Orlando

0 154

SEARED DIVER SCALLOPS – Simply Seasoned & Perfectly Seared, Carrot Puree, Roasted Parsnip, Bacon and Sweet Pea Hash, Roasted Tomato Fondue, Parlied Olive Oil (MY FAVORITE!)

We were invited to the media preview of the new menu items at Marlow’s Tavern – Winter Park and we absolutely enjoyed every single thing we ate, and that’s rare at a media preview dinner.  As a health conscious food blogger I dread media preview dinners that consist of mostly carbs but Marlow’s Tavern – Winter Park did an amazing job hosting a dinner that was on the healthier side and packed with lots of protein and vegetables.  The toast appetizers were added last minute, but I still enjoyed tasting them and I don’t think I will ever find toasts as good as the ones at Marlow’s Tavern – Winter Park.  Each piece was delicious with the perfect ratio of bread to topping.  They would be a hit at any party.  Their seared diver scallops dish stole the show and were the fan favorite of the night at our table.  The scallops were the best scallops that I have ever eaten in my entire life, the dish had the perfect amount of mixed vegetables and bacon, and the carrot puree changed my life.  I actually craved MORE of the carrot puree because it was so creamy and delicious.  The service was very welcoming and accommodating.  I highly recommend checking out Marlow’s Tavern – Winter Park for any occasion.  We will definitely be returning soon.

MARINATED OLIVES – Cold Pressed Olive Oil, Lemon, Rosemary

OH NUTS! – Cashew, Pecans, Almond, Filbert, Peanut, Candied, Rosemary, Caribbean Spice

ARTICHOKE & ARUGULA – Toasty Rosemary Ciabatta, Whipped Ricotta, Artichoke, Baby Arugula, Balsamic, Lemonette

FIG & BACON – Toasty Rosemary Ciabatta, Whipped Ricotta, Black Mission Figs,
Caramelized Onion, Apple-Wood Smoked Bacon, Balsamic Glaze

ROAST TOMATO – Toasty Rosemary Ciabatta, Whipped Ricotta, Pomodoro Sauce, Parmesan, Parslied Olive Oil

STEAK FRITES – Bavette Steak (The Butchers Favorite), Tiny Green Beans, Steak House Fries, Roasted Mushroom & Caramelized Onion Peppered Gravy

CHICKEN STACK – Prestige Farms Chicken, Roasted Mushrooms, Fingerling Potatoes, Blistered Grape Tomatoes, Green Beans, Roasted Chicken Glace, Fines Herbs, Parslied Olive Oil

Prickly Pear Margarita & Carbernet Sauvignon

Be sure to check out Marlow’s Tavern – Winter Park soon for their new menu items and pick up a gift card before December 31, 2017 to score a complimentary bottle of Michelle Brut holiday champagne!

Marlow’s Tavern – Winter Park
1008 S Orlando Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 960-3670
http://marlowstavern.com

 

Three things that I love:
1.  4 Rivers Smokehouse – I used to work for 4 Rivers Smokehouse Catering back in 2015.
2.  Winter Park – I went to elementary school, middle school and high school in Winter Park.
3.  Supporting charity events – who doesn’t?!

Combine all those three things that I love and what do you get? COWS ‘N CABS.

Central Florida’s annual Cows ‘n Cabs returned for its seventh year on Saturday, November 11 from 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.  Hosted by 4 Rivers Smokehouse founder John Rivers and ABC Fine Wine & Spirits’ David Larue, the event benefited the After-School All-Stars and Elevate Orlando.  This 21+ up charity event returned to 150 North New York Avenue in Winter Park’s Central Park West Meadow and featured more than 30 of Central Florida’s top restaurants including 4 Rivers Smokehouse, The Ravenous Pig, Hunger Street Tacos, Holler & Dash, and Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen.

This is a must attend event for all food enthusiasts.  Cows ‘n Cabs does it right year after year and they are always getting better!

Cow ‘N Cab – Beef Over Creamy Polenta & Cabernet Reduction

The COOP “Fiesty chicken” – Fried Chicken Topped With Lettuce, Pickle, & Fiesty Sauce On A Slider

4 Rivers Smokehouse Sweet Shop – Chocolate Wine Cupcake, Red Velvet Hot Chocolate with House-Made Cream Cheese Marshmallows

ABC Fine Wine & Spirits – Dominick, Wine and Spirit Specialist

Soco Restaurant in Thornton Park – Confit of Pork Rilette with Pickled Apples, Mustard, and Pumpernickle Crostini

Tamale Co. – Cochinita Pibil Tamale and Carne Asada Tamale

The Sanctum – Buffalo Chickun Slider and Bleu Cheez Wedge Salad

Luke’s Kitchen and Bar – Luke’s Crab Cake with Celery Lemon Tartar

STK (Disney Springs) – Dry aged Sirloin of Beef with Smoked Poblano Pepper-Pumpkin Seed Puree and Pickled Butternut Squash

Foxtail Coffee – Cold Brew

Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen – Pork Tenderloin “Pastrami” Banh Mi Sandwich, Truffle Aioli and Pickled Vegetable

Drew Estate

Dove Tale

Tapa Toro – Sliced Corned Beef, Braised Red Cabbage, German Potatoes

Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park – Mini French Macarons, Chocolate Covered Bacon, Chocolate Covered Popcorn

Holler & Dash – The Four O Seven

Reel Fish Coastal Kitchen & Bar – House Ceviche and Shrimp with a Grit Cake

Grey Goose

Fantasy Fare Food Truck (Disney Springs) – Achiote-Orange Rubbed Salmon Taco

Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar (Disney Springs) – Smoked Duck Carnitas Bao

The Daily Poutine (Disney Springs) – French Fries, Beef Poutine Gravy, Mushrooms and Cheese Curds

D-Luxe Burger (Disney Springs) – Curried Lamb Burger

F&D Kitchen / F&D Cantina – Guanjillo Chili and Black Bean Quinoa Chili

1921 by Norman Van Aken – Five Spice Crispy Chicken Wings, Fish Sauce Caramel & Thai Herb Salad

Norman’s – Guava-Pasilla Barbecued Pulled Pork Tostada with Black Bean Puree

Morimoto Asia (Disney Springs) – US Wagyu Beef Nigiri, smoked soy, fresh wasabi

Hunger Street Tacos – Fried Avocado Taco, Panko breaded and fried avocado, shredded cabbage, red onion, serrano-lime crema, cilantro, queso cotija

Urbain 40 – Umami-laced Angus Brisket & Short Rib Burger Slider, Caramelized Sweet Onion Compote & Pimento Cheese

The Ravenous Pig – Green Eggs and Ham

The Polite Pig (Disney Springs) – BBQ Cheddar Sausage on Mini-Bun

K Restaurant – Cider Braised Pork Jowl, spiced apple sauce, brussels sprouts salad

Pizza Bruno owner – Bruno Zacchini III

Taverna Opa Orlando – Mini Souvlaki

Hawkers Asian Street Fare – Pork Belly Dumplings and Singapore “Chili” Crab

Sus-Hi Eatstation – Sushi bowl

Amorette’s Pastisserie/ The Ganachery (Disney Springs) – Assortment of Sweet Delights

P is for Pie – Christmas Story Hand Pie with Roast Duck, Caramelized Onions, Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Cranberry Goat Cheese
Salted Honey Bourbon Hand Pie and Caramel Maple Pumpkin Pie

Pop Parlour

For more information, please visit www.cowsncabs.com.
(Source credit: Cows ‘n Cabs)

We were invited to Holler & Dash’s one year anniversary event at their only Florida restaurant located in Celebration and we loved it.  The food came out impressively fast and it was tasty but the staff, service and ambiance were the biggest highlight.  They treat you SO GOOD over at Holler & Dash with their Southern hospitality and they really have a passion for creating great food and memorable experiences.

Their biscuit-inspired menu pays tribute to the South in a fresh new way with chef-driven recipes, fresh ingredients, and layers of flavors like you’ve never tasted before (plus a few you know and love).  Now would be a great time to check out Holler & Dash if you are ever in the Celebration area since they have recently added new items to their menu such as: sandwiches, egg plates, salads and toast.

Blueberry & whipped ricotta, mint toast (NEW!)

Avocado Smash, watermelon radish, lemon toast (NEW!)

Pig In The Garden – Smoked bacon, sweet gem lettuce, fried green tomatoes, pimento cheese, green goddess (NEW!)

Kickback Chicken – Fried chicken, goat cheese, green onion, sweet pepper jelly with a kick with fruit

Chicken. Set. Go. – Fried chicken, pimento cheese, jalapeno, sorghum with tots


Be sure to check out Holler & Dash soon for breakfast or lunch (or breakfast for lunch!)

(Source credit: Holler & Dash)

Holler & Dash
6268 W Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy, Kissimmee FL
http://holleranddash.com
(321) 204-1445

0 253
Launched nearly 30 years ago in Paris, Le Dîner en Blanc promotes friendship, elegance, gallantry and a sense of community.  Now held in over 70 cities in more than 30 countries around the world, this annual secret affair brings an unforgettable evening of beauty and magic for the all dressed in white foodies and cultural enthusiasts.
Photos taken on Friday, November 10, 2017.
(Source credit: Le Dîner en Blanc)

0 439

The Glass Knife finally opens this Friday November 10th from 7am to 10pm at 276 S Orlando Ave, Winter Park, FL , right across the way from Hillstone Restaurant.

The café was developed by local entrepreneur Steve Brown, as a way to share his memories of baking alongside his mother, Jacque.

The culinary team is led by Executive Chef Stuart Whitfield, who has worked for Four Seasons, Le Cirque, David Burke & Donatella, and The Walt Disney Company.

The Glass Knife is named in honor of Brown’s mother, who was a fond collector of Depression-era glass cake knives.

From classic cakes to craft coffee (from Onyx Coffee Lab) to artisanal doughnuts and savory dishes like avocado egg toast, The Glass Knife is sure to please. My favorite was the red velvet cake, silky smooth and sumptuous, and definitely one of the best red velvet cakes I have ever had.

Here is a sneak peek inside The Glass Knife:

 

From The Glass Knife:

The Glass Knife is inspired by a loving mother and hobbyist baker whose talents transformed her culinary passion into a creative profession. Fostered through a collection of family and friends, the recipes shared during these time-honored baking sessions are the nostalgic basis for what will come to life within The Glass Knife.

The café was developed by local entrepreneur Steve Brown, as a way to share his memories of baking alongside his mother, Jacque, and his vision to establish a sophisticated, yet comfortable community gathering place that encourages togetherness and celebration. The location’s design will tell a story that brings its guests back to a specific moment in time, whether through the delicious cakes and pastries, savory faire or the artfully displayed collection of 1920s era glass cake knives which were a treasured collection of Brown’s mother and serve as the origin of its name.

Under the direction and deft hand of Executive Chef Stuart Whitfield, who has worked for some of the country’s premiere hospitality brands (Four Seasons, Le Cirque, David Burke & Donatella, The Walt Disney Company), The Glass Knife plans to make its mark on Orlando’s ever-evolving dining scene by providing its guests with world-class food and service, presented within a refined, yet approachable, environment.

The Glass Knife will offer a variety of stunningly delicious cake options including its Classics, which will embrace timeless family favorites like Red Velvet, Carrot and Coconut cakes, all with Chef Stuart’s modern twist. The Glass Knife Signatures will be created as one-of-a-kind, patisserie-style cakes, that will bring a refined selection of celebratory sweets to Winter Park. Chef Stuart will craft a lineup of artisanal donuts including melt-in-your-mouth versions of Lemon Meringue Pie and Peanut Butter Cup. A variety of additional fresh baked goods and pastries including scones, croissants, and cookies will also be featured.

Recognizing that nothing goes better with dessert than a great cup of coffee and setting the stage to become Winter Park’s premier coffee destination, The Glass Knife will use carefully sourced, fair-trade beans prepared by expert baristas within a unique and engaging serving experience that will utilize stylish and sophisticated technology.

Those looking to combine both sweet and savory will not be disappointed by the café’s offerings, which will include breakfast fare along with soup, salads and sandwiches, plus heartier choices like chicken pot pie alongside a selection of craft beer and fine wine.

“Our cuisine will focus on seasonal, responsibly and locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, that will evoke familiar family recipes handed down over time, but created with our culinary team’s unique twist and presentation,” said Chef Stuart. “While we hesitate to call ourselves a bakery, as we will deliver a more complete dining experience, we do envision that our elevated line of cakes, pastries and baked goods will stand on their own.”

The nearly 3,000-square-foot café will include both indoor seating and a covered patio with surroundings inspired by an English garden. The exterior, with its black, gold and pink motif, will conjure up the image of a pastry box, just waiting to be opened. The interior will showcase the founder’s inspiration for a place where the past meets the present, with clean lines, terrazzo floors and intricate attention to detail.

“It is our vision to bring a truly unique experience to Winter Park with a standout offering that features the perfect combination of sweet and savory,” said Brown. “Whether it’s where you start your morning, close out your evening or celebrate a special moment with family and friends, our hope is for The Glass Knife to be as familiar and welcoming as mom’s own kitchen table.”

The Glass Knife, coming to Winter Park this Fall, is bringing elegant decadence to new heights with the introduction of its Signature Cakes collection.

These modern, patisserie-style desserts – hand-crafted by Chef Stuart and team – are known as “entremets.” The Glass Knife’s entremets feature layers of velvety mousse, delicate cake and luxurious fillings, forming a harmonious mix of indulgent flavors and unexpected textures.

Each Signature Cake boasts a unique flavor profile and is finished with The Glass Knife’s signature golden touch (hi-res images are available for download here):

Florida Citrus: Intricate layers of soft and airy yellow sponge cake, zesty orange marmalade, delicate orange blossom-scented pistachio dacquoise, and aromatic orange pâte de fruit enveloped in lush white chocolate mousse finished in a vibrant orange hue with a dusting of gold luster, white chocolate crisp pearls and an edible 23-karat gold-leafed orange slice.

Chocolate Truffle: Tiers of luxurious single origin dark chocolate mousse, silky dark chocolate ganache and smooth chocolate biscuit encased in a gleaming cocoa and gold luster glaçage, adorned with an opulent chocolate lotus flower and truffles.

Berry St. Honoré: Fluffy strawberry cake intertwined with bright raspberry pâte de fruit, zesty lemon curd and house-made strawberry jam veiled in a light vanilla bean white chocolate mousse topped with fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, our signature chocolate curl and subtle golden luster.

Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Executive Chef Stuart Whitfield’s southern roots inspired his love of the culinary arts. The vibrant epicurean culture of his hometown provided a traditional backdrop for his food and family focused upbringing. His fondest childhood memories are of gathering around the dining room table with loved ones for a home-cooked meal. With 15 years of professional experience, Chef Stuart has fine-tuned his craft for creating crave-worthy breads, chocolates, cakes, pastries, decadent desserts and savory sensations. He has always been devoted to the philosophy that good food brings people together, creates everlasting bonds and memories to be shared time and time again.

A graduate of the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont, Chef Stuart went on to hone his cooking skills at the Four Seasons, Le Cirque, Jovia, and David Burke & Donatella in New York City. Venturing from the Big Apple to the Sunshine State, Chef Stuart found a home at Walt Disney World Resort. He was on the gastronomic task force for the launch of the Disney Fantasy cruise ship and played a pivotal role as a member of the opening team for Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. He also lent his expertise in creating the exquisite confections offered at the famed Victoria & Albert’s and added his own creative flair to the magic of the menu for Be Our Guest Restaurant. Chef Stuart was most recently part of the team behind the sweet sensations at Amorette’s Patisserie at Disney Springs.

Chef Stuart is thrilled to showcase The Glass Knife as part of Orlando’s ever-evolving food scene. This concept will add yet another layer of sophistication to the city’s growing reputation as a premiere dining destination, right in the heart of Winter Park. Dedicated to giving guests a comfortable, yet elevated experience, The Glass Knife will feature all of the ingredients of a cosmopolitan eatery enveloped in an approachable ambiance with outstanding service.

Steve Brown’s business-savvy mind and his passion for baking are the driving forces behind his lifelong dream of opening The Glass Knife, a patisserie and café dedicated to providing its guests with an elevated, memorable experience, featuring a stunning array of decadent cakes and confections, exemplary artisanal coffee and a selection of savory fare. This vision is inspired by Brown’s childhood memories of baking alongside his beloved mother, Jacque, and the love that came from those cherished experiences.

The Glass Knife is named in honor of Brown’s mother, who was a fond collector of Depression-era glass cake knives. Handed down through the family, this treasured collection of delicate and iridescently beautiful knives will be artfully displayed throughout the café.

Brown, a Winter Park, FL resident, received his MBA from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University in Atlanta and graduated with a BS in Marketing from the University of South Florida in Tampa. Throughout his illustrious career, serving in a variety of executive roles, Brown gained invaluable experience in pricing strategy, fulfillment operations, financial management and leadership. Combined with his passion and dedication to providing the very best guest experience, Brown’s vision will soon make its mark on Orlando’s ever-evolving dining scene.

Brown’s goal is to bring a one-of-a-kind gathering place to the community, providing guests with a sophisticated, yet comfortable setting, to spend time with friends and loved ones. Learn more about his vision at www.TheGlassKnife.com.

0 225

It was my 29th birthday so I had to take a picture with Mayor Buddy Dyer to kick off my birthday!

Sonny’s BBQ, one of the nation’s largest and most popular barbecue chains has announced a new location for its highly anticipated “Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown” which has been hosted at the Central Florida Zoo for the past two years.  On Saturday, March 3, 2018, Sonny’s BBQ will host its third annual event at Tinker and McCracken Fields, part of Camping World Stadium.  The all-day event will feature live music with top country artists, food vendors, a kid zone area, and cooking demonstrations for all BBQ enthusiasts.

“We’re looking forward to hosting ‘Sonny’s Smokin’ Barbecue’ in Orlando for the first time and welcoming some of the best pitmasters from around the world to share their tips and techniques,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.  “Barbecue is a big deal in the South so the competition should be fierce and fun.”

This great event also hosts one of the nation’s biggest bbq competitions.  This invitation-only competition brings together the nation’s top pitmasters in one arena for an epic barbecue battle.  Teams are judged on five different meat categories: chicken, ribs, pork, brisket and a mystery meat, which will be announced at the event.  The grand champion team will receive $20,000. The total prize pool totals $68,000.

Bryan Mrockzka (Award-winning Head Pitmaster), Montana Coleman (Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown co-organizer), Bob Yarmuth (CEO), Mayor Buddy Dyer, Barbara (Sonny’s BBQ director)

The Sonny’s BBQ catering team were amazing and friendly!

Chicken, pulled pork, baked beans, mac and cheese.  It was such a classic bbq meal that tasted DELICIOUS!!

News 13 interviewing Mayor Buddy Dyer

Rib demonstration

Gifts for everyone that was in attendance.

Be sure to check out the annual Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown at their new location Camping World Stadium (1 Citrus Bowl Pl, Orlando, FL 32805) on Saturday, March 3, 2018!

Tickets are available here for pre-sale for $12 through November 12, and $15 through March 2.
Kid’s 12 and under are free.
VIP tickets can also be purchased for $40.
 
(Source credit: Sonny’s BBQ)

We were invited to BRIO Tuscan Grille to try the new Happy Hour menu along with some of their classics and it was an AMAZING experience.  The food was delicious and the highest quality, the presentation was beautiful and exceptionally-executed, and the customer service was SUPERIOR from start to finish – the hostess, server, managers and chefs all were flawless.  It was the best happy hour that I’ve ever been to.  You will get the biggest bang for your buck if you try their new happy hour menu.  The day I visited BRIO Tuscan Grille at their Millenia Mall location there was also a Christmas event going on with live entertainment, Christmas tree stilt walkers, a Santa Clause appearance, and a fireworks show.  That was just the cherry on top after an amazing happy hour experience!

Guests can enjoy the new additions to the Happy Hour menu available weekdays in the bar from 3:30pm – 6:30 pm including:

  • Shishito Pepper Hash: Crispy fingerling potatoes, feta, green onions, and Sriracha aioli ($5)
  • House-made Pickles: Fried crisp, with chile lime ranch ($4)
  • Potato Skins: Cheddar cheese sauce, Applewood bacon, green onions, and lime crema ($5)

Pair with a delicious selection of cocktails, including:

  • Red Sangria: Black raspberry liqueur, lime juice, lemon juice, simple syrup, soda water, raspberries, and orange ($5)
  • French Gimlet: Pineapple infused vodka, St. Germaine, lime juice, and diced cucumber ($6)
  • Tropical Cosmo: Pineapple infused vodka, Malibu Coconut Rum, cranberry juice, and lime juice, up ($5)
  • Wild Island: Pineapple infused vodka, moscato, lemon and pineapple juice, and pineapple garnish ($5)
  • Very Berry Margarita: Jose Cuervo, orange juice, triple sec, wildberry syrup, sweet and sour, soda water, fresh lime, blackberries ($6)
  • Cucumber Basil Gimlet: SVEDKA Vodka or house gin, fresh basil, crushed cucumbers, Angostura bitters, and fresh lemon and lime, rocks ($6)

Complimentary bread

Potato Skins – Cheddar cheese sauce, Applewood bacon, green onions, lime crema $5.00 (NEW!)

Beef Carpaccio – Field greens, capers, mustard aioli, Parmesan Flatbread $5.00

Tomato Mozzarella Salad – Tomatoes, Mozzarella, field greens, basil, balsamic, lemon vinaigrette $5.00

Black Pepper Shrimp – Romano crusted eggplant, spicy black pepper cream sauce $6.00

BRIO Burger – Provolone, special sauce, house-made chips $6.00

Spectators watching Santa Clause’s special appearance on the roof top at Neiman Marcus

Quick fireworks show

Christmas tree stilt walkers

Be sure to check out BRIO Tuscan Grille soon for their new happy hour menu!  If you visit the Millenia Mall location, you will enjoy seeing all the Christmas decorations already up!

BRIO Tuscan Grille – Millenia
4200 Conroy Rd, Orlando, FL 32839
(407) 351-8909

BRIO Tuscan Grille – Winter Park
480 N Orlando Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 622-5611

https://www.brioitalian.com/happy-hour.html

We were invited to a media preview at the award-winning nightlife and entertainment destination on International Drive “Mango’s Tropical Café” to try the new à la carte menu prepared by Executive Chef Angel Ramirez and to watch their sensational live entertainment.  It was my first time at Mango’s Tropical Café and I cannot wait to go back.  Their venue is spacious, the food was great, and the performers were all amazingly talented.  It was the best dinner show that I have ever witness in my entire life!

One of the many private rooms at Mango’s Tropical Café.  The Voodoo Room was where our media preview event was hosted.

Mango’s Cuban Sandwich – Slow roasted pork, tender ham and Swiss cheese, served with fries and/or gourmet onion rings

Rosa Vieja Tacos – Three large soft tacos with their homemade all beef “Rosa Vieja”, shredded cabbage, tomato, red onion, sharp cheddar cheese and drizzled with a cilantro aioli.  Served with yellow rice, sour cream, salsa and guacamole

Pico de Gallo, guacamole and sour cream

Lobster Ravioli – Ravioli filled with lobster meat topped with Mango’s homemade creamy pink sauce, served with a fresh baked garlic roll

Prime rib sliders – Three Prime Rib sliders topped with caramelized onions and horseradish cream sauce, served with au jus for dipping

Chicken Parmigiana Sliders – Three sliders served on homemade garlic bread with marinara sauce for dipping

Mango’s Tropical Ceviche – Tender fish ceviche in fresh lime juice, served with chips

Wild Mushroom Pizza – Sautéed portobello and button mushrooms in garlic, olive oil and rosemary, topped with caramelized onions and mozzarella cheese

Mango’s Chicken “al Ajillo” – Tender chicken strips sautéed in a garlic, white wine and lemon sauce, served with white rice, black beans and maduros

Tradional New York Style Pizza – Classic thin crust pizza with mozzarella cheese and our homemade marinara sauce

Caribbean Creole Chicken – Tender chicken breast sautéed in a garlic, onions, peppers, tomato, cilantro, white wine, paprika and lemon, served with white rice, black beans and maduros

Brett’s Southwestern BBQ Burgers – Topped with sharp cheddar cheese, Applewood smoked bacon and gourmet onion rings, topped with Mango’s homemade BBQ sauce and your choice of French fries of gourmet onion rings

Passion Fruit Mojito

Coconut Mojito

Mango Mojito

The upstairs bar

Celia Cruz experience

Michael Jackson Tribute performance

Be sure to check out Mango’s Tropical Café soon for the new à la carte menu and amazing live entertainment!

Mango’s Tropical Café
8126 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819
http://mangos.com/orlando
(407) 673-4422

The Day of the Dead is a Mexican tradition in remembering deceased ancestors and friends.  We were invited to the inaugural Day of the Dead event at Cocina 214 and I had a great time celebrating this Mexican tradition for the first time.  The event offered delicious light bites and two exclusively-themed drinks such as the “Alma Buena” that came with a flashing LED multi-colored ice cube and a shot of Black Raspberry Sangria to pour into your drink for a fun swirl of colors and also the “La Mariposa” that was served with a rim of sugar and butterfly gummies on a pom-pom food pick.  The event also included fun activities sponsored by el Jimadaor such as the color your own shirt station which they gave away free shirts for and the promotion table where they gave out free scarves to everyone who filled out a quick survey.  First come, first serve.

Cocina 214 in Park Avenue of Winter Park is known as a vibrant, hip, brunch, lunch, dinner restaurant, with a lively, yet relaxing atmosphere. It’s edgy yet approachable and perfect for family and friends.  They are building their second location at 357 S. Atlantic Avenue Daytona Beach, Florida 32118 with the same concept as the original location – contemporary Mexican and Tex-Mex kitchen with authentic dishes that combine bold flavors and the freshest local ingredients all served up in a vibrant, elegant and fun setting.

Alma Buena “ The Good Soul” – EL Jimador Tequila, Blue Curacao, Sweet & Sour, Agave, topped with Black Raspberry Sangria
The intent of day of the dead is to encourage visits by the souls, so the souls will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them. Celebrations can take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed.

La Mariposa “ The Butterfly” – EL Jimador Tequila, Blood Orange Liqueur, Fresh Lime, Agave, splash of Soda
According to traditional belief among Michoacán’s Mazahuas the monarch butterflies are souls of ancestors who return to Earth for their annual visit.

Color your own shirt station, sponsored by el Jimador.

Free el Jimador scarf for filling out a quick survey.

Tortilla chips and salsa

Fried Avocado Bites – lightly breaded hass avocados fried served with chipotle cream dipping sauce (Vegan)

Mushroom & Spinach Quesadilla – sautéed mushrooms, fresh spinach

Brisket Quesadilla – beef brisket, pico de gallo

Trio of guacamole, queso and fire-roasted salsa

Rotisserie Chicken Tacos served with veggie rice, queso fresco, roasted corn on corn tortillas.  Served with sautéed poblano salsa.

If you missed out on the Day of the Dead festivities this year, be sure to drop by Cocina 214 and check out their updated Happy Hour menu full of delicious new cocktails and quick bites served up with a twist.  You don’t want to miss the annual Day of the Dead event next year!

(Source credit: Cocina 214)

Cocina 214
151 E Welbourne Ave
Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 790-7997
http://cocina214.com

0 225

TR Fire Grill in Winter Park is sweetening up the fall season with its all-new, Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake.  Guests can take advantage of one of the most beloved flavors of fall by heading to the restaurant and taking a slice out of seasonal comfort.

Guests can also pair the decadent dessert with a favorite entrée of their choice including the new seasonal menu items such as: Smoked Pork Tenderloin topped with cherry pinot wine sauce, Wood-Roasted Lamb Chops, or Smoked Boneless Beef Short Rib.  New drinks with catchy names such as “Doctor’s Note” and “Fire In The Apple Tree” are now available.

We were invited to try the classic menu items, seasonal menu items and new drinks.  The food was good, the interior of the restaurant is phenomenal and the service was great!  More pictures from our experience below.

Smoked Pork Tenderloin – Red and green apples, cider & moonshine reduction, cauliflower purée and bacon cannelloni beans. (Seasonal)

Wood-Roasted Lamb Chops – Minty salsa verde, Asiago risotto, maple glazed carrots. (Seasonal)

Smoked Boneless Beef Short Rib – (All-Natural Beef) Cabernet wild mushroom ragu, Asiago risotto, maple glazed carrots. (Seasonal)

(NEW) Fire In The Apple Tree – Ole Smoky Apple Pie moonshine, Fireball cinnamon whisky, apple cider, cinnamon simple syrup, fresh lemon juice, Angostura orange bitters, Four Roses “Yellow Label” bourbon float

(NEW) Doctor’s Note – Courvoisier V.S. cognac, Four Roses “Yellow Label” bourbon, strawberry simple syrup, Fee Brothers rhubarb bitters, fresh mint

Bacon & Eggs – Mustard glazed pork, jalapeño deviled eggs, barbecue potato chip dust, pickled red onions

Fried Okra – Peppercorn ranch dressing (available during Local Hour)


Jalapeño Soup – Chipotle sour cream (It’s amazing!)

Market Salad – Glazed star fruit, grapes, balsamic glazed grilled Bosch pears, tangerines, cucumber, roasted walnuts, feta cheese, focaccia crouton, guava raspberry dressing (Great salad!)

Espresso

Strawberry Lemonade

Lemonade

The production crew shooting a video with executive chef Bob Gallagher.

TR Fire Grill is conveinently located across the street from the new Whole Foods Market in Winter Park, FL.  Be sure to check out the new pumpkin spice cheesecake, seasonal menu items and new drinks at TR Fire Grill soon!

(Source credit: TR Fire Grill)

TR Fire Grill
1035 N Orlando Ave, Unit 101
Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 708-3600
trfiregrill.com

0 261

We got invited to check out the 8th Annual Food & Wine Classic at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resort.  I had the opportunity to work this two-day event back in 2014 (picture above) and it is a great event filled with lots of wine from around the world and a variety of culinary dishes from pastries to pasta.  Food & Wine Classic also offers eleven one-hour educational seminars if you would like to impress friends with your knowledge of wines, cocktails, beer, pasta-making, cheese pairing or the fine art of sushi and sake.  Due to inclement weather, Saturday’s event was moved inside to the resort’s convention room and the organizers did an amazing job with relocating everything just in time for the event.


Taqueria – Pork Carnitas, Organic Vegetables, Cheddar Cheese, Pico de Gallo, Assorted Hot Sauces – Presented by Picabu


Corzetti Stampati, Lamb Bolognese, Roasted Eggplant, Castelvetrano Olives – Presented by Il Mulino


Dragon Roll – Crispy Shrimp, Tuna, Avocado, Japanese Mayonnaise – Presented by Kimonos


Mac & Cheese – White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese, Roasted Wild Mushrooms, Winter Truffle – Presented by Carnival Corner


Thai Chicken Salad, Organic Greens, Green Papaya, Tamarind – Ginger Dressing – Presented by Fresh Mediterranean Market


“Tuna Salad”, Seared Yellowfin Tuna, Yuzu Mayonnaise, Candied Marcona Almonds, Spanish Caper Relish – Presented by bluezoo


Seared Florida Red Snapper, Israeli Cous Cous, Lightly Spiced Lobster Nage, Sous Vide Cipollini Onions – Presented by Garden Grove


Sweet Corn Risotto “Arancini”, Wild Chanterelle Mushrooms, Caper Emulsion – Presented by Cabana Bar and Beach Club


Jäger Schnitzel – Lightly Breaded Pork, Hunters Sauce, Späetzle – Presented by Beer Garden


Riesenbretzel – Warm Pretzel, German Mustard, Obatzda Cheese – Presented by Beer Garden


Bratwurst IM BRöTCHEN Mit Sauerkraut – Patak Bratwurst, Laugen Bread, Housemade Sauerkraut, Potato Salad – Presented by Beer Garden


Oven Roasted Beef Rib Eye, Silky Mashed Potatoes, Sauce Bordelaise – Presented by Shula’s Steak House

Carnival Corner for the kids


Nitro Kettle Corn – Presented by Carnival Corner


Corn Dogs – Presented by Carnival Corner


Funnel Cakes – Presented by Carnival Corner

Brown Butter Maine Lobster Roll Fall Truffle – Presented by Todd English

Southern Pulled Pork Sliders, Apple & Cabbage Slaw, Nashville BBQ, Toasted Sesame Brioche – Presented by The Fountain

Chinatown


Crispy Duck – Steamed Bun, Cucumber, Hoisin


Shanghai Dumpling – Pan Roasted Pork Dumpling, Spicy Sauce


Smoked Spanish Iberico Pork Collar, Celery Root Puree, Toasted Hazelnuts, Fall Truffle – Presented by Cib’s Smoke Shop

Sugar Flower & Vase Art – Presented by Executive Pastry Chef Laurent Branlard


Chocolate Cake Pop – Presented by Executive Pastry Chef Laurent Branlard

Raspberry Ice Cream Filled Profiterole – Hot Chocolate Sauce, Raspberry Whipped Cream & Crisp Pearls – Presented by Executive Pastry Chef Laurent Branlard

Mandarin Comfit – Presented by Executive Pastry Chef Laurent Branlard

Vanilla Caramel Cream – Presented by Executive Pastry Chef Laurent Branlard

Zombie dancers

Live music by Atlantic City Boys

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort     1500 Epcot Resorts Blvd
Orlando, FL 32830
(407) 934-4000  http://swandolphinfoodandwineclassic.com

0 346

Highball & Harvest of The Ritz-Carlton Orlando hosted its inaugural Homestead Harvest, the first annual chef-collaborative dinner at Grande Lakes Orlando’s on-site farm, Whisper Creek Farm. The evening benefited Fleet Farming, a local non-profit organization whose goal is to assist in fostering a movement which moves towards a more sustainable farming and food production system in the region.

Highball & Harvest’s Chef Scott Pizzo and Peter Zampaglione, Executive Chef of The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes joined an all-star line-up of local chefs who donated their time and resources to create a once in a lifetime culinary adventure.  I really enjoyed this event and I hope they do it again next year.

Fleet Farming strives to reduce the environmental impact of food production through a pedal-powered, hyperlocal urban farming model that creates a culture of health and vibrant ecosystems by: teaching an intergenerational fleet of volunteers how to grow their own food, activating and re-engaging the community through biweekly Swarm Rides, and creating a breathe free and biodiverse environment through emissions-free, organic farming.

Scott Pizzo, Highball & Harvest
Argentinian Roasted Suckling Pig, charred pumpkin

 

Kenny Gilbert (Top Chef), Gilbert’s Underground Kitchen/Gilbert’s Social
Smoked Alligator Ribs with SC BBQ Sauce
Field Peas with okra, smoked gator broth, radish, savory herbs and spices 

Kathleen Blake, The Rusty Spoon
Deviled Eggs
Duck Mortadella

James Petrakis, The Ravenous Pig
Wood-Grilled Octopus, black garlic skordalia, roasted beets
Lamb Kofta, quince yogurt, dill pesto

Elek Kovacs, The Osprey Tavern
Pickled Shrimp, chili citrus marinade, fresh garden vegetables
Pheasant, local rice grits, corn succotash

Kevin Fonzo, Kevin Fonzo Foundation
Red Kuri Squash Soup, truffle, Brussels sprouts, pears, apple

Paula DaSilva, Burlock Coast Seafare & Spirits at the Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale
Palmetto Creek Farms Pork Belly, truffle grits & collards
Wahoo Crudo, pickled heirloom tomatoes and chili peppers

John Janucik, JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes
Lobster Deviled Duck Egg, house bacon, surplus mustard aioli, chili oil
Smoked Short Rib, butternut squash pierogi, local mushrooms, sour cream
Espuma, horseradish crumbs

Stanley Miller, The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami
Lamb and Chorizo Empanada, olive, raisin, pimento
Chilled Heirloom Tomato and Melon “Tea”, Popcorn, Avocado, Lemon Oil

Sebastien Thieffine, The Ritz-Carlton Naples
Daisy – Florida Keys Honey Millefeuille, candied raspberries, crunchy pistachio
Coonies: chocolate chip cookie/brownie bar, salted butter caramel ice cream, vanilla bean gel

Stephane Cheramy, The Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes
Assorted Pastries

Live music from Brocato Entertainment

(Source credit: Highball & Harvest)

0 385

Hotelier, Humanitarian & Hospitality Legend Harris Rosen & I standing in front of his grandparents’ portraits.

Whenever I run into the President and COO of Rosen Hotels & Resorts, Harris Rosen, I feel like I am spotting a unicorn – it always happens quick and fast, and you have to catch it before it disappears. I was in for a real treat when I attended the media sneak peek of Rosen Plaza’s winter holiday events and Harris Rosen surprised us all with a low-key special guest appearance to welcome us and share a few stories with us about his family, hotels and food.

For those who don’t know, my family respects Mr. Rosen, he is our biggest role model. Mr. Rosen started out with humble beginnings in New York City’s Lower East Side where people did not have a lot of money and he worked very hard to accomplish everything he has now (including hitchhiking to his first business pitch!) and he donates a lot of his earnings back to the community. The first time my family met Mr. Rosen was back on Christmas Day in 2014 at the hotel’s annual Christmas brunch buffet (open to the public) when Mr. Rosen stopped by my family’s table and greeted us and asked us all how we were doing. My mom was the only one who recognized Mr. Rosen at the time since she is an avid reader and had recently read an article about him. My mom quickly put everything together and asked the man at our table if he was Harris Rosen and he replied yes. Shortly after we met him, we witnessed him picking up a small piece of garbage off the ground while there were plenty of his employees around the room that he could have asked to pick it up for him but he choose not to – and it was at that exact moment that we began to realize how humble and hard-working Mr. Rosen is, to be working hard even on Christmas Day, a day most people take off, especially those who can afford to.

My family has made it a tradition every year since our first encounter with Mr. Rosen to dine at one of his hotels on Christmas Day to enjoy their delicious brunch buffets and say hi to him and take pictures with him.  My family pictures are included below, with my review to follow.  I hope you enjoy the rest of this post!

First time meeting Harris Rosen, 2014


We brought my relatives from Vietnam to Christmas brunch at the Rosen hotel and they are big fans of Harris Rosen as well, 2015.

Christmas Day at Rosen Plaza, 2016

Jack’s Place is named after Harris Rosen’s late father.

Caricature of celebrities drawn by his Jack Rosen when he worked at as a security engineer at the Waldorf Astoria in NY.  Jack’s Place displays 175 drawings out of his thousands of celebrity caricatures – they have the largest autographed celebrity caricature collection in the world.  Caricature artists come in on Friday and Saturday nights at Jack’s Place to draw restaurant guests.

Sculpture of Jack Rosen

Petite Filet Mignon Toast Garganzola

Manchego Cheese Crisp & Fig Lollipop

“You’re more important than me.”  Founder Harris Rosen (left) said to one of his managers, John Nichols (center), before John spoke to the media.  That was humbling to witness!

“We cater to any eater – those with celiac disease. We take time to prepare what our guests asks for.” -Harris Rosen

Octoberfest Big Boss Pretzels With Warm Alligator Drool Beer Cheese and Honey Mustard Dipping Sauces


Indian Pumpkin Craving

Edamame Dim Sum

Shrimp & Pork Dim Sum

Deer Ice Sculpture Carved By Chef Ricki

Jumbo Cocktail Shrimp

Crab Claws

Ceviche

Pulled Pork On A Pina Colada Roll with Guava BBQ & Crispy Sriracha Slaw

Grilled Bratwurst Banh Mi With Pickled Cucumber Petite Cucumber Sprout Garnish

Alligator Drool

Blue Harris

I highly recommend visiting the Rosen Plaza for the holidays to enjoy festive decor, yummy eats, frosty sips and the chance to mingle with Mr. Rosen – if you’re lucky enough to run into him as I have been these past few years on Christmas Day as he is making his rounds at all of his hotels.

For more information about future events, check out the links below.

Winterfest – https://www.rosenplaza.com/winterfest/

Iced Out! – https://www.rosenplaza.com/icedout/

The incredible holiday buffets –
Thanksgiving Day – https://www.rosenplaza.com/thanksgiving/
Christmas Day – https://www.rosenplaza.com/christmas/

 

Rosen Plaza
9700 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 996-9700
rosenplaza.com

0 383

Mills 50 will be home to a new bubble tea shop starting this December. Known for its cotton candy topped bubble tea and other innovative twists to the traditional Taiwanese drink, ViVi Bubble Tea will be located next to Chuan Lu Garden on East Colonial, joining other bubble tea shops such as longtime mainstay Chewy Boba Company and Bubbles and Ice in the Mills 50 District.

From Sam Lau, co-owner of ViVi Bubble Tea:

“I am proud to announce that I have partnered up with a good friend of mine from Hong Kong to bring ViVi Bubble Tea [ A very popular Taiwanese milk tea company with a twist that has been featured by Business Insider ] to Mills 50 District, Orlando. Its located right on the corner of Mills Ave and 50; next to Chuan Lu, & across the street from Little Saigon. Construction is already underway as we speak. We are looking to open up by the end of December. We hope to see you all very soon!”

ViVi Bubble Tea
1111 E Colonial Dr
Orlando, Florida 32803
https://www.facebook.com/ViViBubbleTeaMills50/?hc_location=ufi

0 302

We were invited to the recent Chef’s Night event on Oct 18, 2017 at Second Harvest Food Bank. It was a mashup of 4 chefs, with Jim Colbert of PrimeTime Kitchen taking the lead.

Friends that accompanied Jim included Chef Tello Luna from Harry’s Poolside Bar & Grill, Chef Bryan Thoman from Canvas Restaurant & Market, and Chef Bruno Fonseca from Millenia 106 Restaurant. Here, they all join in the photo with the Second Harvest Food Bank culinary team.

Hors d’oeuvres were the focus of Chef Tello Luna and paired with

  • Mexican Shrimp Cocktail – poached shrimp, spiced tomato juice, cilantro, onion, and jalapeño.
  • Smoked Salmon Cucumber Cup – Atlantic salmon, cream cheese, and lemon juice. A cup a bite; very smooth and fresh.

The appetizer was made by Chef Bryan Thoman’s team.

Chef Bryan’s Wagyu Beef Cheek Tamale with Kombuca Squash Puree and Mole Negro had great flavors that blended well on your palate. The tamale is very soft and the beef is very tender. The garnish added a fresh feel to bring the dish together.

Chef Bruno Fonseca created the Mahi Crudo with carrot ginger sauce, cashews, carrot, and a pickled mushroom salad.. The Mahi itself was cured in coconut milk. This dish was paired with Snowbirds, Gruner Veltliner, Lake Chelan, Washington, 2016. This white wine is very smooth and fitting for the dish. Good choice.

The Mahi was fresh, but some bites were a little fishy from a sauce. The coconut milk was very subtle. The pickled salad blends well with the fish. My favorite was the delicious carrot ginger sauce.

 

Jim Colbert created a Braised Short Rib, Smoked Gouda Risotto with garden peas, asparagus tips, and honey crisp carrots. It was paired with Quantum Leap, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon.

The tender braised short rib was full of flavor. The risotto was creamy and smooth, while the carrots were soft with a pop of sweetness from the honey.

Back at it again, Chef Tello Luna closes the show with a Chocolate Torte with Pecan ice Cream and Orange Vanilla Sauce. I can tell you now, the man knows his desserts!

In the kitchen, the chefs work side by side with the Second Harvest Food Bank team to bring a delicious menu alive from beginning to end.

The chocolate torte was very thick and coats the palate well – my kind of dessert. The strawberries and orange vanilla sauce adds a twist to the chocolate cake. I can’t stress enough how this was the best dessert I have had in a long time.

The dessert was paired with a Quantum Leap, Kaley’s Rescue Red, Red Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington, 2014.

As the chefs and Second Harvest Food Bank culinary team work together. They enjoy some nice tunes by KitchenKillaz.

Sous Chef John Dizon of Second Harvest Food Bank even stopped by and spoke on Facebook Live posted by KitchenKillaz.

Here are more shots of the event behind the scenes for your enjoyment.

While you wait for the next Chef’s Night, take part with us in Scouting for Food. On Saturday, November 11, 2017, Central Florida Boy Scouts of America will once again be collecting food for our hungry neighbors. Last year, our community helped provide over 96,000 pounds of food for our neighbors in need. For more information, check out Second Harvest Food Bank’s Scouting for Food.

Scout for food Nov 11

0 528

If I had to choose one restaurant to eat at every day for the rest of my life it would be: Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House.  My first visit was a five-star experience with top-notch service and high-quality food in an astonishing environment.  The whole experience felt divine, like I was dining in Heaven, a place I did not deserve to be at, but I was there.

To clear up any confusion, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House has one location in Orlando, FL.  They are no longer operating in their original location off Lee Road and have relocated in 2015 to their newest location on International Drive, directly across from Pointe Orlando.   They also recently released their biggest menu relaunch so now is the perfect time for all my readers to check out their newest location and experience their unforgettable food and impeccable service for yourselves.  Below are a few pictures from my breathtaking experience at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House from when I was invited to taste their newest menu additions prepared by Executive Chef Greg Thompson.  I hope you enjoy my post!

By The Glass (BTG) Wine Additions
• La Marca Prosecco
• Taittinger Brut Champagne
• Pierre Sparr Cremant Rosé Brut
• Scott Family Estate “Dijon Clone” Chardonnay
• Cakebread Napa Valley Chardonnay
• Castello Banfi “San Angelo” Pinot Grigio
• Benziger Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc
• Love Block Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
• Del Frisco’s Private Reserve Cabernet
• Luke Wahluke Slope, WA Cabernet
• Scattered Peaks “DFDE Exclusive” Cabernet
• Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot
• Ben Marco Malbec
• Hahn “SLH” Santa Barbara Pinot Noir
• Gothic “Nevermore” Pinot Noir
• Enroute “Les Pommiers” by Far Niente Pinot Noir
• Volpaia Chianti Classico
• Campo Viejo “Reserva” Rioja
• Axios 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Sapphire Bramble – Bombay Sapphire | Domaine de Canton | Lemon | Blackberry | Basil | San Pellegrino Limonata

Old Fashioned Forty-Six – Maker’s Mark 46 | Earl Grey Tea Syrup | Earl Grey Bitters

Cocktail Additions
• Añejo Old Fashioned
• Bacon & Barrel
• Blood Orange Manhattan
• Elixir
• Harvest Manhattan
• Honey Comb Spritz
• Old Fashioned Forty-Six
• Plum Rosé
• Sapphire Bramble
• Sidecar a là Poire
• Traditional Negroni

Chilled Alaskan King Crab Legs, Iced Jumbo Shrimp, Chilled Crab Claws, & Hand-Selected Moonstone Oyster from Point Judith Pond, Rhode Island

Charred Octopus – Gigante Beans, Tomatoes, Olives, Capers, Lemon & Cold-Pressed Olive Oil

King Salmon – Simply Prepared Fresh Fish Finished With Himalayan Sea Salt – High In Omega-3 Fatty Acid,  Healthy And Delicious!

45 Day Dry Aged Double Bone Prime Ribeye “The Double Eagle” – 16 oz.

45 Day Dry Aged Prime Ribeye – 16 oz.

14 Day Dry Aged Colorado Prime Lamb – 16 oz.

From left to right:
• 45 Day Dry Aged Prime Ribeye
• Brussels Sprouts – Smoked Bacon, Caramelized Onions & Lemon Butter
• Grilled Asparagus with Romesco Sauce
• 14 Day Dry Aged Colorado Prime Lamb
• Spaghetti Squash Gratin – Parmesan Cream & Roasted Pistachio
• Uptown Del’s Potatoe – Melted Fontina, Chives & Shaved Truffle
• 45 Day Dry Aged Double Bone Prime Ribeye “The Double Eagle”

Butter Cake – Butter Pecan Ice Cream, Fresh Whipped Cream & Caramel Sauce

Warm Banana Bread Pudding – Caramel Sauce & Vanilla Ice Cream (Award-winning!)

Lemon Cake – Six Layers, Lemon Buttercream Icing & Lemon Glaze

Chocolate Mousse – Salted Caramel Chocolate Fudge & Miniature Chocolate Cookies

Menu Additions
• 45 Day Dry Aged Double Bone Prime Ribeye “The Double Eagle”
• 45 Day Dry Aged Prime Ribeye
• 45 Day Dry Aged Prime Strip
• 14 Day Dry Aged Colorado Prime Lamb
• Charred Octopus
• Chilled Shrimp Tasting
• Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras
• Seared Rare Wagyu Beef Carpaccio
• Creamed Corn with Blistered Shishito Peppers
• Grilled Asparagus with Romesco Sauce
• Spaghetti Squash Gratin
• Uptown Del’s Potato
• Simply Prepared Halibut
• Simply Prepared Salmon
• Simply Prepared Scallops
• Jalapeño-Bacon Burger (Texas stores only)
• Chocolate Mousse

The Veranda Room upstairs can be reserved for a cocktail event or any special event –  you name it, the sky is the limit.


Be sure to check out the new location and menu at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House soon!

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House
9150 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 351-5074
http://delfriscos.com

0 658

The First Lao Restaurant in Central Florida is set to open fall 2017

In a press release today,Soupa Saiyan owner and head chef, Marshall Phanthachit, is unveiling his latest venture, Sticky Rice.

The first of its kind, Sticky Rice, will be taking over the 1,500 square foot space once occupied by Pho 407 (and Bikkuri Sushi’s original location before moving upstairs) at 1915 East Colonial Drive.

The restaurant anticipates to open its doors November 2017.

Phanthachit and Sticky Rice co-chef Kevin Phanhvilay want to introduce Lao food to the culinary world.

“Growing up, I’ve always been proud of my culture and Laotian heritage,” Phanthachit says.

Laos is a landlocked Southeastern country neighboring Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

“Many people are either unfamiliar with Laos food, or confuse it with Thai or Vietnamese cuisine. Opening up Sticky Rice is a catalyst to help put Lao food on the map, while also distinguishing it as its own.”

Patrons can expect authentic Lao street food such as Lao chicken wings, papaya salad, sticky rice, and beef laab salad. Sticky Rice hopes to provide a genuine Lao dining experience in a quick, casual atmosphere with tapas-style, reasonably priced small plates under $10.

Sticky Rice will be open for lunch, dinner, and possibly late night with dine-in and takeout options.

Lao food is distinctly its own flavor with the help of staple ingredients like galangal (closely related to ginger), padaek (traditional Lao condiment made from pickled or fermented fish that has been cured), kaffir lime, and of course the Lao signature dish: sticky rice, which is uniquely Lao, present at almost every meal, and meant to be eaten with your hands.

In fact, the Lao eat more sticky rice than any other people in the world.

0 238

Texas de Brazil is an authentic churrascaria featuring a continuous dining experience that blends the unique culture of Brazil with the generous hospitality of Texas. Founded as a family-owned business in 1998, Texas de Brazil now has 53 domestic and international locations.

The menu features a vast selection of grilled meats, a 50-item salad area and a la carte dessert selections.

Warm sides include baked cinnamon bananas, which taste like warm apple pie.

The pork parmesan is cooked well and has a nice flavor. In my opinion, the chicken parmesan is more salty than the pork.

The bacon wrapped chicken is cooked well as the bacon is crispy, while the chicken is tender. The fattiness of the bacon adds flavor and juices to the chicken.

Filet mignon wrapped in bacon has a nice texture all around, but the bacon makes this item super salty.

The garlic picanha has a nice crispy coat with a tender center.

The lamb shank is gamey when the outer layer is received. It is a different flavor from an inner layer cut, which tastes more mineral-like.

Filet mignon plain without bacon has great flavors and you can taste the smokiness.

The plain filet mignon is my absolute favorite dish at Texas de Brazil and would come back for this alone.

The Brazilian sausages had flavors similar to a New Orleans flavor. There were notes of salt, garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes evenly blended.

The service at the Orlando Texas de Brazil was lovely as everyone was friendly and attentive. The servers make sure you enjoy the dishes cooked to your desired preference with how well you prefer your meats to be cooked. Everyone had a lighthearted smile and acted as a family at Texas de Brazil.

For more information to plan your visit, please check out the Texas de Brazil website: http://www.texasdebrazil.com.

0 306

On October 22nd, at 6:30pm, 7 Pastry Chefs from 11 Central Florida restaurants came together for a historic dessert tasting experience! Savory bites were provided by The Osprey Tavern, Seito Sushi, and Reyes Mezcaleria.

The participating chefs were:

Amanda McFall-Urbain 40
Gloriann Rivera-1921 by Norman Van Aken
Amy Gilbert-Canvas
Brian Cernell-Luma on Park/Prato/Luke’s
Michelle Hulbert-K Restaurant
Esther Rodriguez-The Ravenous Pig
Kristy Carlucci-The Osprey Tavern/Seito Sushi/Reyes Mezcaleria

Here are images from the first annual Pastry in the Park by Sue Chin of The Osprey Tavern/Seito Sushi/Reyes Mezcaleria


0 253

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts is bringing back its popular fall treat, the Pumpkin Spice Original Glazed® doughnut, for a limited time in October, answering customers’ calls for more opportunities to enjoy this delicious fall indulgence.

  • On Friday, October 13 and 20, the Pumpkin Spice Original Glazed® doughnut will be available only after 6 p.m. for “Friday Night Spice.”
  • On Thursday, October 26, customers can enjoy the Pumpkin Spice Original Glazed® doughnut all day in celebration of National Pumpkin Day at participating Krispy Kreme shops across Central Florida:
    • Krispy Kreme Daytona Beach – Open 24 Hours
      • 980 W International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach, FL 32114
    • Krispy Kreme Winter Park – Drive thru Open 24 Hours
      • 1031 S. Orlando Avenue (17-92), Winter Park, FL  32789
    • Krispy Kreme Millenia – Open 24 Hours
      • 4080 Millenia Blvd., Orlando, FL 32939
    • Krispy Kreme Kissimmee – Open 24 Hours
      • 5310 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway
      • (192 / Mile Marker 11.5), Kissimmee, FL  34746

“Guests were so enthusiastic about the Pumpkin Spice Original Glazed doughnut when we first brought it back for one day last month. But their enthusiasm on social media and at our shops has only intensified since then, so we’re pleased to bring it back – again,” said Jenny Bellanca, vice president of operations for Florida Family Foods LLC, an authorized franchisee of Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation.

The Pumpkin Spice Original Glazed doughnut is the same Original Glazed doughnut that Krispy Kreme customers know and love, but with a hint of cinnamon and pumpkin spice flavor, transforming the classic into the perfect fall treat. To find a participating shop in the U.S. or Canada, visit www.krispykreme.com/pumpkinspiceog.

Celebrate the return of the Pumpkin Spice Original Glazed doughnut by using the hashtag #PumpkinSpiceOG and tagging @krispykreme.

Not only were Pumpkin Spice Original Glazed doughnuts are making an appearance, but a few Halloween themed doughnuts have come out of the closet as well in these dark nights.

Reese’s join with Krispy Kreme on a peanut butter crunch of an adventure this season.

The Birthday Cake doughnut has a delicious filling similar to frosting on a birthday cake, but it is not overpoweringly sweet as you may think. Want to eat a birthday cake, but not interested in buying an entire cake? Take a bite of this doughnut instead.

Don’t forget to grab a Pumpkin Spice drink while you’re there for a doughnut. Krispy Kreme offers iced, frap, and hot versions of Pumpkin Spice coffee. Our favorites include the frap and iced versions…mostly because it is still 90 degrees in Central Florida.

0 197

Texas de Brazil partnered with The Fladgate Partnership and local chocolatiers in 22 cities to offer Port Wine & Chocolate Tasting events that help raise additional funds for the American Red Cross. The exclusive 90-minute tasting classes offered between October 17 – 26 begin at 6:30 p.m. in each location.  Class size is limited to 25 participants and $40 of the $45 ticket price will be donated to the nonprofit.

“Port is a versatile, fortified wine that offers a variety of styles fitting nicely into the sweet-wine selection trends we’re experiencing in our restaurants nationwide,” says Rodrigo Davila, Texas de Brazil’s wine and spirits director.  “Guests at these events will learn why ports can be the perfect appertif, after-dinner drink, or refined accompaniment to a decadent dessert,” he adds.

Guests are greeted with a Croft Port of Manhattan before joining the seated class led by port ambassadors who guide participants through tasting and pairing notes on several port categories and share a brief history of port wine.

This event had chocolates from local Orlando chocolatiers.

  • The Manhattan is strong and warms all the way down to your stomach.
  • Upper left chocolate is a 65% dark ganache paired with Bin ’27 from Portugal. The wine has berry and woodland notes. It is very sweet and smooth, which helps balance the smooth chocolate that coats the palate.
  • Upper right chocolate is a Port Wine cheesecake reduction chocolate is very sweet. It is paired with the Taylor Fladgate 2012 blend that spent 5-7 years in oak. The wine has a longer finish and is a favorite of mine.
  • Lower left chocolate is a salted caramel with a liquid center that is very sweet. It is paired with a Croft, which expresses itself with spices and was exposed to more oxygen for a longer time period.
  • Lower right chocolate is an apple pie chocolate. The chocolate has an apple pie crust at the bottom. This piece is very unique and delicious; it is not too sweet and has a smooth texture from the apple combined with the crunch of the crust and woody flavored chocolate shell. It is paired with the Taylor FLadgate 20 that has butterscotch notes. This wine is also great with walnuts alone.

Local chocolatiers will also share their tasting notes providing guests with a wealth of information and new experience.

Guests will enjoy passed appetizers including garlic picanha, Brazilian sausage, and chicken wrapped in bacon from the Texas de Brazil grills which complement other bites offered during the pairing session.

Featured ports and pairings will include: Fonseca BIN 27 Reserve Ruby Port with cheese; Taylor Fladgate Late Bottle Vintage Ruby Port with dark chocolate; Croft Reserve Tawny Port with dried fruits and nuts; and the Taylor Fladgate 20 Year Old Tawny Port with milk chocolate.

Event dates and locations:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 17: Orlando, FL
  • Wednesday, Oct. 18: Addison, TX and San Antonio, TX: Detroit, MI; Huntsville, AL; Memphis, TN; Richmond, VA; Tampa, FL; Yonkers, NY
  • Thursday, Oct. 19: Chicago and Schaumburg, IL; Columbus, OH; Fairfax, VA; Fort Worth, TX; Miami, FL; Rochester, NY
  • Wednesday, Oct. 25: Syracuse, NY
  • Thursday, Oct. 26: Albany, NY; Baton Rouge, LA; Denver, CO; Washington, D.C.; Westlake, OH

Locations and reservations are found on Eventbrite: https://texasdebrazil2014.eventbrite.com/

 

About Texas de Brazil
Texas de Brazil is an authentic churrascaria featuring a continuous dining experience that blends the unique culture of Brazil with the generous hospitality of Texas.  The menu features a vast selection of grilled meats, a 50-item salad area and a la carte dessert selections. Founded as a family-owned business in 1998, Texas de Brazil now has 53 domestic and international locations.  For more information, visit http://www.texasdebrazil.com.

0 301

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Visit Orlando released a poll to vote for Orlando’s signature dish.

Honey is the key ingredient, an important choice not only due to our region’s abundance of honey flavors, particularly orange blossom, but also because of the critical role bees play in our ecosystem in pollinating our local crops.

In 2016 alone, the state produced 17 million pounds of honey and 500 new beekeepers register every year — many in Central Florida.

In recent years, bee populations have decreased as much as 45 percent due to a mysterious disease called colony collapse disorder, caused by a combination of destruction of wild habitats, disease and widespread pesticide use.

There has been some critique that most signature dishes from cities evolve over time – think Chicago – style deep dish pizza or the Philly Cheesesteak. Some say this is an inorganic and forced measure – you just know it if it is Orlando’s signature dish.

I think with time, Orlando will find its signature dish on its own, certainly. When that might happen – who knows – but in the mean time, I think it is fine to have these competitions which brings much needed attention to our local growing food scene, particularly outside of the theme parks. We know it might not be “the” signature dish, but it’s a start.

The competition is open to all Orlando restaurant chefs with a license to serve food.

Vote for your favorite local Orlando “honey” themed dish by Nov. 3 at: Visitorlando.com/dish

The winner will be presented at the Visit Orlando luncheon on December 7th.

0 457

More than 10,000 baking professionals, industry buyers, pastry chefs, cake artists, retail bakers, hobbyists and everyday foodies from around the world are expected to attend the Cake Fair at the Orange County Convention Center from October 13-15, 2017.  This delicious show is a feast for the eyes (not to mention nose and stomach)!

The Americas Cake Fair will have something for everyone: live theater main stage demonstrations by renowned cake designers and sweets-centric television personalities, including “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro; more than 100 hands-on classes, demonstrations and business seminars taught by the world’s most skilled cake decorators and industry professionals; a live global cake challenges; traditional cake competitions; and an exhibit hall overflowing with new products and services, including some items for cash and carry.

From the art of airbrushing to mastering chocolate modeling, all classes and demonstrations will provide instruction on the latest techniques. All classes are three hours in duration and must be booked in advance online.

Other Cake Fair features include:

  • The Sugar Art Fashion Show on Friday evening, October 13, with models strutting the runway adorned by cake costumes and edible ensembles, co-hosted by Celebrity Chef Emily Ellyn, best known as the Retro Rad Chef from Food Network & Fashion Stylist / On-Air Style Expert Melanie Pace, and benefitting Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida

Emily Ellyn (right)

  • An exclusive VIP Meet & Greet on Saturday, October 14, where guests can meet and mingle with their favorite television personalities, headliners and cake artists
  • Live Global Cake and Chocolate Challenges, where international teams and individuals will battle for top honors
  • Traditional cake competitions offering cash prizes for contestants across all skill levels
  • Themed “zones” sprinkled around the show floor, including a Kids Zone for a yummy interactive experience for budding cake artists; and The ACD Magazine Cake Zone sponsored by American Cake Decorating Magazine for a delectable introduction to fondant and other skills

Ticket Prices


Attendees can enjoy sweet savings by purchasing tickets online, and can save even more when attending the show on multiple, consecutive days. Prices start from $30 for regular, single-day adult admission with advance online purchase.

Stay up to date on Cake Fair event updates, special offers, and exclusive contests by following the show on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@cakefair).  For more information, visit www.cakefair.com.

(Source credit: Cake Fair)

UPDATED:

Retro Rad Chef from Food Network Star, Cupcake Wars, and Cutthroat Kitchen Winner Emily Ellyn and Celebrity Baker Mich Turner

The Chocolate Genius – Paul Joachim

Emilly Ellyn and Nancy Farmer

Food Network’s Farmhouse Rules Nancy Farmer, Elizabeth Townsend, and Emilly Ellyn

I am a Digital Ambassador for The Americas Cake Fair, and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending the show and reporting my opinion within this blog, The Americas Cake Fair has provided me with complimentary tickets and other exclusive opportunities.

0 753

Orlando Chef-proprietor Sean “Sonny” Nguyen of Domu at East End Market has been chosen as a semi-finalist to compete this month in the New York qualifying competition for the Washoku World Challenge, a cooking contest in which Japanese cuisine chefs from all over the world compete in technical expertise and passion for Japanese food.

The contest, the 5th of its kind, is organized by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for non-Japanese chefs. Chefs must be of non-Japanese nationality with experience in cooking Japanese cuisine AND over 2 years of experience as a chef (current place of residence can be any country, including Japan).

Qualifying tournaments will be held in six cities worldwide (London, New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Tokyo). The six chefs who pass the qualifiers will be invited to the final tournament, to be held in Tokyo on February 13th and 14th, 2018.

The number of Japanese restaurants located overseas has drastically increased by approximately 60% from an estimated 55,000 in 2013 to 89,000 by July 2015.

However, in some of these Japanese restaurants located overseas, there are some cases wherein chefs without appropriate knowledge and skills regarding Japanese cuisine engage in preparing meals.

The Washoku organizers, backed by the Japanese government, have created guidelines to make sure Japanese cuisine created by foreign chefs is prepared with the appropriate knowledge and skill.

Chef Nguyen, who is of Vietnamese descent, has been training with the help of a Japanese masterchef in New York as well as advisement from friend and fellow chef Mark Berdin of Kadence. He has been learning how to make soba noodles by hand and Japanese cuisine in general once or twice a month in New York along with a lot of personal practice and self training.

“The application process was tough and they only select a certain amount of chefs around the world based on their recipes and skill, in which I just found out yesterday that I was chosen to move forward to the NYC competition!” said Sonny Nguyen.

For the qualifying competition, Chef Nguyen had to create a recipe for his own unique dashi soup and a kaiseki appetizer box containing 5 specific Japanese techniques of cooking.

“I think this is a big deal for us here in Orlando, especially if I advance further (not holding my breathe lol) but also because I want to represent our city and put us on the map, even if I don’t place,” Sonny said.

The competition will be judged by Michelin rated Japanese kaiseki chefs with media and live tv coverage to Japan of the cooking competition events in New York.

Kaiseki is focused on simple, clean, umami flavors and is very seasonal.”

The theme of this year’s competition is umami flavor. In Japan, the technique of extracting umami from kombu kelp and bonito flakes to create dashi broth was developed approximately 500 years ago. The basic dashi is made with kombu and bonito flakes. The combination of the glutamic acid in kombu and the inosinic acid in bonito flakes create a delicious umami taste.

For the competition, chefs had to create one suimono soup (with at least three ingredients) reflecting the UMAMI theme, made with fish or shellfish, vegetables, and citrus or sprout of an aromatic plant.

Chefs also had to create one fuchidaka mori (with at least five dishes) reflecting the UMAMI theme, including nimono (simmered foods), yakimono (grilled foods), agemono (deep-fried foods), aemono (marinated foods)/sunomono (foods dressed with vinegar), and arrange attractively in the fuchidaka. Fuchidaka is not the name of a dish or a meal, rather it is the name of the container itself (think bento box).

Contestants in the qualifying competition will compete on:

1. Test of cooking technique (basic knife skills) – 30 minutes
Basic knife skills:
One 15cm long daikon radish
Techniques tested:
– Daikon katsura muki 30cm
– Daikon ken for roughly three people
– Daikon wagiri, shikishi giri, tanzaku giri
2. Suimono (for five people) – 90 minutes
Contestants will be asked to cook the recipe they have submitted for the application screening. The soup must use dashi made from kombu kelp and bonito flakes.

Below are some photos from Chef Nguyen’s submission:

If he wins in the qualifying tournament, Chef Nguyen will:

– Be invited to the final tournament, to be held in Japan
– Be able to participate in Japanese cooking seminars in Japan
– Have the chance to apply for the Certification of Cooking Skills for Japanese Cuisine in Foreign Countries (Bronze)
– Be covered by international media

In the mean time, besides preparing for this tournament, Chef Nguyen is getting ready to open his second ramen shop, Domu in Jacksonville, and who knows what else is in the works.

Sonny Nguyen: “My end goal is to specialize in making noodles. Ramen, udon, soba, all by hand since the technique is rare nowadays and is really an art that goes beyond measurements. It’s about full body movement, feel, and smell.”

“The chef I’m training with has been making soba by hand for over 10 years and learned from his teacher in Tokyo who was 90 years old at the time, making him his last student.”

“We use high quality buckwheat flour that is stone milled by hand in Seattle to make the soba noodles. Pretty expensive stuff but smells great. Plus buckwheat is good for you.”

0 520

On October 22nd, at 6:30pm, 7 Pastry Chefs from 11 Central Florida restaurants will come together for a dessert tasting experience!

Savory bites will be provided by The Osprey Tavern, Seito Sushi, and Reyes Mezcaleria.

The participating chefs are:

Amanda McFall-Urbain 40
Gloriann Rivera-1921 by Norman Van Aken
Amy Gilbert-Canvas
Brian Cernell-Luma on Park/Prato/Luke’s
Michelle Hulbert-K Restaurant
Esther Rodriguez-The Ravenous Pig
Kristy Carlucci-The Osprey Tavern/Seito Sushi/Reyes Mezcaleria

Tickets can be obtained by calling The Osprey Tavern at 407-960-7700

We spoke with Kristy Carlucci, pastry chef for The Osprey Tavern/Seito Sushi/Reyes Mezcaleria, to gain more insight about the upcoming event, the first event featuring and highlighting some of Orlando’s finest pastry chefs.

TastyChomps: How did Pastry in the Park come about?

Pastry Chef Kristy Carlucci: I had heard of other cities doing a “pastry-centric” tasting menu where pastry chefs get together and create an amazing experience. I knew we have some extremely talented pastry chefs in Central Florida and felt certain that a great event could come together with their help.


Amanda McFall-Urbain 40 – Tropical Sundae Deluxe – Toasted coconut gelato, rum soaked angel food cake, caramel sauce & pink peppercorn spiced pineapple.

What do you hope to accomplish with this event?

To shine a light on the restaurants that have a dedicated pastry program. There’s many places that either buy in their desserts or it gets dumped off on one of the line cooks, but Central Florida has real pastry talent. There’s so many fantastic bakeries that get a lot of (well deserved) love, but it’s time for the ones in the restaurants to get their “just desserts”–pun intended!

 

What is something most people don’t know about the pastry chef profession?

That it’s intense! One misconception is that we are wearing cute aprons and baking cupcakes and cookies all day. It is a lot of time management, exact calculations, early mornings, trial and errors, organization, having an artistic eye, fighting for your own space in those tiny kitchens…
Restaurant pastry chefs also save the day–think of all those free desserts that are given out!

Tell us about your background and training and experience.

I graduated from The Culinary Institute of America in 2008. Since then, I have worked as a Teaching Assistant at the CIA, spent time with boutique chocolatiers and bakers, oversaw 2 restaurants at The Greenbrier Resort in WV, and was Pastry Chef de Cuisine at Cask & Larder. I’ve worked for some of the top chefs in America, and fortunate enough to create and present desserts for many celebrities, athletes, and politicians. In addition to being the Pastry Chef at The Osprey Tavern, Seito Sushi, and Reyes Mezcaleria, I also instruct at Valencia College in the Baking & Pastry program.

What are your favorite dishes to bake right now?

I’m in full fall mode! I love the warm spices associated with the season. Right now we have a warm apple cake with spiced caramel ice cream on our Osprey menu and it’s my favorite. My dessert for Pastry in the Park is an homage to the wonderful produce that autumn brings. At home, my 5 year old loves to bake, so we have been making banana bread and will be making pumpkin muffins soon.

What are the most popular pastries right now at your restaurants?

Chocolate is always king! Our chocolate almond torte is very decadent, and that’s what the chocolate lovers are looking for. For Sunday brunch, we have our Pastry Trolley, which features not just breakfast pastries, but also macarons, cakes, and other sweet treats. It’s very popular and we sell out almost every Sunday!

 

Pastry in the Park
A Dessert Tasting Experience
Menu

Amanda McFall – Urbain 40
Tahini Custard, Orange Blossom Figs, Almond Granite
Pairing:

Amy Gilbert – Canvas Restaurant
Mulled Red Wine Pear Galette, Citrus Mascarpone Mousse, Spiced Pistachio Granola
Pairing:

Brian Cernell – Luma on Park/Prato/Luke’s
TBD
Pairing:

Kristy Carlucci – The Osprey Tavern/Seito Sushi/Reyes Mezcaleria
“Autumn Harvest”
Pumpkin Ganache, Sweet Potato Doughnut, Candied Squash, Dulcey Crumb, Oatmeal Semifreddo
Pairing:

Esther Rodriguez – The Ravenous Pig
Goat Cheese Tart, Spent Grain Sablé, Seasonal Fruit
Pairing:

Gloriann Rivera – 1921 by Norman Van Aken
“Banana Foster Tart”
Pecan Tart Shell, Smoked Bourbon Chocolate Custard, Banana Semifreddo, Caramel, Candied Hazelnuts
Pairing:

Michelle Hulbert – K Restaurant
“Chunk of Love”
Layered Chocolate Chunk Cookie, Oreo Truffle, Dark Chocolate Brownie, Peanut Butter Mousse
Pairing:

Gloriann Rivera-1921 by Norman Van Aken
Michelle Hulbert-K Restaurant
Amy Gilbert-Canvas
Brian Cernell-Luma on Park/Prato/Luke’s
Kristy Carlucci-The Osprey Tavern/Seito Sushi/Reyes Mezcaleria

0 554
Photo Courtesy of KADENCE

by Michael Cuglietta

An Open Letter to Anyone Applying for a Job at Kadence

You are at the office, killing time on social media, when Kadence’s latest Instagram post appears on your feed. The trio behind Kappo is looking to hire a kitchen helper for their new restaurant.

This puts an image in your head. One in which you are standing in a busy kitchen, wearing a white chef’s coat and tossing a pan full of sautéed mushrooms into the air with nothing more than a flick of the wrist.

You say to yourself, life is too short to be spending forty hours a week chained to a desk. Sure, you make a good living. But there are more important things in life than money.

I, like you, had romantic notions about working in a kitchen. That’s why, when I was given the opportunity to be a part of Kadence’s opening crew, I seized it.

I’m here to tell you, despite what the Food Network might’ve lead you to believe, stepping into the kitchen is nothing like playing lead guitar in a rock band. It’s more comparable to being drafted into the armed services.

Your day will start at 7am. If you are lucky, you will be home by 1am. But, usually, it’ll be closer to 2am. You will be working six days a week, for minimal wage. But, for every hour over 40, you will earn time and a half. This means, in order to make a living, you will have to work 80 to 90 hours a week.

You will have to learn to work on an empty stomach. In the kitchen, there’s no time to stop and eat.

On the odd occasion when the chefs do find time, they will prepare a family meal. Usually, fish scraps, which, in most restaurants, would’ve gone in the trash, marinated in soy sauce and served over rice. Or the same ingredients will be fried, along with an egg.

The chefs have spent their entire professional lives in the kitchen. They are trained to eat fast. In just minutes, they will deposit their empty bowls in the sink, for you to wash. They will tell you to take your time. But the first seating is rapidly approaching. So you throw most of your meal away and get back to work. But don’t let the chefs catch you. At Kadence, wasting food is an unforgivable crime.

Think of the job as a game of Tetris. As the blocks fall, you must organize them into neat rows. If you mislay a piece, or fall behind, your tower will reach an unmanageable height. Then the blocks will start dropping at an accelerated rate as you scramble to line them up and make them disappear before you get the game over screen.

The sink will be your home. You will have other responsibilities, which will take you away from your home. But, no matter what else is on your plate, you are expected to keep your home in order.

The chefs will give you small food chores. These are tests. If you pass, you will be given more opportunities, away from the sink. But every time you fail, you are further solidifying your role as dishwasher.

Be careful what you wish for. Each time you demonstrate competency in a new task, it will become a part of your daily routine. And your routine is already so demanding, you spend 15 hours a day racing around the kitchen and, still, there isn’t enough time to get everything done.

Since the stove is directly behind the sink, you will be asked to keep an eye on the chawanmushis, a savory Japanese egg custard, served at each seating. You will be told to take them off the stove the moment they set. If you do a good job, after service, the chefs will complement you. Then, from that moment forward, you will be in charge of cooking the chawanmushis.

You do up to three seatings a night, serving ten guests at a time. It would be ideal if you could pre-cooked all the chawanmushis. Then, during service, all you would have to do is get them up to temperature. But there are only twelve chawanmushi bowls. This means, after each chawanmushi course, you will have to wash the bowls. Then cook the next round.

This might seem simple enough. But during service, you are battling an already unmanageable list of things to do.

You, for instance, are in charge of shucking the oysters. Shucking oysters is not hard. It’s the timing that makes it difficult. The oysters are served as a first course, right after the guests are seated. This is the toughest part of the evening, especially if the first seating is running late and the next set of guests are arriving.

Kadence is a small restaurant, run by a small team, each of whom fill many roles. Jennifer Banagale, in addition to being part owner, is the pastry chef and one woman wait staff. After the savory courses, she must go behind the sushi bar to serve dessert, which means you get a temporary promotion from dishwasher to headwaiter.

You must go into the dining room, pick up everyone’s dirty plates and bring them to the sink in the service station. While you are doing this, you notice the water glasses are near empty. And two guests have asked you to select a sake to pair with their dessert.

The next seating, meanwhile, is standing at the bar in the adjacent room, waiting for someone to come pour drinks. No matter how rushed you may be, you must maintain a calm front. Greet each guest warmly. As you take their drink order, introduce yourself, ask them,

“Is this your first time dining with us?”

They will want to make small talk. There is an art to cutting off a conversation without offending the person you are talking to. You must become proficient in this art. Because Jen has poked her head into the room to tell you she has finished with the first dessert and needs you to pick up the plates before she can serve the final course. She reminds you, the water glasses need refilling and those two guests are still waiting for their sake.

You pour two glasses of sake and put them on a tray. Also, on the tray, you place a pitcher of water. The couple in front of you is telling you about their trip to Japan. You need to get out of this conversation. Tell them you have to go bring drinks to the dining room. Apologize for having to leave. Smooth things over with a generous taste of sake. “Try some of this. Let me know what you think.”

After the water glasses are filled, you drop the pitcher off at the bar. Then take the tray back into the dining room to collect the first round of dessert plates. By now, the sink and every available surface in the service station is filled with dirty dishes.

The guests have just been given their final plate. This gives you ten minutes to shuck the oysters for the next seating. But first you must go to the bar and see if anyone is ready for another drink.

You are happy to see Lordfer Lalicon, one of the chefs and owners, behind the bar, pouring drinks. He tells you, “I got this. Go do the oysters.”

You head back into the kitchen, get the oysters out of the fridge. That’s when you remember, it’s been too long since you last checked the bathroom.

Through a back door, you sneak into the dining room and slip into the bathroom, undetected. The toilet paper roll is almost empty. The seat is up and there is a collection of used paper towels on the floor around the trash bin.

You sneak back out the way you came in and get a fresh roll of toilet paper from the storage closet. You return to the bathroom, careful to conceal the toilet paper behind your back. If a guest were to see you, walking through the dining room with a roll of toilet paper, the chefs would, surely, not be happy.

You put the new roll in the toilet paper dispenser and fold the tip into a perfect triangle. You pick the paper towels up off the floor and put the toilet seat down. You wipe all surfaces with a sanitizing rag, light a new stick of incense. Then race back to the kitchen.

The head chef and owner, Mark Berdin, is standing over your oysters. “How long have these been out of the fridge?”

“I was just about to get to them. Then I remembered I had to check the bathroom.” Your response pisses him off. In the kitchen, mistakes can be forgiven. But there’s zero tolerance for excuses.

These are Shigoku oysters, from Washington. He tells you they are the most expensive oysters currently on the market. He can’t afford to be having his dishwasher ruin them. He orders you out of the kitchen.

That’s when you remember the chawanmushis. If you don’t get them started soon, they will not be ready in time. You fill the bottom of the steamer with water and put it on the stove.

You line up the ceramic bowls and begin ladling in the batter. This is a delicate process. Each ceramic needs the same level of batter, so they will cook at the same pace. And you must be careful not to spill any.

You have half the ceramics done when you hear chairs moving in the dining room. The guests are leaving.

At Kadence, they practice the Japanese custom of walking their guests out. Guest service, Mark will tell you when you first start working at Kadence, is the number one priority. Even the food ranks second under guest service.

You leave the chawanmushis and go to the front door. You stand with your hands folded behind your back. As each guest walks out, you look them in the eye, thank them for coming, and bow. When I say bow, I don’t mean simply lowering your head. You must bow at the waist. Don’t stop until your body is forming a 90 degree angle.

Now that the first guests are gone, the dining room needs to be cleaned and reset. Every guest will need chopsticks, a cloth napkin, which you need to make sure is folded the proper way, and a glass for water, each of which needs to be polished until it sparkles. The bathroom will, once again, need to be cleaned.

As the new guests are being seated, you have just enough time to get the chawanmushis in the steamer. But you must be quick about it. The moment the guest’s bottoms touch those seats, you are expected in the dining room with a pitcher of water. And, after their glasses are filled, you must get each of them an oshibori, a warm hand towel which, before service, you folded according to Japanese tradition, after soaking them in water infused with lemongrass.

You will spend the first part of this seating fighting to get caught up with the dishes. Kadence serves a set menu. The same dishes are used in each seating. You better prioritize your dishwashing. Find the ones that are used for the early courses. Get those cleaned first.

It’s still early but, just to be safe, you leave the sink to check on the guests. The man in seat nine is a camel. All the water glasses are nearly full, but for his. For the next couple of hours, you are going to be chained to this guest. Every few minutes, you will have to return to his side with a pitcher of water.

This is, also, the last seating. The moment it is over, the chefs are going to want to go home. But they can’t leave until the restaurant is clean and reset for the next day. During last service, you better find the time to mop the kitchen, polish the stainless steel, put the trash out and all the cookware must be washed and returned to its proper place.

*

You pull into your driveway at 2:30am. All day, you have been operating on adrenalin. All of a sudden, a switch is flipped. Slowly, the adrenaline leaks out of your body. It’s replaced with hunger and fatigue.

Your feet are so sore, all you want to do is sit on the couch and prop them up on the coffee table. But you are sweaty and smell of raw fish. You need a shower.

You put a frozen pizza in the oven, crack open a beer and take it into the bathroom. You swallow two Advil. Then take a hot shower.

After your shower, you eat your pizza in front of the television. You are careful to keep the volume down. You don’t want to wake your wife. She works normal hours. Tomorrow will mark a week since you’ve last seen each other awake.

By the time you get in bed, it’s past 3:30am. Tomorrow is Sunday. On Sundays, the first seating is at 11:30am. You have to be back at the restaurant by 7am.

There is so much adrenaline in the kitchen, it lingers for hours after you leave, making it hard to fall asleep. When Mark, Jen and Lordfer worked in New York City, they’d get out at 2am and go to a bar, where they’d drink with other cooks until 4am.

When you finally doze off, it’s worthless because, in your dreams, you are back in the service station, bent over the sink, scrubbing dishes.

Photo Courtesy of KADENCE

Michael Cuglietta is the author of the forthcoming fiction collection, The Feast of Jupiter (Little Island Press, 2018), and the chapbooks Vertigo (Gertrude Press, 2012) and Clams in White Wine (Paper Nautilus, 2017). His work has appeared in NOON, Gettysburg Review, Tampa Review and elsewhere. http://mcuglietta.bigcartel.com

Editor’s Note: Kadence is currently looking to hire a fulltime kitchen helper.

Kadence
kadenceorlando.com

1809 E. Winter Park Rd., Orlando, FL 32803

Chef's Spotlight

0 709
“The world of sweets is for everybody. No matter your taste, you can always find something on the dessert menu that will make you...

Featured Articles

0 439
The Glass Knife finally opens this Friday November 10th from 7am to 10pm at 276 S Orlando Ave, Winter Park, FL , right across...