Events

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PRESS RELEASE:

Eat, Sip, Meet James Beard Award-Winning Cookbook Authors/Chefs
Art Smith and Norman Van Aken at
10th Annual ‘Reading between the Wines’ Event April 12
Adult Literacy League Fundraiser at Orlando Science Center Serves Community

ORLANDO, Fla. (March 13, 2017) – James Beard Foundation award-winning cookbook authors and celebrity chefs Art Smith and Norman Van Aken headline the 10th annual “Reading between the Wines” Adult Literacy League of Central Florida fundraiser April 12, 2017 from 6-9 p.m. The event at Orlando Science Center is presented by Bank of America.

Two of the country’s most renowned culinary artists and celebrity cookbook authors, Smith and Van Aken will engage in a lively discussion moderated by local author Bob Morris. Central Florida News 13 feature reporter and anchor Allison Walker-Torres will emcee the evening.


Smith and Van Aken will share their take on Florida’s distinctive larder and harvests. Covering topics ranging from pecans and mangoes to beef to seafood, these masters of Florida fare will dish with the audience and sign books at the event celebrated for its generous food and wine offerings by some of Orlando’s top restaurants.

During the festive three-hour event, guests can mix and mingle while enjoying savory and sweet tapas-sized noshes by Swine & Sons, 4Rivers Smokehouse and The Coop, Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant of Disney Springs, Carmel Café, Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse at Hyatt Regency Orlando, The Palm and Olde Hearth Bread Co. Art Smith’s new Homecomin’ Florida Kitchen at Disney Springs and the new 1921 by Norman Van Aken in Mount Dora, also will feature signature bites. Darden Restaurants and its suppliers and PRP Wine International will provide wines to pair with the food. Guest also can bid on silent auction items that include everything from theme park tickets to resort spa and restaurant packages.

All event proceeds will support Adult Literacy League (ALL) programs and services designed to build a literate community. ALL provides one-to-one tutoring and classes to more than 1,000 adults on a weekly basis, plus books and learning materials to 600 preschoolers in low-income families each year.
Tickets for the event are on sale now. Individual tickets are $90; a $600 Connoisseur’s Table includes four event tickets, a reserved cocktail table, two gift bottles of wine and recognition as a sponsor in the event program.

When the sipping, noshing and bidding wind down, guests can grab a seat to hear from event headliners Smith and Van Aken.

Norman Van Aken is “the founding father of New World Cuisine,” a celebration of Latin, Caribbean, Asian, African and American flavors. He also is known internationally for introducing the concept of “fusion” to the culinary world. He is on the James Beard list of “Who’s Who in American Food and Beverage,” and his Orlando restaurant “NORMAN’S” was nominated as a finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Restaurant in America.” He was even named a James Beard Foundation semi-finalist for “Best Chef in America.”

Van Aken has published five cookbooks and one memoir: Feast of Sunlight 1988, The Exotic Fruit Book 1995, Norman’s New World Cuisine 1997, New World Kitchen 2003 and My Key West Kitchen 2012 (with Justin Van Aken), No Experience Necessary, The Culinary Odyssey of Chef Norman Van Aken, 2013 and My Florida Kitchen (with Janet Van Aken) 2016. His radio show, “A Word on Food,” appears twice a week on NPR station WLRN 91.3 FM. He has appeared on television, including on CNN, Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations,” and Jimmy Kimmel Live. He is the Chef-Owner of “NORMAN’S at the Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes, Orlando.” His new venture is a Cooking School, “In the Kitchen with Norman Van Aken,” in partnership with Candace Walsh, being built on Biscayne in Miami. 1921 by Norman Van Aken is located in Mount Dora, Fla.

Art Smith has received the culinary profession’s highest awards and has cooked for some of the world’s most famous celebrities. In 1997, Smith became the personal, day-to-day chef to Oprah Winfrey, a position he kept for 10 years. Now, he coordinates and cooks for events all around the world. Smith was honored by Chicago magazine as a Chicagoan of the Year in 2007 and is a two-time James Beard Foundation award winner. In 2008 Chef Art Smith received an Honorary MBA Degree, awarded by the Dedman School of Hospitality at Florida State University and was inducted into the Chicago Culinary Museum’s Hall of Fame in 2010. He has made numerous television appearances including on Iron Chef America, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Nightline, Fox News, Extra, Entertainment Tonight, BBQ Pitmasters, The Dr. Oz Show and The Oprah Winfrey Show.
He is also the author of award-winning cookbooks: Back to the Table, Kitchen Life: Real Food for Real Families, Back to the Family, and Art Smith’s Healthy Comfort, which focuses on healthy cooking and healthy living.

Chefs Art and Norman will sign books following their question-and-answer period.
Visit www.adultliteracyleague.org for more information. To purchase tickets to Reading between the Wines call 407/422-1540, ext. 111 or click on http://www.adultliteracyleague.org/buy-tickets/ .

The Adult Literacy League (ALL) was created by a group of dedicated volunteers in 1968 and, since then, has helped thousands of adults 18 and older gain employment and economic self-sufficiency through one-on-one tutoring and classes in reading, writing, math, computer skills and other key studies. ALL holds classes in Adult Basic Education (ABE) and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), and its Family Literacy program teaches parents to become the first and most effective teacher in their children’s lives. When an adult cannot read, it is a detriment not only to the individual, but also to our community. ALL’s Reading between the Wines event was designed to raise awareness, funds and friends so we can continue to change people’s lives through literacy. For more information and to purchase tickets to the event, please call Gina Solomon at 407-422-1540 ext. 111.

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Photos by Negin Alimohammadi

Chef Hari Pulapaka of Cress Restaurant in Deland recently hosted an outdoor family style meal for 300 featuring the cuisines of the 7 countries who are part of the Trump administration’s immigration ban – Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

Here are a few scenes from the dinner captured by our good friend, Negin, who herself is an Iranian national who has lived here for the past 6 years as an engineer and who was personally effected by the immigration ban on her way back to Orlando from a family visit to Iran.

Chef Hari

Guests who attended could taste “deeply flavoured stews, herbaceous sauces, rustic breads, aromatic rice dishes, and complementing side dishes.”

“My goal is to present the meal with dishes from many countries during the same course to illustrate that there are few rules and most dishes complement each other and that the power of food as a great equalizer, at a communal table, is a lesson for the ages,” said Chef Hari Pulapaka in a recent interview.

The benefit dinner raised over $10,000 for International Rescue Committee (rescue.org), a global humanitarian aid, relief and development nongovernmental organization. Founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein, the IRC offers emergency aid and long-term assistance to refugees and those displaced by war, persecution or natural disaster.

Menu
Couscous with carrots, beets, broccoli and cauliflower (Syria)
Lamb maraq (Somalia)
Saffron rice pudding, rose water, dates (Iran)
Polow with saffron, raisins and cashews (Iran)
Roasted corvina with spices and olive oil (Iraq)
Wagyu beef and potato kubba (Iraq)



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Ninth Annual Downtown Food & Wine Fest at Lake Eola Set for February 25 and 26, 2017

ORLANDO, Fla. (January 20, 2017) – The Ninth Annual Downtown Food & Wine Fest is set for Saturday, February 25 and Sunday, February 26, 2017 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 ofOrlando’s premier restaurants, 50 domestic and international wines and live entertainment.  A portion of the proceeds benefit UCF Foundation, Inc. and Valencia Foundation.

Headline entertainers include Gavin DeGraw and KC and The Sunshine Band. Additional live music artists to be announced onwww.downtownfoodandwinefest.com.

Date / Time: Saturday, February 25 (noon to 9 p.m.) and Sunday, February 26, 2017 (noon to 7 p.m.)

Location: Located in the heart of downtown Orlando at Lake Eola along Robinson Street

 

Fest Admission: 

 One-Day General Admission

Admission is $20 per person, per day with advance online purchase. Admission at the door is $25 per person, per day.

Two-Day General Admission

For all-weekend Fest fans, a two-day ticket is available for $35 per person with advance online purchase.

Wine Tasters Club

A limited number of Wine Tasters Club passes will be available for purchase for $20 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 $115 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 & Beverage Tickets:

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

“One of my favorite things about Downtown Orlando is the variety of restaurants and event options,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “The Downtown Food & Wine Fest combines both by adding to the array of event options residents and visitors can attend, as well as, helping to enhance the vibrancy of the area all the while increasing awareness of our local businesses and strengthening economic growth in the area.”

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 Orlando Downtown Development Board (DDB), restaurateurs, foodies and fans will come together to celebrate the sights, sounds and tastes of Orlando.”

Top restaurants are scheduled to present culinary tastings to complete in the Golden Fork Awards as honored by a panel of Orlando elected officials, food writers and reporters and celebrity chefs.

2016 Foodie Award:Baoery’s Asian Tacos

2016 Sweet Treat Award:Siro Urban Kitchen’s Black Cherry Liquid Nitro Gelato with Balsamic Drizzle

2016 Best of Show:Primo by Chef Melissa Kelly

 

Stay Connected

For more information on the Downtown Food & Wine Fest:

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Sonny’s BBQ to Host National BBQ Competition and Festival in Central Florida
Winter Park-based BBQ chain to host second annual Sonny’ s Smokin’ Showdown

The third largest BBQ chain in the country is back with its highly anticipated Smokin’ Showdown Invitational BBQ competition and festival, inviting visitors from across the country to for a full day of BBQ amongst the nation’s top Pitmasters.

On January 14, Sonny’s BBQ is hosting its second annual Smokin’ Showdown Invitational at the Central Florida Zoo (3755 US-17, SANFORD, FL 32771).

The Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown BBQ competition and large-scale festival is designed to make Florida a BBQ destination by bringing BBQ enthusiasts from across the country to Central Florida for a full day of live music, family fun and delicious BBQ. While attendees watch more than 50 professional BBQ competition teams and taste their award-winning recipes, Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown attendees may also participate in rib and donut eating contests and enjoy live music, featuring Frankie Ballard at the family friendly festival.

The invitation-only competition brings together the nation’s top Pitmasters in one arena for an epic BBQ battle.

Teams are judged on five different meat categories: chicken, ribs, pork, brisket and a mystery meat, which will be announced at the event.

The grand champion team will receive $20,000. The total prize pool totals $68,000.

“The Smokin’ Showdown celebrates what we’re all about; good BBQ and great company,” said Montana Coleman, Co-Organizer of Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown. “We look forward to seeing these talented Pitmasters showcase their skills in our home state of Florida.”

Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown will host local vendors, family-fun activities and musical performances by top country artists, including Hayfire, Rockit Fly and Jill’s Cashbox. The headliner will be Frankie Ballard. The event is $5, kids 10 and under are free.

For more information about Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown, please visit sonnysshowdown.com. For more information about Sonny’s BBQ, visit sonnysbbq.com.

Event Schedule
7:30 AM
Judges Check-In
8:30 AM
Judges Meeting (Mandatory)
12:00 PM
Kid’s Donut Eating Contest
12:30 PM
Cooking Demo
1:00 PM
Rib Eating Contest
1:30 PM
Cooking Demo
2:30 PM
Meet the Masters
3:00 PM
Live Music: Hayfire
5:00 PM
Live Music: Rockit Fly
6:00 PM
Awards Ceremony
7:15 PM
Live Music: Jill’s Cashbox
8:30 PM
Live Music: Frankie Ballard

“In 1968, we were just a local BBQ joint in Gainesville, Florida. Today, we’re still a local BBQ joint. We just happen to be in a few more locations. But we still do things the same way Floyd “Sonny” Tillman and his wife, Lucille, did back then. We still slow-smoke over oak for up to 12 hours at a time. We still serve generous portions. And we still believe people should be able to go out to eat and feel right at home.” – Sonny’s BBQ Team

About Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown
Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown Invitational is a national BBQ competition hosted by Sonny’s BBQ and sanctioned by the Florida Barbecue Association. Taking place at the Central Florida Zoo on January 14, this competition and large-scale festival is designed to bring BBQ enthusiasts from all over the country to the heart of Florida for a full day of live music, family fun and delicious BBQ.

First of its kind in the area, Sonny’s BBQ created the Smokin’ Showdown to share its passion and expertise with the BBQ community, as well as provide a platform for Pitmasters to showcase their talents alongside some of the best in the business. Last year, Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown had about 10,000 attendees and close to 50 competing teams.

About Sonny’s BBQ®
With 113 locations throughout the southeast, Sonny’s BBQ® is one of the largest and most popular barbecue restaurant companies in the country. The Daily Meal has named Sonny’s BBQ the Best Barbecue Chain in America for the last two years. Floyd “Sonny” Tillman and his wife, Lucille founded Sonny’s BBQ in 1968 in Gainesville, Fla. in hopes of creating a local BBQ joint for their community to enjoy. Forty-eight years later, Sonny’s BBQ continues to be just that – a passionate BBQ brand constantly perfecting the craft of BBQ. For more information and to find the Sonny’s BBQ location closest to you, please visit: www.sonnysbbq.com.

 

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Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram

Every year, Wat Florida Dhammaram, a Thai Theravada Buddhist monastery and temple in Kissimmee, Florida, hosts the Taste of Thailend festival. I’m embarrassed to admit this is the first time I’ve attended though it is the 15th year of celebration. Thai restaurants and local families from all over Florida come to this temple to sell food and fundraise for the temple. Entrance is $12 and it’s all you can eat. From pad thai noodles to pork and sticky rice, to chicken satay and Thai tea and more – you can pretty much try a wide range of tasty Thai food while you are here.

Two menacing Buddhist protector guardian dieties stand guard over the main meditation hall where a gold plated Buddha sits. Various statues and scenes from Buddhist literature can be found around the sprawling temple grounds, like a statue of Buddha’s mother Maya standing over a baby Buddha.

Performances and dances take place on the main stage while visitors line up to nosh at the many booths set up around the temple.

One of my favorite items that I tried was the Thai rice crepes with sweet coconut and this coconut rice dessert. Everything was quite tasty, though. Check out photos below:

Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram
Taste of Thailand 2016 at Wat Florida Dhammaram

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After a successful dinner at Hyatt Regency Orlando’s Urban Tide last week, in honor of Orlando Magical Dining Month, our Orlando Foodie Forum presented by Tasty Chomps! has partnered with Visit Orlando for a special dinner event at Chef Kathleen Blake’s Rusty Spoon on Thursday September 8th.

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Meet Orlando Foodie Forum friends at The Rusty Spoon for an exclusive dinner event celebrating Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month. Your experience includes a complimentary cocktail reception at The Rusty Spoon bar featuring signature cocktail selections. Dinner will follow giving guests a first taste of The Rusty Spoon’s three-course Magical Dining Month menu with wine pairings and special presentations from Chef Kathleen Blake.

Gratuity included. Tickets must be purchased in advance online. Limit two tickets per party.

MAGICAL DINING MENU

Choice of Appetizers

Lake Meadow Scotched Egg
Soft boiled egg, house italian sausage, pickled vegetables

Charred Squid & Octopus
Watermelon 2 ways, crispy chorizo,
house pickled peppers, arugula & spicy vinaigrette

Crudite
A taste of the season

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Choice of Entrèes

Lake Meadow Skirt Steak
Crispy potatoes, vegetables of the moment & salsa verde

Lake Meadow Chicken Thigh Alla Diavola
Slow roasted with our italian sausage, house hot pickled peppers, wilted greens & grit fries

Native Pirlau
Canaveral head-on shrimp, chicken andouille sausage, charred vegetables with rice & smoky shrimp broth

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Choice of Desserts

Floating Island
Seasonal sorbet & poached fruit

Rusty Donut Hole
Stuffed with something yummy, chocolate sauce

Chocolate Cake
Salted caramel gelato & seasonal fruit

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WHEN
Thursday, September 8, 2016 from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM (EDT)
WHERE
The Rusty Spoon – 55 West Church Street, Orlando, FL 32801

TICKETS LINK:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/magical-dining-at-the-rusty-spoon-x-orlando-foodie-forum-tickets-27378049483

Photos Courtesy of The Rusty Spoon

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In honor of the upcoming Orlando Magical Dining Month, we are partnering with the folks at Visit Orlando and Hyatt Regency Orlando for a special dinner event at Urban Tide – Hyatt Regency Orlando, exclusively with the Orlando Foodie Forum presented by Tasty Chomps!.

Meet Orlando Foodie Forum friends at Urban Tide for an exclusive dinner event celebrating Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month. Your experience includes a complimentary cocktail reception in our new Orlando Museum of Art onsite gallery featuring local artists, a summer cocktail demonstration with our mixologist, and a first taste of Urban Tide’s three-course Magical Dining Month menu with special presentations from Chef Jared Gross. Gratuity included. Tickets must be purchased in advance online. Limit two tickets per party.

WHEN
Thursday, August 25, 2016 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM (EDT)

Tickets available: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/magical-dining-at-urban-tide-x-orlando-foodie-forum-tickets-26909349589?aff=
Password: foodie

There are a limited number of tickets available. Hope to see you all there!

For more info on the month, visit http://www.orlandomagicaldining.com/

Urban Tide Magical Dining Menu
——
Choice of Appetizers
Plantain Crusted Diver Scallop
Beet root mash, pickled corn and chorizo salsa

Crispy Pork Belly
Apple mustard, Brussel sprout and hazelnut slaw

Little Gem Lettuces’
Roasted artichoke, heart of palm, piquillo peppers, charred ricotta salata,
lemon thyme vinaigrette

Choice of Entrèes
Florida Atlantic Swordfish
Olive oil and green onion crushed potatoes, Maine lobster bisque

Grilled Skirt Steak
Honey roasted butternut squash, cilantro pesto

Smoked Fettuccini Pasta
Edamame, Cipollini onions, arugula, oven dried tomato and crème
fraiche cream sauce (vegetarian)

Choice of Desserts
Grilled Bread Pudding
Blackberry “au jus”, vanilla ice cream

Intense chocolate mousse
Caramelized macadamia nuts, fudgy brownie bites

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PRESS RELEASE

Unprecedented 90 Restaurants Participating in Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Sponsored by American Express 
 Guests Can Enjoy Three-Course Meals for $33 and Support a Local Charity
ORLANDO, Fla. – This fall, food lovers can experience deals at 90 of the most popular restaurants in Orlando – including 19 new program participants – during Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month, sponsored by American Express. From Aug. 29 through Oct. 2, guests can choose from these participating restaurants to enjoy three-course dinners for $33, averaging a savings of 33% per meal. The program, developed by Visit Orlando, Central Florida’s official tourism association, includes some of the hottest new arrivals to Orlando’s culinary scene, including chef-driven establishments in the new Disney Springs area as well as local favorites across town. One dollar from each meal will also be donated to a local charity, with last year’s program contributing more than $160,000 – the largest donation to date.

A full list of all participating restaurants, menus and OpenTable reservations are available at OrlandoMagicalDining.com. New restaurants to the program include:

·         STK, a brand new upscale steakhouse with a high-energy atmosphere at Disney Springs.

·         Morimoto Asia, by Chef Masaharu Morimoto of Iron Chef America fame, offering pan-Asian flavors from across the continent.

·         Urbain 40, glinting with 1940’s glamor and a continental menu crafted from largely local, seasonal ingredients.

·         Cask & Larder, a local favorite featuring brewed-onsite beer, home-cured meats and pickled vegetables. Cask & Larder is the second restaurant created by five-time James Beard-nominated chefs James Petrakis and Julie Petrakis.

In its 11th year, Magical Dining Month gives both locals and visitors alike a chance to experience Orlando dining at its finest all over town – from options near the theme parks to hidden gems in Orlando’s local neighborhoods. Examples include:

·         Convention Area – RA Sushi*, Itta Bena*, Tapa Toro Tapas Bar & Paella Pit*, Urban Tide (Hyatt Regency Orlando), The Capital Grille, Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar, A Land Remembered (Rosen Shingle Creek),

·         Disney/Lake Buena Vista – Black Fire Brazilian Steakhouse, deep blu seafood grille (Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort), NINE18 (The Villas at Grand Cypress), Todd English’s Bluezoo (Walt Disney World Dolphin)

·         Downtown – Shari Sushi Lounge*, Artisan’s Table, The Boheme, Citrus Restaurant, KASA Restaurant & Bar, Maxine’s on Shine

·       Restaurant Row – SLATE*, Big Fin Seafood Kitchen, Christini’s Ristorante Italiano, Dragonfly Robata Grill & Sushi, Eddie V’s Prime Seafood Restaurant, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, Morton’s The Steakhouse, Ocean Prime

·       Universal/CityWalk – Amatista Cookhouse* (Loews Sapphire Falls) , Emeril’s Tchoup Chop, Island’s Dining Room (Loews Royal Pacific), The Kitchen (Hard Rock Hotel), Mama Della’s Ristorante (Loews Portofino Bay)

·        Winter Park – Blu on the Avenue*, The Ravenous Pig, Luma on Park, Mitchell’s Fish Market, Chez Vincent, Hamilton’s Kitchen, Ruth’s Chris Steak House

·        Surrounding Areas – F&D Kitchen and Bar*, Osprey Tavern*, Kabooki Sushi*, Ruth’s Chris Steak House (Orlando and Lake Mary)

*First year in Magical Dining

Each year, Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month, sponsored by American Express, benefits a local cause chosen the year prior. This year, The Russell Home for Atypical Children is the recipient, and will be given $1 from every Magical Dining meal. The Russell Home is the first non-profit institution in the country to provide a home atmosphere with a family structure for special needs children and ‘child-like’ adults. In continuous operation for over 60 years without any government support, the home also provides 24 hours of free respite care and free day care for the local families with special needs dependents.

Last year, Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining raised a record $160,735 for ELEVATE Orlando. The funds raised by Magical Dining enabled ELEVATE to expand its mentorship programs into Jones High School, equipping thousands of urban youth in Central Florida to graduate with a plan for their future.

About Orlando Dining

From internationally renowned chefs to home-grown venues specializing in takeout charcuterie, Orlando is a destination where the culinary possibilities are both fresh and seemingly endless. Theme parks restaurants keep Central Florida on the map with award-winning dining, and independent restaurateurs bring fresh concepts to the table. Whether locally owned or part of expanding franchises, many of the destination’s newest restaurants mirror the national trends: American cuisine, farm-friendly menus and simple food with regional accents. Nationally, Orlando has emerged as a prominent dining destination, and continues to grow in both quantity and quality of flavors.

About Visit Orlando

Visit Orlando is the official tourism association for the most visited destination in the United States, with representation in more than a dozen countries around the world. Visit Orlando, together with its 1,200 member organizations, represents the area’s leading industry.

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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.

WEB_Fire Grill_Wine Dinner

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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Chef-owner John Rivers and Chef Whitney Miller of The COOP, a Winter Park neighborhood restaurant, introduced “A Southern Affair,” a new cooking demonstration series that launched on March 16. For this series guests are invited to a demo hosted by Rivers, Miller and/or a visiting guest featuring an easy-to-make, Southern-inspired recipe, followed by a sampling of the dish and an open format question and answer session on The COOP’s indoor patio.  The interactive and intimate experience offers the unique opportunity for guests to learn from and sample dishes with award-winning chefs from near and far. The first event of the series kicked off last month with Crawfish-Pimento Mac n’ Cheese and White Chocolate Bread Pudding Beignets.

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Every Wednesday, 30 to 40 guests are invited to a demo hosted by Rivers, Miller and/or a visiting guest featuring an easy-to-make, Southern-inspired recipe, followed by a sampling of the dish and an open format question and answer session on The COOP’s indoor patio.  The interactive and intimate experience is set to take place on the third Wednesday of every month and will offer the unique opportunity for guests to learn from and sample dishes with award-winning chefs from near and far.

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The two will kick off the first event of the series with Crawfish-Pimento Mac n’ Cheese and White Chocolate Bread Pudding Beignets. DSC02712Chef John Rivers helping out with the Crawfish Mac N’ Cheese.

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Then both Chefs got their hands dirty for the white chocolate bread pudding beignets.

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At the end of each demo we got a little sample of each to know what it tastes like for when we cook it at home. The Mac N’ Cheese were creamy with a bit of a kick.
DSC02728The beignets were crispy out the outside and fluffy and sweet towards the core.

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Overall the event was quite informational and fun as we got to learn how to make the tasty dishes while also interacting with the Chefs.

I’m excited for the next live demonstration happening on April 27th with Chef Greg Richie of Soco Thornton Park! Richie will join Chef John Rivers and Chef Whitney Miller for a cooking demo and tasting of some Southern favorites.

Here’s a little clip of how the event went!

 

The COOP
13.7 mi · 610 W Morse Blvd
(407) 843-2667

 

 

 

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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)

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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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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

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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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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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At the beginning of this month, we were invited to check out the grand opening of TR Fire Grill in Winter Park to try out handcrafted cocktails and dishes.

TR Fire Grill, which is part of Romacorp Inc, is a different concept from their other restaurant Tony Roma’s.

TR Fire Grill displays a more unique and down to earth vibe which prides themselves in fresh local ingredients, and local chef talents to match.

The atmosphere was astounding with live music which they pride themselves of showcasing local talent on the regular.

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The cocktails offered at TR Fire grill were quite delicious, simple ingredients mixed together with expert precision to make a refreshing cocktail.

From cocktails such as The Swindler (shown above), with ingredients such as Fireball Whiskey, Apple Moonshine, Cinnamon, and fresh pressed lemon and lime made to their Wood Aged Margarita which contained Agave Nectar, Oak Aged Tequila, Grand Marnier and lime, all the drinks showcased that night were delectable to the palate however, was sure to put you in a “good mood” after a few drinks.

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The food was splendid with dishes from Hawaiian Ahi Tuna (made with grilled pineapple salsa, edamame, crisp wonton tostada, apricot shallot sauce) to creative dishes such as their Shrimp & “Grits (containing smoked pork sausage, Sam’s Bayou sauce, jalapeno cheddar polenta) – each dish with their own different characteristics and personalities to them.

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Check Them Out!

TR Fire Grill

http://trfiregrill.com/

1035 N Orlando Ave #101

Winter Park, FL 32789

(407) 708-3600

 

 

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:

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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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Cows ‘n Cabs, a charity-based event presented by ABC Fine Wine & Spirits’ David Larue and celebrated Chef John Rivers of 4 Rivers Smokehouse and The COOP, returned to Winter Park’s West Meadow at 150 North New York Avenue for the fifth time on Saturday, October 25, 2015.

The outdoor, Western-themed festival—founded in 2010 with the hope to break the cycle of poverty Central Florida— benefits the Community Food & Outreach Center and Elevate Orlando, which assists with fighting hunger and mentoring youth, respectively.

Anheuser-Busch, Southern Wine & Spirits and ABC Fine Wine & Spirits contributed to the evening with more than 200 wines, spirits and craft beers samplings. A selection of gourmet samples were presented by a group of 20 invite-only, local restaurants. 4 Rivers Smokehouse, Cress and K Restaurant, are among the many that have rubbed shoulders with the James Beard Foundation, while local newcomers include The COOP, P is for Pie and Txokos Basque Kitchen.

See below for scenes from this year’s Cows N’ Cabs festival:
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Each year Omni Hotels’ culinary team travels the globe in search of unique and bold flavors. This year, their quest led them to Chile, where on the Western edge of South America, they discovered rustic flavors,

warm and welcoming people, a compelling landscape and some of the best wines in the world.

Chile’s geographic barriers – the Atacama Desert to the north, the Andes Mountains to the east, the Patagonian ice fields to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west – protect its grape-growing valleys from harsh weather, making it literally, a winemaking paradise.

This year, Omni partnered with Wines of Chile to create a culinary treat presenting a dedicated Chilean dinner and bar menu paired with hand-selected wines that reflect Omni’s utter enchantment with the region. This installment of Omni’s annual “Flavors of the World” culinary series. will be available at properties across the U.S. from October 1 through December 31, 2015.

We were recently invited to check out the upcoming menu as part of a media preview. For more information, visit: http://www.omnihotels.com/culinary/chile and for the full menu, here.

DSC01992MILCAOS CON PEBRE DE PALTA (9) – fried potato cakes topped with avocado, banana pepper, tomato and Chilean sea salt. Great combination of crispy and smoothness.

DSC01974CHACARERITO – Traditional sandwich with beef steak, raw green beans, tomato and banana peppers. The vegetables gave the sandwich multiple layer textures and interest.

DSC01998SOPA DE CHOCLO CON PINO DE CHAMPIÑONES  (8) – Delicious corn soup with mushroom, acorn squash, hard-cooked egg and basil puree. The hard-boiled egg actually worked really well as a solid component in the soup. 

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EMPANADA CON PEBRE (9)
“Pino” chopped beef, onions, hard cooked eggs, raisins and green olive
”Camarón Queso” prawns, cheese and spring onion
“Pequen” traditional country empanada with caramelized onionThe caramelized onion empanada was super savory that you won’t even notice there’s no meat in it. 

DSC02003CHORITOS CON PEBRE (12) – steamed mussels with tomato, onion, bell pepper and cilantro. 

DSC02026BACALAO CON TOMATICÁN (35) – light and flaky seared sea bass with braised tomato, yellow corn and cilantro salad. 

DSC02016COSTILLA CON PURÉ PICANTE (23) – pork ribs slowly cooked in beer and palm honey with potato puré and Chilean smoked chili pepper. There’s a sweetness from the great molasses barbecue sauce as a well a smoked pepper after taste. 

DSC02025QUINNOTO DE CHAMPIÑONES CON PEBRE DE PALTA (19) – golden Chilean quinoa slowly cooked with roasted mushroom and avocado. A ‘healthier’ opt from the regular risotto. 

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ARROZ CON LECHE Y SALSA DE MANJAR (7) – short grain rice cooked with milk, cinnamon, orange and dulce de leche. I’m not a huge pudding person, but this I can do. 

DSC02046TRES LECHES CAKE (7) – sponge cake soaked with three milks and served with fresh strawberries. Probably one of the best Tres Leches I’ve had, and I believe it’s the difference in the top layer of whipped cream. Extremely light and fluffy and not overwhelming to pair with the decadent layers that are on the bottom.

DSC01967PISCO SOUR (10) – Capel Premium Pisco, lemon juice, sugar and crushed ice mixed together to create this Chilean classic cocktail. 

Omni Orlando Resort at Champions Gate
(407) 390-6664
1500 Masters Blvd, Champions Gate, FL, 33896

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Executive Chef Marc Kusche of the award-winning Hamilton’s Kitchen at The Alfond Inn was invited to cook at the legendary James Beard House in New York City with the theme Florida Farmhouse Flavor this past Friday, October 23, 2015.

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Chef Kusche offered a fresh take on Southern comfort food and has a strong commitment to locally sourced ingredients from the lush and fertile farms of Central Florida. It is an honor to present a dinner at The James Beard House. Beard, a cookbook author and teacher, was a champion of American cuisine. The mission of the James Beard Foundation is to celebrate, nurture, and preserve America’s culinary heritage and future.

Chef Kusche recently talked to us about the experience and how everything went down at The James Beard House dinner.

“The James Beard event was huge hit, I think we really present Orlando and Florida very well. Our event was sold out, form what I heard normally they do around 65 covers and did almost 80 covers.”

“The kitchen is very small but if you good organized you are ok, so we did well. We shipped a lot local ingredients via UPS overnight , we used gulf snapper and key west shrimps, local greens, olive oil from ” The Ancient Olive ” in Winter Park, root vegetable from the farmers market in Winter Park,” Chef Marc told us via e-mail.

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“We prepped as much we could here in Orlando, I spoke to Kevin Fonzo from K Restaurant and gave me few good tips. A day before the event we spend few hours in the kitchen form “International Culinary Center ” in NY to just to do a little more prep. The whole event starts with a little reception for 45 min after that we start to serve the menu, we did a 5 course dinner ( see menu below )”

“We had a few little special request from vegan or shell fish allergies. After the dinner I went to the guest and told him that most of the ingredients from Florida and how we prepare them, like mention before I think we did a good job…I hope :):)”

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New York was great, it’s such a great city with so many different restaurant and chef’s, it is really hard to pick the right place if you want to go for a meal. I ate at Momofuku Ssäm Bar, Babbo Ristorante, Eataly and Gramercy Tavern, all of them are amazing. If I have pick one I would go for Gramercy Tavern, now I even understand more why Danny Meyer is such big guy in the hospitality industry in the US – the food, service, ambiance – everything is perfect. I read all his books and when you eat in his restaurant it is even better.”

Local Florida Farms :

Lake Meadows Farm
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Frog Song Farm ( we bought it direct from the market )
We use also few different farmers from Winter Park Farmers market

Reception

Truffle Baked Brie Cheese, Heaven to Besty Pear Jam
Short Rib Praline, Basil Crust, Balsamic Onion Confit
Caviar Stuffed Potatoes, Crème Fraiche, Chives
Hamilton’s Kitchen Shrimps Grits
White Gazpacho, Crispy Prosciutto, Almonds

Menu
Roasted Beets Duo, Grapefruit, Whipped Goat Cheese, Micro Greens,
Caramelized Walnuts

Iberico Ham Wrapped Diver Scallop, Creamy Polenta, Pickled Artichokes, Red
Wine Reduction

Slow Braised Lamb Neck, Pumpkin Risotto, Honey – Rosemary Glazed Parsnip,
Mustard Seed Sauce

Olive Oil Poached Red Snapper, Caramelized Cauliflower, Caper Berries,
Tomatoes, Shaved Fennel

Hamilton’s Kitchen Chocolate Pudding, Sweet Brioche Croutons

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See Press Release below!

BRITWEEK ORLANDO RETURNS FOR IT’S SECOND YEAR NOVEMBER 8-14, 2015
Calendar of Events released

The British are coming! BritWeek Orlando is celebrating its annual week of collaboration between British and American culture, innovation and politics with exciting, educational and original activities from November 8 to the 14th in Orlando’s best venues. In its second year, the spectrum of interesting and entertaining events will include a never before seen collection of ‘British Invasion’ photographs of the Beatles, new perspectives on gaming, exciting culinary and art competitions and even discussions on globalization issues.

The first day starts at the Orlando Museum of Art with a VIP, red carpet reception featuring the premiere of a curated selection of Beatles photos from the ‘Bob Bonis Archive’ that will be on display at the museum through the end of the year (open to the public Nov 10 to Jan 3). “We are pleased to host the opening reception of BritWeek Orlando and present a select group of photographs from the ‘Bob Bonis Archive,’ featuring images of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones on their first tours of the United States,” said Glen Gentele, director and CEO of the Orlando Museum of Art. “Any music lover in Central Florida — and I include myself in that statement, as well — should not want to miss this special exhibition at the Orlando Museum of Art.”

Bob Bonis was the U.S. Tour Manager for both The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, two of the most influential bands in rock history, and this exhibit is certain to be a draw for music fans, the press and families alike. Additionally, limited-edition fine art prints will be available for purchase accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity from the GRAMMY Museum®.

On Monday, it’s all about British Influence on Central Florida Sports – A panel discussion with Orlando City Soccer, Orlando Magic, Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Invictus Games – a interesting perspective that might not have occurred to many but is profoundly present.

BritWeek Orlando continues on Tuesday at the Citrus Club with a ticketed luncheon and presentation from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors on ‘Our Changing World – The Globalization of Commercial Development.’

In the evening there will be a ‘British Sip, Shop & Stroll’ down Park Avenue with shops decorating their front windows for the week and offering select British food at several restaurants that will be judged by a BritWeek Orlando Food Competition Panel of local food critics. And that means more than just fish & chips!
On Wednesday, BritWeek Orlando will head to the National Entrepreneur Center to join the Central Florida International Trade Office where Her Majesty’s Consul General Dave Prodger will host a discussion about ‘Entrepreneurship is GREAT Britain and UK’s tradition of Innovation’ as it relates to business with our local community.

On Thursday, an exciting and educational panel discussion at the Orlando Science Center on the creation, application and benefits of virtual reality and simulation from leading techno-creative companies such as EA Sports, Appshaker and Bohemia. The event is hosted by the commercial section of the British Consulate known as United Kingdom Trade & Investment and highlights the British-American contribution and collaboration in the augmented reality space.

Throughout the week, Orange & Osceola County Middle and High Schools will be participating in an art competition that encourages students to bring to life their vision of British-American cooperation. BritWeek Orlando wants local children to get involved to allow for lessons in diversity and to cultivate as well as accelerate new perspectives on our future collaborations. Judging for the BritWeek Children’s Art Competition will be held at Merlin’s I-Drive 360 terminal building under the Orlando Eye outside Madame Tussaud’s on Friday at 4pm.

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Calendar of Events:
Monday Nov 8 to Monday Nov 30
I-Drive 360 Hours BritWeek Children’s Art Competition – Displayed at I-Drive 360 – artwork by middle/high school students from Orange County Public Schools / Osceola County Public Schools that represents “British-American” collaboration.
Sunday Nov 8
4:00p – 7:00p Red carpet VIP Reception at The Orlando Museum of Art, Opening of the British Invasion Exhibition ‘Bob Bonis Archives’ – Invitation only
Monday Nov 9
4:30p – 6:30p British Influence on Central Florida Sports – A panel discussion with Orlando City Soccer, Orlando Magic, Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Invictus Games – open to the public
Tuesday Nov 10
10:00a – 4:00p World Premier – British Invasion Exhibition ‘Bob Bonis Archives’ open to the public through January 3, 2016 – Orlando Museum of Art – standard museum admission
11:30a – 1:00p ‘Our Changing World – The globalization of Commercial Development’ at The Citrus Club – open to the public $35 including lunch
5:00p – 8:00p Park Ave, Winter Park British Sip & Stroll – public event $25 per person
Wednesday Nov 11
12:30p – 2:00p National Entrepreneur Center – ‘Entrepreneurship is GREAT Britain: the UK’s Tradition of Innovation’ Keynote – HM Consul General Dave Prodger – open to the public $10 including lunch
Thursday Nov 12
6:00p – 8:30p UKTI Gaming & Simulation round table & reception – private event at Orlando Science Center
Friday Nov 13
4:00p – 5:30p Judging for BritWeek Children’s art competition at I-Drive 360 – open to the public – no cost
5:30p – 7:00p VIP Happy Hour reception with Merlin International at I-Drive 360 – Invitation only

About BritWeek Orlando
Brit Week Orlando is part of the California based 501C-3 established almost 10 years ago with cofounder Nigel Lithgoe and has a local volunteer committee working to put events together that will spotlight Central Florida and its strong British connection. The week of events are also designed to raise funds to benefit two children’s charities: Dreamflight and Cannonball Kids Cancer. Donations collected and raffles/auctions held during BritWeek Orlando 2015 will help support these charities that are working to end children’s cancer and grant wishes to terminally ill children.

In a statement from event organizers, “BritWeek Orlando is in its second year celebrating the British influence on Central Florida with an ambitious schedule of 10 events over 7 days that spotlight simulation, music, entrepreneurs, sports, real estate, and art. We are incredibly excited to be bringing the never before seen photo exhibition of British Invasion era images of the Beatles and Rolling Stones that will be on display at the Orlando Museum of Art. We are also involving both Orange and Osceola County middle & high school students to have their artwork displayed during the month of November by Merlin Entertainment at I-Drive 360. We hope that the community joins in the fun and comes to some of the exciting events we have planned.”

There will be many opportunities to celebrate fashion, innovation, creativity, and commerce during BritWeek Orlando 2015. So dust off your Union Jack attire and visit www.BritWeek.org/Orlando to plan how you will be spending your BritWeek Orlando 2015.

More information:
www.Britweek.org
407-401-9690
Media Contact: Justine Assal MBE – Britweek Orlando Director

Sponsors:
Minto Communities
Bob Bonis Archives
Orlando Museum of Art
AFEX
Orb International
Merlin Entertainment
I-Drive 360
Madame Tussauds
Sea Life Aquarium
Legoland
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
United Kingdom Trade & Investment
City of Orlando Mayors Office
Orange County Mayors Office
Greater Orlando International Airport Authority
Central Florida International Trade Office
UCF
Full Sail University
Winter Park Photography
Bangz Park Avenue
Formosa Gardens
Florida Leisure
Winter Park Merchants Association

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The Rockin’ Burger Block Party is a special event that occurs during the Epcot Food and Wine Festival where you can dine on a mouthwatering menu full of incredible burgers and enjoy some of the best music of the century….and we were lucky to be invited to experience this great event recently.

Here at the Rockin’ Burger Block Party, you can party the night away and savor specialty sliders created by Disney’s Chefs.

These tantalizing burgers and beverages are inspired by recording artists who have left their mark on the world of food and music.

And while you enjoy these scrumptious treats, a DJ spins their best tracks.

Special guests also come by and on November 6th, you can meet with “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro as he hosts the third big burger event of the 20th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.

Below are only a few sample out of the 16 Burgers that are featured at the event!

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for more photos of the gallery click HERE !

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I was fortunate enough to go on the night Andrew Zimmern was hosting.12038137_10207212644536537_8085919021370208598_nand was able to snag a photo with him!

Rockin’ Burger Block Party
World ShowPlace Events Pavilion
September 25, October 8 and November 6, 2015
7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

 

Call (407) 939-3378 starting July 30, 2015 to book your spot at the Rockin’ Burger Block Party—taking place on select days September 25 through November 15, 2015!

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Orlando Cat Café and South Lake Animal League (a nonprofit, no-kill animal shelter serving the community since 1988) are teaming up to fundraise and promote the adoption of some amazing feline friends.

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We were more than happy to receive an invite for the Groundbreaking Ceremony. The hardest part of being at the Orlando Cat Café was not signing up to adopt all of the cats there!

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The Cat Café is founded by Sandra Cagan, who hopes to draw in locals and tourists in for a cup of coffee, a pastry, and to spend time with (and possibly adopt) adoptable cats.

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At the Groundbreaking Ceremony on October 14th, the Orlando Cat Café and South Lake Animal League kicked off the fundraising process.

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Contributors to the project received incentives such as customized pet jewelry, an Orlando Cat Café stuffed plush, t-shirt, and access to an exclusive private party.

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The Orlando Cat Café includes a cozy coffeehouse with comfortable furniture, premium coffee, and 12 to 15 cats roaming freely.

The cat café will have its own entrance to comply with any health and food safety compliance guidelines.

Between sips, customers will be able to pet and cuddle the critters at will.

The area will consist of a 750 square foot cat lounge, a hidden room for litter boxes, with the separate space where baristas prepare coffee and snacks.

Plans to serve wine and beer are also in the works.

All the cats will be provided by the South Lake Animal League and will be up for adoption, but if you are not ready to commit to a pet, that’s no problem.

Volunteers from South Lake Animal League will assist with the daily care of the cats and processing adoption applications.

However, if you are planning to drive out to visit a specific kitty, please call the Adoption Center in advance (352-429-6334).

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Hopi is a Long-Hair Balinese, Snowshoe that is up-to-date with her routine shots; she is also spayed. Hopi is one of the sweetest kitties we have ever met. She is very shy at first and will take a little bit to be comfortable with the new environment, but once she is comfortable, she will love you endlessly.

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Milo is a Domestic Short Hair-Orange Tabby. He is up-to-date with routine shots and is neutered. He is very sweet and loving. He is the type that would love to play, but does not mind laying in your lap as you study or watch tv.

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Sunshine is a Domestic Short-Hair gray and white. She is up-to-date with routine shots and spayed. She does not mind walking around with you, while on a leash. She is adventurous and likes to explore her environment as well as play with other cats. She is not too festive, but not lethargic at all.

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In this photo, Hopi is sharing a snack with her sister Zuni. Also like Hopi, Zuni is a Long-Hair Balinese, Snowshoe. Zuni is up-to-date with routine shots and spayed. She is more comfortable roaming in new environments than Hopi, but do not hinder your choice if you would like to adopt Hopi over Zuni, vice versa, or both!

The Orlando Cat Café is located inside The Town Center at Cagan Crossings at 532 Cagan Park Avenue, Suites 201-203 in Clermont, FL.

For more information on making a contribution to the Orlando Cat Café’s BackerU fundraising campaign, visit www.orlandocatcafe.com or stay up to date on the café’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/OrlandoCatCafe For more information on South Lake Animal League, visit www.slal.org.

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

Designed for those who truly savor the artistry of fine culinary preparations – each plate a canvas for delight and each vintage an invitation for couples to indulge in each other – we invite you to experience Food & Wine Weekends at Waldorf Astoria Orlando. Come for an evening, or immerse yourself in a weekend retreat.

Food & Wine Weekends events will be held from September 25 through November 15, 2015.

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Weekend Highlights

The Taste of Bull & Bear
Friday and Saturday, Bull & Bear
Experience an exclusive tasting five-course menu comprised of exquisite food and wine pairings – prepared by the illustrious chefs of Waldorf Astoria Orlando. $110 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Call 407-597-5413 for reservations or click here to reserve on Open Table.

Il Cibo Della Vita – A Wine Pairing Dinner
Friday and Saturday, La Luce at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
From the kitchen of La Luce at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, each weekend a new menu with exclusive offerings and recommended wine pairing will be unveiled, featuring a selection of recipes only available during Food & Wine Weekends. Menu may be paired with wine flights for an additional $20. Reservations recommended. Call 407-597-3600.

Chalk Art – NEW in 2015
September 25 & November 7 (4pm to 6pm only), La Luce at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
The perfect complement to a sumptuous feast is inspiring art. At La Luce, we celebrate the sensory by treating you to art that is as fresh and contemporary as our cuisine. And now, as part of Food & Wine Weekends, you can watch as Edson Campos and Kathleen Brodeur – renowned Chalk Artists – create a masterpiece before your eyes while you dine.

Cocktail Creations
Saturday 4:30pm-5:30pm, Peacock Alley
Muddle, mix and sample! Guests partake in an interactive experience creating their very own specialty cocktails. ($)

Bar du Chocolat and Champagne Tasting
Friday and Saturday, 6:30pm – 10:30pm, Peacock Alley
Decadent, yes. Sinful, perhaps. Most certainly an experience for those with a sweet tooth. Peacock Alley will be transformed into a chocolate-lover’s dream, offering a cocoa-infused evening of self-indulgence paired with a selection of fine champagnes. Guests can choose from a signature selection of chocolate treats from the Waldorf Astoria Orlando’s world-class pastry team. Pricing varies.

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

Les Douze Macarons – NEW in 2015
Friday & Saturday, 6pm – 10pm, MYTH Bar at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
Whether indulging in a pre or post-dinner treat, guest can visit the Macaron Bar to try an assortment of flavors, hand-made by the resort’s world-class pastry team. $2/each.

Fantasy Flights – NEW in 2015
Friday & Saturday evenings, MYTH BAR at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
Guests will have the opportunity to take off with a choice of flights of (3) reds and (3) whites. Wine selection predetermined. Click here to view the menu.$15/flight.

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

Royal Tea – A New Waldorf Astoria Tradition
Sundays, 2pm – 4pm, Peacock Alley
Treasure time together as you savor finely-prepared tea sandwiches and house-made pastries, while sipping premium hot tea and listening to live piano music. Add a glass of champagne for a “Grand Royal Tea.” From $30 per adult; $15 per child, plus tax and gratuity. Reservations are highly recommended. Please see Concierge or call 407-597-5450.

Craft Beer Experience
Friday & Saturday, MYTH Bar at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
Enjoy a selection of craft beer tastings from local breweries to include Crooked Can and Orlando Brewery. The resort has teamed up with the brew masters to bring this interactive experience to guests.
September 25 & 26 – Feturing, Crooked Can Brewing Company
October 2 & 3 – Featuring, Orlando Brewing
October 9 & 10 – Featuring, Two Henry’s Brewing Company
October 16 & 17 – Featuring, Orange Blossom Brewing Company
October 23 & 24 – Featuring, Golf Beer Brewing Company
October 30 & 31 – Featuring, Cigar City Brewing
November 6 & 7 – Featuring, Funky Buddha Brewery

Astoria After Dark
Friday and Saturday, 6pm – 10pm, WA Kids Club
Adults are not the only ones to have fun. The WA Kids Club is offering a nightly children’s program including dinner and a non-stop roster of fun activities – providing parents some “adult time” in which to experience Food & Wine Weekend activities.

Waldorf Astoria® Spa Tuscany Wine Special
Daily, Waldorf Astoria Spa
Experience the powerful antioxidants of red wine powder, red grape seed extract, crushed grape seeds and pure grape seed oil as you indulge in an extravagant Tuscany Wine Wrap or Pedicure. To book an appointment at Waldorf Astoria Spa please call 407-597-5360 or visit the Concierge.
50-minute Tuscany Wine Pedicure – $80
50-minute Tuscany Wine Wrap – $130

All guests of Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek are invited to enjoy Food & Wine Weekend experiences.

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Marlow’s Tavern Ribs & Whiskey menu returns with saucy food and drink specials, available September 15 through October 19. Guests can go whole hog with barbecue, ribs, handcrafted cocktails and featured cocktails.

New this year, the Ribs & Whiskey celebration menu features four delicious sauces served tableside – Jack Daniel’s glaze, hoisin barbecue, Marlow’s chipotle barbecue and East Carolina barbecue. Each sauce gives a sweet, spicy, smoky or tangy zip to the perfectly seasoned ribs.
The Ribs & Whiskey menu is available at all three neighborhood taverns in Central Florida: at Pointe Orlando on I-Drive, in Winter Park on 17-92 and at Waterford Lakes Town Center in front of Regal Cinemas.

Ribs&Whiskey at Marlow's Tavern

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Central Florida Veg Fest 2015
Saturday, October 24, 2015 • 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Orlando Festival Park
2911 E. Robinson Street
Orlando, FL 32803

Central Florida Veg Fest is an exciting day of colorful and educational exhibits and activities! It will take place at beautiful Orlando Festival Park near downtown Orlando on October 24, 2015 from 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Admission is FREE! Veg Fest is a family-friendly, dog-friendly, and smoke-free event. Veg Fest, now in its 10th year, is one of the biggest and best vegetarian festivals in the country!

Central Florida Veg Fest will draw both committed vegetarians/vegans and those who want to learn more about how veg-living enhances our health, the planet, and its inhabitants. Come enjoy a diverse cross-section of vegetarian cuisines and lifestyles. Discover new products and ideas from over 175 vendors and 100 contributors and enjoy a wide variety of presentations and food preparation demos. Not a vegetarian? Whether you’re looking for new ideas to add color and variety to your meals or you’re a “seasoned” vegetarian interested in expanding your knowledge of nutritious and ethical foods, this is the place for you.

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Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic – October 30 – 31, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic will celebrate its sixth year featuring global culinary specialties at the Epcot Resort Area hotel, with more than 40 food and wine stations, 10 food and wine seminars and the opportunities to meet the award-winning chefs behind featured culinary masterpieces. Delectable culinary offerings headline the two-night event, featuring cuisine from the hotel’s own award-winning signature restaurants: Il Mulino New York Trattoria, Shula’s Steak House and Todd English’s bluezoo, with wine and spirits samplings from around the globe.

This year’s menu introduces new interesting and unique dishes sure to please the palate including ginger cured Hamachi with nitro lime, mascarpone chestnut ravioli with Italian sausage, celery root and bacon jus and smoked Wagyu short ribs accompanied by a parsnip puree, melba toast and pommery mustard sauce. Favorite dishes from past years also return, such as the shrimp cocktail steamroller, Thai chicken salad with organic greens, green papaya tamarind and ginger dressing as well as the dragon sushi roll with crispy shrimp, tuna and avocado.

The hotel’s World Champion Pastry Chef, Laurent Branlard, provides a sweeter side to the evening with decadent desserts like chocolate almond crunch cake and éclair with caramelized banana cream and coconut streusel. This year Branlard will also introduce his S’more Sundae Action Station, combining the classic desserts of the s’more and sundae. New to this year’s event is a food truck area, featuring cuisine from the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel and Cabot Cheese – a favorite from last year – as well as an exclusive beverage truck.

Seminars once again return to offer guests the chance to receive a hands-on and tasty educational experience. Seminars cover topics including wine blending, Italian wines, champagne, beer, mixology, tequila, pasta making, sushi and sake, wine and cheese pairing and the Brazilian cocktail, caipirinha. All seminars require separate tickets in addition to the causeway tickets, and space is limited. As an upgraded ticket option, guest can once again experience a beer garden, featuring a variety of local and seasonal brews from around the world, alongside Oktoberfest-inspired cuisine made by the hotel’s culinary experts. To add to the event’s appeal, guests can enjoy a meet and greet with celebrity chef Todd English, the namesake of the hotel’s Todd English’s bluezoo restaurant. Guests can also meet the world’s only two-time World Champion Pastry Chef and the hotel’s very own executive pastry chef, Laurent Branlard. Barbeque fans shouldn’t miss the Cib’s Smoke House station for signature barbeque dishes from the hotel’s executive chef Robert Ciborowski.

Tickets to the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic are available as part of a hotel package or individually. For more information or to book, please visit www.SwanDolphinFoodandWineClassic.com or call 1-800-227-1500.

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The Orlando Japan Festival Returns to The City Beautiful November 8

Admission is free for the 15th Annual Orlando Japan Festival at The Village at Hunter’s Creek. The Japan Association of Orlando (JAO) will host the 15th Annual Orlando Japan Festival Sunday, November 8 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Village at Hunter’s Creek, 13574 Village Park Drive. The festival is a showcase of Japanese culture and admission is free for guests of all ages.

Attendees will enjoy several performances including a one-hundred-member Japanese Taiko drum ensemble by Orlando Taiko Dojo Drummers, Koto (Japanese harps), Iaido (Japanese swordsmanship and martial arts), Nihon Buyo (traditional Japanese dance), and Edo Satokagura from the National Theater of Japan’s Wakayama Performance Troupe, led by Kyosuke Suzuki.

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Guests will also have the opportunity to try on Yukatas (kimonos), participate in the cosplay contest, play Japanese-style carnival games, witness a Judo demonstration, delight in Japanese music and dance, observe a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, learn Japanese calligraphy and enjoy traditional Japanese cuisine from a variety of food vendors.

Consul General Ken Okaniwa of the Consulate-General of Japan in Miami will present the Foreign Minister’s Commendation certificate to Takemasa Ishikura, President of the Japan Association of Orlando.

The JAO is a section 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting Japanese culture within local communities and supporting local organizations and individuals in endeavors to further Japanese visual and performing arts, culture and education. Proceeds from the Festival benefit victims of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. For more information, visit www.jorlando.org or contact the Consulate General of Japan in Miami at culture@mi.mofa.go.jp or webmaster@mi.mofa.go.jp.

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La Madeleine Country French Café, the acclaimed, authentic country French bakery café, announced today that its first two cafés in Florida will open at Orlando’s Florida Mall and near the Mall at Millenia on Oct. 29 and Nov. 12, respectively.

The first 50 guests in line at 6:30 a.m. at Florida Mall on Oct. 29 and Mall at Millenia on Nov. 12 will win a weekly supply of the brand’s fresh handmade breads for a year. The café will present the first 50 guests with certificates to redeem their delicious rewards each week during a 12-month period.

“Our Rompre le Pain fans will be filing through the doors just as our first batch of fresh-baked breads are coming out of the oven. We are anticipating an excited crowd of guests on the first day right as doors open,” added Cahill.

La Madeleine’s first restaurant in Florida opens on Oct. 29 at Florida Mall’s new Dining Pavilion, 8001 S. Orange Blossom Trail, near the Dillard’s department store. The 4,200-square-foot location is accessible from the mall concourse and a separate outside entrance and features dine-in and to-go offerings. The brand’s signature warm, country French ambiance is showcased via wood floors, rustic stone and tile, beamed ceilings, a double-sided fireplace and an outdoor patio. Guests can also take a peek into the bakery where pastries and bread is freshly baked and handcrafted daily.

La Madeleine opens across from the Mall at Millenia, 4200 Conroy Road, near Mercedes-Benz and Best Buy on Nov. 12. The spacious café features rustic county French décor, a private dining area that seats 18 guests, outdoor covered seating for 40 guests and an intimate patio. The café also includes a cozy, country French coffeehouse, called Maison de Coffee, which features a full barista bar, French-inspired coffee menu, soft bistro seating and a communal table with a simple yet elegant ambiance. The 6,600-square-foot location seats 181 guests and offers dine-in and to-go options.

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“The Italian Gourmet Ambassadors” is a 3 days top level gourmet dinner event to be held on 10-11-12 November 2015, at the Italian restaurant Francesco’s in Maitland (Orlando). There will be two great Italian chefs (the ambassadors) Rocco Iannone and Daniele Uditi that together with the resident chef Francesco Aiello will cook together and individually in the three evenings. The regular dinner event price for the first 2 nights is $94.95 each and the 3rd night is $69.95. A discounted pre-sale ticket price for all the 3 nights is available at $199.95 instead of $259.85. Also a 2 nights discounted pre-sale ticket is available at $129.95 (for night 1 and 3 or 2 and 3) instead of $164.90 All discounted prices are for pre-purchase only and not refundable. For general reservations and questions please contact General Manager Jenny Russo,
Francesco’s Ristorante, 407-960-5533, 400 S. Orlando Ave. Maitland FL, 32751

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Eclectic California cuisine restaurant, Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe in Disney Springs celebrates the final days of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival with a Signature Dinner on Thursday, November 12, 2015 at 6:30 p.m.

Chef Robert Leonardi gathers inspiration from around the world to craft the five-course menu with wine pairings from various regions including Washington State, New Zealand, California and Italy. Menu highlights include Colorado Lamb Chops with Moroccan spiced farro and harissa aioli as well as Pan Seared Sea Bass with wilted chicory, pancetta and olive oil. Tickets for the Signature Dinner are $90.00 plus tax and gratuity and the entire menu includes:

Amuse
Scallop Ceviche
lime, red chili, tomato, avocado
Four Vines Zinfandel, California

First Course
Pasta Fajoli
pesto
Loveblock by Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand

Second Course
Baby Arugula Salad
gorgonzola, endive, candied pecans
Hogue Late Harvest Riesling, Washington State

Third Course
Pan Seared Sea Bass
wilted chicory, pancetta, olive oil
Estancia Pinot Noir, California

Fourth Course
Colorado Lamb Chop
Moroccan spiced farro, harissa aioli
Frescobaldi “Nipozzano Riserva” Chianti, Italy

Fifth Course
Chocolate Tart
caramel, Grand Marnier crème
Castello Poggio Moscato d’asti, Italy

For additional information or to make a reservation please call 407.939.5277 visit online at www.wolfgangpuckcafeorlando.com or call 407.938.9653.

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Lafayette’s has brought its southern charm to Orlando with incredible live music, good cocktails and delicious southern food. Starting October 4, Lafayette’s will be serving up brunch every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., complete with live bands and signature brunch libations.

Bring your appetite, because Lafayette’s will be putting a southern twist to classic brunch dishes like the Corned Beef Hash with homemade braised corned beef mixed with potatoes, bell peppers, and onions topped with two poached eggs; and Banana Bread French Toast with homemade banana bread in a vanilla bean, cinnamon egg batter topped with caramel sauce and whipped cream

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Guten Tag from American Q!

Oktoberfest is here, and what better way to celebrate than with barbecue and pairings of beer?

For the month of October, we’re offering up a prix fixe of festival-themed fare. Join us for bites of house-made Pretzel Bread, Beer Cheese, Bratwurst and Sauerbraten, all paired up with seasonal sips of Brooklyn Brewery Octoberfest, Dogfish Head Punkin Ale and Orlando Brewing Grateful Pumpkin.

American Q’s Oktoberfest menu is available October 1st-31st for $40 per person.

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Leading London-based bubble tea chain to bring trendy tea-bar to locals in Orlando and Tampa
– An iconic British brand is set to make a splash at The Florida Mall and Westfield Citrus Park with its renowned bubble tea this fall. Bubbleology, which has a café at TopShop’s global flagship store on the famed Oxford Street along with numerous locations across the world, is the London-based beverage leader specializing in authentic bubble tea. As the first Western premium bubble tea-bar concept, Bubbleology is launching its U.S. flagship store at Lenox Square in Atlanta, Georgia. The company will debut its first Florida café in Orlando at The Florida Mall this November, along with a second location in Tampa at Westfield Citrus Park later the same month.

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Cask and Larder at OIA to open summer/fall 2016

Former Walt Disney World executive chef Johnny Rivers has teamed with acclaimed chefs and restaurateurs James and Julie Petrakis to open a version of the couple’s popular Winter Park, Fla., restaurant Cask & Larder in the Airside 2 terminal at Orlando International Airport. Peter Amaro, Jr., president and COO of Master ConcessionAir (MCA) in Miami, which operates airport restaurants and retail concepts, joins the endeavor.

The new full-service restaurant and bar will be the first to offer an airside farm-to-table dining experience for Orlando travelers. The Petrakises will modify the menu of the Winter Park Cask & Larder to suit the needs of the airport location, but James Petrakis stressed that they will not stray from their commitment to offering ingredients from Florida farmers. “We’ll keep to our beliefs of sourcing locally,” he said. “That element won’t change.”

“When someone visits Orlando for the first time, or this is the place they call home,” said Rivers, “what better cuisine to serve than one that uses ingredients that are indigenous to this region?”

Cask & Larder at OIA is scheduled to open in late summer or early fall of 2016.

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Smashburger invites fans who think they have what it takes to survive “Sin City” to submit their most sensible, wild and outrageous survival tips on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #SinCitySurvivalTips by 12 AM EST on October 20th. One winner will have the chance to put their tips to the test for a weekend getaway in Las Vegas for two people. Any and all tips will be accepted as long as they include the campaign hashtag f#SinCitySurvivalTips, and Smashburger encourages fans to get crafty and creative with their submissions. Rules, regulations and more fun stuff (including a coupon for a free side just by registering for the brand’s Smashclub) can be found at www.sincitysurvivaltips.com.

The promotion comes in celebration of the brand’s newest addition to the burger family, the Sin City Burger, which combines American cheese, Smash Sauce, haystack onions, Applewood smoked bacon and fried egg piled up between an egg bun. The Sin City specialty burger, originally created as the regional burger only for the Las Vegas market, is now available nationwide until October 26th due to its popularity in Sin City.

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