Chicken

Recognized as the region’s premier food and wine pairing event, the 26th Heart of Florida United Way Chef’s Gala at Walt Disney World Resort featured unlimited sampling of signature dishes prepared by 23 of Central Florida’s top chefs, along with thoughtfully paired fine wines.  The evening also included a sparking wine reception, live music and a silent auction filled with unique items and trips. 

This year they served over 460,000 individuals and raised a record-breaking $300,000+ towards the fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Central Florida.  95 cents of every dollar raised is invested back into the community to fund critical programs.

Chef’s Gala – what a tasteful way to make a difference in the world!

All beverages were generously donated.

All silent auction items were generously donated.

Live performance by an amazing band

Flying Fish – Disney’s BoardWalk: Chef LT Majoras
Cool Water Lobster and Slow Poached Shrimp, Spring Melon, Hearts of Palm, Shaved Serrano and Cava Vinaigrette

SLATE: Chef Jacob Woolf
Smoked Brisket, Jalapeño Creamed Corn, Charred Scallion Vinaigrette and Annatto Oil

Artist Point – Disney’s Wilderness Lodge: Chef Michael Gonsalves
Sweet Maiz Soup – Dungeness Crab, Avocado, Spring Radish, Ramp Mole, Greens

Urban Tide – Hyatt Regency Orlando: Chef Chef Jared Gross
Plantain-Crusted Atlantic Cod, Roasted Red Beet and Crème Fraiche Mash, Kumquat Mostarda

Todd English’s bluezoo – Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort: Chef Jason Wiggin
Crispy Puffed Rice Shrimp, Wasabi Pommes Puree, Sweet Thai Chili

Shutters – Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort: Chef Mark Donovan
Caribbean Goat Curry with Fragrant Island Rice and Cilantro-Lime Crema

Hemisphere – Hyatt Regency Orlando: Chef Jeffrey Powell
Chilled California-Style White Fish Ceviche with House Fried Corn Chips

Ale & Compass Restaurant – Disney’s  Beach Club Resort: Chef David Hutnick
Slow Smoked Pork Tenderloin, Bacon Jam, Vermont Cheddar Grits, Barbecue Gastrique and Herb Salad

The Turf Club Bar and Grill – Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa: Chef Dan Marozzi
Pan Seared Salmon Slider – Seared Ora King Salmon, Horseradish Pickled Cucumber Slaw, on a Dill Gougère

blu on the avenue: Chef Tony Krueger
Hot Smoked Scottish Salmon, Dukkah Drop Biscuit, Bacon, Pickled Serrano, Aged Maple Syrup, Flowers

Morimoto Asia – Disney Springs: Chef Yuhi Fujinaga
Foie “PHO”, Kona Kanpachi, Shiso

Latitude and Longitude – Orlando World Center Marriott: Chef Kyle Anderson
Low-Country Perloo Carolina Gold Rice, Chicken Thighs, Andouille Sausage, Florida Rock Shrimp

The Hollywood Brown Derby – Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Chef Craig Schleider
Spicy Togarashi – Crusted Ahi Tuna, House-Made Kimchi, Bamboo Rice and Ginger-Soy Glaze

STK Orlando – Disney Springs: Chef Aaron Taylor
Goat’s Milk Ricotta with Crushed Peas, Mint and Charred Spring Onion

Jiko – The Cooking Place – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge: Chef Eddie Mendoza
Mandazi

Jiko – The Cooking Place – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge: Chef Eddie Mendoza
Isitambu – Zulu-Style Samp, Beans with Oxtail and Quail Egg

Tiffins – Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park: Chef Robby Sayles
Blanquette de Veau, Crispy Sweetbreads, Forest Mushroom Ragout and Charred Pearl Onion

 

Le Cellier Steakhouse – Epcot®: Chef Kevin Downing
Lamb Loin, Confit Marble Potatoes, Spring Vegetable Vinaigrette and Pinot Noir Syrup

Primo by Melissa Kelly – J.W. Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes: Chef Eric Santiago
House-Made Casarecche Pasta, Lake Meadows Duck Confit, Local Mushrooms, Ramp Pesto and Shaved Pecorino

Bull & Bear – Waldorf Astoria Orlando: Chef Richard Brown
Seared Shrimp Scampi with Pinot Grigio Butter, Black Venus Rice Risotto and Parmesan Cheese

Cinderella’s Royal Table – MAGIC KINGDOM Park: Chef Axel Martinez
Blood Orange Braised Beef Short Rib, Melted Leek and Kohlrabi Puree and Sweetie Drop Peppers

Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company: Roast Master Chris DeMezzo
Made-to-Order Specialty Coffees

Amorette’s Patisserie – Disney Springs: Pastry Chef Yoly Lazo Colon
Amorette’s Petite Signature Cake – Chocolate Chiffon, Raspberry Pate Fruit, Red Velvet Cake, Chocolate Biscuit, Dark Chocolate and Cherry Mousse

Gideon’s Bakehouse: Owner Steve Lewis and Chef Nicole Beebe
Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie and Pistachio Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie

Epcot® Bakery Team: Pastry Chef Noah French
Meyer Lemon Tart with Mandarin Orange Jam

Beautiful and breathtaking fireworks are the perfect way to end an amazing night.  Be sure to check out this amazing event next year!

(Source credit: Chef’s Gala)

Chef’s Gala – Epcot Showplace
200 Epcot Center Dr, Orlando, FL 32821
(407) 939-5277
ChefsGala.org

Kevin Pabis, son of local food bloggers Richard and Irina Pabis (@celebritychef4u).

We were invited to Main Event Entertainment to eat, bowl, and play!  The food offerings were all delicious!  You have to try their Skillet Mac & Cheese which consists of cavatappi pasta, grilled chicken, applewood smoked bacon, creamy blend of melted cheeses, green onions topped with CHEEZ-IT crumbs.  CHEEZ-IT are one of my life-long favorite snacks.  Throw some of its crumbs on top of a loaded-baked chicken/bacon mac & cheese and you’re golden.

Tomato Caprese Skewers – served with balsamic drizzle (these were super popular at our table, a blogger’s son said that it was his favorite dish!)

Calamari – zesty marinara sauce and fresh shaved parmesan cheese

Chicken Quesadilla – grilled chicken, jack & cheddar cheese, chipotle mayo &fresh made pico de Gallo (this was my mom’s favorite dish!)

Roast Beef Dippers– shaved roast beef, horseradish mayo, lettuce, tomato, red onion served on buttery garlic knot bun

Italian Pesto Pizza – fresh basil, roasted potatoes, caramelized onions, creamy basil pesto,feta, mozzarella & provolone cheese

Assorted Dessert Bars – lemon, raspberry rhapsody, pecan chocolate chip, & caramel, oatmeal

Cinnamon Sugar Donuts – with salted caramel and raspberry sauce

A variety of gelato.

Billards.

VIP bowling lanes.

Bar area with alcoholic beverage options.

Bowling alley.

A variety of arcade games.  Everyday deal:  1/2 price games 10pm to close.

Local food bloggers Ashelyn Vazquez (@orlandomag) with her guest, and Sean (@orlandofoodguys).

Samantha (@samantheah) & Mattia Joyce Castellano (@mattia_joyce) racing on the motorcycles

Carolina Grabova (@carolinagrabova) plays a racing game for her instagram story.

My favorite game at the arcade was their zombie-killing game in the first ever roam-free virtual reality room.  I don’t have a photo of it but I do have a video clip of it on my instagram (@bytiffanynguyen). Imagine a game that doesn’t feel like a game.  Where your body is the controller and your mind believes it’s real.  It was so realistic that other attendees were seriously spooked after they finished playing!  I enjoyed playing it though and I am looking forward to coming back and playing it again.  Be sure to check out Main Event Entertainment next time you are in the I-Drive area to experience the zombie-killing game for yourself!

(Source credit: Main Event Entertainment)

Main Event Entertainment – Pointe Orlando
9101 International Dr Suite 1032, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 352-3300
mainevent.com

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I try not to cover national chains too much here too much, but once in a while a novel item appears in the wild and I am intrigued.

Recently, Domino’s Pizza launched its first new menu item since Handmade Pan Pizza in September 2012 – the specialty chicken, kind of a breadless pizza using chicken breast instead of bread topped with cheese and different toppings and sauces

The four unique flavors offered include Crispy Bacon & Tomato, Spicy Jalapeno-Pineapple, Classic Hot Buffalo and Sweet BBQ Bacon.

I got a chance to try the Crispy Bacon and Tomato Specialty Chicken along with the Spicy Jalapeno-Pineapple Specialty Chicken recently with a special delivery from the folks at Domino’s.

Overall, I was quite impressed – it offers a “low carb” option for those who are trying to avoid bread and looking for protein, and tastes just like what you’d imagine a pizza would taste if it was made with chicken breast instead of dough.

The Crispy bacon and tomato one had more of a tomato taste than the bacon, but was good. I would go for sausage or pepperoni next time if that was possible. The Spicy jalapeno pineapple was a bit too sweet for my tastes, but the spice from the jalapenos were nice.

My advice to Domino’s – maybe come up with a more catchy name as “specialty chicken” just seems a bit too vague or not memorable and…add more toppings!

What lies beneath?
What lies beneath?
  Spicy Jalapeno-Pineapple
Spicy Jalapeno-Pineapple
Crispy Bacon & Tomato
Crispy Bacon & Tomato

Chicken and Waffles with Bourbon Maple syrup at The Coop

Update: Saturday April 19, 2014 –

The Coop has officially opened! Here are a few shots from our recent visit on a Saturday afternoon. The line, of course, was out the door…

The hours are:

Monday – Friday
11-2 and 5-9

Saturday
11-9

Sunday – Closed

The phone number is: 1-407-THE-COOP ((407) 843-2667) – They are not taking to -go orders yet, so you’ll have to wait in line for now!

Looking at the line at the Coop
Looking at the line at the Coop
Outdoor line
Outdoor line
Interior of The Coop - mismatched chairs and tables, family settings...
Interior of The Coop – mismatched chairs and tables, family settings…
The line at The Coop, inside!
The line at The Coop, inside!
Counter service - reminded me of Boston Market a little bit...
Counter service – reminded me of Boston Market a little bit…
The menu in the back.
The menu in the back.
I think it would help to label the dishes
I think it would help to label the dishes
Assembly line / Fast Casual concept
Assembly line / Fast Casual concept
Fried Chicken with Cinnamon bread pudding and mac-n-cheese sides at The Coop - the chicken was a bit too peppery today
Fried Chicken with Cinnamon bread pudding and mac-n-cheese sides at The Coop.
Shrimp N Grits
Shrimp N Grits with Tasso Ham
The Fried Seafood Basket at The Coop
The Fried Seafood Basket at The Coop
My friend's Fried Green Tomatoes and Mac-N-Cheese
My friend’s Fried Green Tomatoes and Mac-N-Cheese
Chicken n Waffles and watermelon from The Coop
Chicken n Waffles and watermelon from The Coop

Overall impressions on first visit, definitely worth a try, despite some missteps. The assembly line nature at the counter could be improved to enhance overall experience – it all seemed a bit rushed once getting to the front. The fried chicken was a bit too dry and there seemed to be a bit of a heavy hand with the black pepper today. The mac and cheese was fabulous, though, as was the shrimp and grits with tasso ham. I am sure they will figure out all the kinks and have a lot of success in the coming days, though.

The menu

Photo Apr 19, 4 28 40 PM

Photo Apr 19, 4 28 18 PM

Photo Apr 19, 4 28 25 PM

Photo Apr 19, 4 28 32 PM

—————————————–
Original Date posted – February 13, 2014

For the past year or so, Chef John Rivers of 4 Rivers Smokehouse has been quietly tilling away at the kitchen in search of the perfect recipe for fried chicken, quietly testing his recipes and hatching ideas in creating a new refined Southern menu for The Coop (http://asouthernaffair.com/), and the results are astounding.

To say my mind was blown when tasting some of the dishes at a recent preview of the menu is an understatement. The chicken and biscuit, for example, may sound innocuous at first, but the fried chicken, made with dark thigh meat instead of white breast meat – which tends to be dry, was tender and juicy while the biscuit itself was a little sweet and fluffy and together with the bourbon maple syrup – it was divine. I do reckon that bourbon maple syrup that they’ve come up with is going to be a favorite in any Southern kitchen for years to come.

Chicken and biscuits made with juicy fried dark chicken thigh meat
Chicken and biscuits made with juicy fried dark chicken thigh meat

John Rivers wants The Coop to be a place known for its refined, not “gourmet”, Southern comfort food, something that you’d feel welcome to eating at home on your porch on a weekend Florida afternoon, with dishes like the low country shrimp and grits, made with savory, flavorful grits cooked in a chicken/shrimp broth and tender sausage and tasso ham made from a home recipe. The menu has hints of both New Orleans Cajun cuisine and Carolinas low country southern food from the shrimp po boy sandwiches to the Charleston Shrimp Perloo, a dirty rice dish that’s a cousin of the jambalaya and more distantly the Spanish paella. The Coop is much more than about just fried chicken.

No wonder Visit Orlando – the official Tourism Bureau for Central Florida – among its list of “Top 10 Reasons for Visiting Orlando in 2014” included The Coop, the only local restaurant among a sea of theme park attractions and developments. Get ready for a very delightful March when The Coop opens its doors in Winter Park for the first time – it will be a year for fried chicken all around. The phone number is 407-The-COOP and the address is 610 West Morse Boulevard, Winter Park, FL 32789 – I suggest you bookmark it in your GPS/Google Maps now. The COOP will be open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and will be closed on Sundays. For more information, visit www.asouthernaffair.com.

Chef John Rivers presenting the Coop's Chicken and Waffles
Chef John Rivers presenting the Coop’s Chicken and Waffles
Chicken and Waffles with Bourbon Maple syrup at The Coop
Chicken and Waffles with Bourbon Maple syrup at The Coop
Shrimp Po Boy, influenced by New Orleans cajun cuisine
Shrimp Po Boy, influenced by New Orleans cajun cuisine
Charleston Shrimp Perloo - a rice dish from the Carolinas
Charleston Shrimp Perloo – a rice dish from the Carolinas
The Coop's Deviled Eggs
The Coop’s Deviled Eggs
Broccoli salad with cranberries, pine nuts, red onion
Broccoli salad with cranberries, pine nuts, red onion

SONY DSC
Low Country Shrimp and Grits with house made Tasso ham and sausage

Mac and 3 Cheeses - Gruyere, Parmesan, and Cheddar cheese
Mac and 3 Cheeses – Gruyere, Parmesan, and Cheddar cheese
Creamed corn fixin'
Creamed corn fixin’
Cornbread - really good - fluffy, light, sweet, some flakes of corn detected
Cornbread – really good – fluffy, light, sweet, some flakes of corn detected
Possible Menu at the Coop
Possible Menu at the Coop

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

PImento cheese, a southern classic
PImento cheese, a southern classic
Chicken Pot pie, so cute so little, so delicious
Chicken Pot pie, so cute so little, so delicious
Fried okra, very delicate fry
Fried okra, very delicate fry
Whoopie Pies - red velvet cake, peanut butter, and more
Whoopie Pies – red velvet cake, peanut butter, and more

SONY DSC

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The Coop: A Southern Affair on Urbanspoon

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