as there is pasta – 6 ounces of lobster meat and 6 ounces of pasta. There really is lobster is every bite. It’s a great way to enjoy lobster in a pasta. And, of course I love some of our classics like coconut shrimp with piña colada sauce.

What are you planning for at Red Lobster this coming season? What changes are being made to the menu since the changes in management?

We have some really cool things in the works, but it’s really too soon to talk about what’s next. What I can say is that we are focused on being not just the biggest seafood restaurant but the best by delivering great seafood options to our guests. Our new menu that we launched in November is just the first example of this.

With the new menu, we introduced new lobster-based entrees to deliver on our namesake protein. Now, there are lobster options on virtually every page of the menu at a broad range of price points.

The new dishes are:
• Wood-Grilled Lobster, Shrimp and Salmon
• Wood-Grilled Lobster Scampi Linguini
• Roasted Maine Lobster Bake
• Wood-Grilled Lobster Tacos

In addition to lobster, shrimp has always been a high-demand menu item, but guests craved more variety and bigger shrimp. We wanted to really wow our guests so this month we introduced our first-ever Big Shrimp Festival with more variety and some of the biggest shrimp we’ve ever had on the menu. Big Shrimp Festival showcases our culinary expertise with six premium shrimp preparations, which includes new flavors and old favorites like Extra Jumbo Spicy Sriracha-Grilled Shrimp and Parrot Isle Jumbo Coconut Shrimp.

Overall, one of the things I’m most proud of is that we’ve introduced new on-trend flavors and have been experimenting with emerging trends. As a result, we are already hearing from our guests that they are excited about the new menu and that they really love the new menu items. Hearing that that guests are loving seafood as much as I do is one of the greatest pleasures I get out of this job!


Where do you dine when not at Red Lobster here in Orlando?

If I am not at Red Lobster, I am at home with my three boys experimenting with new flavors and dishes – they love to cook! I’m so fortunate that my profession is my passion and that we live in an area with great seafood. A lot of my inspirations come from my personal life. Cooking and traveling allows me to try out new flavors and innovate in ways that often translate on to the Red Lobster menu.

What are some interesting facts about yourself that most people might not know?

• My father was a chef
• I’ve served as a guest judge for the South Beach Food & Wine Festival and was featured in the Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef instructional video series
• I have over 500 cookbooks, some form the 1800s.
• When I was young, we dined at Red Lobster, and I decided to slip a few oyster shells in my pocket because I thought they were cool…until my mom found them under my bed a few weeks later.

Growing up, what were some of your favorite childhood eats?

Being the son of a chef we had a lot of variety and interesting things to eat, but I have always loved seafood and that inspires me now when working on new menu items for the Red Lobster guest.




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Noodles and Dumplings at the Florida Mall

The Florida Mall recently opened their new Dining Pavilion (aka the Food Court 2.0) – it’s sleek and modern and just very futuristic . The food court of the 21st century we deserve – though the offerings – which include 3 variations of Asian Chao and the usual suspects of chains – leave more to be desired (see here). There are some stand outs though like the new Spoleto Italian fast casual / assembly line restaurant imported from Brazil as well as some interesting new concepts such as the Dumpling and Noodle Bar.

At first glance, it looks like another variation of Asian Chao – an island outpost with a line of sweet and sour chicken, beef and broccoli, and bourbon chicken in steaming trays behind plexiglass while an older Asian lady stares at you disapprovingly for snapping photos of their shop.

Noodles and Dumplings at the Florida Mall
Noodles and Dumplings at the Florida Mall

But there’s got to be some dumplings, some noodling going on somewhere since their name is Dumpling and Noodle Bar right?

Around the corner is a tiny section dedicated to an assortment of dumplings (spicy wontons, steamed pork and veggie dumplings, fried dumplings) and a rather impressive list of authentic noodle dishes from Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup to Cha Jong noodles (black bean sauce noodles) and Hong Kong style wonton noodles.

Spicy wonton dumplings at Noodles and Dumplings at the Florida Mall
Spicy wonton dumplings at Noodles and Dumplings at the Florida Mall

Overall, very impressed with the Taiwanese beef noodle soup – the flavor was there and there was a ton of braised beef with our bowl. Not as good as some of the authentic Taiwanese restaurants around town, but still for a mall food court dish – I’d definitely go back for more.

Taiwanese beef noodle soup from Noodles and Dumplings at the Florida Mall
Taiwanese beef noodle soup from Noodles and Dumplings at the Florida Mall

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The Generous Pour Offers Eight Remarkable Wines from Seven Talented Women

Orlando, Fla. – July 6, 2015 – The Capital Grille today announced that seven of California’s great female winemakers and collaborators, including award-winning actress Drew Barrymore, will come together to celebrate women and wine as part of the restaurant’s seventh annual The Generous Pour event.

Generous Pour

The Generous Pour will celebrate the unique role women play in winemaking with this year’s offerings. From July 6 through August 30, 2015, for $28 per person with dinner[1], The Capital Grille will offer eight remarkable wines crafted, designed or owned by women from some of California’s most acclaimed vineyards. Guests are invited to explore and enjoy as many of these remarkable wines and varietals as they like.

Nowhere is the rise of women in the industry more prevalent than in California. Women represent half of the graduates from the state’s top enology programs, and are employed as lead winemaker at ten percent of California vineyards.

“The Generous Pour collection is a celebration of the vital role women play in the growing wine industry,” noted George Miliotes, The Capital Grille’s Master Sommelier and one of only 229 in the world to have earned that prestigious title. “We are proud to feature eight exceptional wines created and shaped by seven extremely talented women, from highly-regarded California wineries,” he added.

Lobster Mac

Nearly one-third of U.S. adults who order wine in restaurants report that they are more likely to order a certain wine in a restaurant if they find its origins interesting. With this in mind, The Capital Grille brought together these seven distinguished women, each representing a distinct approach to winemaking.

Their wines were also selected with a storied vintage in mind including the national debut of Drew Barrymore’s Pinot Grigio, a delightful, crowd-pleasing white to share with friends and family.

Also to be featured is the first public release of the remarkable 2007 Kinton Syrah, exclusive to The Capital Grille for The Generous Pour event. “The winemakers at Kinton produced an incredible Syrah in 2007, a storybook vintage in the state,” said Miliotes. “One of the more notable wines in this year’s The Generous Pour line-up, nowhere will you taste the perfection of the 2007 vintage more than in a glass of this smooth Santa Barbara red.”

Bone-In Kona Crusted Dry Aged NY Strip

The 2015 Generous Pour Collection includes eight remarkable wines by seven talented women:

The Enthusiast. Drew Barrymore delights in a wine’s ability to bring people together. It is that passion which inspired the actress to establish Barrymore Wines in the coastal winegrowing region of Monterey, California. The debut of Barrymore Pinot Grigio can be enjoyed at this year’s Generous Pour and is the perfect way to begin your evening.

The Visionary. Julia Jackson, the youngest daughter of legendary winemaker Jess Jackson, is the visionary leading the Jackson Family Estates into the future. Having grown up in the vineyards of Santa Barbara, she has literally spent a lifetime learning about the art of wine and hand selected the wine from the Jackson family library to featuring exclusively at The Capital Grille for the Generous Pour event this year.

The Gardener. Marcia Monahan has always had a close relationship with the land. When not planting grapes at Matanzas Creek, she’s growing vegetables and herbs at home. Her respect for the land and sustainable farming practices makes her masterfully crafted Matanzas Creek Merlot one of the finest in the country.

The Spaniard. Laura Diaz Muñoz began her winemaking career in her native Spain before putting down roots in California, where her approach is influenced by her memories drinking Albariño in her native Spain and smelling the sea in every glass. Two of the wines featured in this year’s Generous Pour – Mt. Brave Cabernet Sauvignon and the debut of her own Galerie “Naissance” Sauvignon Blanc – are sure to earn rave reviews from The Capital Grille’s guests.

The Conductor. Denise Shurtleff and her team direct every aspect of the winemaking process. From nurturing the grapes on the vine to bottling their exceptional wines, one tastes her dedication in every sip of Cambria “Julia’s Vineyard” Pinot Noir.

The Virtuoso. Lisa Valtenbergs, born with an acute sense of smell and armed with a degree in agricultural business with an emphasis in viticulture, was destined to become a winemaker. At Stonestreet, Lisa uses her skill to create remarkable wines, including the highly acclaimed “Bear Point” Chardonnay.

The Scholar. Kristina Werner has a master’s degree in viticulture and experience making wine in regions around the world. She brings a wealth of knowledge and skill to every wine she crafts and lives by the mantra, “Never stop learning and never get bored.” Her Bordeaux-style Arrowood Cabernet Reserve Speciale is one of a kind.

During The Generous Pour, The Capital Grille servers will provide tasting notes and suggest pairings for each course, based on individual preferences. This will allow guests to craft their own personalized wine dinner.

Follow George Miliotes on Twitter and Instagram @TheWineExpert and join the #GenerousPour conversation.

· Drew Barrymore Video:

Coconut Cream Pie

2. The O-Town MacDown – September 12

is a creative mac-n-cheese cooking competition, held between local professional chefs and restaurants. Scheduled for Saturday, September 12 at Osceola Heritage Park’s Exhibit Hall, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., this family-oriented event will include activities for kids, continuous stage entertainment, assorted vendor booths, and, of course, delicious mac-n-cheese.

The event will include:

All-you-can-eat Mac-n-Cheese!
Live Entertainment
Celebrity Chef Cooking Demonstrations
Kids’ Fun Zone including face painting, macaroni art station and character meet-and-greets
Vendor Booths
Free Parking

Competition is open to professional chefs and local restaurants. Click on the “Competitors Registration” button for more information.
O-Town Event Poster

O-Town Competitor Flier

3. Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek Host Fifth Annual Food & Wine Weekends

Orlando Culinary Leader Complements Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival with Epicurean Events

Celebrating fine wine and culinary expertise, Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, known for premiere food, wine and spirit experiences, will host the fifth annual Food & Wine Weekends from Sept. 25, 2015 through Nov. 15, 2015, featuring an appetizing set of flavorful events.

Presenting distinctive wine and culinary programming over eight weekends, the resorts’ Food & Wine Weekends are designed to complement the wildly popular Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival, conveniently located less than one mile from the property.

Cabana_Eve0860_touched up

New programming ranges from chalk art creations by renowned artists Edson Campos and Kathleen Brodeur to a twelve-flavored macaroon bar. Returning favorites include Bar du Chocolate, The Art of Sushi Pairing and wine-paired dinners at the hotels’ signature, award-winning restaurants, La Luce and Bull & Bear.

“Unforgettable Orlando food and wine experiences extend beyond the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, and our culinary team continually develops menu items that are ahead of the curve,” said Peter Kacheris, managing director, Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. “Food & Wine Weekends showcase our chefs’ achievements, offering guests the chance to sample exclusive culinary offerings, created to deliver a full sensory experience in each bite.”


Led by Food and Beverage Director Francis Metais, Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek consistently receive notoriety for the refined menus offered at all twelve dining venues, featuring mouth-watering tableside preparation and an array of extraordinary pastry innovations. Metais, a classically trained pastry chef from France, employs his “food as art” philosophy to each dish, utilizing ingredients in unexpected ways and a focus on high-touch, detail-oriented service.

Between Food & Wine Weekend events, guests can enjoy hotel amenities including luxurious spa services at Waldorf Astoria Spa, 18-hole golf on the Rees Jones course and two pool complexes featuring private cabanas, a waterslide and three-acre lazy river. Guests can also take advantage of complimentary transportation to Epcot® as well as all Disney Theme Parks. For more information, visit or .

Event highlights include:

• Il Cibo Della Vita – A Wine Pairing Dinner
Friday & Saturday evenings, La Luce at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
From the kitchen of La Luce at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, each weekend a new menu with exclusive offerings and recommended wine pairing will be unveiled, featuring a selection of recipes only available during Food & Wine Weekends.

• Chalk Art – NEW in 2015
Select Dates, La Luce at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
Inspirational art is the perfect complement to a sumptuous feast. New this year, watch Edson Campos and Kathleen Brodeur – renowned Chalk Artists – create a masterpiece while guests dine, celebrating a form of art as fresh and contemporary as the cuisine.


• The Art of Sushi Pairing
Friday & Saturday evenings, Zeta Bar & Sushi Lounge at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek.
Guests can enjoy an exciting epicurean journey at Zeta Bar & Sushi Lounge, exploring perfect pairings of sake and beer with favorite sushi dishes.

• Craft Beer Experience
Saturdays, MYTH Bar at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
Enjoy a selection of craft beer tastings from local breweries to include Crooked Can and Orlando Brewery. The resort has teamed up with the brew masters to bring this interactive experience to guests.

• Les Douze Macarons – NEW in 2015
Friday & Saturday evenings, MYTH Bar at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
Whether indulging in a pre or post-dinner treat, guest can visit the Macaroon Bar to try an assortment of flavors, hand-made by the resort’s world-class pastry team.

• Fantasy Flights – NEW in 2015
Friday & Saturday evenings, MYTH BAR at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
Guests will have the opportunity to take off with a choice of flights of (3) reds or (3) whites. Menu predetermined.

• Live Entertainment
Select Saturdays, MYTH Bar at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
Nightly, Peacock Alley at Waldorf Astoria Orlando

• The Taste of Bull & Bear
Friday & Saturday, Bull & Bear at Waldorf Astoria Orlando
An exclusive 5-course tasting menu comprised of exquisite food and wine pairings, prepared by the illustrious chefs of Waldorf Astoria Orlando.

• Bar du Chocolat and Champagne Tasting
Friday & Saturday, Peacock Alley at Waldorf Astoria Orlando
Decadent, yes. Sinful, perhaps. Most certainly an experience for those with a sweet tooth. Peacock Alley will be transformed into a chocolate-lover’s dream, offering a cocoa-infused evening of self-indulgence paired with a selection of fine champagnes. Guests can choose from a signature selection of chocolate treats from the Waldorf Astoria Orlando’s world-class pastry team.

• Royal Tea – A Waldorf Astoria Tradition
Sundays, Peacock Alley at Waldorf Astoria Orlando
Guests will treasure quality time with loved ones over finely-prepared tea sandwiches and house-made pastries, while sipping premium hot tea and listening to live piano music. A glass of champagne can be added for a “Grand Royal Tea.”

• Astoria After Dark
Friday and Saturday, WA Kids Club at Waldorf Astoria Orlando
Adults aren’t the only ones who can join the fun. WA Kids Club offers a nightly children’s program including dinner and non-stop roster of fun activities – providing parents some “adult time” in which to experience Food & Wine Weekend activities.

• Waldorf Astoria® Spa Tuscany Wine Special
Daily at Waldorf Astoria Orlando
Guests will experience the powerful antioxidants of red wine powder, red grape seed extract, crushed grape seeds and pure grape seed oil while indulging in an extravagant Tuscany Wine Wrap or Pedicure.

Weekend rates at Waldorf Astoria Orlando start at $229 per night, and include deluxe accommodations and complimentary scheduled transportation to Epcot® (and other Disney Theme Parks). To make a reservation, please visit or call +1 888 353 2009.

Weekend rates at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek start at $189 per night, and include deluxe accommodations and complimentary scheduled transportation to Epcot® (and other Disney Theme Parks). To make a reservation, please visit or call +1 888 353 2013.


4. Limbitless Kids’ Community Event at UCF – August 29th


Saturday, August 29 at 11:00am – 2:00pm
CFE Arena
12777 Gemini Blvd N, Orlando, Florida 32816

Gather family and friends in support of Limbitless Solutions at the Limbitless Kids’ Community Event

Ways to get involved
•Donate online:
•Attend the Community Event
•Eat at Burger U

Partial Proceeds at Burger U support Limbitless Solutions from 11am to 2pm during the event

Event Activities:
Tony Roma’s Rib Eating Contest – Local On Air Personalities and Food Bloggers
Limbitless Solutions Sleeve Design Station
Kids’ Inflatable Zone
Community Partner Booths


Please share with family and friends on social media to help support a great cause

Hosted by Romacorp, Inc. brands Tony Roma’s Restaurants and TR Fire Grill Restaurants


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When Chef Kevin Dundon was in town in June, he visited Wild Ocean Seafood in Port Canaveral to check out the local product, which is wild caught, sustainable, and fresh from the ocean.

Wild Ocean has a market in Cape Canaveral, but can also be found locally in Orlando at the Monday Night Audubon Park Night Markets.

Chef Dundon liked it so much that Raglan Road introduces this menu tomorrow featuring three seasonal dishes using Wild Ocean seafood.

There’s no cut-off time set for the menu items — they’ll be on the menu as long as they are popular or when the season warrants a change, probably sometime this fall.

Chef Kevin Dundon has committed to working with multiple local producers.

Great news to hear and we look forward to hearing about more local seafood and harvest in our local Orlando restaurants!

Wild Ocean Seasonal Menu_Page_1

Wild Ocean seafood dish The Pale
Wild Ocean seafood dish The Pale -

Wild Ocean seafood dish – The Pale – Wild Ocean shrimp and clams with golden corn, baby potatoes, in a Raglan IPA lemon and herb broth served with soda bread scones

Wild Ocean seafood dish El Nino
Wild Ocean seafood dish El Nino

Wild Ocean seafood dish – El Nino – Wild Ocean Pan Roasted Shrimp over soft polenta, ina spiced bean, sweet onion, and peppers piperada

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Executive Chef Marc Kusche of the award-winning Hamilton’s Kitchen at The Alfond Inn has been invited to cook at the legendary James Beard House in New York City this fall. Florida Farmhouse Flavor will be the theme of Chef Kusche’s inspired multi-course dinner on Friday, October 23, 2015.

Chef Kusche offers a fresh take on Southern comfort food and has a strong commitment to locally sourced ingredients from the lush and fertile farms of Central Florida.

Chef Kusche places his priority on freshness and he can be found most Saturday mornings at the Winter Park Farmers Market in the city’s historic old train depot, a few blocks from his restaurant, located at The Alfond Inn. He has close relationships with the family farms in the region, as well as purveyors of seafood from the nearby Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico.

It is an honor to present a dinner at The James Beard House. Beard, a cookbook author and teacher, was a champion of American cuisine. The mission of the James Beard Foundation is to celebrate, nurture, and preserve America’s culinary heritage and future.

Each year only a select handful of chefs are invited to cook at the historic James Beard House, a narrow brownstone in New York’s Greenwich Village that served as Beard’s home for decades and until his death in 1985. The rooms, book collections and the quirky kitchen are all preserved as he left it. The preparation of Chef Kusche’s dinner will be live streamed via the Kitchencam at

At the Beard House, Chef Kusche and the Hamilton’s Kitchen team will prepare such dishes as Short Rib Pralines with Basil Crust and Balsamic-Onion Confit; Hamilton’s Kitchen Shrimp and Grits; Slow-Braised Lamb Neck with Pumpkin Risotto, Honey and Rosemary-Glazed Parsnips and Mustard Seed Sauce; and Olive Oil-Poached Red Snapper with Caramelized Cauliflower, Caper Berries, Tomatoes, and Shaved Fennel.

Chef Kusche has cooked in some of the finest kitchens in the world, including Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire, Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, the Adlon Hotel in Berlin and Silversea Cruises. Redefining comfort food is at the heart of his culinary passion.

Tickets to the event are $130 for James Beard members and $170 for the general public. They may be purchased at 212-627-2308, through the James Beard website or via OpenTable.

For those who want to taste Chef Kusche’s cuisine but are unable to attend the Beard House event, The Alfond Inn offers its Auberge in the Park package.

Florida Farmhouse Flavor
Chef Marc Kusche
Hamilton’s Kitchen at the Alfond Inn, Winter Park, FL

Hors d’Oeuvre
Truffle-Baked Brie with Pear Jam
Short Rib Pralines with Basil Crust and Balsamic–Onion Confit
Caviar-Stuffed Potatoes with Crème Fraîche and Chives
Hamilton’s Kitchen Shrimp and Grits
White Gazpacho with Crispy Prosciutto and Almonds

Roasted Beet Duo with Grapefruit, Whipped Goat Cheese, Microgreens, and Caramelized Walnuts
Jamón Ibérico–Wrapped Diver Scallop with Creamy Polenta, Pickled Artichokes, and Red Wine Reduction
Slow-Braised Lamb Neck with Pumpkin Risotto, Honey and Rosemary–Glazed Parsnips, and Mustard Seed Sauce
Olive Oil–Poached Red Snapper with Caramelized Cauliflower, Caper Berries, Tomatoes, and Shaved Fennel

Hamilton’s Kitchen Chocolate Pudding with Caramelized Brioche Croutons

An Interview with Chef Marc Kusche 

Chef Marc Kusche started cooking as a boy in Germany and followed in the footsteps of his parents who had restaurant careers. He took their sage advice and spent his early years working years experiencing different kitchens, cultures and cuisines.

After cooking in kitchens in Germany, he held positions in London, Florida, the Caribbean, California and the English countryside at restaurants that included Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis; Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire; Four Seasons Resort Great Exuma at Emerald Bay (formerly a Four Seasons resort); Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club; the Adlon Hotel, Berlin; and Silversea Cruises.

To Chef Marc, “Being back in Florida is a homecoming in many ways. It’s been great for me and for my family.

What does cooking at the James Beard House mean to you and Hamilton’s Kitchen?
It is an honor to present a dinner at the James Beard House. To cook in such a storied and legendary kitchen is a dream for every chef. My team and I are excited about it, but we’re also very proud that our hard work behind the scenes at Hamilton’s Kitchen, a restaurant that is just two years old, is earning recognition and awards. It’s what motivates us every day and what will energize us this Fall when we bring a taste of “Farmhouse Florida” to Manhattan.

How did you become selected to cook at the house?
We were selected, I believe, because of our deep commitment to presenting authentic Florida flavors and using ingredients that are sourced directly from farms in this area. Our menu is all about community support and bringing the best of Florida to the table. When you taste our dishes, you feel the tropical sunshine and richness of the soil that we are blessed with here in Central Florida. These are the things that directly influence my cooking and set us apart.

What are you looking forward to cook the most at the James Beard House dinner?
Everything but if I have to pick one dish it’s the”Olive Oil Poached Red Snapper “I love all the flavors in this dish, from the caramelized cauliflower, capers and the oven roasted tomatoes. The cauliflower adds the nice nutty touch, the light saltiness of the capers and of course the shaved fennel adds the nice anise flavor at the end. It is a very light flavorful dish, and the fish is incredibly succulent. (See Recipe for the Olive Oil Poached Snapper below)

What are some new dishes this season at Hamilton’s Kitchen? 
Some include the Squid Ink Pasta, Seared Scallop, Heirloom Tomatoes, Basil Whole Pan Seared Trout, Aged Balsamic Lentil Salad  with Pecan Bacon Vinaigrette.

When not cooking at Hamilton’s Kitchen, where can folks find you? What are some of your favorite places to eat around town?
We have many favorites – this is a vibrant restaurant town – but my personal top spots include “ Ravello , the restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel. I love what Chef Fabrizio is doing there and it’s all about the vibrant flavors that come through. We also love Kathleen Blake from “ The Rusty Spoon “ again a lot great flavors in her food and we appreciate that she also supports all the local farms. Chef Henry Salgado at TXOKOS is amazing too. His octopus is the best I’ve ever had and his restaurant is a wonderful Sunday brunch spot. I recently dinner at Kevin Fonzo’s “ K Restaurant “ it was one of the best meals I’ve had in Orlando and again, a huge supporter of the local community.

Ok I have to ask…what was it like cooking for Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago Club?
He is all about quality for his members, no short cuts. At All. I had a fantastic time working for him at the Club. It was different from than anything else I did before, and probably will ever do again. But a great experience!

What inspired you to become a chef?
As a child a friend of my father’s cooked a German BBQ , and believe me our BBQ is completely different than the American version. My dad’s friend prepared a cucumber salad, and I was so amazed at what he did with just few simple ingredients. I was influenced by watching cooks in our family restaurant/bar in Germany. I was always surrounded by food from a very young age, and still am.

What was your favorite dish as a child growing up?
Half roasted Duck, braised red cabbage with potato dumplings


Olive Oil Poached Key West Snapper, Caramelized Cauliflower, Capers, Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Recipe by Chef Marc Kusche, Hamilton’s Kitchen at The Alfond Inn

Ingredients :
4 each 7 OZ Snapper Filets
Blended Olive Oil, enough to cover fish
Garlic, Thyme, Bay Leave
Salt & Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cups Small Cauliflower Florets
1 TBS Capers
2 TBS chopped Shallots
1 cup Oven Roasted Tomatoes
2 TBS Chopped Chives
1 TBS Chopped Fresh Garlic
½ cup Diced Butter
½ White Wine
1 cup fine shaved Fennel, keep in ice water
Olive Oil
Baby Arugula

Direction :
Bring blended Olive Oil with Garlic, Thyme, bay Leave to a simmer, seasons the fish with salt & pepper than seared the fish in a hot sauté pan till skin is crispy. Set the fish in Oil and poached on medium heat for around 6 – 8 minutes. In the meanwhile, heat up a little extra virgin olive oil in a pan, when oil is very hot add cauliflower, make sure the cauliflower gets nice caramelized, add white wine and reduce to half. When the wine is reduced add the tomatoes, capers, chopped garlic and shallots and let it simmer for 2 -4 minutes. Season with salt & pepper, add cold butter and cook for few minutes. Just before serving add the chopped chive, set the cauliflower ragout in a deep bowl, set the fish skin up on the top, garnish with a mix of shaved fennel and baby arugula, olive oil Salt & pepper.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes:
Cut roma tomatoes in half and lay out on a sheet tray, seasons with salt & pepper, sprinkle over the tomatoes crashed garlic, fresh thyme and rough chopped basil, drizzle good olive oil over the tomatoes and bake at 350f for around 8 – 12 minutes. After tomatoes cooked let them cool down and peel skin off and cut in quarters

Marc Kusche


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Seito Sushi in Baldwin Park has been working on perfecting their ramen game. Now on Monday nights, from 5pm to close, they are having a hospitality night with half off special pricing on all their ramen so you can enjoy the wonder that is Japanese ramen. This is for all hospitality industry workers and professionals! The ramen, typically $14 for dinner, is $7 and is made with variations such as the tonkotsu, a 24 hour pork bone broth with slices of braised pork belly, and the shoyu, a soy chicken broth base with grilled chicken thighs.

We recently dropped by to try their Tonkotsu Ramen – made with a 24 hour pork broth, and topped with slices of braised pork belly, poached Lake Meadows soy pullet egg, and house made garnish – it was absolutely delicious and I just salivate thinking about it now – really one of the best ramen bowls in town.


The Pork Tonkotsu Ramen – so delicious.

There is also Shoyu Ramen available, made with Roasted Chicken Stock, and topped with Grilled Chicken Thigh, onsen tomago egg, sweet corn, braised carrots.



There is an Indonesian spice paste that you can ask for – do ask for it – such wonderful complex flavors that are added to the soup and noodle base.

In addition to ramen, the kitchen at Seito Sushi Baldwin Park has been working on various “new” wave Japanese cuisine, with dishes such as oxtail yakisoba, roasted whole sea bream fish, and this little work of art – the cured salmon dish.


House Cured Salmon
Ikura Mousse, capers, cucumber, pickled onions


House fried panko crusted oysters


Fresh seasonal oysters – delicious

Seito Sushi
4898 New Broad St, Orlando, FL 32814
(407) 898-8801



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Orlando Fire Department Engineer Emanuel “Manny” Washington will be competing on the Food Network’s hit show Cutthroat Kitchen. Washington will take on three other firefighters from fire departments across the country in the episode “Stop, Drop and Flambé.”

The show hands four chefs $25,000 and allows them to sabotage their competitors. Washington’s episode is part of Cutthroat Kitchen’s 10th season.

“What makes me a great person for this show is that I have a passion to cook,” Washington said. “I always want to be the best at what I do.” Washington, 28, has been cooking for more than a decade, and became the chef of his station the second day on the job. His skills will be put to the test as evident in the show’s narrative, with “firefighters’ dishes going up in flames.”

A watch party will be held locally at the World of Beer in Downtown Orlando, 431 E. Central Blvd. on Sunday August 16th from 8pm-10pm. The show will air at 10 p.m. eastern time.

Manny followed his Dad, a 26 year veteran of the City of Miami Fire Department, into the fire service and is the cook for the City of Orlando Fire Department’s Station 1.


A few months ago, a friend on Facebook tagged him to be one of the firefighters to try out on the show – he put in an application online and Food Network contacted him the next day.

“The show pushes you physically, and makes you think outside the box to handle problems. On Cutthroat Kitchen, you also have to think about the presentation of the food for the judge. You have to plate the food and make it tell a story in a sense,” Washington told us through our interview.

What are your favorite things to cook at the station?

I love to cook BBQ and Latin food at Fire Station One, especially Churrasco steak with a chimichurri sauce, with a side of cilantro lime rice and plantains.

What are some of the things you are most proud about or stories you’d like to share from your career as a firefighter?

There are so many great stories. One is actually delivering my first baby in the field. I’ll never forget it.

I walked in the bedroom, she makes eye contact with me and says ‘it’s coming now!’ and 30-seconds later you hear a screaming baby. It was a really touching moment.

The Orlando Fire Department is trained for all situations!

What inspires you to cook?

The biggest thing that inspires me to cook is knowing that all the firefighters at the station will have some good food, great conversation and be ready to go out and save lives.

We are a family, spending one-third of our lives together and we need to stay healthy.

I feel like a proud parent when I see them drive off to a call during/after dinner.

What was your favorite thing to eat as a child growing up?

Hands down a “Bila, Bila”, otherwise known as a good-ole fashion burger. “Bila, Bila” is what I called burgers growing up.

On the Orlando Food Scene

“I haven’t grown up in Orlando, but the eight years I have been here, I have seen it evolve into an even bigger city. With the addition of City Soccer and new attractions, I’ve see an explosion of restaurants and food trucks to eat at. Some of my favorites include Pig Floyds, Gringos, Graffiti Junction, Chef Eddies, Dexter’s, Cafe Tu Tu Tango, Roccos Tacos. The list can go on and on but those are my favorites.”


We at wish Mr. Manny Washington and the City of Orlando Fire Department all the best on this Sunday’s episode of Cuttthroat Kitchen – Catch at 10pm on the Food Network – and a big thank you to all our firefighters for what they do for our community!

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Morton’s the Steakhouse is offering $1 filet sandwiches in the bar area all day on Thursday, August 13 in celebration of National Filet Mignon Day.

Patrons can enjoy various bar bites with their sandwiches, including Morton’s crowd-favorite parmesan truffle matchstick fries or crisp iceberg wedge bites.

“We look forward to commemorating this day with diners each year at any of our over seventy locations across the country,” said Tim Whitlock, Sr. Vice President of Operations for Morton’s The Steakhouse. “We hope our customers will enjoy this special discount and share the experience with family and friends.”

Morton’s The Steakhouse opened its first location in Chicago in 1978 and now boasts 73 locations worldwide.

Morton’s The Steakhouse – Orlando
The Marketplace at Dr. Phillips
7600 Dr Phillips Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819
+1 407-248-3485

Tell em TastyChomps sent ya!

Petite Filet Mignon Sandwiches

Morton’s offers diners “The Best Steak… Anywhere,” serving only USDA prime-aged beef. Besides its exceptional steaks, Morton’s offers diners fresh fish and seafood, and hand-picked produce. For more information on Morton’s The Steakhouse, please visit

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Living in Orlando may seem like a dream to many a kid. And if you ask them, they’d probably wish to come here to visit Disney and all our great theme parks.

Give Kids The World Village is a nonprofit resort in Kissimmee, Florida for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.

The resort’s focus is providing accommodations and access to donated theme park tickets such as nearby Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, Florida.

The non profit is highly rated by Charity Navigator for their accountability and impact for every dollar donated.

With the help of many generous individuals, corporations and partnering wish-granting organizations, Give Kids The World has welcomed more than 138,000 families from all 50 states and 75 countries since it opened in 1989.

Today the Village is a 70-acre resort complete with 144 Villa accommodations, entertainment attractions, whimsical venues, and fun specifically designed for children with special needs.

Every day countless volunteers come to Give Kids the World to donate their time and energy to help make the resort a special place for the children from serving food in the cafes to driving the cookie carts in the neighborhood and more.

We at are proud to be “Awareness Angels” in the social media world for Give Kids the World and helping to spread the word about this great cause. At the recent Blogger Bash, Pam Landwirth, GKTW’s president, and several members of her management team, numerous volunteers, corporate partners, and wish families were on hand to answer questions and make comments. Special thanks to Kelly Green ( for setting this great event up.

Recently, even Kevin Bacon came by to the Village and started the 6 second ice cream challenge (#GKTWChallenge) – I will be doing this soon and suggest you do the same!

Bacon squared off against one of the resort’s young guests to see who could eat the most ice cream in six seconds. In the challenge, the loser has to donate $6 to Give Kids The World Village, a 74-acre resort where children with serious illnesses and their families are treated to dream vacations at no cost.

Bacon is founder of, which encourages celebrities to use their fame to benefit worthy causes, such as Give Kids The World Village. He visited the Village to highlight the fact that everyone is connected by six degrees or less to a child with a life-threatening illness. Challenge your friends and family to the #GKTWChallenge. To get involved, go to

Here are some scenes from our (rainy) day at Give Kids the World!
















Each of the stars were made by a child who visited the village, writing their names on them as a memory of their time here.










To learn more about Give Kids the World Village, volunteer, or donate, visit:

Give Kids the World Village
210 S Bass Rd, Kissimmee, FL 34746
(407) 396-1114

Eddie V’s Prime Seafood and Steaks on Orlando’s Restaurant Row (Sand Lake Road) has partnered with Moët to offer signature sparkling cocktails, champagnes and sparkling wines to accompany weekly tributes to musical icons, as part of its Sparkling Sounds of Summer program.

We were invited recently for a media preview of the offerings and were blown away by the quality of the food and ambiance of Eddie V’s.

Live jazz lounge at Eddie Vs Orlando

From July 21 through August 30, 2015, Eddie V’s invites guests to enjoy six brand-new sparkling cocktails for $10 each, along with an array of champagnes and sparkling wines available by the glass or bottle.

Additionally, Eddie V’s will be debuting a Chef’s Teaser Menu featuring five new petite culinary creations, each for just $5, including:

Tartare of Scottish Salmon Tartare of Scottish Salmon – Red Chile, Sweet onion, Capers, Olives With Toasted Baguettes

Steak Tataki  Steak Tataki – Seared Beef Tenderloin, Soba Shiitake Mushrooms, With light soy broth

SONY DSC Gruyère Potato Fritters- Baked potato, gruyère cheese, scallions in lightly crisped pastry dough

Oysters Fondue Oysters Fondue – Broiled oysters With spinach and artichoke fondue, panko crumbs


SONY DSC  Crispy Shrimp Kataifi – Gulf shrimp in Kataifi Crust with Red Chile Jelly

Eddie V’s musicians will dedicate a portion of their live sets to honor the music and genre of one iconic performer. Played nightly in the restaurant’s V Lounge, performances will feature songs from jazz, blues and R&B greats, including Ray Charles, Harry Connick, Jr., Stevie Wonder and Michael Bublé.

SONY DSC  The Tokyo Margarita – Casamigos Blanco, nagomi yuzu, fresh lime, agave and the Coco – Cîroc Coconut, Malbu Banana, pineapple, lime, mango

The six new sparkling cocktails include 24 Karat, Chandon Citrus Sparkler, Cuban Nights, Summer Blush Bubbly, The Coco and Tokyo Margarita. A number of champagnes and sparkling wines will also be served throughout the entire summer event.

Eddie V’s has a lot of swagger and swank – down from the sleek and modern bar and decor to the black bow tied waiters decked in all white suits. All a wonderful way to spend a summer evening with live music, reasonably priced small plates, and delicious sparkling cocktails.


Click to add a blog post for Eddie V's Prime Seafood on Zomato

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North Quarter Tavern in the North Quarter District in Downtown Orlando will start lunch service this Tuesday August 11th.

The team from Citrus Restaurant developed the concept and the kitchen is under the direction of Executive Chef Matt Wall.

Some of their new lunch menu items include:

bartlettimage-7421 Fried Chicken, beer brined chicken thighs, buttermilk dredge, Potato salad, house hot sauce, mixed pickles
bartlettimage-7456 Tavern Burger, house ground beef, American cheese, bread & butter pickles, onion
bartlettimage-7249 Charcuterie & Cheese Board house cured &smoked meats, artisanal cheese, mustard, pickled veggies
bartlettimage-7280 House Ground Meatballs fresh cheese, tomato ragout
bartlettimage-7370 Hand-Cut Wagyu Steak Tartare duck fat crostini, tarragon mayo, local egg yolk

Photos courtesy of North Quarter Tavern

The address is 861 North Orange Avenue. For more information, please visit or call 407-757-0930.

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Omakase – which means “trust the chef” or “chef’s choice” is a common practice at Japanese restaurants where diners leave it up to the chef to make their best, freshest dishes of the day. Often applied to sushi in the catch of the day.

Dragonfly’s chef de cuisine David Song  recently released his Summer Seasonal Omakase menu, $45 for 4 dishes and $65 for 4 dishes plus one quickfire order – 4 pieces of composed nigiri with special chef toppings.

The menu includes:

The Summer Chilled Ramen – a refreshing cool ramen with English cucumber, daikon, heirloom tomatoes, pickled shisito peppers, snow crab, and a sesame vinegar soy dressing – the vinegar soy dressing gave the dish a nice tartness / acidity, but the noodles could use some work overall.


Robata Bronzino – grilled on their robata grill, the bronzino fish fillet is dressed with a ginger scallion pesto and dancing bonito flakes with a citrus soy drizzle


Natsu Sushi Roll – a festive Katsu shrimp roll stuffed with goat cheese, cucumber, fresh jalapeños, avocado, snow crab, and topped with a salsa of red onions, mango, tomato, and pepper relish


The Quickfire plate – 4 nigiri with special chef toppings including salmon roe, pickled cucumbers, and guacamole and bacon…the nigiri were all quite delicious, though I would ease back on the guacamole and bacon topping as the fish is overpowered by the guac.


Dessert – Matcha Cake – a green tea cake with Azuki bean mousse, blueberry sake preserve, and fresh blueberries


I really enjoyed the robata grilled bronzino, but thought the sushi rolls had a bit too much going on – so much so that the flavors were hard to distinguish from each other. I hope the kitchen can improve on these points, but overall – quite enjoyable.

Other new sushi rolls now available to order at Dragonfly include:

Shogun Roll – Snow Crab, cucumber, cabbage, jalapeño, avocado, topped with torched tuna, fried enoki mushrooms, and a tangy, wet mornay sauce.


Satori Roll – Snow crab delight, scallion, green and red bell pepper, cilantro, avocado, yellowtail, garlic chips, and a jalapeño garlic sauce.


Here is the menu:

061215 MCO Omakase Summer-page-001

The dishes are paired with light and refreshing Asian inspired summer special cocktails such as the Shochu Wanna Pomegranate?, A Shade of Blackberry, Hot Kagoshima Daze, and the Sake Sangria.


Summer reprint 6-6-15-page-001 MCO Extra Food Menu 072215-page-001

Click to add a blog post for Dragonfly Robata Grill & Sushi on Zomato

Chef's Spotlight

Featured Articles

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Morimoto Asia, the highly anticipated collaboration between Chef Masaharu Morimoto and Patina Restaurant Group, officially opens for dinner this Wednesday September 30th, 2015 as...