Authors Posts by Ricky Ly of TastyChomps.com

Ricky Ly of TastyChomps.com

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Florida native Ricky Ly founded TastyChomps.com 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 Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. Photography is taken using a Canon EOS 6D and a Sony Nex-3. E-mail him at tastychomps(at)gmail.com. Google

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by Emily Brainard

Chef Joseph Burnett of The Osprey Tavern in Baldwin Park was recently awarded the accolades of Best Chef and Best New Restaurant by Orlando Magazine.

“In order to create a productive kitchen that works, hammering and pounding, like a blacksmith to metal, is the wrong approach. Cooks and chefs need nurturing and discipline, but this is about the long haul. A kitchen is a garden and what it needs is gentle guidance. Each kitchen and each chef is unique, some flourish with a more hands on approach and others with a more laid back one. They don’t all grow at the same pace or with the same tenacity, but it takes a lot of careful manipulation to create something and someone that can produce.”

I didn’t expect this kind of patient, methodical, even somewhat spiritual rhetoric from such a stoic looking man. “You’re comparing managing a kitchen to tending a garden?” was my initial reaction when Joseph Burnett told me his approach to being an executive chef.

And the more time I spent watching him, the more I realized that he molds these young minds much in the way he constructs a dish. He works the kitchen the same way he works over an item, taking care that each ingredient/chef is utilized so that it tastes/works the best and each plays its own integral role in everything tasting delicious/coming together.

It’s so meticulously orchestrated that if you aren’t paying attention, you could easily miss it. The management of The Osprey Tavern’s kitchen is as artistic as the food it’s putting out.

I sat down with Chef Joseph Burnett to find out more about where this artistry and thoughtfulness comes from, the journey it took to get here, and where he hopes it will take him.

Chef Joe Burnett
Chef Joe Burnett of The Osprey Tavern

Q. Where did your initial drive for cooking come from?

A. Well, very simply, my parents never had crap around the house. There weren’t any instant snacks to indulge in. Everything I wanted to consume or share with friends, I had to prepare myself, so that’s what I did. We also had a food-centric household. My mother, grandmother, and aunt were constantly cooking so I started with them at a young age.

Q. Where did your professional culinary journey begin?

A. I started washing dishes at 15, and then I was a line cook. I did catering and coffee for a while. I moved to Boston and got a degree in graphic design. After school, I just wanted to be back in a kitchen, so I made a list of best restaurants in Miami, applied, and was hired at my top choice-Norman’s. My wife, Viviana Alestor, and I then made our way up to Norman’s Orlando. I was sous and eventually chef de cuisine there.  I tried my hand at Loews Hotels to see if I enjoyed the corporate hotel aspect of cooking. I didn’t. Shortly after, I became chef de cuisine at The Ravenous Pig where I was allowed to cut my teeth. Finally, roughly a year ago, I ventured to Osprey.

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Q. How was your transition to Osprey?

A. Difficult and great. I hit the ground here running. There were some things that needed to be changed immediately, and others that took more time. It was a team effort getting Osprey to where it is now. Initially, there wasn’t anyone here I trusted. It takes a while and is difficult to get to know someone and develop the trust that comes from the long haul in an intense environment. Elek Kovacs (chef de cuisine) joining the team was a relief.  I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather have by my side. We worked together at Norman’s and later at the Pig. There wasn’t a task you could give him that he didn’t complete faster and better than what you envisioned. His attention to detail is unparalleled. We are creative in different ways. It took me years to train myself to be organized. For Elek, the organization is more engrained which makes his implementation flawless.

Q. Why Osprey?

A. I had worked under national and local celebrity chefs and I felt like it was time to be on my own. Jason allowed me that platform (Jason Chin owns The Osprey Tavern, as well as Seito Baldwin Park). I admire him. I admire his business sense and his ability to take a vision and bring it to fruition.

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Q. Is this style the culmination of what you want to be doing?

A. The style is perfect. I get to mix in ethnic food and comfort foods. I have the ability to work with great ingredients.

Q. How do you continue to find the drive necessary to maintain the quality of your work?

A. The challenge drives me and it’s always challenging. If there’s not challenge, you’re playing it too safe.
There are very few art forms where the result is seen in just a few hours. And although a lot of things we do can take several months for end results, quite a few are fairly quick and the satisfaction is there.
There are also even fewer forms of art that sustain life. And as an artisan it’s incredible to create something that is visually appealing, as well as something that nourishes you.

Dish sketches and concepts by Chef Burnett
Dish sketches and concepts by Chef Burnett

Q. Do you ever feel stagnant? How do you get yourself out of that rut?

A. It’s a very intense creative process. Sometimes I think, as so many others, “I’m never going to have another great idea again.” Then something stimulates me, another chef, nature or, another art form triggers something within me. Sometimes these ideas come too quickly to act on and of course, it’s not always a reliable process, but I have a great team that I can lean on and their fresh eyes help. Our paths will intersect, like a brain trust and any block is removed by what we can create together.

Q. What words of advice could you offer to aspiring chefs?

A. Be humble. Start from the bottom. Stay out of culinary school. It’s harder at first, but ultimately an easier route. You’ll avoid a ton of debt to pay off. You will learn the technical tools required on site, as well as all the rest.

Pea Salad at The Osprey Tavern
Pea Salad at The Osprey Tavern

Q. Tell us about how you learned on site.

A. My first time in a kitchen, I had one knife to bring to the table. I didn’t know culinary terms like c-fold or hotel pan. I would write down what I didn’t understand and go home and look it up. I wasn’t going to be made fun of for a lack of knowledge. “Food Lovers Companion,” and Harold McGee books were my reference system. “Becoming a Chef,” was my spiritual and philosophical guidance.

Q. What keeps you humble?

A. I think the mentality a lot of chefs keep, myself included, is that “you’re only as good as your last dish or your last service.”

Striving to constantly make myself better is grounding.

You see egos in kitchens, people who think they’re great and they usually fall flat where it counts. I don’t want that ego. It’s the death of creativity.

Dish sketches and concepts by Chef Burnett
Dish sketches and concepts by Chef Burnett

Q. Most people don’t pair artistry with management. Is leading a team something that you ever wanted?

A. Certainly. I enjoy the human aspect of it. I count myself lucky to be part of so many journeys. You can’t ever completely know where someone is headed and sometimes an artist comes out, flourishes and goes on to do the most incredible things. It can be frustrating at times, of course.  At this level, it’s a thinking man’s game. Leading a pack of “yes men” is not something I want. I want opinions that count. I want thinkers. I want them to question recipes, question ingredients, question delivery. I do not want a team of people going through the motions. Most chefs learn early with multiplying recipes that you have to question everything. One teaspoon of cayenne can multiply to one cup in no time, so an open door is everything. The kitchen is a crash course in psychology. You find yourself running into the same personalities, culling the herd to avoid drama and ego. Eventually, you tailor your approach to different people. Some are best set free and some thrive with discipline or a gentle mix of both.

Q. Do you ever find it difficult to comingle passion with business?

A. Yes. Ingredients that I love to work with are sometimes expensive and therefore not economically viable, for example, European white asparagus.
However, it’s becoming easier with the tremendous development of Orlando’s palate in last 10 years. If we would serve squab, some guests would see the little feet and flee the dining room. Now, guests are ordering second and third plates of chicken liver mousse.

Q. If someone doesn’t enjoy a dish on your menu, what’s your reaction?

A. I know that every dish or message isn’t for every person and I keep that in mind when something isn’t well received. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t take it personally and get angry or disappointed, initially. But it quickly transforms into a learning opportunity. We look for patterns in things. If something is constantly getting a bad reception then it has to change. If we failed as a team, it has to be addressed. But if it isn’t a common occurrence and just that a particular guest doesn’t mesh with a particular item, my mindset is “to each their own.”
Often guests want what they expect rather than our interpretation of a dish. It’s the classic “dish in quotes” dilemma. The quotes are suggesting there is riff on this and it may be whimsical and fun, but that’s not always suitable to where their mind has taken them and that’s quite alright.

Q. What gets you to work every day (other than your car?)

A. Creativity, building something.
People creating together is an incredible thing and it’s interesting to see what they are going to bring to the table each day.
I feel like I’m just beginning.

Q. What brings you joy?

A. My children. It’s always good to come home. No one is more proud of me than my kids. Sebastian, 7, and Isabelle, 3, call my crew “my friends”, and they aren’t wrong.

Q. What are your hopes for The Osprey Tavern?

A. I hope it will be another jewel in the crown of Orlando’s culinary scene.

Dish sketches and concepts by Chef Burnett
Dish sketches and concepts by Chef Burnett

There is no doubt in my mind that The Osprey Tavern is quickly earning its position as “another jewel in the crown of Orlando’s culinary scene.” While in it’s first year, Osprey went through many changes and growing pains, Chef Joseph never shied away from acknowledging its flaws or making the necessary modifications. He readdressed, regrouped, and represented whether it was to endure criticism or praise. The Osprey Tavern is clearly carefully tended. It is to be concluded that if as many people took the kind of approach to their lives that Joseph Burnett takes to his kitchens, the world would in fact be a much finer, kinder, and more delectable place.

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For foodies that love a good glass of wine, TR Fire Grill is hosting a Wine Dinner that includes a chef crafted four course meal expertly paired with Hope Family Wines.

Created by TR Fire Grill’s Head Chef Bob Gallagher and Sommelier Andrew Bateman, each course will highlight elements in the wines and showcase certain flavors.

When:   May 15, 2016, 5:30 p.m.

Where: TR Fire Grill, 1035 North Orlando Avenue

What:    Four courses chef-inspired courses

  1. Charcuterie & Cheese with grilled wine infused onions, Treana Chardonay
  2. Market Salad with white wine vinaigrette, Treana White Blend
  3. Surf & Turf with red blend demi-glace and Chardonnay butter, Treana Red Blend
  4. Double Trouble Chocolate Waffle with wine infused blueberries, Troublemaker Red Blend

Price:     $60 per person, tickets can be purchased here.

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Charcuterie & Cheese

Grilled bread, grainy mustard, cornichon pickles,

and grilled wine infused onions

Treana Chardonnay

Second Course

Watermelon, cucumber, mango, kiwi, blueberries,

pickled red onion, Feta cheese, sunflower seeds,

Treana white wine vinaigrette

Market Salad

Treana White Blend

Third Course

Smoked flank with Treana Red Blend demi-glacé,

potato hash, cedar wood shrimp, Treana

Chardonnay butter, smoked asparagus

Surf & Turf

Treana Red Blend

Fourth Course

Double Trouble Chocolate Waffle

Chocolate waffle, tempura strawberry bananas,

wine infused blueberries, mango sauce, ice cream

Troublemaker Red Blend

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Jeff and Isabella Morgia di Vicari chatted with us about their restaurant – The Meatball Stoppe in East Orlando!

Isabella is first generation American born of Italian decent, with a large Italian family from Calabria and Trieste Italia.

“Born in Brooklyn NY and growing up in Orlando since 1970 and raised in my famiglia’s restaurant businesses which they owned and operated, has taught me many life lessons including the wonderful culture of food. I did not become a Chef through a Culinary Institute, I became a Chef the “old fashion” way. My true teacher was my Nonna Isabella, my namesake who lived with our famiglia our entire life. It was in the home, with Nonna’s influence that we lived and breathed all the wonderful Italian traditions that we embrace today. Those family traditions bring the Morgia di Vicari family back to the table where it all happens for them.

My Nonna Isabella, my namesake, lived with us our entire lives up until the end. Everything she made came from her garden. She made everything from scratch. When we came home from school the aromas’ in our home made everyone crazy. All our friends came to our home for their after snack.”

What are you most passionate about?

People always think I’m passionate about food but that’s not true. I’m passionate about people, about living, about bringing the famiglia back to the table. Food is the vehicle I use to get them there.

Jeff and I developed the Community International Culinary Program for kids. Our mission is to feed families physically, emotionally, and spiritually…a focus on healthy families as well as healthy bodies. It’s about giving kids hope, inspiration, and getting them back to the table. We teach that the tools of the kitchen are the tools for life.

Check out this video put out by City of Orlando’s and Commissioner Regina Hill.


City of Orlando’s Video of The Community International Culinary Program

Watch this 5 min Ignite talk I gave at the National Council of Behavioral Health Conference of 5k at the Gaylord. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gd3peRsmSuM

It started with Jeffy, the Meatball Man! Jeff has been talking about a meatball shop for the past 3 years and when we acquired a small catering company that has this space, the first thing out of his mouth was….The Meatball Shoppe! The first thing out of my mouth was “do you want to stay married?”. LOL. Seriously, it is very challenging to own a restaurant and work it together 24/7. We both come from very strong restaurant backgrounds our entire lives. When Jeff and I came together it was “Mom and Pops’ marries ‘Corporate America” and a beautiful marriage it was. Jeff is brilliant and with his talents and expertise in Corporate systems he developed the systems to make The Meatball Shoppe what it is today. The system in place will make it possible to grow and open ‘many’ Meatball Shoppe’s! I’m so proud of all he’s done for the business and the famiglia. I love him very much.

What are your favorite dishes to cook and enjoy

I have two favorite dishes. Pasta Aglio Olio (Pasta with olive oil, garlic, anchovies, fresh basil and crushed red pepper….a poor man’s food but because we’re a sophisticated society today it’s a delicacy. My Nonna Isabella, my namesake, use to make this for the famiglia all the time. The second is my Mamma Adriana Vicari’s signature dish…Pasta potate e piseli (pasta potato and peas). Again a dish that my mamma was raised on because that’s all they had. This dish is my children’s favorite too because this is when we clean out the frig and throw all the vegetables we have left over in the pot and create this amazing comforting dish that leaves you craving for more.

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

I love to sing and dance, I grew up playing the accordian and am a Brown Belt in Go Gu Ru Karate. My Sensai would kick my butt if he saw how I let myself go and get out of shape. But as I tell my children for as long as I have breath, it’s not too late and I can make the changes needed to get back to good health!

It is my hearts desire to have my own show. I believe God gave me this gift to touch people at the heart-string level. To use this gift to impact people to make a move, to make a change from within.

My show will not just be a cooking show but a show of hope and inspiration, a show that will allow me to bring the famiglia, our community, our corporation and our America “Back to the table”, back to their roots and traditions. You see it’s not all about the food but when you’re wondering why your famiglia doesn’t want to have dinner together, let me encourage you to look in the mirror. After all who wants to come to the table with a puss face and a lousy meal? I know, I speak from personal experience. Change must first happen with the person we see in the mirror. Then and only then will we begin to see change in our famiglia, our community and in our America.

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Meatballs

Nonna’s Traditional Italian
Chicken Marsala
Vegetarian – Gluten Free
Spicy Pork
Reuben
Mediterranean Lamb

Sauces

Roasted Tomato
Signature Pesto
Creamy Provolone Cheese
Marsala Mushroom
Spicy Pork

Sides

Creamy Polenta
Penne Pasta
Smashed with Sandwich Bread

Dessert

Housemade Cannoli

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The Meatball Stoppe
7325 Lake Underhill Rd, Orlando, FL 32822
Phone:+1 407-270-6505
Menu: themeatballstoppe.com

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According to their facebook page, “Viet-Nomz is a modern take on delicious Vietnamese cuisine. We are here to satisfy your appetite with popular Vietnamese fare in a fast casual environment! Viet-Nomz is a Vietnamese QSR restaurant created with a new concept and freshness in mind. Every rice and noodle bowl is handcrafted in our kitchen with only quality ingredients. We believe in flavorful and wholesome meals with a modern, yet authentic, twist to traditional Vietnamese cuisine.”

It is founded by friends Chris Chen, Phillip Nguyen, and Mike Cho.

They are also going to be offering late night pho on Friday and Saturday nights (until 3 AM). GAME CHANGER!

They are now under construction and expect to open summer 2016.

Background Summary:

Viet-Nomz is a Vietnamese QSR restaurant created with a new concept and freshness in mind. Every rice and noodle bowl is handcrafted in our kitchen with only quality ingredients. We believe in flavorful and wholesome meals with a modern, yet authentic, twist to traditional Vietnamese cuisine.

Overview:

Viet-Nomz is a modern take on delicious Vietnamese cuisine, serving noodle soups, rice and noodle bowls, and contemporary-style Asian street food.

Industry:

Restaurant (fast-casual)

Drivers and Goals:

My partner Philip Nguyen and I (Chris Chen) love pho and Vietnamese food. However, we’ve noticed a lack of a modern twist to this traditional cuisine. In today’s world, QSR (quick service restaurants) are rapidly growing as the traditional sit-down dining restaurants are declining. With that being said, there’s a lack of QSR Viet restaurants in Orlando and Florida, unlike QSR Chinese and Japanese restaurants, which are already mainstream.

Audience:

We are designing for foodies and pho lovers who share the same passion and excitement for the Vietnamese cuisine. Our demographics ranges from young adults to families who simply love pho and Viet food and want it in a fast-casual environment.

Tone:

Asian street feel – not quite urban; industrial rustic modern atmosphere. Breaking the traditional feel of Asian cuisine. Contemporary Cali-inspired.

Message:

Quality and wholesome foods in a fast-pace way of service. We want customers to see our shop as a place to enjoy pho on-the-go or a more relax/chill place for friends and family to eat popular Vietnamese fare and kick back.

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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vietnomz/timeline
http://vietnomzfl.com/

Urbain 40 American Brasserie and Lounge takes its diners on a trip back to all the nostalgic swank and sophistication of the 1940s big band era with a classic yet seasonally changing American and European continental menu. It’s become one of my favorite new restaurants in Orlando!

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Mr. Rashid Choufani
Mr. Rashid Choufani

Urbain 40’s owner-operator Jaafar Choufani, an executive for parent company Boulevard Restaurants, teamed up with his father, famed restaurateur and former Bocuse d’Or judge Rashid Choufani, to run the brasserie. Mr. Rashid Choufani also leads the restaurant operations at Walt Disney World’s Morocco pavilion at Epcot’s World Showcase.

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A faithful devotee of the slow-food movement, Executive Chef Jean-Stephane Poinard sources the freshest ingredients locally when possible, from vegetables and herbs to meats and fish, to transform continental and American classics into original creations, bringing his interpretations of French favorites with a decidedly American, and often Southern twist.

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A French classic, the luxurious Billi-Bi Soup, is an elegant saffron cream broth of Prince Edward Island mussels “beignet” given a Southern touch here at Urbain 40 with smoked paprika oil.

For dessert, there is a bit of a sweet dilemma as the bevy of goods created by pastry chef Amanda McFall all sound so enticing that it’s hard to choose just one.

Urbain 40 is both enchanting and charming in its comforting food and intimate ambiance.

Keep an eye out for the full review on Central Florida Lifestyle Magazine http://www.centralfloridalifestyle.com/ in the coming month.

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BILLI-BI SOUP 10
Saffron Cream, Prince Edward Island Mussels Beignet, Smoked Paprika Oil

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PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND MUSSELS 12
Cast Iron Skillet Roasted, Drawn Butter, Lemon, House-made Baguette

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Chef’s selection of Cured Meat, Cheese, Pork Terrine, Onion Confit Marmalade, Cornichons

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FLAMMEKUECHE 10
Caramelized Onion, House-Smoked Maple Bacon, Shallot Confit

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TRUFFLED MUSHROOM 10
Roasted Garlic Confit, Gruyere, Asiago, Fig Reduction

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STRIPED BASS MEUNIERE 25
Brown Butter, Cauliflower Potato Purée, Fennel, Lemon Confit

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Garlic and Royal Trumpet Chips, Goat Cheese Sphere

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BOLOGNESE 19
Slow-roasted Beef and Pork, House-made Pappardelle Pasta, Grana Padano

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Raspberry Macaroons, Chocolate and Pistachio Pops, Chocolate Truffles

Pastry Chef Amanda McFall and Executive Chef Jean-Stephane Picard of Urbane 40
Pastry Chef Amanda McFall and Executive Chef Jean-Stephane Picard of Urbane 40

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

http://urbain40.com/

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We’ve had a few local Orlandoans cast on the MasterChef series, most recently Zac Kara in Masterchef Junior and Francis Biondi in the original MasterChef series in season 5. Biondi was actually found by production staff who met him while he was a server at The Rusty Spoon.

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Zac Kara – no relation to Orlando Weekly’s Faiyaz Kara – from Masterchef Junior is an Orlando local

America’s first MasterChef winner, Whitney Miller, is now chef de cuisine leading recipe creation and development of John River’s The Coop here in Orlando.

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Francis Biondi from Masterchef Season 5 was found by producers at The Rusty Spoon

Now, America’s most-watched cooking competition show, MASTERCHEF, is returning for its eighth season with a visit to Orlando for open casting calls on Saturday April 16, 2016.

Open casting calls will be held across the country in search of talented home cooks from all types of backgrounds and with a range of cooking styles.

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Master Chef’s first winner Whitney Miller – now with The Coop!

The casting team is looking for home cooks who enjoy preparing everything from delightful desserts and hefty main courses to fine French cuisine, great tasting burgers and more! For anyone looking to follow their culinary dream – take this first step by preregistering on the casting website www.masterchefcasting.com and heading down to one of the open casting calls below.

check out the last time Master Chef was in town with our article from Season 5 here.

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Press Release

“MASTERCHEF” SEASON EIGHT BEGINS LATEST SEARCH FOR AMERICA’S BEST HOME COOK WITH OPEN CASTING CALLS
STARTING SATURDAY, MARCH 5

Casting Calls for FOX’s Hit Cooking Competition Series to Take Place in San Diego, New York City, Oklahoma City, Chicago, New Orleans, Dallas, Orlando, Portland, Boston, Los Angeles and Washington D.C.

Visit http://www.masterchefcasting.com for the Most Up-to-Date Casting Information

America’s most-watched cooking competition show, MASTERCHEF, begins casting for its eighth season Saturday, March 5. Open casting calls will be held across the country in search of talented home cooks from all types of backgrounds and with a range of cooking styles.

The casting team is looking for home cooks who enjoy preparing everything from delightful desserts and hefty main courses to fine French cuisine, great tasting burgers and more! For anyone looking to follow their culinary dream – take this first step by preregistering on the casting website www.masterchefcasting.com and heading down to one of the open casting calls below.

Open casting calls will be held in the following cities:

San Diego – Saturday, March 5
Oklahoma City – Saturday, March 12
New York City – Saturday, March 12
Chicago – Saturday, March 19
New Orleans – Saturday, March 19
Dallas – Saturday, April 16
Orlando – Saturday, April 16
Portland – Saturday, April 23
Boston – Saturday, April 23
Los Angeles – Saturday, April 30
Washington D.C. – Saturday, April 30

Additional details, including venues and times, will be announced soon. Visit http://www.masterchefcasting.com for the most up-to-date audition information including eligibility and other audition terms and conditions.

For those unable to attend an open casting call, home video may be submitted. Instructions can be found at http://www.masterchefcasting.com/videos.

All applicants must be 18 years or older on or before August 1, 2016.

Season Five winner Claudia Sandoval’s cookbook “Claudia’s Cucina” featuring authentic Mexican recipes with innovative and modern flair is now available for preorder on Amazon.com and will be released wide this summer. Season Four winner Luca Manfe launched his cookbook, “My Italian Kitchen,” in 2013. Season Three winner Christine Ha, the series’ first blind contestant, continues to be an inspiration to millions. Her cookbook, “Recipes from My Home Kitchen: Asian and American Comfort Food,” is a New York Times bestseller.

America’s first MASTERCHEF winner, Whitney Miller, is the author of “Modern Hospitality: Simple Recipes with Southern Charm.” Her recipes have been featured in various national publications, such as People and Cooking Light. Fans can also find their favorite All-Star contestants, including Luca and Claudia on the MASTERCHEF Cruise setting sail in the Caribbean Nov. 2016. For more information on the cruise visit www.masterchefcruise.com

MASTERCHEF is produced by Endemol Shine North America and One Potato Two Potato, and is based on a format created by Franc Roddam and Endemol Shine. Elisabeth Murdoch, Eden Gaha, Robin Ashbrook, Gordon Ramsay, Adeline Ramage Rooney, Patricia Llewellyn and Ben Adler serve as executive producers. “Like” MASTERCHEF on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MasterChef. Follow the series on Twitter @MasterChefonFOX and follow the judges on Twitter: Gordon Ramsay – @gordonramsay; Christina Tosi – @christinatosi.

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Epcot’s Tapestry of America: Celebrating African American Heritage

Guests can celebrate Black History Month throughout the month of February with special experiences at the American Adventure Pavilion at Epcot. From historical displays and intriguing artifacts to book signings by Celebrity Chef G. Garvin and best-selling author Terry McMillan, guests can take a stroll through the pages of America’s history and learn about the influence of African-American culture.

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Dorcas Williams, marketing manager at Disney Parks and Resorts, tells us that Epcot’s American Adventure Pavilion features Legacy Portraits of famous African Americans and their contributions around the rotunda as well as “Re-Discovering America: Family Treasures from the Kinsey Collection,” a collection of pieces displayed at the American Adventure pavilion at Epcot, which draws from an extensive assortment of rare art, documents, books and artifacts attributed to African American history. The exhibit will be available all year long.

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At the Liberty Inn at the American Adventure, guests can try out a peach cobbler based on Mrs. Fischer’s recipe. Mrs. Abby Fischer was one of the first African American authors to publish a cookbook dating back to 1881. “What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Southern Cooking,” includes 160 Southern-style recipes.

Chef G. Garvin, one of many authors visiting Epcot for Black History Month this month, spoke with us about his plans from upcoming food product projects as well as a new cook book based on tastes of the South (which includes not only Georgia and the Carolinas, but also New York and Los Angeles). He currently has a list of spices, olive oils, cookies, and sea salts available at marketplaceonline.co.

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Chef Garvin grew up cooking for his mother and grandmother as part of his daily chores – yardwork, cleaning, making dinner. It wasn’t until when he was 18 years old when he worked at the Ritz Carlton in Atlanta that he fell in love with cooking. The streets in his childhood were rough – kids were getting jailed or killed, and he did not want any part of that.

“Food didn’t save me, I saved myself through food,” Chef Garvin tells us.

Today he works with Magic Johnson as Chief Culinary Advisor for SodexoMAGIC, which serves as the catering culinary team for Walt Disney World. He also has several successful shows under his belt, including Road Trips on Cooking Channel.

The first person who told Chef Garvin that it might be a good idea to get into television was Chef Tim Keating of The Flying Fish. When Chef Garvin was 20 years old, the two actually roomed together at the opening of the Ritz Carlton in Palm Springs. Chef Keating told him he had the personality that would do well on TV and gave him opportunities to demo when he could.

His latest book, “Turn Up The Heat With G. Garvin: More Than 200 Incredible Recipes from the Chef Who Keeps it Super Simple”, is available now online.

Press Release

Black History Month Author Series
In honor of Black History Month, guests have the opportunity to meet three renowned African-American authors and cultural icons select Saturdays during the month of February. Book signings are open to all guests and hosted at the American Adventure Pavilion, where books written by each guest author are also available for purchase throughout the month.

Terry McMillan, author of “Who Asked You?”
Saturday, Feb.6, 1-2 p.m. and 3-4 p.m.: Critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Terry McMillan is known for her powerful novels and short stories about African American women. Her novel, “Waiting to Exhale,” was adapted into a film starring Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett in 1995. Many of McMillan’s other novels, including the award-winning “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” “Disappearing Acts,” and “A Day Late and a Dollar Short,” have also been brought to life for film and television audiences. McMillan recently published her eighth novel, “Who Asked You?,” a story about the challenges and strength of a family.

Chef G. Garvin, author of “Turn Up The Heat With G. Garvin: More Than 200 Incredible Recipes from the Chef Who Keeps it Super Simple”
Saturday, Feb.13, 1-2 p.m. and 3-4 p.m.: Acclaimed chef and television host, Chef G. Garvin has mastered the art of cooking as well as writing. His first cookbook, “Turn Up the Heat with G. Garvin: More Than 200 Incredible Recipes from the Chef Who Keeps it Super Simple,” received an American Literacy Award and nomination for an NAACP Image Award. Chef Garvin has enjoyed continued success with his subsequent cookbooks and television show “Road Trip with G. Garvin” on The Cooking Channel.

Pattie LaBelle, author of “Recipes for the Good Life”
Saturday, Feb. 20, 12:30-1:30 p.m. (one signing only): Patti LaBelle is a New York Times bestselling author, two-time Grammy Award-winning recording artist, three-time Emmy nominee, and star of the cooking television series, “Pattie LaBelle’s Place.” This beloved soulful performer is just as captivating in the kitchen as she is on stage with her hit cooking show and cookbooks filled with southern-style recipes, including her recent book, “Recipes for the Good Life.”

Terrence Roberts, author of “Lessons from Little Rock”
Saturday, Feb. 27, 1-2 p.m. and 3-4 p.m.: Terrence James Roberts, Ph.D. is one of the “Little Rock Nine,” a group of history-making African American students who, in 1957, were the first black students ever to attend classes at Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Roberts was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President Bill Clinton in 1999. His book, “Lessons from Little Rock,” is a memoir of his experience during the integration of Little Rock Central High School and the lessons learned from that historic episode.

New pieces at Epcot’s Kinsey Collection exhibit
“Re-Discovering America: Family Treasures from the Kinsey Collection,” a collection of pieces displayed at the American Adventure pavilion at Epcot, draws from an extensive assortment of rare art, documents, books and artifacts attributed to African American history. Philanthropists Bernard, Shirley and their son Khalil Kinsey share some of their vast personal collection of artifacts spanning 400 years of history. Touch screens and guest-activated lanterns with narration by Whoopi Goldberg, Diane Sawyer and other celebrities help bring the history to life. Three new pieces recently have been added to the exhibit which is open daily.

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“Banneker’s Almanack and Ephemeras” by Benjamin Banneker, is the mathematical and mechanical work of Benjamin Banneker. Thomas Jefferson, then Secretary of State, read and approved of Banneker’s work. The almanac was published in 1771.

“My Bondage and My Freedom” by Frederick Douglass, is an autobiography recounting Frederick Douglass’s life as a slave and that as a freeman. Published in 1855, the book is a first edition.

“Survivor” by Elizabeth Catlett, is a beautiful Linoleum block print inspired by a photograph taken by Dorthea Lang titled “Ex-slave with a Long Memory.” The print was created in 1983.

“Re-Discovering America: Family Treasures from the Kinsey Collection” is included in Epcot admission. For more information about the collection, visit TheKinseyCollection.com.

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Legacy Portraits Tell a New Story
As guests explore the American Pavilion Rotunda, they are greeted by images of influential men and women who contributed to the progress of America. New portraits have been added to the collection for the month of February to further illustrate the contributions of many African American notables.

The new displays feature African American figures such as Thurgood Marshall, the first African American U.S. Supreme Court Justice; Ronald Erwin McNair, the second African American to fly in space; and Bessie Coleman, the first African American woman to stage a public airplane flight in America.

Taste of Southern Comfort
Mrs. Abby Fischer was one of the first African American authors to publish a cookbook dating back to 1881. “What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Southern Cooking,” includes 160 Southern-style recipes. One popular dessert recipe featured in the cookbook, Mrs. Fisher’s Peach Cobbler, is available for guests to purchase and enjoy at Liberty Inn at the American Adventure Pavilion.

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PRESS RELEASE:

The Eighth Annual Downtown Food & Wine Fest is set for Saturday, February 27 and Sunday, February 28, 2016 for more than 30,000 foodies and wine lovers to experience unique local cuisine paired with wines from around the globe.

Located in the heart of downtown Orlando at Lake Eola on Robinson Street, the two-day Fest features mouth-watering dishes from 30 of Orlando’s premier restaurants, 50 domestic and international wines and live entertainment.

Downtown Food & Wine Fest Feb 27-28 2016 v12

Date / Time: Saturday, February 27 (noon to 9 p.m.) and Sunday, February 28, 2016 (noon to 7 p.m.)
Location: Located in the heart of downtown Orlando at Lake Eola along Robinson Street
The live entertainment schedule* includes:

Saturday, February 27, 2016

12:50 p.m. Adam Moreno
2:30 p.m. Orange Avenue
4 p.m. The Mud Flappers
5:30 p.m. Special acoustic performance by Mike Posner
6:30 p.m. Michael Franti Acoustic Duo
7:45 p.m. American Authors

Downtown Food & Wine Fest Feb 27-28 2016 v14

Sunday, February 28, 2016
12:45 p.m. Nicholas Marks
2:15 p.m. Sidereal
3:45 p.m. Derek & The Slammers
5:20 p.m. Best of the Fest Awards
5:45 p.m. Firefall

*Performance times and artists subject to change without notice.

Downtown Food & Wine Fest Feb 27-28 2016 v4

Tickets:

One-Day General Admission
Admission is $15 per person, per day with advance online purchase. Admission at the door is $20 per person, per day.

Two-Day General Admission
For all-weekend Fest fans, a two-day ticket is available for $25 per person with advance online purchase.

Wine Tasters Club
A limited number of Wine Tasters Club passes will be available for purchase for $15 per person at the Fest. Club members will enjoy up to five 2 oz. pours of their choice throughout the Fest and a souvenir lanyard.

Ultimate Fest Experience
A limited number of Ultimate Fest Experience packages are available for $100 per person, per day and includes a VIP parking pass, general admission, Wine Tasters Club, $20 value in food and beverage tickets, access to the private stage-side VIP tent, private wine/beer bar with premium wines (food and beverage tickets required) and access to private bathrooms reserved for VIP guests.

Food and beverage tickets are available at the Fest for $2 each; food and beverage offerings range from one to four tickets.

Downtown Food & Wine Fest Feb 27-28 2016 v13

The Downtown Food & Wine Fest is produced by MIX 105.1, 1059 SUNNY FM, and 101.9 AMP Radio in partnership with the Central Florida Chapter of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA) Educational Foundation.

“With more than 1,000 events a year, Downtown Orlando offers residents and visitors alike with unique experiences and affordable entertainment options,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “Reoccurring community events like the Downtown Food & Wine Fest help to highlight our growing dining scene and bring awareness to our local businesses, strengthening economic growth to the area.”

Food Samplings at Downtown Food & Wine Fest v4

Steve Carver, senior vice president and market manager, CBS RADIO Orlando commented, “Through the power of radio and the strength of our partnerships with the FRLA and Orlando restaurateurs, foodies and fans will come together to celebrate the sights, sounds and tastes of Orlando.”

Thirty top restaurants are scheduled to present culinary tastings including the return of the 2015 Foodie Award winners as honored by a panel of Orlando elected officials, food writers and reporters and celebrity chefs.

2015 Foodie Award: Marlow’s Tavern Shrimp & Grits
2015 Sweet Treat Award: Primo at JW Marriott Orlando Cannoli Gelato Cone
2015 Best of Show:Siro at Orlando World Center Marriott (winner 2013-2015)

Food Samplings at Downtown Food & Wine Fest v2

Stay Connected
For more information on the Downtown Food & Wine Fest:
Visit www.DowntownFoodAndWineFest.com
Like Downtown Food & Wine Fest on Facebook
Follow @DTFoodWineFest
Use #DTFoodWineFest on Twitter and Instagram
Call the events hotline at 407-919-1048
eMail DowntownFoodandWineFest@cbsradio.com

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PRESS RELEASE

Marlow’s Tavern is bringing the tempting taste of the Big Easy to Central Florida with its annual Bayou ‘n Bourbon menu, available through March 28.

“I have always been impressed by Louisiana’s rich culinary heritage, which draws on French, German, Spanish, African and Native American influences,” said John C. Metz, executive chef and co-founder of Marlow’s Tavern. “We’ve been letting the good times roll in our kitchen creating appetizers, entrées and cocktails that show off that unique blend of flavors from New Orleans with a Marlow’s twist. Let’s just say we’re throwing our own parade for the palate.”

To kick up the local spice another notch this year, Metz’s team has added Classic Creole seasoning from Woodstock-based GG’s Fine Food to several of its recipes.

“Linda “GG” Gibson learned to cook Creole the old-fashioned way – from her grandmother,” Metz said. “Her seasonings are very traditional in the classic Louisiana style.”

When the Cajun craving strikes, the Bayou ‘n Bourbon menu is ready for lunch and dinner. New items on this year’s menu include the following:

crab dip

· Bayou Lump Crab Dip – Creole-spiced lump crab, andouille, spicy mustard, Asiago, Parmesan crust and toasty French baguette

redfish poboy

· N’awlins-Style Po’ Boy – fiery spiced red fish, apple-cabbage slaw, shredded lettuce, Roma tomato and Creole rémoulade on toasted baguette

Marlow's Muffaleta
Marlow’s Muffaleta

· “The Big Easy” Muffaletta – imported mortadella, Genoa salami, spicy capicola, GG’s secret recipe olive salad, melting provolone on pressed ciabatta bread

ribeye

· Sweet Bourbon St. Rib-eye – blackened Jack Daniel’s Honey-blazed rib-eye, jumbo asparagus and a creamy crawfish pie

Plus, Marlow’s signature Bayou ‘n Bourbon menu favorites include Roasted Chicken & Shrimp Gumbo, Daily Flatbread from the Bayou, Deconstructed Jambalaya and Honey Bourbon Bread Pudding.

For guests who prefer to be spirited away New Orleans-style, Marlow’s has crafted a special menu of drinks and handcrafted cocktails including:

· “Pat’s” Marlow’s Hurricane – a New Orleans tradition stolen from Pat O’Brien’s. His secret recipe all “jazzed up” with Bacardi light rum, fresh orange juice and a floater of Bacardi. Hold onto your beads!

· Bourbon Rum Punch – Old Forester, Meyer’s Dark Rum, vanilla, cream & nutmeg

· Bourbon Street Lemonade – house-made New Orleans original, Southern Comfort, lemonade, kiss of mint, fresh lemon & lime and a dash of simple syrup

· Sokol Blosser Evolution, Oregon 16th Edition – unique blend of nine different white grapes, produced and bottled in Oregon with hand-selected Oregon, Washington & California fruit, bright straw, exotic tropical citrus, hints of spicy apple with lush, crisp, bright finish

· ABITA® Turbodog-Draught – Turbodog Dark Brown Ale brewed with pale, caramel, chocolate malts and Willamette hops, rich flavors, perfect partner for all things Cajun!

· ABITA® Wrought Iron IPA-Bottle – Abita Wrought Iron IPA is the resilient, indestructible nature of New Orleans. India Pale Ale forged with intensity of apollo, equinox and mosaic hops, bright as iron from a fiery forge, perfect for a night on the bayou

During the celebration, one lucky grand prize winner and a guest will enjoy a weekend in New Orleans listening to music legends such as Stevie Wonder, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Flo Rida and many more at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Visit www.MarlowsTavern.com for contest details and registration.

Marlow’s fans can also enter on the tavern’s Facebook page for a chance to win Bayou ‘n Bourbon prizes between February 19 and March 17. A prize winner will be randomly selected to win dinner for four ($100 value), with a second drawing for dinner for two ($50 value).

Finally, Instagram users are encouraged to share their Bayou ‘n Bourbon experience and tag @marlowstavern. Lucky winners will have their image regrammed and receive a complimentary Honey Bourbon Bread Pudding.

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Truly excited for this event coming up – Beard in Baldwin hosted by The Osprey Tavern – bringing in acclaimed chefs from not only Orlando but also South Florida, all in one place – and for a great cause to raise funds for the James Beard Scholarship program.

See Press Release Below

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Beard in Baldwin

The Osprey Tavern, helmed by Executive Chef Joseph Burnett, offers a modern take on traditional tavern-inspired cuisine, while embracing the popular movement toward local and sustainable ingredients.

Through their partnership with the James Beard Foundation , The Osprey Tavern will be hosting Beard in Baldwin, to raise funds for the James Beard Scholarship program.

On Saturday, April 9, Beard in Baldwin will aim to highlight Florida’s most talented chefs and restaurants in Baldwin Park.

For $75 per ticket (tax additional), guests will have the opportunity to delight in an outdoor playground filled with gourmet fare, different wines and spirits and live music by The Legendary JC’s.

Guests will enjoy more than 15 local favorites, like The Rusty Spoon, K Restaurant, Soco, 4 Rivers Smokehouse and The Ravenous Pig.

Guests have the option to elevate their experience at $150 per ticket (tax additional) which grants access into The Osprey Tavern, where guests can enjoy craft cocktails and passed hors d’oeurves.

The restaurants participating are:
· The Rusty Spoon
· Hamilton’s Kitchen
· Urbain 40 American Brasserie
· The Smiling Bison
· Black Rooster Taqueria
· Citrus Restaurant
· Hawkers
· Highball & Harvest
· K Restaurant
· Norman’s
· P is for Pie
· Se7enbites
· SLATE
· Cusiniers
· Seito Sushi
· F & D Kitchen and Bar
· Soco
· Tapa Toro
· Taverna Opa
· The Swine Family
· 4 Rivers Smokehouse
· Pane D’or

Top-billed talent to be sampled include:

· Kenny Gilbert of Gilbert’s Underground Kitchen in Jacksonville and past contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef
· Timon Balloo of SUGARCANE raw bar grill in Miami and James Beard Award Semifinalist
· Ferrell Alvarez of Rooster and the Till in Tampa
· Sergio Navarro and Maria Orantes of Pubbelly Restaurant Group in Miami
· Hichem Lahreche of Criollo Chocolatier in Orlando

ABOUT THE JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION

The James Beard Foundation’s mission is to celebrate, nurture, and honor America’s diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire. You are what you eat not only because food is nutrition, but also because food is an integral part of our everyday lives. Food is economics, politics, entertainment, culture, fashion, family, passion…and nourishment. The James Beard Foundation is at the center of America’s culinary community, dedicated to exploring the way food enriches our lives.

A cookbook author and teacher, James Beard was a champion of American cuisine who helped educate and mentor generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts. Today the Beard Foundation continues in the same spirit by offering a variety of events and programs designed to educate, inspire, entertain, and foster a deeper understanding of our culinary culture. These programs include educational initiatives, food industry awards, an annual national food conference, Leadership Awards program, culinary scholarships, and publications. In addition to maintaining the historic James Beard House in New York City’s Greenwich Village as a “performance space” for visiting chefs, the Foundation has created a robust online community, and hosts conferences, tastings, lectures, workshops, and food-related art exhibits in New York City and around the country.

The James Beard Foundation is a national not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization based in New York City.

For more information and to buy tickets, visit http://beardinbaldwin.com

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Soco stands for Southern Contemporary, with Southern roots and a contemporary interpretation of American cuisine, and is situated in Thornton Park. It’s also got one of the best Sunday brunches in town.

“It’s a new and adventurous culinary approach to dishes that we have all come to know and love. At Soco we are focused on true Southern hospitality, and we are committed to overall excellence.” said Executive Chef Greg Richie.

“We are local, both in terms of the products we use and the neighborhood where we reside. Soco is committed to enriching Thornton Park and cultivating the culinary renaissance of Downtown Orlando.”

Chef Richie graduated with honors from the acclaimed Johnson and Wales University in Charleston. He worked with Yamaguchi at the original Roy’s Restaurant in Hawaii and was selected to be the first executive chef/partner for Roy’s in Orlando. He was then chosen by Lagasse to take over the kitchen at Tchoup Chop at the Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando.

Here’s a look at the fabulous Sunday brunch at Soco:

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Crab-Stuffed Deviled Duck Eggs – 12
Crisp Bacon, Lemon, Truffle

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Fried Green Tomatoes, Pickled Okra and Little Gems Greens – 10
House-Made Farm Cheese, Benton’s Country Ham, Vidalia Onion Buttermilk Dressing

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Lake Meadow Naturals Korean-Style Fried Chicken – 23
Pickled Radishes, Sweet and Spicy Sauce

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Lobster Eggs Benedict – 18
Buttermilk Biscuits, Benton’s Ham, Lobster Hollandaise

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Sunday Burger – 15
Fried Egg, Aged Cheddar, Red Onion-Bacon Marmalade, Brioche Bun, Crispy Onion Rings

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Soco
407-849-1800
629 E. Central Blvd.
Orlando, FL 32801

http://www.socothorntonpark.com/

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It’s the start of a new year – and time for a scratch-made meal at Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen after the holiday season. They’re based out of Texas and have been widely popular here in Orlando since opening their new locations on Semoran Blvd and also near UCF in East Orlando. Almost every time we’ve visited it’s had a line out the door.

They specialize in home-style cuisine like baked chicken pot pies and burgers, but also great fried dishes like fried chicken and fried shrimp.

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The folks at Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen recently invited us to try some of their dishes as part of the media. We’ve been several times before and were glad to be back.

You start with the honey butter croissants – buttery, sweet, honey fresh goodness that is baked to order.

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For those who enjoy onion rings, their onion ring stack appetizer is a mountainous treat to behold.

Onion Ring Prep Onion Rings__113

I’ve really enjoyed their fried items as well – from the chicken fried tenders to the chicken fried steak and fried shrimp. It’s all quite affordably priced and in large quantity making for a satisfying meal.

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All that cooking over the holidays – makes you want some time for a break and savor the length of preparation time done in the early morning hours, the quality of scratch made goodness, and a rare moment for hosts to enjoy precious family time in a warm and inviting environment – with absolutely little work at Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen – made from scratch without the mess at home.

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Everyone has a host in their family who makes guests feel like family – they’re genuine, warm, and welcoming. Hosts often go above and beyond as they prepare for visits with family and friends, spending countless, selfless hours to ensure everything is done the right way, not the easy way, with grace and ease.

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At CSK, we know hosts spend much of their time preparing for visits with family and friends that it’s often hard for them to enjoy the season of giving. Visit them soon!

Locations

Cheddars
6650 S Semoran Blvd
(407) 438-8878
Open until 11:00 PM

Cheddars
875 W Osceola Pkwy
(407) 348-2159
Open until 11:00 PM

Cheddar’s
12201 E Colonial Dr
(407) 282-8100
Open until 11:00 PM

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On far-flung World Center Drive, near the Epcot area, you can find authentic Shanghainese Chinese cuisine at the newly opened iShanghai. It’s a hidden gem that is a welcome addition to the rather bleek Orlando Chinese restaurant landscape.

Shanghai, the bustling port city on the central coast in China, is known for their seafood and the use of fresh flavors and methods that retain the taste of the ingredients.

Shanghai dishes usually are pickled in wine, stewed, braised, steamed, or deep fried.

A notable Shanghai delicacy is xiaolongbao, also known as soup dumplings in the United States. Made popular by the Michelin starred Din Tai Fung restaurant, which is headquartered in Taiwan, but have locations around the world including in the US, the xiaolongbao is a type of hot steamed bun made with a thin skin of dough and stuffed with pork or minced crab, and notably, soup.

The soup is said to be congealed first before placing into the pork mixture and then steamed, allowing for the soup to stay inside the dumpling. Often times in local Chinese restaurants here in Orlando, they may advertise xiaolongbao and the flavors are there but the soup is not there to many a disappointed patron.

Photo Jan 16, 7 49 31 PM

So let’s just say we have finally found the holy grail of dumplings in Orlando – the soup dumplings are found here at iShanghai – with a few caveats.

A good xiaolongbao should be able to hold in the soup until it is bitten – nothing is worse than a soup dumpling that has its soup just missing from the dumpling. The soup dumplings here at iShanghai do hold up well, and there is some soup, some very little soup – but still soup, inside the dumplings.

Photo Jan 16, 7 52 53 PM

A common way of eating xiaolongbao is to place it on your spoon, puncture the dumpling or bite off the top, blow on it to cool down the steaming soup, and then drink the soup from the spoon. Then, finally, eat the whole dumpling together.

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It’s satisfying and quite tasty – but I do believe it is priced a bit high at $6.00 for 3 dumplings, or $2.00 a dumpling. I think even Din Tai Fung’s soup dumplings at locations in California are priced at $10-$13 for 10, or about $1.00-$1.30 each. For that much, there better be a whole cup of soup in those dumplings.

Overall, it was a good soup dumpling and I am glad we finally have a place to try some here in Orlando, even though it is nearer to Epcot than to downtown Orlando.

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The other dishes we tried at iShanghai were also quite good – we started with the salami ham and winter melon soup, a very authentic Chinese soup that is quite refreshing, hearty, and healthy.

Photo Jan 16, 8 04 58 PM Coo Lao Meat (Pork Belly)

Our coo lao fried pork is a sweet a sour crispy pork belly dish that had praises from all around our table that evening. Crunchy, sweet, and sour – you’d hardly realized you were eating a dish that is literally half pork and half bacon fat.

Photo Jan 16, 8 02 12 PM Stir-Fried Grouper Fish with Pine Nut

A rather exotic dish – the crackling eel – piqued our interest, but we decided to go for a safer
Stir-Fried Grouper Fish with Pine Nut dish instead.

We were quite happy with the selection – the fish, sliced and tender, went well with the pine nuts that added a nice crunchy texture to the dish.

Photo Jan 16, 8 31 04 PM Crispy Skin Chicken

We ordered the Crispy Skin Chicken, a super crispy fried salt and pepper chicken for an appetizer, but they seemed to have put it the order in late – maybe they forgot – so it arrived after our entrees.

They were very apologetic though and service overall was pretty good.

They upgraded the interior from what was formerly the location of an Asian buffet. They need to play some light music or something because it is awkwardly silent inside.

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I noticed an elderly couple helping out in the back – you know the food is good if you have grandma and grandpa making it.

I definitely recommend coming here with a family or a group of at least four to try several dishes and share family style.

IShanghai Orlando
http://www.ishanghaiorlando.com/menu.html
8216 a World Center Drive, Orlando, FL, United States
+1 407-238-2997, 407-238-2998

Hours
Mon – Thu 12pm – 10pm
Fri – Sat 12pm – 11pm
Sun 12pm – 10pm

IShanghai  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Offering prime steak, fresh seafood and top of the line hospitality, Del Frisco’s Orlando is an exceptional steakhouse, and one of the newest additions to the restaurants on International Drive.

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House features an impressive, diverse wine list of more than 1,200 labels,  including a number of notable verticals from both old and new world producers.

With two floors that include two bars, four private dining rooms and a picturesque patio, Del Frisco’s Orlando boasts over 400 seats.

The restaurant’s price point is closer to probably better for those with an expense account or for a special occasion, but the dishes from the succulent lobster tails and lobster mac and cheese  to the juicy ribeye steaks. Leave room for dessert – the crispy on the caramelized outside, pillowy soft on the inside butter cake with butter pecan ice cream is really one of the best desserts in Orlando.

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Executive Chef Greg Thompson spoke with us recently about Del Frisco’s and his background in cooking.

He tells us, “Del Frisco’s commitment to quality, in everything we do makes us stand apart. From the staff to the ingredients and the restaurant standards we hold, we embrace this commitment to quality each day.”

What are some of the most popular items at Del Frisco’s here in Orlando?
The Crab Cake, for sure. It’s one of the best I’ve ever had! Also, of course the Bone In Filet!

How did you get your start in cooking? Where were you before Del Frisco’s?
I love to eat! I was always fascinated by the metamorphosis of ingredients into magnificent food; almost like alchemy. I am a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, and I worked in NYC for a long time before a stint in Charlotte, NC (both are great food towns). I have traveled around the world opening up steakhouses in locales like Beijing, Shanghai, and Mexico City as well as the lower 48 states and Canada.

What is your favorite childhood food to eat?
Ice cream! It’s still my favorite food, to this day.

If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your life from Del Frisco’s – what would that one thing be?
Definitely the Butter Cake!

What were some of your favorite eats while traveling the world?
The Chicken Thigh Sliders at Blue Frog in Shanghai, and also anything at Da Dong in Beijing! I also really love Tacos “al pastor” in Mexico City.

What is your favorite thing to eat at home after a long day?
A really good deli sandwich piled high with all the “fixings”

Take an inside look at Del Frisco’s:

Private Rooms available
Private Rooms available

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House baked bread
House baked bread
Classic Caeser Salad  - $9.5
Classic Caeser Salad – $9.5
Crab Cake with Cajun Lobster Sauce - $19
Crab Cake with Cajun Lobster Sauce – $19
Thick Cut Bacon Au Poivre Bourbon Molasses Glaze - $14.5
Thick Cut Bacon Au Poivre
Bourbon Molasses Glaze – $14.5

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Broiled Lobster Tail Carved tableside & served with drawn butter & lemon.
Broiled Lobster Tail
Carved tableside & served with drawn butter & lemon.
Bone-In Prime Ribeye 22 oz. - $59
Bone-In Prime Ribeye 22 oz. – $59

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Seared Chilean Sea Bass Crab Fried Rice & Black Bean Garlic Sauce - $44
Seared Chilean Sea Bass
Crab Fried Rice & Black Bean Garlic Sauce – $44
Lobster Macaroni & Cheese - $16.5
Lobster Macaroni & Cheese – $16.5
Buttercake Butter Pecan Ice Cream, Fresh Whipped Cream & Caramel Sauce - $12
Buttercake
Butter Pecan Ice Cream, Fresh Whipped Cream & Caramel Sauce – $12

Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Orlando Ramen Rumble
Orlando Ramen Rumble

Chef Austin Boyd of Seito Sushi, Chef Greg Richie of Baoery Asian Gastropub, and Chef Chau Trinh of Sushi Pop Restaurant will battle each other on Monday March 7th from 6:00pm  – 9:00pm in Orlando’s first Ramen Rumble.

The chefs come together in a friendly competition to see whose bowl of ramen reigns supreme. The prize to the winning chef is not just bragging rights, but the decision to which charity the proceeds will go. The purpose of this event is to celebrate the growing culinary scene in Orlando through these magical bowls of slurping wonderment.

We all win as long as we have one of these bowls in front of us!

Orlando Ramen Rumble

Ramen, the Japanese noodle dish that has continued to grow in popularity in Orlando, will be made by the chefs from scratch from the broth to noodles.

The event is organized by Ricky Ly of TastyChomps.com in partnership with Jason and Sue Chin of The Osprey Tavern to bring together local chefs and the local Orlando community in appreciation of ramen.

The proceeds from the event will be donated to the winning chef’s choice of charity.

The ticket prices are $30 and will feature a tasting bowl of ramen from each chef, 1 draft beer, and housemade sweet desserts.

For tickets, visit http://ramenrumble.bpt.me

Illustrations by Sue Chin

Orlando Ramen Rumble

Pharmacy is now opening their doors to guests on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am-2pm to introduce their new brunch menu. Diners have their choice of any entrée and cocktail for $25.

Read further below for the Press Release info:

The owners are putting their unique spin on well-known brunch favorites. Guests are greeted with a complimentary assortment of freshly fried chocolate and spiced glazed donuts for the table to enjoy.

The menu offers a range of fresh entrées, cocktails, and sides.

Diners have their choice of any entrée and cocktail for $25.

Entrées range from buttermilk and chive waffles made with farm fresh eggs and salmon cured in-house to mushroom cream mac and cheese alongside smoked brown sugar cured bacon.

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A variety of cocktails are also available such as the Bloody Michelada garnished with cheese, olive and prosciutto, or their spin on a traditional mimosa known as the Buck’s Fizz featuring Marcel Martin Cremate Brut, Orange Juice and their in-house grenadine.

Pharmacy isn’t just known for its trendy speakeasy environment, but for their menu filled with local and organic foods.

The restaurant’s chef, who was featured in Food & Wine Magazine’s Top 10 Chefs in the Country along with the owners all bring their talents to the table to create unconventional dishes and cocktails.

While guests can always expect delicious and unique dishes, the menu selection changes seasonally.

Here are 6 Delightful Dishes from Pharmacy’s New Weekend Brunch Menu

1. Buttermilk & Chive Waffles

www.leahlangley.com

2. Pulled Pork Hash Eggs Benedict

www.leahlangley.com

3. Cinnamon Buns

www.leahlangley.com

4. Chocolate and Spice Glazed Donuts

www.leahlangley.com

5. Pharmacy Mac & Cheese with Double Corn Grits and Brown Sugar Cured Bacon

www.leahlangley.com

6. Rose Champagne

www.leahlangley.com

Photos via www.leahlangley.com care of The Pharmacy

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On Saturday, March 5, at the Orlando World Center Marriott, top local Central Florida chefs from renowned restaurants and resorts will showcase their creativity to help raise funds at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida’s Appetite for the Arches event.

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Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida finds, creates, and supports programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children and families. The cornerstone program, the Ronald McDonald House®, provides temporary lodging, meals, and a network of support to families with children receiving medical treatment at local hospitals.

There are two Ronald McDonald Houses in Orlando— one on the campus of Florida Hospital for Children and one on the campus of Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.

A third Ronald McDonald House will open in Spring 2016 on the campus of Nemours Children’s Hospital in Lake Nona.

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This is a culinary event with a twist – chefs will use McDonald’s ingredients to create their signature dishes.

Guests will have the opportunity to mix and mingle with participating chefs and each other, enjoy live music, and a silent auction too.

Participating restaurants include:
– 4Rivers
– Capa at Four Seasons Resort Orlando
– Cask & Larder Public House
– DoveCote
– Emeril’s Tchoup Chop
– Hard Rock Orlando
– Hamilton’s Kitchen at the Alfond Inn
– K Restaurant
– LUMA on Park
– Orlando World Center Marriott
– Ravello at Four Seasons Resort Orlando
– RusTeak
– Spanish River Grill
– Swine & Sons Provisions
– The Ravenous Pig
– The Rusty Spoon

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Julie Petrakis, who owns The Ravenous Pig, Cask & Larder and Swine & Sons Provisions with her husband James, sits on the planning committee for the event and was in charge of organizing chef participation.

“Appetite for the Arches unites Central Florida’s best chefs and the community on a night of culinary surprises and delight for a special cause. All proceeds from the gala help Ronald McDonald House keep families together when they need it most —during the treatment of a critically ill child.”

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For additional information about Appetite for the Arches including ticket information and sponsorship opportunities, please visit www.appetiteforthearches.org.

Facebook: @Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida

Twitter: @RMHCCF
Event hashtag: #AppetiteOrlando

Photos below by So May Ly Photography.

Here are 5 Surprising Dishes made from McDonald’s Ingredients that will appear at the upcoming Appetites for the Arches:

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1. Chef Kathleen Blake: The Rusty Spoon – Red Devil Stuffed Eggs,Bacon Brittle,Oven-Dried Tomatoes
McDonald’s Ingredients: Bacon, Eggs, Grape Tomatoes

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2. Chef Kevin Fonzo: K Restaurant – Chicken Tortilla Soup, Savory Biscuit Bread Pudding
McDonald’s Ingredients: Chicken Breast, Jalapeno, White Onion, Egg, Bacon, Milk, Biscuit, Pepperjack Cheese, Grape Tomato, Corn Tortilla
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3. Chef Rhys Gawlak: Cask & Larder – Kale Gnocchi Carbonara
McDonald’s Ingredients: Canadian Bacon, Kale, Spinach, Egg, Romaine, French Fry, Parmesan Cheese, White Onion, English Muffin

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4. Chef Clayton Miller: DoveCote – Smoked Beef Tongue Reuben, Crispy Potato, Big Mac Sauce
McDonald’s Ingredients: Hash Brown, Lettuce, Big Mac Sauce

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5. Chef Julie Petrakis: The Ravenous Pig – Cheesecake, Espresso Crumble, Strawberry-Frangelico Sauce
McDonald’s Ingredients: Strawberry, Whole Eggs, Espresso Bean, French Vanilla Syrup, Butter, Granola, Cream Cheese, Oatmeal Cookie

Cocktails courtesy of Republic National Distributing Company and prepared by Cask & Larder

Russian Standard Vodka Infused Cucumber Lemonade Soda
McDonald’s® Ingredients: Cucumber, Lemon

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Old Fashioned with Brown Butter Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon, Smoked Simple, Orange Bitters

McDonald’s Ingredients: Simple Syrup, Butter

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In many ways, the story of St. Augustine is the story of Florida.

With more than 450 years of history, the food culture of St. Augustine has been influenced by the early settlers from Spain, Britain, Greece, Cuba, Italy, and more – like the story of its datil peppers – it’s all about becoming a melting pot of flavors and tastes with each new wave of immigrants.

With its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and fertile Florida farmlands just miles away, St. Augustine has a dearth of local and sustainable resources for their food and culinary community to cultivate.

It’s quickly becoming one of Florida’s favorite spots to visit, as tourist numbers rise year after year to explore the Castillo de San Marcos fort and wander the along the tiny streets of the Colonial Quarter.

You can feel it in the air when you walk down the charming historic quarter of old St. Augustine – the lingering dreams of the Spanish explorer Ponce De Leon and his quest for the eternal Fountain of Youth and the lofty dreams of industrialist Henry Flagler who sought to transform Florida with his railway and luxury hotels.

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Here is a suggested itinerary for a Food Lover’s Weekend in Historic St. Augustine:

Friday Night

Check into one of the many local bed and breakfast inns like the historic St. Francis Inn, the oldest inn in St Augustine founded in 1791, and head out over the bridge to Anastasia Island for dinner at Terra & Acqua, a restaurant specializing in land and sea dishes from Northern Italian cuisine using local and seasonal ingredients.

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Founded by chef/owner, Simone Parisi, the restaurant features a wood-fired oven that gives a wonderful smokey char to their breads, pizzas, and particularly the fantastic charred octopus salad.

Northern Italian food is different from cuisine usually found in Italian restaurants in America – the dishes here are accentuated with seafood, olive oil and fresh vegetables instead of heavy tomato sauces.

Their pastas are handmade in house, and it shows – the pappardelle cinghiale, a handmade pappardelle pasta is luscious and silky to taste, going well with the hearty wild boar and plum tomato sauce.

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Bruschetta Mista
Variety of bruschettas with seasonal homemade toppings

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Polpo Alla Griglia
Charred tender octopus, potato and green bean salad, EVOO

 

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Bruschetta Avocado Gamberi
Sweet and spicy sauce, avocado, red onion, local shrimp

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Insalate Pera
Romaine hearts, gorgonzola, pears, walnuts, EVOO, balsamic reduction

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Insalata Barbabietole
Medley of organic beets, gorgonzola, watercress salad

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Pappardelle Cinghiale
Handmade pappardelle, wild boar, plum tomato sug, fresh herbs

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Aragosta E Crostacei
Grilled lobster,Frutti di Mare, vegetables

Saturday
St. Francis Inn Bed and Breakfast
St. Francis Inn Bed and Breakfast

Have a quick breakfast at St. Francis Inn, then head out to what some locals lovingly call the “Sin Quarter” – where you can find San Sebastian Winery, St. Augustine Distillery, and Whetstone Chocolates factory all a few steps away from each other.

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Take a  chocolate tasting tour of the Whetstone Chocolates factory, where you can learn about the process of chocolate making and sample some of their signature chocolates named after historic figures from St. Augustine’s storied past like Aviles, Menendez, De Leon, and San Marco. Do get a bag of their “gator bait” to go – crunchy, deliciously addictive chunks of milk chocolate covered pretzel pieces, rice crispies, and corn flakes.

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Next, visit the newly opened St. Augustine Distillery in the renovated historic Ice Plant for a free tour of their gin and vodka distillery which highlights locally sourced farms and sustainable ingredients.

The ice plant was first used in 1917 and there is a fantastic museum inside showcasing its history and role in bringing commercial block ice to Florida, transforming the cocktail forever.

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Upstairs from the distillery, The farm to table Ice Plant restaurant and bar serves up grass-fed beef burgers, local seafood, and stunning cocktails.

Sip on a signature Lady Killer cocktail, made with St. Augustine vodka, lemon, pamplemousse, aperol, and tiki bitters.

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After lunch, stroll down to Flagler College, once Henry Flagler’s flagship Ponce De Leon Hotel and across the street to City Hall / Lightner Museum, formerly the Hotel Alcazar, for a historic tour highlighting Henry Flagler’s visionary and some might say ruthless development and investment in St. Augustine at the turn of early 20th century.

Flagler College’s cafeteria, once the dining hall for the luxury winter resort hotel, has one of the largest collections of Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass in the world.

The Signature Kessler Calamari at Casa Monica Hotel
The Signature Kessler Calamari at Casa Monica Hotel

Afterwards, head over to Casa Monica Hotel, styled after the Moorish and Spanish Baroque architectural revival, which is today still a hotel and run by Kessler Collections.

Here you can order the signature Kessler calamari, first created by executive chef Rene Nyfeler here and now served in all of the Kessler hotels nation wide – it’s crispy calamari served with kalamata olives, green olives, and a flavorful cumin and curry spiced aioli sauce.

Jambalaya at Harry's Seafood
Crawfish Etoufee at Harry’s Seafood
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Blackened Red Fish with Collard Greens at Harry’s Seafood

 

Walk down the historic Colonial Quarter where you can find a bevy of local eats for dinner like Columbia restaurant featuring Spanish and Cuban cuisine, Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille, known for their take on New Orleans style cuisine or Michael’s Tasting Room, small plate tapas and innovative cuisine with a modern Spanish flair.

For dessert, have one of the many unique fresh fruit, handmade gourmet popsicles like champagne mango and strawberry from The Hyppo.

Michael's Tasting Room
Fried oysters at Michael’s Tasting Room
Michael's Tasting Room
Duck Breast at Michael’s Tasting Room
Michael's Tasting Room
Lamb chops at Michael’s Tasting Room
Michael's Tasting Room
Michael’s Tasting Room

With over 450 years of history, it’s no wonder there have been more than a few lingering spirits with unfinished business in town.

After dinner, grab an EMF meter and hop on a hearse for Ghost Augustine’s Haunted Pub Crawl, which brings you around to explore some of St. Augustine’s more ghostly sites like Scarlett O’ Hara’s or the site of the mysteriously unsolved murder of St. Augustine socialite Athalia Ponsell Lindsley, who was hacked to death by a machete on her front door steps.

It’s all quite an intriguing and macabre tour for those who enjoy stories of death and hauntings accompanied with a few pints of beer.

Scarlett O' Hara's Pub
Scarlett O’ Hara’s Pub
Sunday

Head on over for a stroll along one of the oldest public streets in America – Aviles Street – in downtown St. Augustine.

Tucked away on this tiny street are some of St. Augustine’s best international restaurants as well as small boutique shops and antique stores.

On Aviles Street
On Aviles Street

It’s also home to one of America’s best breakfast dishes according to PBS – the guajiro at La Herencia Cafe, a local Cuban restaurant on Aviles.

The guajiro is a feast for the senses – an omelette on top of toasted Cuban bread, topped with black beans, pulled pork, salsa, and cheese – this dish is just fabulous.

Cafecito at La Herencia Cafe
Cafecito at La Herencia Cafe
Guajiro at La Herencia Cafe
Guajiro at La Herencia Cafe
Guajiro at La Herencia Cafe
Guajiro at La Herencia Cafe

Around the corner on Aviles, next to the Antiques and Uniques shop – which may or may not be a haunted spirits portal – is the small and homey Greek and Polish restaurant, Gaufre’s and Goods.

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This is a must-try restaurant, particularly for some of the best Polish pierogies I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting.

They are pan-seared crispy with sliced onions and bacon and had such great flavor, with a variety of fresh fillings from spinach, to cheese and potato and lamb.

This is how pierogie dumplings should taste.

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There are also specials from time to time, like the yemista, delicious little Greek stuffed tomatoes and peppers filled with rice and meat.

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Built in 1888 by Henry Flagler, the Alcazar Hotel and Casino was once home to one of the finest winter resorts for the wealthy New England elite, complete with the world’s largest indoor swimming pool.

Today the Hotel Alcazar is now home to St. Augustine’s City Hall and the Lightner Museum, a collection of Mr. Lightner’s collection pieces from around the world including a shrunken head from South America and a programmable orchestrion.

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It’s also home to Cafe Alcazar, where diners can lunch on the floor of the indoor swimming pool where the elite once swam and dived between the columns.

Try the escargot, plump and freshly prepared with garlic butter and minced herbs and white wine, or the east meets west curried chicken salad.

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You could almost imagine being back in the early 1900s when guests dived and swam around the columns where the pool once was, live classical piano music plays.

It’s this timelessness that makes St. Augustine such an enchanting place.

There’s so much to see, to do, and most importantly, to eat in St. Augustine, that when it comes time to leave, you’ll want to return again and again to explore some more of the wonderful hidden eats and charms in St. Augustine.

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St. Augustine’s Food Festivals

March – St Augustine Lions Seafood Festival
April – Annual Rhythm and Ribs Festival, Taste of St. Augustine Festival
September – St. Augustine Spanish Wine Festival
October – Datil Pepper Festival, St. Augustine Independent Restaurant Association Food and Wine Fest, St Augustine Greek Festival, A Taste of the Beach, Oceanwise Sustainable Seafood Fundraiser for the Friends of the GTM Reserve
November – Annual St. Augustine Great Chowder Debate

Slow Food First Coast’s Monthly Tour de Farm
Take a ride around the region for a first-look into the fall harvest and an opportunity to learn about our local food system. See where your food comes from and meet the farmers who produce it! The tour is from noon to 5 p.m. and includes farms in St. Augustine, Hasting, Elkton, Ponte Vedra and Jacksonville area. Chefs from area restaurants will be at each farm demonstrating cooking techniques and recipes using local-grown produce. A $20 car pass is required to participate. For more information and a list of participating farms, visit
http://slowfoodfirstcoast.org/event/tour-de-farm-2015

Follow St. Augustine on Social Media
FloridasHistoricCoast.com
facebook.com/officialstaugustine
twitter.com/flhistoriccoast
instagram.com/flhistoriccoast

Special Thanks to Barbara Golden, communications manager of the St Augustine, Ponte Vedra, & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau for her invaluable insight and sharing with us her love for her city during our stay and to Kathy Catron, director of communications for the St Augustine, Ponte Vedra, & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau for inviting us to visit!

Photography by So May Ly Photography of SoMayLy.com 

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We were recently invited to check out the new renovation at Bonefish in Winter Garden as well as sample the delicious Florida Stone crabs that are in season.

Florida stone crabs, sold cold, are very meaty and juicy with a rich, sweet flavor and what’s more – they can be quite a sustainable seafood dish.

Fishermen remove one of their claws and return the crab to the ocean where it can re-grow its lost limb. Though stone crab claws are tender inside, on the outside, they’re strong enough to break an oyster’s shell.

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Orlando Bonefish Grill restaurants are now offering stone crab claws in all Florida locations, where they are locally sourced.

Sold by the pound, Bonefish Grill’s stone crabs come fresh off the Florida docks and served the way they were meant to be served, chilled, cracked, and ready for dipping.

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In Winter Garden, the interior recently underwent a new renovation with an industrial, sleek look that harkens back to an estuary or mangrove idea – a place where fish love to hang out at. There’s even a large decorative art piece of a shiny metallic fish on one of the walls.

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The bang bang shrimp is a favorite here and for good reason – crunchy, sweet, crispy and spicy tangy, creamy – it’s quite good and a highlight of the menu.

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I really enjoyed my fish and chips as well, three cod fillets, tempura-battered in a special blend of seasoning, served with French fries and tartar sauce.

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The corn and crab chowder was disappointing as it was served at a tepid lukewarm temperature and was rather bland in flavor. The corn and crab were fresh, but the chowder soup itself was lacking.

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The teriyaki chicken rice bowl also disappointed – the chicken was bland and the rice was undercooked. The teriyaki sauce was too salty and the presentation overall was unappetizing.

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Definitely needs some work in the kitchen to bring the standard up to make up for the misses.

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In this edition of “As the Orlando Restaurant and Dining Scene Turns”, we explore 16 new restaurants who have sprung up in Central Florida worth taking a look at. They are new and ready for folks to come out and see what their food is about. Have you been to any of them already? Let us know! In the meantime, Go forth and support our local Orlando businesses and restaurants!

Here are 16 New Restaurants to Try Out Right Now in Orlando This Spring 2016

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1. Urbain 40 American Brasserie and Lounge

Take a trip back to the big band era of the 1940s at Urbain 40 on Sand Lake Road’s Restaurant Row. They take over the former location for Cantina Laredo replacing the Mexican restaurant with a French and American influenced aesthetic – fantastic pan roasted mussels, French onion soup, house made pasta bolognese, and perfectly cooked steak chops.

Urbain 40 American Brasserie and Lounge
8000 Via Dellagio Way
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 872-2640
http://urbain40.com/

2. Saigon Noodle Grill

– The second location for the Goldenrod and Lake Underhill Vietnamese restaurant, Saigon Noodle and Grill has taken over the location previously held by Pho K5 on Bumby Avenue, where Medina’s Spanish Grocery once stood for many years. Their specialties include Vietnamese Pho beef noodle soup and thit bo xao xa ot, stir fried beef in lemongrass and chili sauce.

Saigon Noodle Grill
101 N Bumby Ave
Orlando, FL 32803
(407) 532-7373
http://saigonnoodleandgrill.com/

Image via Yelp.com
Image via Yelp.com

3. Baoery Asian Gastropub

They may have opened for a few months now, so it is high time you came down to visit The Baoery in Thornton Park, helmed by venerable Chef Greg Richie. Specialties include their signature korean fried chicken bao buns, crispy shrimp toast, kung pao peanut calamari, and short rib tacos.

Baoery Asian Gastropub
617 E Central Blvd
Orlando, FL 32801
(407) 849-9779
baoery.com

Image via Yelp.com
Image via Yelp.com

4. Better than Sex Desserts

Yes, the name is a bit PG-13, but it is the second location for the popular Key West dessert shop so look past the name and look forward to their sultry cakes and desserts like the cookie nookie or The Morning After, made with Danish brie cheese & dark Belgian chocolate grilled on homestyle buttered bread kissed with cinnamon sugar.

1905 N Orange Ave
Orlando, FL 32804
(407) 761-8949
betterthansexdesserts.com

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5. Chimiking

The fourth location of this Dominican restaurant that started as a food truck. They specialize in chimichurri burgers, Dominican sandwiches made from a ground pork or beef, which is sliced, grilled and served on a pan de agua (literally “water bread”) and garnished with chopped cabbage and tomatoes as well as mashed plaintain mofongos with garlic shrimp (seen above).

Chimiking
6700 Conroy Windermere Rd
Ste 105
Orlando, FL 32835
(321) 732-3933
chimikingrestaurant.com

o (16)  6. Kabsah Yemeni Cuisine

Yemeni cuisine has arrived in Orlando with the new Kasbah – the small country on the south side of the Arabian peninsula currently undergoing civil war. The restaurants features specialties including chicken rice kabsah, a family of mixed rice dishes that originates in Yemen, where it is commonly regarded as a national dish made with spices and meat, and heneeth biryani rice. Haneeth is usually made from basmati rice, meat (lamb), and also a mixture of spices.

Kabsah Yemeni Cuisine
4153 W Vine St
Kissimmee, FL 3474
(407) 978-6501
kabsahfl.com

Image via Yelp.com
Image via Yelp.com

7. IShanghai

Shanghainese cuisine with dishes such as steamed pork buns, braised pork belly, and stir fried crab.

IShanghai
8216 World Center Dr
Ste A
Orlando, FL 32821
(321) 430-1220
ishanghaiorlando.com

 

Image via Yelp.com
Image via Yelp.com

8. El Inka Grill

The Second location for the Hunter’s Creek based Peruvian restaurant – their menu features Peruvian classics such as ceviche, lomo saltado, fried seafood platters, and very delicious chaufa – Peruvian style fried rice influenced by Chinese immigrants.

El Inka Grill
7600 Dr Phillips Blvd
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 930-2810
elinkagrill.com

Image via Yelp.com
Image via Yelp.com

9. Antica Pizza and Mozzarella Bar

A new Italian pizza style restaurant in the Altamonte Springs area with chefs right from Rome who worked with the Michelin starred chef Adriano Baldassarre. They also have a Mozzarella bar which helps guests try out new and different Italian cheeses that makes Italy famous throughout the world.

Antica Pizza and Mozzarella Bar
249 W-SR 436, Suite 1105
Altamonte Springs, FL 32714
(407) 834-7770
antica-pizzeria.com

Image via Yelp.com
Image via Yelp.com

10. Sinha Brazilian Steakhouse

Sinhá (Seen-yah’) which means “lady of the house,” is a new Brazilian steakhouse in Hunter’s Creek features the rodizio style all you can eat dining experience with affordable prices and a buffet bar – Rodizio Lunch: $19.95 and Rodizio Dinner: $24.95.

Sinha Brazilian Steakhouse
13586 Village Park Dr
Orlando, FL 32837
(407) 203-0726
sinhasteakhouse.com

Image via Yelp.com
Image via Yelp.com

11. TR Fire Grill Winter Park

This newish concept by Tony Roma’s restaurant group (the original TR Fire Grill on Semoran near the Airport has closed and relocated to Winter Park) strives to have locally sourced and chef driven menus with dishes like cherry wood smoked duck tacos, bacon wrapped smoked meatloaf, and chicken and waffles.

TR Fire Grill Winter Park
1035 North Orlando Ave.
Suite 101
Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 708-3600
TRFireGrill.com

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12. Provisions & Buzz Co.

A rebranding of the location formerly known as Jack’s Steakhouse in Baldwin Park, now with an eclectic list of dishes like pork belly kimchi rice bowls, honey miso marinated black grouper, and sage gnocchi.

Provisions & Buzz Co.
4868 New Broad St
Orlando, FL 32814
(407) 896-2688
http://www.provisionsandbuzzco.com/

Image via Lisa W. at Yelp.com
Image via Lisa W. at Yelp.com

13. Saint Anejo Mexican Kitchen + Tequileria

New Mexican restaurant in Oviedo featuring a diverse list of tequilas, house made guacamole, ceviches, and street tacos.

Saint Anejo Mexican Kitchen + Tequileria
5248 Red Bug Lake Rd
Winter Springs, FL 32708
(407) 636-3600
saintanejomexicankitchen.com

Image via Yelp.com
Image via Yelp.com

14. Metro Diner

From Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives fame, this is a new location for the Jacksonville based Metro Diner in Altamonte Springs – a winner of many Best Breakfast awards from Jacksonville – they are known for huevos rancheros, chicken and waffles, and other traditional diner fare.

Metro Diner
985 N State Road 434
Altamonte Springs, FL 32714
(407) 917-8997
metrodiner.com

Image via Yelp.com
Image via Yelp.com

15. The Ganachery Chocolate Shop at Disney Springs

Fashioned after an old apothecary, The Ganachery features Gourmet Chocolate Ganaches in Disney Springs made with milk chocolate and cream.

Image via Mike P. at Yelp.com
Image via Mike P. at Yelp.com

16. Antonella’s Pizzeria

Excited for this pizza restaurant with fabulous pedigree – from the family of Stefano’s Trattoria in Winter Springs and Goodfellas by UCF lead by husband and wife team Francesco Paradiso and Antonella Paradiso-LaCommare. We look forward to trying their pizzas in Winter Park – very, very soon! Read more about the family on Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide here.

Antonella’s Pizzeria
360 W. Fairbanks Ave
Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 636-5333
antonellaspizza.com

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It’s that time of year again! Seems like only yesterday.

The local Asian American community here in Orlando will be celebrating the Lunar New Year once again – one of my favorite times of the year, not just for the festivities but also for the great food that goes along with the holiday celebrations.

I remember gathering around at home growing up with my uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandma around the family dinner table having a huge feast, praying to our ancestors and the gods of fortune for a lucky and healthy new year. My favorite dishes were the fried egg rolls and roasted duck, Hakka style, filled with Chinese spices, herbs and wild mushrooms.

This year the Chinese/Vietnamese Lunar New Year’s Official Date (which changes each year because – surprise – it follows the cycles of the moon) is Monday February 8th, 2016 – but the celebrations begin much earlier and last almost all month.

This is the year of the Monkey and those people born in the year of the Monkey are said to be “smart, clever and intelligent, especially in their career and wealth. They are lively, flexible, quick-witted and versatile. In addition, their gentleness and honesty bring them an everlasting love life. Although they were born with enviable skills, they still have several shortcomings, such as an impetuous temper and a tendency to look down upon others.”

Luckily for us here in the Central Florida community, we are home to the largest ethnic enclaves of Asian Americans in the entire state, particularly around the Mills 50 district with shops, restaurants, and markets all getting ready to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

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Lunar New Year Traditions
  • Eating dinner together as a family – people journey from wherever they are, to come home and have dinner. Every year this time marks the largest mass migration of people when workers in the cities travel home to their home villages to visit their families again.
  • Giving/Recieving Red Envelopes - filled with lucky money from elders to the young. Asian culture is big on karma so want to start off the year doing good things for others and hope for good things to happen to you in return later in the year. Universal balance.
  • Clean the house before the new year start the year new, and pay off all your debts
  • Big parades with lots of firecrackers. The loud noise “scares” away any evil spirits so you can start off the new year fresh.
  • On that Monday, February 8th if you have lunch in the Mills 50 area, you will see the Wah Lum Kung Fu Lion Dance team “blessing” each business with their lion dance and fire works. Last year we had lunch at Chuan Lu and they came with fireworks and a dancing Buddha and two lions – quite the festive sight!

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What to Order – Traditional Chinese Dishes for New Years

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Eat
  • Noodles – The longer, the better – the noodles represent longevity and long life
  • Dumplings - They are shaped like little gold nuggets, symbols for good fortune and wealth
  • Fish – The word “yu” sounds like “abundance” in Chinese, so your new year will be abundant with good luck – eat whole fish so that your whole year is full of good luck
  • Fried Spring Rolls – The name also sounds like “good fortune” in Chinese, eat it for a lucky new year
  • Oranges are also plentiful during new years because the name and look of the orange is similar to gold. So giving oranges as a gift is also quite common, as it the giver is seen as wishing prosperity on the receivers.
  • Vietnamese Banh Tet – Bánh tét is a Vietnamese savoury but sometimes sweetened cake made primarily from glutinous rice, which is rolled in a banana leaf into a thick, log-like cylindrical shape, with mung bean or mung bean and pork fillings, then boiled. It is a must have traditional food in Vietnamese Lunar New Year. It demonstrates the importance of rice in the Vietnamese culture as well as historical value. During Vietnamese Tét, family members would gather together and enjoy feasting on bánh tét, the central food of this festive Vietnamese holiday to celebrate the coming of spring.

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Drink
  • Wash it all down with a glass of Baijiu
  • Baijiu – traditional clear grain spirit made from sorghum and wheat
    • The number one drink in the world at about 40-60% alcohol
    • Like Vodka to the Russians, Rum to Puerto Rico, Baijiu is to the Chinese
    • It’s drank at almost all meal gatherings in China.

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Chinese baijiu - Credit-PassportsandCocktails-com

Say Happy New Year!
  • Vietnamese – Chuc Mung Nam Moi
  • Cantonese – Sun Lien Fai Lok
    or Gung Hay Fat Choi (Literally : Congratulations on your Prosperity – have a prosperous new year)
  • Mandarin – Xin Nian Kuai Le
Places to Celebrate:
Local Orlando Restaurants:
    • Ming Bistro – Chinese Dim Sum – Great for Families/Friends/Groups
      1212 Woodward Street #6, Orlando, FL (407) 898-9672
    • Chuan Lu Garden – Authentic Sichuan cuisine – for spicy food lovers
      1101 East Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL – (407) 896-8966  http://chuanluyuan.com
    • Tasty Wok – Chinese street food / barbecue and noodles
      1246 East Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL  (407) 896-8988
    • Chan’s Chinese Cuisine – Dim sum and traditional Chinese cuisine 
      1901 East Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL (407) 896-0093
    • Golden Lotus Chinese – Dim sum and traditional Chinese cuisine
      8365 South John Young Parkway, Orlando, FL (407) 352-3832

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Local Markets – Pick up New Year goodies
  • Saigon Market
    1232 East Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, United States
    (407) 898-6899
  • Tien Hung Market
    1112 East Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, United States
    (407) 849-0205 http://tienhungmarket.com/
  • 1st Oriental SuperMarket
    5132 West Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL 32808, United States
    (407) 292-3668 http://1storiental.com
  • Phuoc Loc Tho Super Market
    2100 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803, United States
    (407) 898-6858

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Street Food Festivals/Events

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Vietnamese New Year Festival by the Vietnamese Catholic Church
Saturday January 30 and Sunday January 31 at the Central Florida Fairgrounds
Orlando Foodie Forum facebook group meet up on that Sunday January 31 at 10:30AM
– Try the pork meatballs, sugarcane juice, Vietnamese banh mi, other street foods
http://www.philipminhparish.org/

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Vietnamese New Year Festival by the Vietnamese Community of Central Florida
Saturday February 6th – Sunday February 7th at the Central Florida Fairgrounds
– Street food and also Miss Vietnam of Florida Pageant on Sunday

See below for last year’s schedule for an idea of what will go on –

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Vietnamese Vegetarian Food Festival at Bao An Temple

Sunday October 31st –   8am – 2pm (local cultural acts, lots of vegetarian Vietnamese food for sale)
and the new years eve celebration is the night of February 7th (they have singers, performers, food for sale)
Bao An Buddhist Temple – 5788 North Apopka Vineland Road, Orlando, FL 32818, United States

Last year’s flyer below for now –

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Other temples such as Chua Phap Vu Temple on Dean Road will also have a Vietnamese new year celebration / ceremony on the eve of Lunar New Year – Sunday February 7th, usually around 8pm.

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Dragon Parade and Lunar New Year Festival
at the Orlando Fashion Square Mall – Sunday February 14 at 11am
http://www.centralfloridadragonparade.org/

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2015 proved to be another great year for the continuing growth of the Orlando restaurant and dining scene, especially with new openings focusing more and more on locally sourced and produced food.

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Here are some of our favorite Orlando restaurants and dining moments from 2015:


1. The Osprey Tavern -

A breath of fresh air to Baldwin Park, this project by Jason and Sue Chin, owners of the very successful Seito Sushi Baldwin Park across the street brings together a dream team featuring Executive Chef Joseph Burnett (formerly of Norman’s and The Ravenous Pig), Executive Sous Chef Elek Kovacs, and Kristy Carlucci, Pastry Chef. Restaurant of the Year for 2015.

Photo by Isha Shah
Photo by Isha Shah

2. Tabla Indian Thai Chinese -

Recently undergoing a beautiful multimillion dollar renovation, the traditionally Indian restaurant has brought on Chef Ian Piamonte who spearheads their new Thai and Chinese offerings. My favorite dishes here are the gobi manchurian – little sweet and sour red cauliflower fritters and the lamb biryani rice dish.

 

Pork Tonkotsu ramen @seitobp #perfection #ramen via @krystlenguyen

A photo posted by Ricky @TastyChomps (@tastychomps) on

3. Pork Tonkatsu Ramen at Seito Sushi Baldwin Park -

Chef Austin Boyd has really upped his game with the pork tonkotsu ramen – silky, slurpy umami goodness. Quite possibly the best ramen bowl in Orlando.

4. The North Quarter Tavern -

Chef Matthew Wall brings the realness to this new north Orlando hot spot – great prices, great food – and especially great fried chicken.

5. King Cajun Crawfish in Mills 50 District -

They recently moved into bigger digs next door where Bananas Modern Diner was on Mills, but they still serve up great renditions of Louisiana cajun cuisine. Check out their story in the fabulous WMFE 90.7 FM series on What is Orlando’s Little Vietnam?

 

 

Garlicky buttery rock shrimp from #pharmacyorlando w @kirbiecravings @chowzter @chowzter7 #fbforl after conference eats

A photo posted by Ricky @TastyChomps (@tastychomps) on

6. The Pharmacy on Sand Lake Road

continues to impress – their garlic rock shrimp is one of the best things to eat in Orlando and their menu is always changing. They expanded to where the Table was earlier this year for a little more dining space.

 

7. Primo by Chef Melissa Kelly

At the JW Marriott Orlando, along with Chef de Cuisine Mariano Vegel continued a long standing tradition of excellence in farm to table cuisine. One of the highlights of my dining experiences for the year was the simple, yet so delicious Farmer’s Salad topped with a farm egg and house cured bacon.

 

8. Chef’s Night at Second Harvest Food Bank -

Each Chef’s Night brings local top chefs into Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida to celebrate delicious food and raise money for a good cause. All proceeds benefit Second Harvest’s Culinary Training Program, which provides students with the skills and inspiration they need to obtain an entry-level position in a food service establishment.

 

Love the @kappoeastend chirashi bowl so muchhh #sushi #nofilter #foodie #orlando @eastendmkt

A photo posted by Ricky @TastyChomps (@tastychomps) on

9. Kappo at East End Market -

Sadly Kappo closed this year at East End Market, with a small market to take its place. Do not be forlorn too long – the chef/owners are currently seeking a new space to continue Kappo’s legacy. We wish the owners Mark, Lo, and Jen a happy new year as they look to the future. Also, we wish Lo and his fiance Julie a very happy wedding and honeymoon this 2016!

10. Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa -

founded by The Treehouse Truck’s Thomas Ward, their baby back ribs are revelatory, but don’t sleep on their shrimp and chorizo tacos either – fantastic flavors.

 

11. Bavaro’s Pizza Napoletana & Pastaria in Winter Springs -

The Napoletana style pizza is thin & soft with a slight crisp to the crust; with a nice smokey char to the pizza crust from the wood burning ovens and topped with ingredients imported from Italy or locally grown and organic. Dan Bavaro, the founder was taught by 3rd generation, Neapolitan families and bases their entire menu around a stunning Italian imported wood-fired brick oven.

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12. Peking roast duck at Morimoto’s Asia at Disney Springs -

Featuring a crispy Peking duck, a carved house-roasted whole duck sliced thin with crackling skin and tender meat, served with steamed flour pancakes, and a side of apricot sweet chili and hoisin miso sauces. 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 Morimoto and team hanging out with Mickey Mouse at the grand opening of Morimoto’s Asia.

13. Doner Kebab bowl with bulgar wheat and tomatoes at Shishco Mezze and Grill in Maitland -

Fresh grilled lamb and beef doner gyro meat slices on top of fresh bulgar wheat or rice and pickled red onions and tomatoes…just divine.

Definitely looking forward to what 2016 will bring to us here in Orlando! What are you looking forward to this year?

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Did you know there is a “hidden” lounge area in the upstairs section of Morimoto’s Asia at Disney Springs open till 2am? Complete with a late night dining menu and a diverse list of sakes as well as light bites and sushi, it’s worth taking a look. Check out the press release below.

Press Release:

With a “hidden” VIP entrance along the side of the building, the Forbidden Lounge is a great place to hang, late-night, at Disney Springs.

An exclusive menu is featured upstairs from 10pm to 2am and features a variety of late-night dining options for those looking to eat a little lighter (sushi, raw bar, hamachi tacos, toro tartare) or for those looking to splurge on pan-Asian riffs of bar food (pork belly bao, five-spice wings, dim sum).

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Those not in the mood to nosh have no fear, as Morimoto Asia is also doing its part to showcase one of the truly misunderstood spirits in the world, sake.

Morimoto Asia not only features a variety of Chef Morimoto’s signature label sake, but also a vast offering of other sake that represent the different classes (gingo, junmai, daigingo, honjozo, junmai gingo and junmai daigingo) plus tokubetzo junmai and a variety of speciality sakes (including cedar aged, a sparkling and a sparkling rose) – something not commonly found in US restaurants.

For those not ready to drink the rice wine straight, just yet, the Forbidden Lounge cocktail menu offers several sake-cocktails including the Morimotini (Grey Goose vodka, junmai Morimoto), White Lily (sudachi shochu, calpico, yuzu), Ishikawa 75 (ginjo sake, plum wine and sparkling wine) and sake sangria (asian pears, apple plum, tangerine juice, sake, light white wine, plum wine) which is great for a group as it serves 3-4 people.

To add just a little more flair to the party, the Forbidden Lounge also features some unique entertainment in the form of an up-close magician and a palm reader, for those looking to be a little more adventurous. In the coming weeks they will also offer table-top shuffleboard, perfect for the guests looking to enjoy the cooler temps on the second-level outdoor patio.

Gift Card Special to Morimoto Asia

Morimoto Asia currently has a program in place where anyone that spends $100 or more on a Morimoto Asia gift card will receive an opening day and limited edition Morimoto Asia menu hand-signed by Iron Chef Morimoto.

As a part of this promotion, Morimoto Asia has partnered with us to do a giveaway of one of these limited edition Morimoto Asia menu hand signed by Chef Morimoto himself.

Morimoto Asia signed menu

 

GIVEAWAY – Morimoto Asia Menu signed by Chef Morimoto

Enter by responding in the comments below. One winner will be chosen randomly from the answers. Contest Ends December 23rd, 2015 at 12pm. We will contact the winner via e-mail! Good luck.

Questions – answer all to enter to win.

1. What is in a Morimotini?

2. Where is Forbidden Lounge located?

3. What would you most want to eat at Morimoto Asia?

In 2007, David Song, a University of Florida student earning a degree in business administration and philosophy, found his way into the kitchen of an emerging Japanese restaurant called Dragonfly Sushi, working as an entry-level sushi chef at Dragonfly Gainesville.

In 2010, he relocated to Orlando to work at Dragonfly Robata, the brand’s second concept.

Chef David Song
Chef David Song

As an advocate of sustainable practices, Song focuses on imported fish flown in daily from Japan, along with locally-sourced produce when developing new menu items and ideas for the seasonal Omakase menu.

The Omakase–meaning to trust–menu creates meaningful connections with food and beverage choices: It starts with guests trusting in the chefs and bartenders to create selections inspired by their moods.

Today, Song lives up to Dragonfly’s mission of bringing joy and fulfillment to patrons through a full-service dining experience that encompasses the kitchen and bar. When Song isn’t behind the counter, he is traveling to gain inspiration, while eating at local favorites throughout the state of Florida.

What are your favorite dishes at Dragonfly to cook and eat?
Chef David Song: My favorite dish to prepare is our sashimi passion. Sushi was always my first love in the restaurant and this dish gives me the freedom to be creative with my plate up. I spent many years honing my knife skills so when I get an opportunity to display them, I really try to go all out. My favorite dish to eat is our shio saba off the robata grill. The grill is amazing at locking in great flavor and cooks the mackerel to perfection. With a light brush of yuzu butter and daikon oroshi, it’s easily my favorite dish to eat.

Favorite place to eat outside of Dragonfly?
Chef David Song: Does my mother’s house count? Honestly, I enjoy casual dining places because for me, food has always been a reason to gather with friends and family. My favorite place to eat at the moment would probably be Lee and Ricks Oyster Bar.

Upcoming plans include:
New Year’s Eve event
Sushi Classes – December 19, January 23
Valentine’s Day at Dragonfly – Feb 14

Dragonfly is opening up in Doral with a brand new fish market concept inspired by authentic Tsukiji market in Japan.

I’ve been a part of the research and development project –helping where I can with menu items and restaurant build out–but the bulk of the work has really been done by our Culinary Director Chef Ray Leung and our President Hirofumi Leung.

I will be part of the opening team to help train and ensure we develop a great culture so we can provide the most memorable dining experience for our guests.

Interesting Facts?

Chef David Song: I have a hidden passion for motorcycles. I figure everyone has a place to go, so you might as well have a little excitement getting there. I’m also big into do-it-yourself projects. I always try and fix it myself before I call the professionals. I don’t always succeed but I learn a ton.

Lastly, if I could golf everyday, I would. Nothing beats a relaxing day on the golf course with your buddies.

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Dragonfly Robata Grill & Sushi (7972 Via Dellagio Way) will be hosting their second Behind the Knife: Sushi Class on Saturday, December 19.

Priced at $60 per person, guests can expect to learn to roll four different types of sushi rolls with Chef de Cuisine David Song.

During the course, guests will learn about the tools of the trade, both ancient and new.

Chef Song will provide his students with the tips, tricks and techniques it takes to make perfect sushi rice, and how to recognize sushi-grade fish based on color, texture and smell.

Designed to be an experience, a champagne aperitif and floating hors d’oeuvres are included.

The bar will also be available with rare Japanese whiskeys, sake, shochu and any of your favorite cocktails a la carte. Check-in will be at 11:30 a.m. with the class starting at 12 p.m.

Dragonfly Sushi Class

Dragonfly Sushi Class 2

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After finally reaching some agreements with the City of Orlando, Uber is partnering with some of the hottest restaurants in Orlando to provide their riders with access to secret Uber exclusive menus for their first “Uber Restaurant Week”. Restaurants involved include The Osprey Tavern, The Ravenous Pig, Swine and Sons, and more.

See below for more information from Uber on this week’s special event:

———————

It’s the most wonderful time of the year . . . Uber Restaurant Week in Orlando.

This week, Uber is partnering with some of the hottest restaurants in Orlando to provide our riders with access to secret, Uber-exclusive menus in a first-of-its-kind Restaurant Week promotion.


HOW IT WORKS

  • Ride with Uber to one of the participating restaurants (listed below) between now and Friday (12/11).
  • Show your Uber ride receipt to your server to receive the special, Uber-exclusive menu
  • Enjoy your sure-to-be incredible dinner, tweet a photo of your meal to@Uber_Florida using #UberFoodie, and then start planning which restaurant you’ll visit tomorrow

Participating Restaurants:

If your mouth isn’t watering already, take a look at the all-star lineup of participating restaurants—and the actual menus—we’re rolling out for you this week:

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WHEN

Monday, December 7 – Friday, December 11. Restaurant hours vary daily and by participating restaurant.

QUOTES

“Orlando has so many excellent dining options these days, so it’s great to partner with Uber to connect tourists and  locals with all the best restaurants. We’re looking forward to Orlando Restaurant Week  and have  delicious menus planned for Uber  riders at all three Swine Family venues.”  -Julie Petrakis, Chef/owner at  The Ravenous Pig, Cask & Larder  and  Swine & Sons

“Our  commitment  to  the   Central  Florida  economy goes  beyond providing  safe,  reliable transportation options  and  extends to  finding  new,  innovative  ways to  engage both  riders and   local  business.   Restaurant  week   is  an   opportunity  to  partner with  local  Orlando businesses while also providing an additional value to riders for a new opportunity to explore the great restaurants that  their city has to offer.” -Christine Mitchell, General Manager for Uber in Orlando

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World of Beer in Downtown Orlando on Lake Eola has had their tavern food menu debut months ago.

Since opening its first tavern in Tampa, Florida, in 2007, WOB has grown to more than 70 locations in 20 states.

Now, it’s time for UCF’s own World of Beer, one of the first World of Beer locations outside of Tampa to begin food service as well.

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Currently, World of Beer offers over 500 craft beers and 40 rotating taps daily, but soon the “tavern” menu will roll out to all their locations.

Priced between $5 and $15, it’s not your typical pub bar food as you may surmise, but rather, a form of elevated bar food.

“The ‘Tavern Fare’ menu is part of an extensive renovation to the WOB-UCF Area tavern,” said Jeff Schilling general manager. “We now boast a 400-square foot kitchen and are looking forward to serving flavorsome food and beer pairings to all our guests.”

Here are some of the menu highlights, which changes seasonally:

o Black and Blue Flatbread— Blackened steak comes topped with caramelized onions, mushrooms, mozzarella and blue cheeses, fresh arugula and a sweet balsamic glaze.

o Chimay Burger — This half-pound, all-beef patty is made with Chimay classic cheese imported from Belgium. The cheese is made by the Trappist Monks of the Chimay Creamery, where Chimay Beer is also brewed. The burger is topped with sauce that is infused with Chimay White Triple Beer, sautéed onions and mushrooms.

o Guinness Brat Sliders — Guinness-infused bratwursts served on a warm pretzel rolls with caramelized onions and peppers with tangy Dijon.

o Chicken Pesto Sandwich — Beer-brined grilled chicken breasts topped with mozzarella cheese, basil and pine nut pesto and arugula, come served on a lightly toasted basil focaccia.

Here is our list of the top 5 items to try at World of Beer UCF:

SONY DSC o German Pretzel— The pretzel’s original Bavarian recipe was created by Germany’s most sought-after artisan pretzel baker, Ossi Piller, and dates back more than 100 years. A giant Bavarian pretzel baked soft on the inside, crispy on the outside & salted. Served with house-made stone ground mustard and local beer cheese.

SONY DSC o SPRING GREENS & KALE SALAD – Fresh spring greens & kale with goat cheese, apples, sweet pickled red onions & candied pecans tossed in a house-made Framboise vinaigrette

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o Sriracha Lime Shrimp Tacos — Beer battered shrimp tossed in WOB’s homemade Sriracha lime aioli, served on tortillas with roasted corn, tomato salsa, shredded lettuce, and fresh cilantro.

SONY DSC o ARTISAN SAUSAGE BOARD – Trio of jalapeño cheddar, cracked black pepper & hickory smoked
sausages. Served with spicy pickled green beans, peppadew peppers & our house-made stone ground mustard.

SONY DSC o Belgian Waffle S’Mores— Fresh-baked, beer-infused Belgian waffles served with toasted marshmallows, Kahlúa fudge sauce, graham cracker crumbles and powdered sugar.

WOB- UCF will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. daily. Major credit cards are accepted. For more information, visit http://worldofbeer.com/Locations/UCFArea .

Chef's Spotlight

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by Emily Brainard Chef Joseph Burnett of The Osprey Tavern in Baldwin Park was recently awarded the accolades of Best Chef and Best New Restaurant...

Featured Articles

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by Emily Brainard Chef Joseph Burnett of The Osprey Tavern in Baldwin Park was recently awarded the accolades of Best Chef and Best New Restaurant...