Marie Mercado and Ricardo Williams team up to create specialty space-themed ice cream for the summer.

The Greenery Creamery and Nerd Nite are collaborating on an assortment of nerdy, space-themed ice cream flavors, called THE GALAXY COLLECTION.

Samples of a few flavors will debut at the Nerd Nite event on Thursday, July 12th. Following which, all flavors will be available at the Greenery Creamery for a limited time offer.


The Greenery Creamery is an ice cream boutique in downtown Orlando.

Nerd Nite is an evening of entertaining yet thought-provoking presentations.

THE GALAXY COLLECTION is all deliciously vegan with coconut cream base for all of the nerdy, spacey ice cream flavors!

An Einstein-Rosen bridge trip for the taste buds with a swirl of colorful, fruity flavors.

A mix of dark cocoa, Oreo chunks, and chocolate chips with a delicious and irresistable gravitational pull.

Minty ice cream with chocolate chips coming in piece(s).

Smoke salted thai tea with a blast of vegan sauce swirls.

Black ash coconut littered with marshmallows, crunchy cinnamon bites, chocolate galactic swirls, and pretzel.

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Maitland City Centre, the $68 million, mixed-use development, open-air Festival Marketplace facing the park, where “shoppers and diners can stroll among fresh produce, bakery goods, specialty food shops, prepared foods and casual dining.”

The Spindrift Concepts Food Hall, a 4,593-square-foot food hall led by Dovecote Chef Clayton Miller, first announced as a tenant for the City Centre in February 2017, recently released the below statement on pulling back from the project.


“When Brian Grandstaff of Millenia Partners envisioned the downtown Maitland City Centre project during the conceptual phase he desired a community driven aspect; a gathering place where families and friends would come together. The concept evolved in 2015 to be a Chef Driven Food Hall with the assistance of brokers/consultants Mary Ashy and Maria Bonomo. Although at the time Food Halls were spreading from coast to coast like wildfire the idea was new to the area.

Once the concept was vetted and the location in Maitland was determined to be an ideal fit based on its demographics and lack of foodie competition, the team then brought in Chef Clayton Miller to start assembling a lineup of the most highly regarded local independent operators. The team spent years assembling the culinary dream team and planning to bring this concept to Central Florida visiting food halls from coast to coast and internationally, including Eataly Dubai, Chicago & NYC, St Roch New Orleans, Krog Street Market Atlanta, Swans Market Oakland, The Conservatory Houston, City Kitchen NYC, and so on).

Recently Maitland has been exploding with new development activity with many new projects hitting the market at the same time. Given the current landscape of upcoming restaurant and retailers, the Spindrift Food Hall team had to reconsider the sustainability of the project due to oversaturation. The team is disappointed to have to step back from the Maitland City Centre project but is not discouraged. They know the Food Hall concept is here to stay and are considering other urban infill projects with critical mass here in Central Florida. They look forward to supporting local talent here in our back yard and providing the gathering place that was originally envisioned. “

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SNOWBEAN Cafe at Colonial And Semoran

Korean Dessert Cafe “SNOWBEAN” is now open at 5310 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, sharing the same address as Izziban Sushi and Korean BBQ.

Snowbean is a “Dessert & Coffee Cafe, serving coffee beans locally sourced from Roasters located in Orlando Florida. Serving a modern twist on a traditional Pat-bing-soo”

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5310 E Colonial Dr
Orlando, FL 32807
(407) 270-8811

Halal Guys at Waterford

The Halal Guys began in 1990, when the three founding partners opened up a hot dog cart on West 53rd & 6th Avenue in New York City. The Halal Guys became famous for their chicken and rice with special white sauce on late nights in the city – and has made a huge push for expansion in recent years.

They will now be coming to the Orlando Waterford area in early 2017 (March/April) and are looking to expand to more than 15 locations. Look out for more updates from us here

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Halal Guys Orlando at Waterford
626 North Alafaya Trail suite 103
Orlando, Florida
(347) 527-1505
Help Achilles Art Cafe in Winter Garden get back on its feet after a destructive fire

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Domu, a new neighborhood restaurant and bar concept, will open inside East End Market in the location that was formerly home to Txokos Basque Kitchen. The restaurant closed abruptly last month, just months after changing hands from the original owners, the James Beard award nominated Henry and Michele Salgado who still run operate New Smyrna Beach restaurant Spanish River Grill.

The restaurant is a concept by Sonny Nguyen, who in the past has worked with Bento Group and Kappo, but Domu is an explicitly different and separate venture.

“We want our space to be utilized by East End Market patrons when they visit to come hang out and have a place to enjoy their time as seated space is limited in the market. Domu, which means “dome” in Japanese, is a name I chose because I wanted this concept to represent “me”,” said Sonny Nguyen.

“It’s depicted as slang for “coming off of the dome” or in other words, “whatever comes in mind”. Working in the restaurant business for most of my life, I’ve always wanted to create my own concept where I didn’t necessarily have to follow anyone’s rules but my own. I hope that I can portray that with this one.
We plan to release more information as time permits. But until then, I hope everyone will sign up on our website for exclusive details as we get closer at”

They hope to open sometime this fall.


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

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

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

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

Background Summary:

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


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


Restaurant (fast-casual)

Drivers and Goals:

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


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


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


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




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

Press Release:

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

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


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

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

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

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

Gift Card Special to Morimoto Asia

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

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

Morimoto Asia signed menu


GIVEAWAY – Morimoto Asia Menu signed by Chef Morimoto

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

Questions – answer all to enter to win.

1. What is in a Morimotini?

2. Where is Forbidden Lounge located?

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

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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.


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.


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


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.


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 or call 1-800-227-1500.


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.


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 or contact the Consulate General of Japan in Miami at or



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.


“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


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:

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

First Course
Pasta Fajoli
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 or call 407.938.9653.


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


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.


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.


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.


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Emily Brainard

Otium – A New Chapter from Otium on Vimeo.

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Kris and friends Edwin Sanchez and Nicolette Maclaren

I was entered last weekend to represent Tasty Chomps in a rib eating contest sponsored by Tony Roma’s, I was among a panel of local on air personalities, like Lisa Bell and Johnny Fernandez from WKMG, and AJ Maguire from the AJ and Ashley Morning Show on K92.3 FM. The event itself was for Limbitless Solutions, a team of volunteers nationwide who use their skills to make fully functional mechanical prosthetics to children in need of it.  As for the competition, the goal was to see how many ribs you can eat within three minutes, I came in with an empty stomach and a competitive mindset, psyched and ready to destroy these ribs that were to be placed in front of me. They announced all the contestants and who they were representing, and I was last to be announced, when the clock started I destroyed those ribs, eating a whopping 26 in three minutes to which I was surprised since I tend to be a slow eater. I actually won the competition and got a nice shiny medal and bragging rights forever. Later that day I would regret eating and swallowing semi whole those ribs…. However I must mention the event was very memorable as well as helping support a great cause, will I do another eating competition?…..Maybe


Check Out my video!


I was also featured on:

Orlando Sentinel:

UCF Today:



If you are interested in learning more about Limbitless Solutions check out their site!

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Our local favorite Philly Cheesesteak shop, Brianto’s — located deep within Avalon Park – will be opening their second location in the Waterford Lakes area very soon some time this month in August!

Very excited because their philly cheesesteaks are among the best in the city!


You could also order the pizza steak, which comes with Steak, Marinara, Mozzarella, and Parmesan Cheese, or cheesesteak supreme with Steak, Onions, Green Peppers, Mushrooms, and Cheese, the Chicken Philly, Italian Hoagies, salads, and more.

The cheesesteaks and hoagies are served on authentically Philly-made Amoroso bread. The crispy, rich, golden brown Amoroso bread is specially shipped by air in to Brianto’s daily to ensure Brianto’s has the authentic taste of true Philly cheesesteaks and hoagies .

Official statement from Brianto’s Facebook page:

“Brianto’s Nation – We would like to announce that we will open a second location in Waterford Lakes sometime in August. Our new location will be in Waterford Commons Suite 3. We thank you as always, so come and see us when you are in Waterford Lakes”


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In a press release today, Nathan Hardin, formerly of Miami’s Yardbird Southern Table and Bar – has been appointed chef de cuisine of Highball and Harvest. He takes over for Chef Mark Jeffers who opened Highball and Harvest – Chef Jeffers was recently promoted to The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay in California.

Press Release –

Orlando, Fla. – July 15, 2015 – Nathan Hardin has been appointed Chef de Cuisine of Highball & Harvest at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. In this position, he will oversee all culinary operations of this new casual dining restaurant. Since opening in Fall 2014, Highball & Harvest has received high praise for its Low Country-style cuisine featuring ingredients from local purveyors and the resort’s 18,000-sqaure-foot Whisper Creek Farm.

A Tampa-native, Chef Hardin will bring his experience and expertise in Southern inspired cooking to Highball & Harvest. Most recently, he was Executive Sous Chef at the award-winning restaurant Yardbird Southern Table & Bar in Miami Beach, where he worked with two-Michelin-starred Chef Danny Grant, and prior to that at Copperfish Grill and Oyster Bar in Tampa. At both restaurants he successfully led teams of more than 30 staff in the production of high-quality, exceptional local and seasonal specialty dishes. His earlier experience includes four years as Sous Chef and Head Line Cook at J Alexanders in Tampa.

Chef Hardin received his Associate of Arts in Culinary Arts from the Art Institute of Tampa where he completed courses in pastry art, confectionary, kitchen management and restaurant and facility operations.

This is breaking news. Check back for more info soon.


Special Upcoming Event
Fun and Dine Weekend at Ritz Carlton

Friday, July 31 – Sunday, August 2, 2015
The Ritz-Carlton is hosting a Fun and Dine Weekend, showcasing Grande Lakes Orlando’s innovative and diverse dining venues. Attend just one or two events, or go for gastro-gold and attend all three!

Pub Crawl
Friday, July 31, 6:30 – 10 p.m.

This guided tour will visit various restaurants, where guests will enjoy a specialty beverage paired with a signature food item. From fine wine and fresh pasta in Primo, to Southern inspired cuisine and cask wines in Highball & Harvest, guests will experience cuisine as diverse as the resort.

$125 per person

Southern BBQ Class at Highball & Harvest
Saturday, August 1, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Our southern trained BBQ chefs will show you how to cook great, southern BBQ at home. Beer Can Chicken, Cedar Plank Salmon, and mouth-watering ribs will be the focus of the morning. After lunch, learn how to make specialty cocktails that will pair nicely with BBQ.

$100 per person (includes lunch)

White Apron Culinary Competition at Highball & Harvest
Sunday, August 2, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Join us for a fun, hands-on cooking experience – where YOU do all the cooking! Attendees will be split into teams, each led by a Ritz-Carlton Chef. Teams will then have 2 hours to create an appetizer, entree and dessert to share with the entire group and judges. Judges will vote based on presentation and flavor; prizes will be awarded to the winning team.

$100 per person (includes lunch)

Reservations required (407) 393-4648

Ask about special rate for overnight accommodations when booking your reservation for any of these “Fun and Dine Weekend” events. Space is limited; subject to change without notice. Prices do not include tax or gratuities.

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Roy’s Restaurant Launches Korean-Inspired Prix Fixe Menu
Guests can enjoy a three-course prix fixe meal for just $39.95 per person

Roy’s Restaurant is amplifying traditional Korean cuisine by blending the most flavorful and distinctive ingredients from the region into a delicious, three-course prix fixe menu. Starting on April 8, guests can experience innovative Korean flavors for just $39.95 per guest before tax and gratuity.

The menu is offered at Roy’s Restaurant locations nationwide. To make reservations at your nearest location, please visit Not available in Hawaii or Pebble Beach.

The Korean culinary journey starts with choice of Crispy Calamari Salad or Wagyu Beef Mandoo. Next, guests can choose between the Loco Moco entrée, featuring a red dragon charred short rib, friend egg, kim chi and white rice or the Seasame-Crusted Mahi Mahi with garlic spinach, a kim chi pancake and creamy cilantro sauce. Dessert options include a Peanut Butter Mousse or Chocolate Soufflé. A Spiced Mango Martini is also available for only $9.90. Full menu details can be found here.

The internationally-acclaimed Roy’s Restaurant is known for its unique and creative menu, a sensational adventure in bold flavors, and its sincere and engaging hospitality that is a welcome escape from the ordinary dining experience. Roy’s Restaurant was born by blending two dynamic principals: delicious food and hospitality inspired by the “aloha” spirit of the Hawaiian Islands. Inspired by his Japanese roots and native Hawaiian cuisine, Chef Roy Yamaguchi opened the very first Roy’s Restaurant in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1988. Today there are 20 Roy’s locations in the continental United States that are owned and operated by United Ohana, LLC, and another six in Hawaii, one in Japan and one in Guam. For more information about Roy’s Restaurants, please visit

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First on – Chef Joseph Cournoyer – Burnett, who is currently the Chef de Cuisine of the Ravenous Pig is joining the team at The Osprey Tavern as the new executive chef.

The most popular dishes Osprey Tavern include the oysters, pizzas from the stone hearth oven and the delmonico steak out of the Josper, which is a wood burning oven/grill from Spain. Their craft cocktails have also been hugely popular.

Chef Cournoyer-Burnett, who graduated from Clark University in Atlanta, formerly served as Chef De Cuisine at Norman’s New World here in Orlando from 2001 to 2010, and then Chef De Cuisine at Loews Hotels before joining the Ravenous Pig.

Chef Joseph Cournoyer joins The Osprey Tavern

Biography  – “Masterful technique and fearless flavors abound with Chef de Cuisine Joseph Cournoyer-Burnett, born in England and raised on Florida coast, Joseph’s extensive travels in India, Vietnam, Mexico and Europe add inspired techniques and components to his repertoire. As he rose in the ranks, from line cook to sous chef working under chefs such as 2010 Food & Wine Best New Chef Clay Miller, Joseph developed his own distinct approach to cooking. It was Miller who planted the seed that would soon blossom into an insatiable interest in locally-produced artisanal foods and, ultimately, guided Joseph to become chef de cuisine at NORMAN’S at The Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes in Orlando. He’s cooked alongside some of the world’s most renowned chefs, participated in a dinner at the prestigious James Beard House and presented at the 2007 Star Chefs Congress.”

The Osprey Tavern owner Jason Chin is excited to have Chef Joseph on board and looks forward to expanding the menu.

“We will also be working on a Saturday and Sunday brunch service, that will probably be ready around June or July,” Chin told us.

The Osprey Tavern
4899 New Broad St, Orlando, FL 32814
(407) 960-7700





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One of the newest, and I’d have to say one of my favorite, Indian restaurants in town – American Gymkhana – has announced that it will close after this April. It’s sad news for the space that once held Raga and Antonio’s before it. It’s a tough location, to be sure. With time, and maybe a different space, it would have done well. And that may still happen – if everything falls in place.

A few months ago, I stopped by for brunch and found it to be delightful – from lobster poached eggs benedicts to the bombay style wraps stuffed with tandoori chicken. Chef Aarthi Sampath did a wonderful job in the kitchen, who started at a culinary internship with Junoon, a Michelin-starred Indian concept in Manhattan, New York.

Meanwhile mixologist Hemant Pathak, who has been featured in GQ Magazine and ELLE Magazine, tended the craft cocktails menu to great acclaim.

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Chef Aarthi Sampath

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House Kale Salad

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Juhu Beach Lobster Benny – tandoori lobster / roasted corn / masala poached egg / pao bread

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The Mumbai Franki, a wrap stuffed with chicken, red onions, sweet peppers, garlic aioli and flaky paratha.

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Official statement follows:

From: Rajesh Bhardwaj
Re: American Gymkhana Closing Announcement
Date: Thursday, April 9, 2015

“Since the opening of American Gymkhana, a modern-Indian restaurant and cocktail lounge in 2014, the concept has flourished and has been well-received by the Central Florida community. Our team takes great pride in what we have built, so it is with regret to announce that due to operational and brand discrepancies with local partners involved, American Gymkhana will no longer be open for business after April 2015 in its current location. The decision to withdraw our concept and restaurant group from this project was made after considerate deliberation regarding our brand standards. We look forward to pursuing new ventures in the future within the growing food and beverage community in Orlando.”

“Please note this closing will not impact or influence our other restaurants operating outside of Florida. Again, we thank all guests, organizations, journalists, and specifically, the residents of Central Florida for allowing for us serve the community and be part of a growing food culture.”

– RB Hospitality Group

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For more events, make sure to visit the Orlando Foodie Calendar!

2015 Bacchus Bash


Please CLICK HERE for additional details
This event will take place at Orlando Premium Outlets®- Vineland Ave
on Friday, April 10, 2015 – 5:00pm-10:00pm

Since 1987, “Orlando’s Biggest Street Party” has been dedicated to secure funds for Hospitality Educational purposes. Over the years, Bacchus Bash has donated nearly $1,000,000 to Central Florida hospitality Students and Hospitality Schools in Central Florida.

This annual food, beverage and entertainment festival features 70+ F&B and Entertainment booths and over 25,000 attendees.

Come to the party on Friday April 10th at 5 PM-10PM for drinks, food, entertainment, silent auction and more.

Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets
8200 Vineland Ave
Orlando, FL 32821

A & L Associates
Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza – Orlando
Benihana – Orlando
Brio Tuscan Grille
Caribe Royale Resort & Convention Center
CFHLA Allied Relations Council
CFHLA Security & Safety Council
CFHLA Vacation Ownership Council
Disney’s Art of Animation & Disney’s Pop Century Resorts
DOUBLETREE By Hilton Orlando At SeaWorld
Doubletree by Hilton Orlando Downtown
Doubletree by Hilton Walt Disney and Embassy Suites Orlando International Drive
Edlen Electrical
Grand Bohemian Hotel, Downtown Orlando
Hilton Orlando
Holiday Inn Lake Buena Vista in the Walt Disney World Resort
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes
Loews Hotels—Royal Pacific Resort
Marriott Orlando Airport
Melia Orlando Suite Hotel
Muse Gelato
Nickelodeon Suites Resort
Orlando World Center Marriott
Paramount Resort Collection
Pirate’s Town
Planet Hollywood Restaurant
Renaissance Orlando Airport Hotel
Sea Dog Brew Pub
Servpro of Osceola County
UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management
Valencia College Foundation
Westin Lake Mary Orlando North
Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort
Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive


The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce’s annual showcase of local eateries has grown over the years to be known as “the ultimate foodie festival.”

The 30th Annual Taste of Winter Park presented by CenturyLink is expected to live up to the moniker on Wednesday, April 15, 2015, at the Winter Park Farmers’ Market. More than 45 of the area’s top chefs, bakers, caterers and confectioners are expected to participate.

“Each year the Taste of Winter Park attracts residents and tourists alike to experience a unique pairing of fine food, drink and live music on a fun evening in downtown Winter Park,” said Patrick Chapin, President/CEO for the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce.

Guests’ palettes will be tempted by a variety of cuisines as well as decadent desserts and refreshing beverages. In addition to the delicious dishes, guests will enjoy live entertainment by saxophonist Johnny Mag Sax.

Participating restaurants include: 4 Rivers Smokehouse, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, Another Broken Egg Café, Bailey’s Coffee Service, Barefoot Wine, Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen, Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine, Brio Tuscan Grille, Bungalow 23 Culinary Cocktail Mixers, Carmel Kitchen, Canopy Café, Cocina 214, Costco Wholesale, Crispers, Florida Distributing Company, Gator’s Dockside of Baldwin Park, Hamilton’s Kitchen at The Alfond Inn, Javatino, Jeremiah’s Italian Ice, John & Shirley’s Catering, Kona Ice of Winter Park, Krispy Kreme, Lombardi’s Seafood, Marlow’s Tavern, Mellow Mushroom, Mi Tomatina, Miller’s Ale House, Nelore Brazilian Steakhouse, Orchid Thai Cuisine, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Park Plaza Gardens, Peterbrooke Chocolatier, Pi Hole Pizza, Rogue Pub, Shake Shack, Smart Coffee HD, Sodexo at Rollins College, Sonny’s BBQ, The Bistro on Park Avenue, The Porch, The Wine Barn, Tijuana Flats, TR Fire Grill, Umi, Wayne Densch, Inc. and Whole Foods Market Winter Park.

Participants will compete for bragging rights in seven categories including best entrée, appetizer/side dish, beverage, dessert, healthy dish, Florida-inspired dish and booth display. An elite panel of judges will evaluate each entrant and award honors to the most deserving in each category. Judges include Mark Baratelli, publisher, The Daily City; Pam Brandon and Katie Farmand, editors, Edible Orlando; Josh Garrick, columnist, Winter Park/Maitland Observer; Rona Ginden, dining editor, Winter Park Magazine; Ricky Ly, food blogger, Tasty Chomps; Heather McPherson, food editor and restaurant critic, Orlando Sentinel; Megan Ribbens, web producer, Orlando Business Journal; and Scott Richardson, food writer, The Park Press.

New for 2015, the Taste of Winter Park will hold a drawing of chance for a 2-person European cruise courtesy of GO Travel and Viking River Cruises, valued at $10,000, as well as a silent auction. The drawing will be held during the Taste of Winter Park event. The winner may select from a variety of 8-day/7-night itineraries embarking in November/December 2015. Tickets are available for $10 each, or three for $25. Must not be present to win. The silent auction will feature a variety of packages from Winter Park Chamber of Commerce members including sports, theater, dining and artwork.

The 30th Annual Taste of Winter Park will be held Wednesday, April 15, 2015, from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Winter Park Farmers’ Market, 200 West New England Avenue, Winter Park, 32789. Tickets are available for $40 in advance for Winter Park Chamber members, $45 for non-members and $45 for everyone at the door. Tickets for both the event and the raffle can be purchased at the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce located at 151 West Lyman Avenue, by calling (407) 644-8281 or online at Stay up-to-date with event details at or @WinterParkTaste on Twitter.

The Taste of Winter Park is made possible by our presenting sponsor CenturyLink, and support from Andrea Kudlacz, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, C&S Press, Central Florida Lifestyle, Edible Orlando, Ferrell Wealth Management/ Ferrell & Kelly CPA’s, Florida’s Finest Linen Service, Full Sail University, GO Travel, Hunter Vision, Integrative Physical Medicine, Massey Communications, Orlando Family Magazine, Sysco Central Florida, The Park Press, UCF Athletics, Viking River Cruises, WFTV Channel 9, Whole Foods Market, Winter Park Magazine, Winter Park Village, Winter Park/Maitland Observer, WMMO 98.9 FM and WUCF 88.9 FM.

The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce represents more than 800 businesses, community organizations and individuals in an effort to develop, promote and sustain a vital, thriving business climate throughout the community and to initiate, support and enhance the civic, educational and economic well-being of the area. For more information visit

Taste of College Park
Presented by the Rotary Club of College Park

This year’s event is scheduled for Thursday, April 16, 2015 at 6:00 p.m.

Every spring Rotary Club of College Park hosts the Taste of College Park Food & Wine Festival. The festival takes place at the Historic Dubsdread ballroom.

The Taste of College Park combines food, wine, live music, silent & live auctions for an extraordinary evening in College Park. Nearly a dozen local restaurants and distributors provide the food and wine; local retailers supply items for the silent and live auction. College Park businesses and Rotary Club members sell nearly 500 tickets.

Whether you are a local foodie looking to sample the latest fare from College Park’s best restaurants or a resident looking to enjoy an evening sampling great wines and listening to music, the Taste of College Park Food & Wine Festival is a casual and fun evening for everyone.

The Taste of College Park Food & Wine Festival is the Rotary Club of College Park’s premier fundraising event and one of the largest events in the College Park Community. In previous years, the club raised more than $30,000 for local charities including Ronald McDonald House of Orlando, the Christian Service Center for Central Florida, Princeton Elementary, Lake Silver Elementary, and scholarships & awards for College Park students.


The Taste of College Park Food & Wine Festival targets across three generations of of the College Park community, brining in upscale professionals and residents of all ages. While College Park residents are the highest concentration of participants in years past, the event also is attended by residents of neighboring communities including Lake Ivanhoe, Winter Park, Orwin Manor, Lake Formosa and Downtown.

Event Exposure

The Taste of College Park Food & Wine Festival appeals to foodies and area professionals looking for a night on the town with friends, co-workers or clients.

The event is an excellent marketing vehicle for community partners looking to target an audience with buying power. Partner involvement builds brand awareness, helps you promote goodwill and positive community relations.

Taste of Pointe Orlando – April 19

This is Pointe Orlando — a place where you can elevate your dining experience at restaurants offering everything from casual fare to haute cuisine. Where you can discover a diverse collection of specialty shops. And where, when the sun sets, you can find a place pulsing with energy, music & live entertainment.
Tickets can be purchased at event on Sunday, April 19 for $35

On Sunday, April 19, Pointe Orlando invites you to enjoy samplings of food from our award-winning restaurants amidst equally delectable ambiance. Come relax and savor an afternoon full of delights at the Taste of Pointe Orlando.

Participating restaurants include:
Adobe Gila’s
B.B. King’s Blues Club
Copper Canyon Grill
Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar
Funky Monkey Bistro & Bar
Maggiano’s Little Italy
Marlow’s Tavern
minus5 Ice Bar
RA Sushi
Taverna Opa
Tommy Bahama’s Restaurant & Bar

Proceeds benefit the Florida Hospital Esophageal Cancer Program:
Esophageal cancer is one of the fastest growing cancers in the United States. Acid reflux can lead to pre-cancerous Barrett’s esophagus which can be effectively treated to prevent esophageal cancer. The earlier the diagnosis and onset of treatment, the greater chance you will have of beating this disease. If you have frequent reflux get evaluated and treated to prevent cancer. Barrett’s esophagus is the single major risk of adenocarcinoma cancer which is the fastest growing gastrointestinal cancer and IT IS PREVENTABLE with a non-invasive procedure. Prevention is the key, there ARE steps you can take to prevent this disease. To learn more about treatment options visit All proceeds from this event will benefit the Esophageal Cancer Program at Florida Hospital Cancer Institute.

Florida Hospital’s Gourmet Soiree 2015

Gourmet Soiree - 1

Florida Hospital invites you to roll up your sleeves and join the fight against childhood obesity with Food Network’s Chef Robert Irvine and over 70 of Central Florida’s most talented chefs.
Gourmet Soiree is an interactive dinner experience demonstrating how exciting healthy cooking can be.

Join us at Rosen Shingle Creek on Sunday, May 3, 2015 where we will feature a reception, live and silent auctions and a unique opportunity for you and your guests to prepare a healthy meal alongside your personal table chef.

To purchase individual tickets or a group table, please contact Jami Smith with at 407-303-9586 or

Rosen Shingle Creek Resort
9939 Universal Blvd.
Orlando, FL 32819
– See more at:

Florida Hospital and Celebrity Chef, Robert Irvine invite you to roll up your sleeves and join the fight against childhood obesity.

Join us for an evening of fun with friends, interactive cooking and fabulous food while providing opportunities for the children and families in our community to live a healthy life.

Gourmet Soiree is a unique interactive dining experience, benefiting children in our community and other vital programs at Florida Hospital. Guests will not only watch chefs prepare incredible and healthy dishes before their eyes, they actively participate in the creation and preparation of their meal.

Healthy eating along with an active lifestyle can impact not only the person, but a community. Florida Hospital for Children’s Mission: fit Possible program is designed to teach kids about good eating habits and healthy life choices in fun, entertaining and memorable ways.

Hosted by Celebrity Chef Robert Irvine

With more than 25 years in the culinary field, Chef Robert Irvine brings his experience to the Food Network as host of the hit series Restaurant Impossible. A native of England, Irvine joined the British Royal Navy at age 15, where his skills in the kitchen quickly captured the attention of his superiors. Irvine’s culinary talents granted him the opportunity to work onboard the Royal Yacht Britannia as part of his service, where he prepared food for the royal family and sparked his culinary passion.

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Bento Asian Kitchen + Sushi has finally opened this week at the UCF / University location.

This is their 7th location in Florida, with other Bentos in Gainesville and Jacksonville.


Bento Cafe was founded in Gainesville 13 years ago by University of Florida alumni Jimmy Tung, Johnny Tung and David Yu. This is the third location in Orlando, following the debut of Bento at the Plaza downtown and on Sand Lake Road.

The restaurant features entrees, such as Bento Boxes and noodle and rice bowls, alongside sushi options including sashimi, vegetarian or classical sushi varieties, with most of the dishes in the $7 to $9 range. There is also a full bar at this location.


Some of my favorite dishes at Bento Cafe include the Chirashi sushi bowl, Spicy Korean chicken, teriyaki chicken, and the Cantonese pork chop. While in college, Bento Cafe was actually one of the first places where I tried many of the various cuisines from Asia for the very first time, at a very college budget friendly price. For that, I am forever grateful to them for opening up the doors to Asian cuisine, not only to me, but to thousands of college students around Florida.

We’ll be updating this post as more information comes in.

An assortment of fresh Sashimi on a bed of rice with masago, avocado, slices of cucumber, sesame seeds and wakame
Bento Asian Kitchen and Sushi
12101 University Blvd Ste 408
Orlando, FL 32817
(407) 658-8088

Monday – Friday | 4 pm – 7 pm
Buy 2 rolls, get 1 Free!
$8.75 from Open to 5 pm

Full bar at the UCF location
Full bar at the UCF location
Line is quite busy on the first day
Line is quite busy on the first day

Bento Café on Urbanspoon

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Restaurant Openings / Pop Ups


Emmabean Pop up at East End Market till March 22
Chef Jes Tantalo, Pastry Chef Emily Bose,
For a limited time, stop by the Kappo space at East End Market to get a sneak peek of all that Emmabean’s multi-tarian, american cuisine has to offer, including kids lunches, breakfast & on-the-go or take-home meals. Chefs Jes and Emily will be there cooking up a storm while the Kappo team vacation in Japan.

When: Now through March 22
Tuesday – Sunday from 11am – 3pm
Takeaway Items available throughout the day
Where: East End Market
3201 Corrine Dr., Orlando, FL 32803

Downtown Credo Coffee opens second location at Florida Hospital –
Downtown CREDO is a local 501c(3) non-profit with a mission to improve the quality of lives in our nation’s cities by cultivating networks of meaning, impact and community. The coffee shop has a “pay as you like” model, and after the growers and Credo’s employees are paid, the remaining income goes toward the advancement of four local nonprofit organizations including New Image Youth Center, which serves at-risk youth in Orlando’s Parramore neighborhood through after-school programs, Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida, Green Up Orlando, and Keeping Orlando Beautiful.

Insert coffee to begin. A photo posted by Krystle Nguyen (@krystlenguyen) on

Shish Co Mezze Grill in Maitland.

Doner, Kofte, Kebab, Lamb Chops, Felafel & Turkish Egg Rolls!


New Pier 407 Cajun Crab & Seafood has opened in East Orlando
Pier 407 Cajun Crab & Seafood Inc has opened in the former location of Dawat Indian on Colonial Drive right in front of Boardwalk Bowl
10725 E Colonial Dr Ste B, Orlando
Number of Seats : 49

Photo Feb 26, 5 31 37 PM

BurgerFi at UCF’s Plaza now Open

Photo Mar 04, 12 42 43 PM Photo Mar 04, 12 41 44 PM Photo Mar 09, 12 11 01 PM

Coming soon

Spoleto by UCF
12101 University Blvd, Suite 219 Orlando, Florida
“Spoleto, a popular chain of Italian restaurants in Brazil, Mexico and Costa Rica, combines the speed of fast casual service with the sophistication and gourmet-quality food of a favorite Italian restaurant including pasta, flatbreads, salads, and soups.”




New Tapas and Paella Location From Owners of Taverna Opa Orlando to Create Sixty New Jobs
ORLANDO, Fla. — Husband-and-wife duo, Katerina and Vassilis Coumbaros, who also own the celebrated Greek eatery Taverna Opa Orlando, announced today the opening of a second concept, Toca Boca Orlando, a Spanish restaurant slated to open April 23 in the center of the city’s new tourism complex at the I-Drive 360. Toca Boca will pay tribute to classic and contemporary Spanish cuisine with a robust tapas menu and “paella pit,” which will act as a focal point of the restaurant. Complementing the fare will be a flavorful menu of more than 20 libations, which includes an expansive list of imported wines, in addition to a full collection of spirits and signature cocktails.

Inspired by the culture’s dedication to food and wine, the Coumbaros’ traveled to Spain and developed a menu that leads with indigenous ingredients with imported signatures, such as jamón, chorizo, olives, wines and cheeses. “Celebration is the Spanish way of life, and Toca Boca will pay homage to this by fusing food and entertainment under one roof,” said Katerina Coumbaros. “Vassilis and I were inspired by the architecture, the culture and the cuisine of Spain. Toca Boca is our way of bringing all these memories home.”
Paella, a Spanish-cuisine staple made of rice, green vegetables and meat or seafood; will lead the menu, with four variations of the dish – vegetarian, chicken, seafood or steak. Guests can also enjoy traditional tapas such as Buñuelos, fluffy salted cod fritters; Gambas al Ajillo, a classic tapas dish of shrimp sautéed in olive oil, garlic, paprika and a splash of brandy; Albondigas, a Spanish meatball made with veal and beef combined with Manchego cheese and seasoned with parsley, garlic and Spanish paprika; and Patatas Bravas, fried white potatoes served with a spicy tomato aioli. Guests can also choose from other fare including a Museo de Queso platter of Spanish cheeses, such as Manchego Cheese, Cabra al Vino and Mahon Cheese while meat-lovers can enjoy a selection of traditional cured meats with the Museo de Carne platter featuring Jamón Serrano, Lomo Embuchado, and Fuet.

Toca Boca’s bar will feature an extensive selection of Spanish wines, spirits and cocktails, with specialties such as house-made sangria, the Corazon de España (gin and tonic) and Tinto de Verano, a light red wine served in a traditional Spanish wine pitcher called a porron.

Tina Marie Interior Design spearheaded the restaurant’s design with Spanish accents of imported mosaic tiles and a wall dedicated to traditional and interactive art. Furnishings and light fixtures are inspired by Barcelona and are spread over 5,000-square-feet of space. Indoor and outdoor entertaining can be had with five rooms dedicated to a bar and four private dining rooms available for parties, celebrations and corporate dinners. On any given night up to 270 guests can enjoy an experience similar to Taverna Opa Orlando with food, fun and entertainment as Toca Boca transforms with live music and tableside flamenco dancers.

Toca Boca Orlando, a locally-owned and operated Spanish tapas concept with a focus on cuisine from the region, is located at 8441 International Drive in Orlando, FL. Toca Boca Orlando will be open daily for brunch, lunch and dinner Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. and Friday – Saturday from 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. and will accept both walk-ins and reservations. For more information, please visit

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Toca Boca - Credit Tina Marie Interior Design
Toca Boca – Credit Tina Marie Interior Design

Restaurant Closings

100 Montaditos, the popular Spanish sandwich shop, has filed for bankruptcy nationally, and has closed the local Orlando Waterford Lakes location.

According to Bungalower, the Thornton Park location of Tijuana Flats is scheduled to close later this month.

According to Central Florida’s Good Eats, That Deli! Sandwich shop will close on Saturday March 28th

That Deli! Facebook
Well we did it again! 1st Place Best Sandwich, 1st place Best Take Out and 2nd place Best Deli! – WOW! The last 6 years have gone by so fast and what accomplishments! We wouldn’t have been able to do it with out all our fan base! We THANK all of you!
You know, When Wendy and I created the Deli back in 2009, our expectations were fairly low. Roy just wanted to have some fun, Wendy wanted a good place to eat! and it gave all our kids, at one time or the other a job until they could find something they loved on their own! It got some through school, others opportunities to get some great experience and even the other employees better opportunities to grow. It has been so fun and amazing! We never expected to win the awards we have won or even imagined getting invites to compete in the World Food Competition in Las Vegas for the past 3 years! As the years progressed the Deli took on a life of its own! It is like a Community Center, a ‘Cheers’ bar, or even the place for select customers to debate with Roy on Politics, Religion and Sports! what a journey!

We have watched children grow into young adults, went through all the happy times and sad times with some of the best customers any business could have ever known! We feel like we have formed a huge family and are so thankful for the opportunity to serve the community!

As we say this, we are saddened that we will be bringing the Deli story to an end for at least the short term. We have pondered and pondered resigning a new lease or moving on to a new adventure. With rising food and other costs including equipment repairs and upkeep, it became at best a break even venture most months. With Roy’s knees failing and all the kids on their own it was time to make the decision to close the Deli! Our last day will be Sat. March 28th. We are so heart broken as we feel we are letting our new fond family down. But please know how much we appreciate each and every one of you and after a short mini retirement, hoping we can maybe come back with something bigger and better! So don’t remove us from Facebook. In the mean time, please know how thankful we are to have met you and served you!

Until we meet again….

Roy and Wendy

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Local Orlando foodie news!

Look at the new digs – The Osprey Tavern at Baldwin Park

About to open any week now in Baldwin Park – gorgeous.

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Chef Eddie’s Restaurant Moving to Church Street

One of my personal favorite places for soul food in Orlando, Chef Eddie‘s restaurant is moving from their west Orlando location to the more centralized Church Street location in downtown Orlando. They are moving into the former location of Johnson’s Diner, which also briefly housed Fish n Loaves, and McKnight’s most recently. We spoke to the representatives at Chef Eddie’s who confirmed they would be moving to the location in just two weeks.

All the best of luck to them as they have always had great food – from red velvet waffles and fried chicken to the smothered pork chops and oxtails as well as great hospitality. Karaoke was a bit loud some nights but entertaining…

Visit them:

Current Location:

3214 Orange Center Blvd, Orlando, FL 32805
Phone:(407) 826-1731

New Location:

595 West Church Street Suite E Orlando, FL 32805
(just a block west of the Amway on Church St)


Hawker’s 3rd Location is coming to St Petersburg Florida

“Hawkers” Brings the Streets of Asia to St. Pete’s EDGE District

Orlando, Fla., (February 13, 2015) – It’s of=icial – Hawkers is expanding coast-to-coast… of Florida that is. The owners of Hawkers, a name derived from the term for street food vendors in Asia, have just announced their plans to join the EDGE district of St. Petersburg. Currently operating stores in Orlando and Jacksonville, Hawkers management anticipates a “mid-summer” opening for their St. Petersburg restaurant that will be located at 1235 West Central Avenue.

Guests will enjoy a menu full of small plates that includes the most popular street foods from regions across Asia: Hong Kong, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, and Korea, to name a few. Each menu item is served with sharing plates, encouraging guests to experience new dishes together, as is the custom with traditional hawker centers. The difference? These street foods are served in a hip, trendy environment accompanied by dozens of local craft beer selections.

“We are rede=ining what “eating Asian food” means to mainstream Americans,” says co-founder Allen Lo, who contributes Malaysian in=luence to Hawkers’ menu. “Our goal is for guests to experience authentic flavors, unique to their palettes, in an environment that is as comfortable as it is exciting.”

Traditional noodle soups, wok stir-fried noodles and small plates =ill the menu with dishes ranging from $4-$9. A few of the most popular items include: Char Kway Teo, a Malaysian stir-fried noodle; Siu Yuk, a Chinese roasted, crispy pork belly; and their signature dish, Roti Canai, a Southeast Asian flatbread served. To accompany Hawkers’ extensive food menu, the St. Petersburg location will offer a craft beer selection with over 50 microbrews (many of which will hail from Bay Area breweries) as well as Asian-inspired.

“We all agreed from the onset that =lavors of this depth deserve only the best paired wines, beers, and cocktails,” says Kaleb Harrell, who procures an evolving drink menu for Hawkers’ guests.

To stay updated with the latest progress on Hawkers’ St. Petersburg location or to view a full menu of their current locations, visit Hawkers’ Facebook fan page at

Founded in 2011, Hawkers offers authentic Asian street food in a sharing-encouraged, full-service casual restaurant. With a menu that includes the most popular street food recipes from regions across Asia, Hawkers creates an environment that allows guests to experience unique cuisines at affordable prices with service that educates guests. For more information visit

ArcherRoad Sketch

Sonny’s BBQ Readies for new Strategy for the next 50 Years

Sonny’s BBQ will reveal the grand opening of a brand new location on Archer Road in Gainesville, Fla. on March 16, where guests will find a newly designed, updated version of their favorite local BBQ joint.

The Archer Road opening represents the brand’s ongoing effort to providing guests with a local BBQ experience

The new brand direction will also remind guests of Sonny’s dedication to giving back to the communities it serves. The new restaurant plans to be an integral part of Gainesville through community outreach and recognizing hometown heroes through Sonny’s ‘Random Acts of BBQ’ program, which recognizes those who selflessly give their time and spark the spirit of BBQ in their communities.

This is just the beginning of Sonny’s BBQ efforts to update the brand. Over the next several years, the barbecue chain plans to update as many locations as possible.

Sonny’s BBQ
3635 SW Archer Road
Gainesville, FL 32608

Upcoming Events

The 6th Annual RP Funding Orlando Chili Cook-off Turns Up the Heat on Saturday, March 7, 2015

The 6th annual RP Funding Orlando Chili Cook-off will heat up again at Orlando’s Festival Park Saturday, March 7 starting at noon. New to the event this year is a kick-off concert which will be held Friday, March 6 at 6 p.m. The RP No Fee Concert will feature Vertical Horizon. The free night of music precedes a day for chili-lovers on Saturday, March 7 with the RP Funding Orlando Chili Cook-off.

General admission tickets are now available for presale at Presale tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 6 – 12 and children 5 and under are admitted free. Same-day general admission tickets are $15 for adults.


The world’s best competitive eaters will once again descend on Orlando as part of the third annual World Chili Eating Challenge. Featuring six-minutes of jaw-dropping eating skills, the world’s top eaters will participate including Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, currently ranked the world’s No. 1 competitive eater. Other top ranked competitors include No. 4 ranked Miki Sudo, No. 6 ranked Erik The Red Denmark, No. 7 ranked Adrian Morgan and No. 15 “The People’s Champ” Badlands Booker. Joey Chestnut will be defending his world record set last year. The event will also feature an appearance by Chili Appreciation Society International (CASI) World Chili Champion Jason Goaines.


The RP Funding Orlando Chili Cook-off has raised more than $200,000 for Special Olympics Florida, placing the Orlando Chili-Cook-off among their private donors. The event also raises funds for Kiwanis Clubs of Greater Orlando and several other local charitable organizations.

Visit for tickets or call Events for Change at 407-777-8309 to learn more about vendor, musical performance, cooking, sponsorship and volunteer opportunities.

Top Local Chefs to Join Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida at 2015 Appetite for the Arches Gala


On Saturday, March 7, at the Orlando World Center Marriott, top local chefs from acclaimed restaurants and resorts will showcase their creativity to help raise funds at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida’s Appetite for the Arches benefit. This is a culinary event with a twist — one that has a little something to do with the Golden Arches.

Chefs will use fresh McDonald’s ingredients to create one-of-a-kind signature dishes. Guests will have the opportunity to interact with participating chefs while sampling the gourmet creations at this free-flowing event.

Participating restaurants include:

4 Rivers Smokehouse
Blue Bird Bake Shop
Cask & Larder
Chef’s Table at the Edgewater
Cuisiniers Catering
Emeril’s Tchoup Chop
Hamilton’s Kitchen
K Restaurant
Kabooki Sushi
LUMA on Park
Orlando World Center Marriott
Paxia Modern Mexican & Tequila Lounge
Pig Floyd’s
SeaWorld Parks & Resorts Orlando
The Ravenous Pig
The Rusty Spoon
The Smiling Bison
Txokos Basque Kitchen

Julie Petrakis, who owns The Ravenous Pig and Cask & Larder 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.”

For additional information about Appetite for the Arches including ticket information, please visit

Join the conversation on Twitter: @RMHCCF #AppetiteOrlando

About Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida: 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 a home away from home that offers comfort and care to families with children receiving treatment at local hospitals and medical facilities in Orlando. The two Ronald McDonald Houses in Orlando serve over 1,800 families each year.

First annual 5 Chefs 5 Courses 5 Charities event at The Alfond Inn (hashtag #5Chefs5Charities)

The Alfond Inn will host on March 15

Executive Chef Marc Kusche from Hamilton’s Kitchen, The Alfond Inn, has invited a group of Central Florida’s finest chefs to join him in raising money for each of their chosen charities. Each chef will prepare one of the 5 courses for a family style, farm to table dinner accompanied by live music and fine spirits. The prestigious culinary lineup and charities include:

· Marc Kusche. The Alfond Inn. Chosen Charity: Harbor House

· Fabrizio Schenardi. Four Seasons Resort. Chosen Charity: The St. Jude Mission

· Henry Salgado. Txokos Basque Kitchen. A James Beard Nominee. Chosen Charity: Pace Center For Girls

· Kathleen Blake. The Rusty Spoon. A James Beard Nominee. Chosen Charity: Edible Education Foundation

· Kevin Fonzo. K Restaurant. A James Beard Nominee. Chosen Charity: The Kevin Fonzo Foundation

Tickets are $150 per person. Cocktails served 5:30 p.m., dinner at 6:30 p.m. Advance reservations required by calling (407) 645-6604.


Artegon Marketplace to feature The Art of Beer Featuring Orlando Brewing and Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill on March 10; Spring into Spring Art, Food & Wine Stroll on March 21; Food Truck Fridays starting March 27 … and More!

In addition to experiencing Orlando’s most unique shopping, visitors to Artegon Marketplace Orlando are also treated to a busy schedule of special events and activities. From the permanent Sky Trail ropes course to weekend entertainment and seasonal events, there’s always something happening at Artegon Marketplace. Here’s a look at line-up ahead:

Mark your calendar to join ??Artegon Marketplace for The Art of Beer on Tuesday, March 10 from 5:00-8:00 p.m. Enjoy a night of craft beer plus live music and tantalizing treats from Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill, all for FREE (while supplies last). Relax on the patio while enjoying freshly poured, hand-crafted ales from Orlando Brewing. Mingle with the artisans from The Village at Artegon Marketplace and discover a new way to shop local. This special event makes a repeat performance on April 14.

Guests can “Spring into Spring” on Saturday, March 21 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at this FREE art, food and wine stroll through the Village at Artegon Marketplace. Mingle with artisans displaying their hand-crafted items and art while enjoying complimentary bite-sized treats, wine and the jazz jams of a live three-piece band.

Artegon Marketplace’s “Food Truck Crazy” truck rally held on the fourth Friday of every month kicks off on March 27. Gather on Artegon’s front patio for live music, entertainment and a kaleidoscope of food options, plus savor a unique deal: bring a purchase receipt from The Village at Artegon Marketplace to guest services and redeem for $5 in Food Truck Bucks.

Check here for the most up-to-date list of upcoming events:

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Restaurant Openings

Red Mountain BBQ
3020 Lamberton Boulevard #110 (off of Curry Ford and Dean)
Orlando, FL 32825, United States
(407) 270-4621

Wlad Bladi Moroccan
2934 Vineland Rd
Kissimmee, FL 34746
Phone number (407) 507-2696

Courtesy of Disney
Courtesy of Disney

Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s Boardwalk
(taking over Cat Cora’s Kouzzina location)

East End Market on Cooking Channel – Emeril’s Florida

Upcoming Events


Check out our segment on WESH 2 News Sunrise on CW 18 with Chef John Rivers of 4 Rivers Smokehouse and the Coop and all their Superbowl Eats

Four Seasons Superbowl party and US News ranking

U.S.News & World Report today announced its Best Hotels rankings and Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort was ranked the No. 1 hotel in Orlando. FourSeasons Orlando is also listed on the Best Hotels in Florida and the Best Hotels in the USA lists.


Super Bowl party at Orlando’s Teak Neighborhood Grill

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Winter Park Sip, Shop & Stroll -Thursday, February 5, 2015
The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce and Park Avenue Merchants Association invite you to sip, shop and stroll with your sweetheart! Experience the charm and romance of Park Avenue on this uniquely Winter Park wine walk. Spend the evening visiting your favorite Park Avenue area shops and restaurants. Discover new merchants, check out the latest fashions, gift ideas and seasonal menu items and enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvres along the way.

When & Where
Thursday, February 5, 2015
5 – 8 p.m.
Park Avenue area in downtown Winter Park
Cost: $25 each

Cattle Baron’s Ball Orlando 2015

The Cattle Barons’ Ball is a unique Western-themed evening of live entertainment, a dine-around, dancing, live and silent auctions and
more. And as we come together to party for a cause, the American Cancer Society will continue to save lives and create more birthdays by helping people to stay well and get well, find cures, and fight back against a disease that has taken too many lives.

This one of a kind event allows cowboys and cowgirls to dust off their denim to kick cancer out to pasture once and for all!

Saturday, February 7, 2015
6:00 pm – midnight
Rosen Shingle Creek, 9939 Universal Blvd., Orlando, FL 32819

The event features a dine-around with culinary creations from local restaurants. Entertainment includes Western-themed activities, silent and live auctions and a live performance by great western entertainers.
Valentine’s Day at Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen
Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen on Park
Valentine’s Weekend Couple’s Prix-Fixe Dining Experience
February 13 & 14, starting at 6pm each night
$90 per couple
Call (407) 629-0042 To Reserve (reservation only, limited availability)

Framboise Champagne Cocktail
Appetizer: carpaccio of grass fed beef, with radicchio, pickled beets, and crunchy red quinoa, dressed in a sherry-paprika vinaigrette.
Entree: Stew of Florida shellfish and fish with a saffron, star anise, and tomato broth.
Dessert: Venezuelan chocolate soufflé with blackberries and a Mexican vanilla creme anglaise.
Sweetheart Latte

Wine and beer list available. Not included in the Prix-Fixe menu price.

Restaurant News

Urban Tide

The former Napa restaurant at Hyatt Regency Orlando (formerly Peabody Orlando) has transitioned into Urban Tide which offers diners a modern twist on local Florida seafood favorites.

Highlights from the new menu include a selection of “Starters” like Ceviche with citrus marinated Florida sea bass and serrano spiked rock shrimp and Grouper Cheeks with shishito peppers, cilantro, and creamed Zellwood Farm corn. Seafood selections include Gulf Grouper, Sea Bass and Whole Red Snapper, which can be prepared blackened, grilled, or sautéed. All seafood dishes are served with a trio of house made sauces.

Other “Favorites” include Grilled Domestic Lamb Rack with tomato farro risotto and baby zucchini, and a classic Cioppino.

Further food and beverage developments include a new kosher kitchen which will be completed for events and meetings use by Passover this April.

“As Hyatt Hotels’ largest meetings property, we’re constantly evaluating how we can best accommodate our many diverse groups during their stay,” said Nate Hardesty, Director of Sales and Marketing. “Orlando continues to raise its profile as an ideal destination for meetings and leisure travel, and we want to ensure our offerings are evolving in order to provide the best possible guest experience.”

For further information, or to book a stay at Hyatt Regency Orlando, please visit

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Discussing the latest in Orlando food and drink this week

Barnie's CoffeeKitchen CEO Jonathon Smiga with Executive Chef Camilo Velasco
Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen CEO Jonathon Smiga with Executive Chef Camilo Velasco

Camilo in the Kitchen series debuts via Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen

Chef Camilo Velasco is one of my favorite chefs around town, and also, I believe, one of the most underrated. A protege of Chef Norman Van Aken, Colombian born Chef Velasco delights and surprises the diners at Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen each week with his chef’s menu.

In this first episode of this new series, Chef Velasco talks about his three favorite dishes on the Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen menu. The next episode will be focused on wine and wine pairings.

“This new web series positions Camilo as a thought leader in Culinary Arts and share his passion for cuisine from coffee growing regions worldwide. Other interests such as wine, rare & hard-to-find coffees and farming techniques will be topics he covers. Expect to see two-three new episodes each month. He will also provide insights on family-inspired dishes from his hometown Cali, Columbia. Expect guest stars from time-to-time from the world of coffee & cuisine.”

Restaurant Openings

Izziban BBQ and Sushi has opened on East Colonial just west of SR 436/Semoran in the location formerly of Mr. Sisters, right across from Hot Dog Heaven on the lake. They are known for their all you can eat yakiniku grilled meat barbecue which includes a salad bar and unlimited selection of apps and sushi, ranging from $19.99 at lunch time and late night happy hour to $29.99 at dinner time. 5310 E Colonial Dr
Orlando, FL 32807 Phone number (407) 270-8811

Quickly Boba and Snow has opened featuring not only traditional boba milk tea and snow desserts in “chubby cups”, but also Hong Kong style egg waffle puffs and Taiwanese popcorn chicken – not to mention their awesome mural wall created by local artist Boy Kong. 3214 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803 Phone number (407) 270-4570

The Meatball Shoppe has opened at 7325 Lake Underhill Rd, Orlando, FL 32822, Phone number (407) 270-6505 Hours: Monday – Saturday, for lunch or dinner, 11 AM – 8 PM.

1st Spring Oriental Supermarket – the eastern sister to the wicked supermarket of the west – 1st Oriental Supermarket, 1st Spring Supermarket is set to make many folks who hate the trek out to Pine Hills very happy. They will be opening a bakery, kitchen, and live seafood section soon, they say before Chinese New Year is here. 10681 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32817 Phone number (407) 292-3668

Restaurant Closings

  • Maria Bonita Mexican restaurant on East Colonial has closed.
  • Burger and Beer Joint by UCF has closed via Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide
    – the price point was too high for the college crowd and the burgers were just way too slow coming out of the kitchen. This place was originally a Perkins for many years, then Ichiban, a short lived Chinese/Japanese buffet, and Culpepper’s most recently.
  • California Burrito on East Colonial has also closed, also via Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide

Coming Soon

  • The Osprey Tavern in Baldwin Park
  • Swine and Sons Provisions in Winter Park
  • Valentine’s Day – Saturday February 14 – Book your reservations ASAP
  • Berghoff’s Beer Hall at Artegon Marketplace on International Drive
  • Black Rooster Taqueria in Mills 50, former location of Tony’s Deli via Bungalower

Upcoming Events

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Clearwater Beach Uncorked is delighted to announce its 4th annual  food beachfront spectacular to be held on February 7th and 8th, 2015, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., beneath the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa.

Clearwater Beach Uncorked, described as the finest beachfront culinary event on Florida’s west coast, is brought together by sponsors: Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa and Publix. Clearwater Beach Uncorked will bid the ultimate pre-Valentine’s Day beach getaway complete with delicious tastings from the area’s most renowned restaurants. Guests of the event will have the privilege of mingling at this exquisite paparazzi filled event sure to satisfy anyone’s cravings. For more information, visit

Clearwater Beach Uncorked will donate a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales to the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee College of Hospitality and Technology Leadership. This year’s sponsors include: Publix, Duncan Hines, Florida Department of Citrus, Hefty, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Planters, and Reynolds.

Downtown Food & Wine Fest 2015 1200 x 1200
February 21 and 22, 2015

The Seventh Annual Downtown Food & Wine Fest is set for Saturday, February 21 and Sunday, February 22, 2015 for more than 30,000 foodies and wine lovers to experience unique local cuisine paired with wines from around the globe.

Date / Time: Saturday, February 21 (noon to 9 p.m.) and Sunday, February 22, 2015 (noon to 7 p.m.)

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

Tickets: Admission is $15 per person, per day with advance online purchase. Admission at the door is $20 per person, per day. Admission for children under age 12 is free. For all-weekend Fest fans, a two-day ticket is available for $20 per person with advance online purchase. Food and beverage tickets are available at the Fest for $2 each; food and beverage offerings range from one to four tickets.

“The Downtown Food & Wine Fest is one of our Downtown’s signature cultural events, showcasing the best of Orlando’s culinary scene. Events like this continue to expand Downtown’s offerings and bring more and more people to our urban core to celebrate the beauty, diversity, and vibrancy of our community,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.

For more information on the Downtown Food & Wine Fest:

For more upcoming events, check out our newly created Orlando Foodie Calendar! shoot us an email if you want to add anything at tastychomps (at)


In case you missed it, here is the link to our segment on WESH 2 Sunrise News on CW 18 this week, talking about the Chinese/Vietnamese Lunar New Year:

and the link to the Guide to Lunar New Year in Orlando 2015 

See you next time on Wesh Sunrise News on CW 18 !
See you next time on Wesh Sunrise News on CW 18 !

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Discussing the latest in food and drink in Orlando this week

New Food Trend? The Fast Casual Pizza Movement arriving in Orlando soon

This week on the Orlando Foodie Forum we discussed a new food trend ready to hit Orlando: The Fast Casual Pizza Movement, a la Chipotle.

In a recent article on BusinessInsider, Pizza Studio, a franchise that launched in 2012 and currently has 30 locations around the country had a year-on-year revenue growth of $2.5 million in 2013… and $11.5 million in 2014. According to Forbes, they’re “adapting the quick and made-to-order model, championed by Chipotle and Subway, to pizza.”

“For a fast-casual restaurant, Pizza Studio is competitively priced—$7.99 for an 11-inch personal pie—but its product is way more personalized than at most pizza joints. Customers choose their crust, sauce, cheese, and unlimited toppings which includes meats, vegetables, and seasoning. What’s more, the options are good. You can build your ideal pizza on a rosemary herb or whole grain and flaxseed base, sprinkle it with feta or goats cheese, throw on three different types of peppers and nitrate-free pepperoni, and then finish it with Old Bay Seasoning or truffle salt. Those are the kinds of ingredients you’d expect at a higher-end pizzeria, and yet Pizza Studio doesn’t sacrifice affordability or speed: high-tech convection ovens mean each pie only takes two minutes to cook.”

Recently, newcomers Pie Five Pizza Company and Blaze Pizza have started to put their finishing touches to their fast casual pizza shops near UCF. Topp N Pie Pizza is also expected to open near Waterford Lakes soon.

The Dallas based Pie Five, which takes over the space once occupied by Greens and Grille on University, promises to have pizzas ready within 5 minutes and is looking to aggressively expand to over 25 locations in Florida within the year.

Pie Five Pizza
Pie Five Pizza
via Gannett Newspapers
via Gannett Newspapers
Image via Yelp
Image via Yelp

Blaze Pizza which promises “Fast-Fire’d Custom Built Artisanal Pizzas” is set to open at the new Plaza on Alafaya and University near Bar Louie’s, priced at a very competitive $6.85 for a 12 inch personalized pizza, all oven cooked in under 180 seconds (3 minutes).


There have been other “personalized” pizza places open in Orlando, most notably Pie-Fection in the Universal area and Chomp Chomp Pizza (no affiliation) in Winter Park. Chomp Chomp closed last year and is now a Marco’s Pizza. Lisa Wilk of tells us, “Pizza was good, crust was meh. Like manufactured, refrigerated dough. Great oven, though.” To hear and participate in all the latest in Orlando food – join the Orlando Foodie Forum on Facebook today 🙂

Image via Zagat
Image via Zagat

In Other News

Orlando was also recently mentioned in Wine Enthusiast magazine and New York Times as one of the top places to go in 2015, particularly for our developing food scene!

Top 10 Best Wine Destinations in 2015 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine

“Expect the unexpected in Orlando. Shrugging off its just-for-kids image, it sports brag-inducing eats and world-class wine experiences, particularly in new neighborhoods like the Mills 50 District and Winter Park. Ricky Ly, author of The Food Lovers’ Guide to Orlando, points to nominations of several local chefs for James Beard Foundation awards to illustrate the city’s culinary chops. “From hidden speakeasies like The Pharmacy, to the Basque-style restaurant, Txokos Basque Kitchen, serving cola-and-wine-braised kalimotxos pork belly, there is something to be found for every wine and food lover just outside the theme park gates.” ”

New York Times Travel lists Orlando as one of the Top 52 Places to Go in 2015
Untrammeled oases beckon, once-avoided destinations become must-sees and familiar cities offer new reasons to visit.

A pork porterhouse at the Ravenous Pig restaurant.  Credit Jon Whittle
A pork porterhouse at the Ravenous Pig restaurant. Credit Jon Whittle

“Beyond Mickey Mouse: a Disney destination matures.

Disney World will no doubt remain the biggest draw to Orlando, but the city is growing up thanks to a string of civic developments, including the $429 million Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center, the 62-mile-long SunRail commuter train, both opened last year, and a coming 19,500-seat soccer stadium set to open this year. But the most surprising development is the food scene. East End Market, and its stalls selling locavore fare and artisanal baked goods, opened in 2013. Last year saw the opening of Txokos Basque Kitchen, whose chef was nominated for a James Beard Award. Not to be outdone, two fellow Beard nominees, James and Julie Petrakis (The Ravenous Pig, Cask & Larder), announced the February opening of Swine & Sons Provisions, their market/restaurant hybrid. Theme parks are expanding adult options as well: the elegant Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World opened in August 2014 and features a golf course, a rooftop lounge and an adults-only pool. Adam H. Graham”

North America Chowzter Awards 2014

Also, this weekend is the North American Chowzter Awards 2014, where local Orlando restaurants 4 Rivers Smokehouse and Chuan Lu Garden were both nominated. 4 Rivers was nominate for Best BBQ for their smoked angus brisket while Chuan Lu Garden was nominated for their Chongqing La Zi Fried Chicken. Chowzter is a global network of the world’s most celebrated food experts and writers, all searching for the tastiest Fast Feasts on the planet. Prepared by passionate and inspired artisans, Fast Feasts are locally sourced, freshly prepared, served hot on the spot and enjoyed immediately. The best of these Fast Feasts reflect the local culture, history and traditions of their cities and countries of origin. The awards are held in New Orleans this year which I will attend as a Chief Chowzter for Orlando.

Now Open / Coming Soon in Orlando

Urban Tide is the new coastal concept opening in the restaurant space formerly known as Napa at the Hyatt Regency Orlando on International Drive. Guest feedback inspired the hotel to create the new seafood-focused restaurant after they learned that their trademark rights to the name “Napa” would expire at the end of 2014.

Chuy’s, the Austin-based restaurant famous for its authentic and crave-able Tex-Mex menu, today announced it will hire an estimated 170 new employees, including full-time and part-time positions, for their third location in the Orlando area. Chuy’s newest restaurant is scheduled to open in February 2015 and will be located at 6688 S. Semoran Boulevard, minutes from the Orlando International Airport.
Chuy’s will be hiring a variety of positions, including front-of-the-house hosts, servers, bussers and bartenders. The restaurant is also hiring kitchen staff to help prepare its made from scratch dishes and signature sauces. Among the positions available at Chuy’s, the tortilla “experts” illustrate the restaurant’s commitment to authentic and fresh Tex-Mex. By making each hand-rolled tortilla to order on a comal located in the main dining room, they offer a peek at the philosophy of freshness that sets Chuy’s apart. Chuy’s staff can expect high volume with lots of fun. Interested applicants should apply at the hiring RV located at the future restaurant site at 6688 S. Semoran Boulevard Monday-Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. To learn more about employment at Chuy’s, please visit


Tin Roof is a live music joint where people can hang out, drink and dine, and enjoy live music almost every night of the week. Located at I-Drive 360, Tin Roof’s outdoor seating offers some of the best views of the giant observation wheel. Music fans will be able to hear some of the top local and regional bands; foodies will find a killer menu filled with unique dishes bursting with flavor. Headquartered in Nashville, this is the company’s 14th location and its first in Florida.

WHERE: Tin Roof is located at 8371 International Drive at I-Drive 360. Parking is available in the garage or by valet for free.


Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill is proud to officially announce its opening at Artegon Marketplace, the newest retail, restaurant and entertainment attraction in Orlando, Fla. The Artegon Marketplace launch marks the final restaurant opening of 2014 for Boomtown Entertainment. As Phoenix-based Boomtown Entertainment continues to expand in further markets, the nationally-recognized hospitality group, is proud to be an anchor store at the 1.1 million-square-foot shopping attraction and artisan marketplace.

Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill’s menu extends from traditional southern cuisine mixed with American classics. Shareable tasty bites include “T.K.’s Smokehouse Nachos” while mainstay entrees consist of fan favorites, from the “American Solider,” a signature fire-grilled burger to “Chicken Fried Steak,” served with sweet corn succotash and mashed potatoes. The iconic 95-foot guitar-shaped bar offers a selection of beers on tap, moonshine, martinis and margarita drinks. An extensive signature cocktail list includes “The American Girl,” “Red Bullfrog” and Toby’s own “Blue Mezacalita” featuring Toby’s premium Wild Shot Mezcal.

Upcoming Events


Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster (“Christner’s”), a steakhouse staple in Central Florida is refreshing its bar program with a menu featuring new cocktails set to unveil at its inaugural Christner’s Craft Wars. All about the bar, on Saturday, January 17 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., three of Christner’s resident bartenders will go head-to-head in three rounds of craft cocktail making with the winner dueling it out for charity and bragging rights.

For $20, guests will gain access to the event. All cocktails will be judged based on originality, taste and the uniqueness of its name; the three rounds of cocktail creations include the Christner’s Classic; the bourbon cocktail and the “secret ingredient” mixed cocktail.
Christner’s bartender’s Jeannie Rudnick, Kyle Laufenberg and Stacy Word will be partnered with three local charities –Central Florida Food and Outreach, Florida Hospital Diabetes Institute and Runway to Hope – and the bartender with the most tips at the end of the three rounds will select the cocktail of his/her choice to be featured as a limited-time-only drink on Christner’s bar menu. Tickets will be given back to all attendees in the way of “tipping tokens.”

All guests are asked to RVSP via e-mail to

WHERE: Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster – 729 Lee Road | Orlando, FL
WHEN: Saturday, January 17 at 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
COST: $20 per person of which, $10 of which is donated to charity

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Lots of great things happening in the City Beautiful’s restaurant scene, some good, some not so good

Restaurant Openings

Pig Floyd Urban Barbakoa in Mills 50

image via @Droolius
image via @Droolius
image via @Droolius
image via @Droolius

Introducing a fresh interpretation of the barbecue experience. PIG Floyd’s integrates cultural influences with traditional fire, smoke and pit methods to craft vibrant, delicious fare.

Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa
1326 N Mills Ave, Orlando, Florida 32803

Soco Restaurant in Thornton Park

Soco in Thornton Park
629 E. Central Blvd., Orlando, FL
Open for dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. this week.

It occupies the former Hue restaurant space on the corner of Central Boulevard and Summerlin Avenue in Downtown Orlando’s Thornton Park district and led by Executive Chef Greg Ritchie via ScottJosephOrlando



A farm-fresh take on resort dining, The Ritz-Carlton Orlando debuts a modern approach to Southern cuisine in a highly anticipated new casual-dining restaurant: Highball & Harvest. Blending rustic design elements with contemporary Ritz-Carlton refinement, the signature restaurant features interactive dining (from table-side handcrafted cocktail experiences to bar-side oyster shucking), a novel railroad-inspired design with a substantial bar area, and a playful Southern-inspired menu.

Comprised of The Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes continues its dedication to farm-to-fork dining and authentic, local experiences with the opening of H&H, helmed by the resort’s rising young Chef de Cuisine Mark Jeffers who joined The Ritz-Carlton, Orlando in 2007. Having grown up on the water, the Daytona, Florida native pulls his culinary inspiration from his hometown state as well as his extensive travels around the South, from Low Country-infused Charleston to Cajun-spiced New Orleans. Chef Jeffers’ dishes are hyper local, infused with Floridian citrus and ingredients from nearby purveyors and the resort’s own 7,000-square-foot Whisper Creek Farm, which opened in October 2012 and continues to expand. The thirst-quenching heart of the restaurant will be its hands-on cocktail bar experience.

Highball & Harvest’s most unexpected offerings:

Parker House Rolls, made from Khorasan wheat (Egyptian old-world grains) and served warm and moist with less gluten than typical bread, a complimentary bread presentation made from scratch by the resort’s 30-person pastry team.

Signature dishes: Pig-n-Potatoes, an all-day breakfast dish of poached egg, potato hash, and tender pork cheeks with sweet peppers, caramelized onions, H&H Hot Sauce, and hollandaise sauce. The Southern Spreads, pimento cheese dip and smoked fish dip served with pickled veggies, benne seed lavash, and grilled sourdough presented in a metal tackle box. Smoked Lamb Brisket with boiled peanut “baked beans” and collards.

Raw Oyster Bar with signature house-made H&H Hot Sauce. Chefs shuck oysters by hand and teach diners all-things-oysters.

Interactive cocktail table with handcrafted, herb-infused cocktails. Knowledgeable bar chefs muddle ingredients while curating a personalized cocktail experience. Cocktails are served on the rocks with hand-carved ice, sculpted bar side with a high-end Japanese ice saw and infused with Whisper Creek Farm herbs and fruits. Signature cocktails: “The Last Wish” served over an ice sphere with orange peel, the “Doc Holliday” with house ginger beer and blueberry jam, and the “Back 40 Punch”, a refreshing take on a bourbon cocktail mixed with sweet tea and lemon.

Cask wine. Central Florida’s largest selection of wines from the cask. This method ensures perfect temperature control and freshness, and is eco-friendly by reducing the amount of wine bottles used.

Reflecting the importance of the resort’s home at the headwaters to the Florida Everglades, H&H’s one-of-a-kind design takes a note from its Central Florida locale, an agricultural industry epicenter. A play on the region’s “Iron Harvest” railroad, H&H exudes a casual elegance of rustic sophistication–warm accents of reclaimed pine wood columns, industrial metal, juxtaposed with refined white brick walls and a checkered marble floor at the Market Station where the breakfast buffet is served. Noteworthy artistic elements include a large abstract still-life mural, traditional antique Killim rugs, custom hand-painted dishware, farm tool accessories, an apothecary chest of rare liquors, and linen fabrics. H&H, designed by The Johnson Studio, offers a variety of seating, from communal dining in a lounge area with a horseshoe-shaped bar to casual leather-padded seats, a modern interpretation of a farm chair.

4012 Central Florida Parkway
Orlando, FL 32837
(407) 393-4422
Daily 6:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Bar Daily 11 a.m. – Midnight

Royal Indian Cuisine in Casselberry

Royal Indian Cuisine
Phone: +407-681-7542

via @EatLocalOrlando
New Indian restaurant in Casselberry, opening in the former location of a Brick and Fire pizza offshoot. Lunch buffet daily except Mondays.

Green Day Cafe in NoDo

Green Day Cafe Downtown
807 North Orange Avenue
Orlando, FL 32801
(Free garage parking in the 801 North Orange Avenue building)
The anticipated operating hours are 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

Green Day Cafe is opening in downtown Orlando at 7 a.m. Monday Sept. 22. Green Day Cafe is known for fresh salads, soups and sandwiches with an emphasis on eco-friendly practices and customer service. The restaurant, which will have both indoor and outdoor seating, replaces the Virgin Olive Market in the city center’s North Quarter District. via OrlandoSentinel

JJ’s Grille on Curry Ford

The newest addition to Orlando’s thriving restaurant scene, JJ’s Grille, celebrates the much-
anticipated Grand Opening of its first restaurant on Wednesday, September 24th in Orlando, in the Crystal Lake Plaza on Curry Ford Road, JJ’s Grille’s hours of operation are 11:00 am until 10:00 pm, seven days a week.

The fast-casual restaurant seats about 30 guests and features a menu focused on grilled, fresh meats that guests can order either in Mexican-style as burritos and rice bowls, or Mediterranean-style in a pita sandwich. Salad bowls are available as well. JJ’s Grille is a fusion at heart, offering options that range from Latin, with pico de gallo and guacamole, to Middle Eastern with hummus and their signature item, tabbouleh. Vegetarians and vegans can also enjoy JJ’s Grille, as they offer a grilled eggplant and squash alternative to the meats.

JJ’s Grille
2950 Curry Ford Road
Orlando, FL 32806

Chicago’s Stuffed Pizza Downtown

image via @Tastes Of Orlando

Chicago’s Stuffed Pizza
116 West Church Street
Orlando, FL 32801
(407) 930-0770

“It was delicious and tasty, but very filling, and my Chicago friend approved of this pie very much.I really enjoyed Chicago’s Stuffed Pizza and am looking forward to a return visit with a group of friends” via @Tastes Of Orlando

Mingos at UCF DoubleTree hotel

Mingos UCF GO 1

Downtown Orlando restaurant Mingos recently opened at UCF DoubleTree by Hilton slated on August 12. Mingos will be the exclusive restaurant partner of Alena Hospitality, offering their exceptional menu and signature top-notch service to hotel guests and neighboring residents. Since opening in the Eola Heights District of Downtown Orlando in November of last year, Mingos has been living up to its motto “Fresh. Healthy. Lively.” featuring fresh, local ingredients in an inspiring menu created by Executive Chef Luis Negron. Mingos also provides an award-winning Sunday Brunch and beautiful dining atmosphere.
The 2,700-square-foot restaurant seats about 90 guests, including a lounge area, and plans to hire 50 workers.

Mingos at DoubleTree – UCF
12125 High Tech Avenue Orlando, FL 32817
(407) 275-9000

Coming Soon


Beloved Burger, Hot Dog and Frozen Custard Stand to Open Second Central Florida Shack in Spring 2015 – Building on the success of the Winter Park Shack that opened this past July, the newest Central Florida Shack will be prominently situated in the all-new I-Drive 360 – Orlando’s premier dining, entertainment and shopping destination that is home to the 400-foot-tall “Orlando Eye” observational wheel. Conveniently located on famed International Drive, the I-Drive Shack will be approximately 3,000 square feet with an outdoor patio space for al fresco dining.

Restaurant Closings

Greens and Grille on University Blvd near UCF, popular for their salads, has closed. Their remaining location by the Mall at Millenia is still open. Via Michael Lothrop

Upcoming Events

Pantry to Plate Chef’s Challenge 9/18/2014


Kamayan: A Filipino Feast event that is being held at East End Market on September 22nd from 7PM-9PM.

A KAMAYAN is a traditional Filipino way of communal eating with your bare hands. No plates or silverware are necessary (but will be provided) for this casual, family-style dinner on top of the East End Market in Winter Park, FL. Try a variety of traditional Filipino delicacies from vegetarian tastings, to different pork/meat dishes, and whole fish, as they are spread atop mounds of steamed rice and banana leaves.

MasterChef 15 contestant Francis Biondi will be teaming up with Kappo at East End Market and also Chef Jonjie Sibayan from the PAO Cafe Filipino Restaurant in Tampa – which is a cool collaboration between Tampa and Orlando’s food scenes.

Beer and cocktails will be paired with the food with Rene Nguyen from Hanson’s Shoe Repair pairing up the cocktails. Tickets are $75 and seats are limited, check it out and support the Filipino food movement.



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Smothered Pork chops at McKnight's

McKnight’s Soul Food has closed its location on 595 West Church Street, according to reports. The soul food restaurant known for their smothered pork chops and recently posted on its twitter page that it would be re-locating to another location, though that message has now since been deleted. A phone call to their restaurant this morning was made and the number was found to be no longer in service. No notice has been posted on their website or facebook at the time of this writing.


Founded by 30 year old entrepreneur William McKnight, the restaurant is the third restaurant to take over in the same location on Church Street near the Amway Center. It follows the same fate of the 25 year old Johnson’s Diner who moved there in 2006 and briefly Fish N Loaves in 2011. Other soul food favorites that have closed in other areas of town include Mama Nem’s and Lowe’s Good Eaton. Local resident Jibreel Ali says, “It really bothers me to see them gone! Young, vibrant and the food was great!”

Mr. McKnight and Commissioner Tiffany Moore Russell and Roberta Walton - Courtesy of their Facebook page
Mr. McKnight and Commissioner Tiffany Moore Russell and Roberta Walton – Courtesy of their Facebook page

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

We hope that Mr. Mcknight will be able to reopen in his new location soon.

Smothered Pork chops at McKnight's
Smothered Pork chops at McKnight’s

Until then, those looking for great soul food in Orlando can visit and support locally –

Chef Eddie’s Restaurant
3214 Orange Center Boulevard, Orlando, FL 32805
Takeout location – 971 North Goldenrod Road Orlando, FL 32807

Nikki’s Place
742 Carter Street, Orlando, FL 32805

This is a developing story, check back for updates soon.

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A new Michelin survey finds that tipping habits among different demographic groups vary…pretty obvious findings…about 70 percent of people surveyed tip between 15 and 20 percent for good service and luckily, only 1 percent of those surveyed leave no tip.

Recently, the IRS has implemented new laws taxing automatically charged tips for large groups, leading some restaurants to re-evaluate their automatic tip charge policy.

How much do you usually tip when dining out?

Press release below.

michelin mnnchen

Young adults are more thrifty than older adults and women are less likely than men to be big tippers

GREENVILLE, S.C. (June 4, 2014) – On average, Americans say they usually tip 18 percent for good service when dining out, according to a recent online survey by Harris Poll that was conducted on behalf of Michelin—a company known for its tires and celebrated restaurant guides.

According to the survey that included more than 2,000 U.S. adults, 70 percent of Americans overall say they usually tip between 15 to 20 percent for good service when dining out, and one in ten Americans say they typically tip more than 20 percent, with men more likely to say this than women (12 percent compared to eight percent, respectively). Thankfully, just one percent of Americans say they leave nothing for good service.

A closer look at the survey’s demographics shows that younger adults, more than older adults, say they usually leave tips well below the national average. Thirty percent of Americans age 18-34 admit they normally tip less than 15 percent for good service, while only 16 percent of adults 35 and older admit this in the survey.

Geographically, there are also differences. According to the survey, diners in the Northeast are more charitable when tipping than other regions of the country. For example, 22 percent of diners in the South say they normally tip less than 15 percent. In the West 24 percent say this, and in the Midwest it is 26 percent. Only 15 percent of Northeast diners say they tip this sparingly, and the overall average tip among this geographic group is above the national average at 19 percent.

The Harris Poll survey for Michelin also asked Americans what was the most they have tipped for good service. Surprisingly, one in three Americans said they have left 30 percent or more for good service.

In the very big tipper category, 12 percent of diners say they have left 50 percent or more in gratuity. And while there were some small differences between men and women in normal tipping habits, when it comes to the largest tip ever, men are considerably more freehanded than women. In the Michelin survey, men are more likely than women to have tipped 30 percent or more (39 percent versus 24 percent, respectively), and men are also more likely to have splurged 50 percent or more (16 percent versus eight percent, respectively).

Michelin’s famous restaurant guides

When it comes to dining expertise, Michelin has a long and storied history in publishing guides with restaurant advice. The company’s founders, brothers Andre and Edouard Michelin, created their first travel guide with dining and hotel recommendations in 1900 to promote early automobile travel and thereby sell more tires. Today, the Michelin Red Guide is recognized internationally as the standard for restaurant and hotel information. The Michelin Red Guide is published in 23 countries, covering three continents.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Michelin from December 11-13, 2013 among 2,019 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Tony Fouladpour at

About Michelin

Dedicated to the improvement of sustainable mobility, Michelin designs, manufactures and sells tires for every type of vehicle, including airplanes, automobiles, bicycles, earthmovers, farm equipment, heavy-duty trucks and motorcycles. The company also publishes travel guides, hotel and restaurant guides, maps and road atlases. Headquartered in Greenville, S.C., Michelin North America employs more than 22,000 people and operates 19 major manufacturing plants in 16 locations.


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The 10 lb Monster Burger at Burger and Beer Joint

I ran by the new Burger and Beer Joint restaurant today, and it looks poised to open any day now, with a soft opening on May 15 and grand opening in June, according to the OBJ.

With thousands of UCF students nearby and Four Rivers Smokehouse recently open a few doors down and lines out the door almost every day, will University Boulevard become Orlando’s “Fast Casual” Restaurant Row?

Photo of Burger and Beer Joint on University taken May 5, 2014
Photo of Burger and Beer Joint on University taken May 5, 2014

The restaurant based out of Miami will open its doors this May 2014 after some finishing touches this month. It replaces Culpepper’s, a restaurant founded by nearby UCF alumni Daunte Culpepper, most famous for his time as the quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings. That restaurant closed after just a few short months, and never really getting the footing needed in the very competitive and tight UCF market. The location previously was the home to Ichiban buffet for about a year before that, as well as Perkins for many years.

Burger and Beer Joint has a sports and rock ’n’ roll theme and of course lots of burgers and beers on the menu.

Their restaurant specializes in “massive burgers with a gourmet twist – You pick a beer, then pick a burger.”

This location will be the fourth in the company, and the first outside of South Florida.

Some highlights on the menu include the $125 ten-pound Mother Burger , the fried Twinkie with ice cream, fried zucchini sticks and adult milkshakes.

The Mother Burger consists of 10 lbs of Certified Angus Beef ® brand Prime, served with lettuce, tomato, onion, and a pickle, the size of a manhole cover and sandwiched in a bun that resembles a couch cushion. If you finish it yourself within 2 hours, it’s free! Otherwise, share with your table.

They also offer light fare options including seafood, chicken and salads.

Looking at the menu, with many of their specialty burgers ranging in the $13.99 and up levels, it will be facing some stiff competition especially with that price point in an area where the dining crowds are mostly UCF students or nearby corporate industry employees.

Burger 21, Super Burger, Graffiti Junktion, and Junior’s Colombian Burger (taking over the spot for the briefly opened Pioneer Kitchen burger joint) are all open now in the area with BurgerFi opening soon as well with the new Plaza student apartment complex on University and Alafaya.

Photos below via Burger and Beer Joint Orlando

The 10 lb Monster Burger at Burger and Beer Joint
The 10 lb Monster Burger at Burger and Beer Joint
Burger and Beer Joint in Orlando
Burger and Beer Joint in Orlando
Burger and Beer Joint set to open May 2014
Burger and Beer Joint set to open May 2014
Burger and Beer Joint renovations - formerly Culpepper's
Burger and Beer Joint renovations – formerly Culpepper’s
Burger and Beer Joint renovations
Burger and Beer Joint renovations

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2014 is shaping up to be quite a year of renovations, re-imaginings, and re-inventions for the food and hospitality industry in Central Florida.

Grande Lakes Orlando will launch multi-phase renovations at both The Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott Orlando that will see the debut of two new restaurants: Highball & Harvest at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando in July 2014 and Whisper Creek Kitchen (complete with an on-site brewery) at JW Marriott Orlando in Fall 2014.

Readers may be familiar with the two hotels for their esteemed, higher end restaurants: Norman’s at the Ritz and Melissa Kelly’s Primo at JW Marriott (where many local chefs and industry leaders got their start in 2003). The two new restaurants will likely fill the gap for more middle class tastes to complement the existing high end establishments.

In addition to these new culinary offerings, a significant renovation will be launched at The Ritz-Carlton Spa and updates to meetings spaces at both hotels will be completed.

Whisper Creek Farms at Grande Lakes
Whisper Creek Farms at Grande Lakes

“In celebrating Grande Lakes Orlando’s tenth anniversary as Orlando’s luxury leader, the year’s renovations underscore our commitment to providing authentic, innovative experiences and the highest level of service that keeps our guests coming back,” says Jim Burns, Vice President and Managing Director, Grande Lakes Orlando. “Following the 2011 renovation of all of the resort’s 1,582 rooms and suites, as well as the start of our meeting space upgrades in 2012 and 2013, we are excited to continue the revitalization of the resort this year.”

The two new restaurants are part of the resort’s sustainable cuisine philosophy, which started when the resort opened in 2003 with Primo at the JW Marriott and the opening of Whisper Creek Farm, a 13,000-sqaure-foot on-property farm and event space, in 2012.

Photos provided by Grande Lakes Orlando
Photos provided by Grande Lakes Orlando

Highball & Harvest will replace The Vineyard Grill, The Ritz-Carlton Orlando’s current casual dining restaurant, which will close for complete renovations in May 2014, and re-open as Highball & Harvest in late summer 2014. It will be led by Chef Mark Jeffers, current chef de cuisine at The Vineyard Grill.

The restaurant will feature a Southern-inspired and locally sourced menu (from both the on-site Whisper Creek Farm and local purveyors), crafted cocktails, and a design inspired by the railroad system that made Florida an agricultural epicenter.

The name Highball & Harvest comes from two places – Highball is the conductor’s signal for a train to depart and to move at full speed. It also refers to the restaurant’s signature cocktail of the same name. Harvest alludes to the on-site farm and the use of other produce from local farms.

Expert bar chefs will serve up signature seasonal hand-crafted cocktails at an interactive cocktail table in an extensive bar/lounge area., and will also instruct while muddling tableside.

The second new establishment, Whisper Creek Kitchen will be a brand-new restaurant at JW Marriott Orlando and an extension of Whisper Creek Farm featuring ingredients from the farm and signature craft beer brewed by Cicerone®-certified Executive Chef Chris Brown of the JW Marriott Orlando.

Michelle Valle, Director of Public Relations, tells us that the in-house brewery will be a “nano-brewery, even smaller than a micro brewery, a half barrel brewing system capable of producing 15 gallons of beer a week, with 10 gallons to be placed into kegs for the restaurant and 5 gallons to be bottled for sale.” There will be two beers available: one year-round signature “honey orange” beer made with honey obtained on-site at the hotel’s Whisper Creek Farm and local oranges, and a second seasonal changing beer, like an autumn pumpkin beer in the fall from pumpkins grown on the property.

Rrenovations to the resort’s more than 150,000 square feet of indoor meetings space commenced in the Fall of 2012 and will be complete by the close of 2014 with a bright, contemporary new look and feel to all spaces. Most notably in December 2013 the resort completed renovations to the 20,000-square-foot Palazzo Ballroom at JW Marriott Orlando and the elegant Ritz-Carlton Ballroom. The summer will close with a new look for the 40,000-square-foot Ritz-Carlton Spa that continues to win top accolades year after year.”

See renderings of the Dining Room and Bar for the new Highball & Harvest below:

Dining Room Rendering of Highball and Harvest at Grande Lakes Orlando - Ritz Carlton
Dining Room Rendering of Highball and Harvest at Grande Lakes Orlando – Ritz Carlton

Bar Rendering of Highball and Harvest at Grande Lakes Orlando - Ritz Carlton
Bar Rendering of Highball and Harvest at Grande Lakes Orlando – Ritz Carlton

# # #
About Grande Lakes Orlando

Grande Lakes Orlando is a unique 500-acre resort with a luxury 582-room Ritz-Carlton and deluxe 1,000-room JW Marriott Hotels. In particular, the Grande Lakes Adventure Experiences program, which includes kayak and canoe eco-tours and a fishing school, reflects the resort’s natural surroundings. Grande Lakes also offers the culinary mastery of award-winning Chefs Norman Van Aken and Melissa Kelly, new total-wellness inspired treatment programs at The Ritz-Carlton Spa and Golf Digest Schools’ golf instruction. The estate is located 15 minutes from the Orlando International Airport, five minutes from the Orange County Convention Center and minutes from the major theme parks.

Guests at both hotels can enjoy all the facilities and services at Grande Lakes Orlando, including the 18-hole championship golf course, designed by Greg Norman, the 40,000-square-foot Ritz-Carlton Spa offering a new rooftop eco-space, a wide selection of natural treatments, baths and hydrotherapies, and advice from the world’s first Citrus Consultant. Membership offerings are also available through The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes Members Club. For more information about Grande Lakes Orlando, visit

Follow Grande Lakes Orlando on Twitter at @JW_Orlando and @RC_Orlando.


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