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Pizzeria Roberti can be found tucked in a small corner on the east side of Orlando, off of Curry Ford and Chicksaw Trail.

Here you will find one of the best pizzas in Orlando – from the crispy, tasty house-fermented crust to the house-made mozzarella cheese, Pizzeria Roberti is the real deal.

Joseph Roberti, owner and chef of Pizzeria Roberti, takes a lot of pride in his work and it shows through the quality of the food here.

Roberti tells us, “Our pizza on the surface is a New York Style Pizza, but underneath it is much more complex than that. In reality it is a combination of Artisan style pizza, Neapolitan style pizza, and traditional New York style pizza.”

“Our dough is made from cultivated yeast produced in house similar to the production of artisan sourdough breads (Artisan characteristic). Our sauce is made from San Marzano tomatoes imported from Italy and less than a handful of all fresh ingredients (Neapolitan characteristic). We bake our pies in a traditional bakers pride pizza oven (New York characteristic), but we cook them at a high heat between 550 and 575 degrees Fahrenheit (similar to a Neapolitan characteristic). Our cheese is a combination whole milk and part-skim Grande Mozzarella (New York characteristic).”

Specialty – Breakfast Pizza – topped with egg, chives, ham, bacon, cheese

“Every ingredient of our specialty pies is produced in house. Our specialty slice pies are often garnished to order not unlike a dish coming out of a high end restaurant. And that is just the pizzas. We also have beer, wine, salads (all dressings made in house), subs, appetizers (such as our homemade fresh mozzarella), pastas (all sauces made in house), and vast catering menu. We are off to a great start in developing our concept and look forward to continually evolve as we grow.

Panko Crusted Mozzarella “Sticks”

“As a kid my father used to take me to a local pizza shop a few days a week and the cooks used to teach me little things here and there. By the age of 8 or 9 I made my first slice pie. Fast forward a bit to 14, I was now living in Orlando, Fl, and about to start high school. I was looking to get started in my cooking career and I got my shot at a neighborhood pizzeria & bar. I started as a prep cook, then learned the hot line, then pizza station, and even serving from time to time.”

Brined and Fried Chicken Wings with Garlic, Parmesan Cheese – Divine

“I liked my job but had ambitions for more, I wanted to pursue a career as a professional chef. As soon as I got my license I took a job on I-drive as a dishwasher in a much bigger and more known restaurant. It was a step backward, but it was also a foot in the door with a successful brand. Fast forward again about 3 years, I worked at few spots around Orlando, most notably the Citrus Club under chef Scott Haegele, and went to culinary school.”

“Upon graduating culinary school I decided to go back to New York to learn how to transition from a cook to a chef. I got my shot, this time with accomplished chef Hung Huynh who took me under his wing, trained me, and gave me the exposure and opportunity to work with many great culinarians.”

“Fast Forward another 4 years, I’m living in Miami, at this point a chef myself running various kitchens. In 2015 I created a company “Motion Hospitality Group” as a hospitality consulting business, with the intention of one day opening a place of my own. Fast Forward to today where Motion Hospitality Group currently owns and operates its first restaurant concept: “Pizzeria Roberti”.”

What are your first childhood food memories?

One of my first memories with food was when I was around 5 or 6, my parents weren’t home and my brother was watching me. He must have fallen asleep or something, and I made an apple omelet. The first thing I have ever cooked by my memory.

What are some of your favorite dishes at Pizzeria Roberti?

My favorite dishes at the pizzeria are the pesto & margherita pizzas, chicken marsala with farfalle pasta, and the pizza dough zeppoles.

What do you like to cook for “comfort food” at home with your family?

My Favorite thing to eat at home is Mom’s Lasagna.

Housemade meatballs – tender, braised, crisp on the outside

The Sauce

“Our pizza sauce consists of a combination of San Marzano tomatoes imported from Italy and all fresh ingredients including fresh herbs and garlic. San Marzano tomatoes are known for their natural sweetness and low acidity.”

The Dough

“Our dough is made in house with our specially cultivated yeast, which is fermented on premise. This is an important characteristic of our dough because it creates a more robust flavor and the natural fermentation of our dough, makes it healthier and more digestible.”

Zeppoli

Pizzeria Roberti
Address: 2751 S Chickasaw Trail Suite 107, Orlando, FL 32829
https://pizzeriaroberti.com

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On Monday, Dec. 11, K Restaurant launched their first, monthly, Yappy Hour. To inaugurate this series of tail-wagging fun they have partnered with Woof Orlando from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Orlando locals are invited to bring their furry four-legged friends out and enjoy free spent-grain dog treats made from local breweries and enter-to-win two raffles with prizes including gift certificates for a free grooming.

We were able to experience what “Doggie chaperones” can expect when it comes to tongue-in-cheek Yappy Hour dishes from Chef Ryan McLaughlin as well as drink specials as K Restaurant is excited to share that they just received their full liquor license.

Crispy Pig Ears are fried with dates pepper hot sauce and herbs. The pig ears are sliced thinly to make them crispy like a chip. They are lightly salted and delicious with or without the hot sauce. Be careful, the hot sauce is thick and has a major kick to it.

“Pawsta” is fried ravioli with ricotta filling. Served on marinara with pecorino cheese and herbs. The fried version of ravioli is very airy like a puff pastry. Each ingredient subtly blends well together upon the palate.

“Milk Bones” are veal bone marrow bones with charred bread and radishes. The bone marrow is very smooth and works well with the bread and radishes. The charred bread adds a saltiness to each bite. We almost ordered a second round of this dish!

The Cosmo-paw-litan (left) is made with vodka, orange shrubb, lime, and cranberry juice. A simple drink to socialize with. The Snoop Dog (right) was our favorite out of these two. The Snoop Dog is made with gin and pineapple juice; it is like a tropical version of a Screwdriver.

Since we were still slightly hungry after all the samplings, we ordered the Ricotta Gnocchi off the main menu, which changes up from time to time so you can come back to try new items all the time. The Ricotta Gnocchi is made with duck confit, butternut squash, garden greens, brussel sprouts, and sage veloute. Everything is made in-house and as fresh as possible for each order. Our specific plate was a tad more salty than I would prefer, but the dish is still delicious nonetheless.

The Ricotta Gnocchi was paired nicely with a 2014 Carmenere made in Valle Del Maule, Chile. This wine has a smooth and solid flavor with notes of spices, black cherry and blackberries.

For more information, visit the K Restaurant & Wine Bar Event Page.

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Chef Trina Gregory-Propst is amazing.  She was the one who recommended my family’s restaurant, Saigon Noodle and Grill – Bumby to the Food Network producers when they asked her if she knew of any good Vietnamese restaurants in Orlando to be featured on an episode of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”.  My family had no idea that Triple D was coming to our city (for the first time ever) so we did not expect to be contacted by them, however, when they reached out to us we knew that it was truly a blessing sent from God.  We accepted the offer to film an episode of “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” and it has changed our lives for the better.  We are now recognized worldwide and we have met so many loyal Triple D fans from all across the world.  Chef Trina’s restaurant SE7EN BITES was featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Drives” and both of our restaurants are located in the Milk District, so we are actually neighbors.  What an honor it is to put our city and district on the Triple D map with Chef Trina.  My family cannot thank her enough for what she has done for our small restaraunt business.  We are so grateful for her and her awesome wife’s friendship!

Chef’s Night is an evening at the food bank featuring some of Central Florida’s best chefs and cuisine, all to benefit their Darden Foundation Community Kitchen’s Culinary Training Program.  The Culinary Training Program provides qualified, at-risk and economically disadvantaged adults with the culinary and life skills training needed to pursue a sustainable career in the food industry.  When you support Chef’s Night, you are helping to change lives, and help pull your neighbors in need out of poverty.

SE7EN BITES specializes in nostalgic southern comfort food with a modern twist.  Chef Trina has loved to bake since her Grammy first introduced her to baking when she was a child.  Grammy helped develop Trina’s love for all things sweet.  Add in a professional culinary education, talent and passion and the result is a great recipe for local Orlando Goodness.  Chef Trina created a 5-course “Brinner” menu, a delicious combination of breakfast served at dinner.  Special thanks to SYSCO for donating all of the food to Chef’s Night to make the event a success.


Bloody Mary and Mimosa Bar

Deviled eggs with candied bacon (best deviled eggs that I have ever had in my life!)

Pimento Cheese Biscuit bites with sweet red pepper butter (so yummy!)

Appetizer Course – Fried grit cake with tomato jam, Andouille and dressed Arugula

Salad Course – Citrus Pistachio Salad

Main Course – Colonel Marmalade in the Kitchen with a Knife.  Biscuit stacked with Pimento Cheese, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, over medium egg, sausage gravy and finished with a dollop of Orange Blossom Marmalade (so delicious!)

Dessert Course – Cinnamon Roll Sundae Grammies, Cinnamon Roll topped with Vanilla Ice Cream Espresso Maple Caramel, Garnished with Milk & Salted Caramel Crumble

Chef Trina with her awesome wife, Va Propst.

The talented Se7en Bites staff

This lovely lady just got hired by Chef Trina to work at her restaurant, SE7EN BITES!  Big congratulations!!  (P.S. – She looks familiar.  I think we went to high school together.  So cool!)

Follow @themichaeljavier on instagram – he’s a cool dude, I want his charisma!

If you missed out this year, be sure to join us at the next Chef’s Table at Second Harvest Food Bank!  Details will be posted on their website so keep an eye out for it.

(Source credit: Second Harvest Food Bank)

Second Harvest Food Bank
411 Mercy Drive Orlando, FL 32805
(407) 295-1066
feedhopenow.org

Se7en Bites
617 N Primrose Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
(407) 203-0727
se7enbites.com

 

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At Yuki Hana they provide guests with a beautiful, modern dining experience and the freshest, most flavorful Japanese dishes around.  From innovative sushi featuring fresh fish from the world’s finest markets to flavorful fusion dishes prepared with locally sourced veggies and herbs, every plate on their menu is fun, flavorful, and a new adventure.  No matter the occasion, they are always more than happy to welcome you in and treat you to an unforgettable evening of bites and sips.  Visit them and experience the finest in Japanese cuisine all under one roof.

Every season Yuki Hana hosts a special dinner showcasing their chef’s creativity and talent.  We were invited to their Chef’s Multi-Course Tasting Event and as always, we were impressed with how creative and well thought-out each dish was.  Not only did the food look good but it also tasted delicious as well.  Each dish that came out was like an exciting surprise, we were all blown out of the water with their innovation, presentation and quality.  Yuki Hana Fusion Sushi exceeded our expectations with every dish that they delivered that night.  They are like food scientists, they know their stuff, they are creative, and they just keep getting better and better.  You can tell that each dish was hand made with hard work, love and intention.


Begin – Butterfly Pea Crystal, Citrus Sake


Appetizer – Amuse-Bouche, Squash Dumpling

1st Course – Cape Cod Oyster, Wasabi Foam, Cocktail Pearl, Lemon Confit

2nd Course – Shima Aji, Wasabi Asparagus, Kombu Chip, Crispy Garlic, Ume Ponzu

3rd Course – Nigiri Tasting
Mussel (mussel puree, garlic chip)

Hamachi Tartare (tobiko, cured egg snow)

Tuna (tare, avocado)


Kohada (charred negi vin)

Break – Frozen White Chocolate Lychee Gusher

4th Course – Seared Shiromi, Cabbage Menage, Bacon Seaweed, Dashi Aioli (My favorite!)

5th Course – Roasted Beef, Oxtail Croquette, Pickled Pumpkin, Sweet Potato Sphere, Roasted Leek, Honey Soy (my second favorite!)

Dessert – Persimmon 5.0, Gelato, Compressed, Gel, Meringue, Soup (it was delicious!)

Special thanks to owner Ping Jiang and her talented staff for their hospitality and amazing food!  Be sure to check out Yuki Hana Fusion Sushi soon, you won’t regret it!

Albert DeSue – Executive Chef
Steven Phan – Head Sushi Chef
Edwardo Mena – Sous Chef
Lance Herbas – Sushi Chef
Steven Chang – Sushi Chef

(Cover photo and last photo taken by Quay Hu)

Yuki Hana Fusion Sushi
3635 Aloma Ave Oviedo, Florida 32765
(407) 695-8808
http://sushiyukihana.com

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Don’t walk, run.  Epcot is hosting its inaugural International Festival of Holidays now through December 30th.  It is a great event packed with seasonal food and beverage specialties, festive merchandise, and live entertainment only being offered exclusively during the festival.

Epcot International Festival of the Holidays is a festival like no other, featuring the joyous holiday traditions of their 11 World Showcase nations.  Enjoy unique food and beverage offerings at the expanded Holiday Kitchens abound – with a festive global tour as costumed performers bring time-honored traditions to life throughout World Showcase!

We toured the new Festive Center which includes the “Cookie Nook” and other festival goodies.  Cookie Nook is the brand new & biggest feature at Odyssey.  Cookie Nook has already sold over 10,000 cookies since it opened last week.

Make your own FREE snowflake ornament at the Festive Center (same building as Cookie Nook) and take it home with you or hang it on the mini Christmas tree.

Lunch time!  All food items for the festival are distinctly different to celebrate different traditional food from different regions.

Bavaria Holiday Kitchen, Germany – Cheese Fondue In a Bread Bowl with Fresh Steamed Baby Vegetables and Marble Potatoes featuring Melissa’s Produce

Yukon Holiday Kitchen, Canada – Seared Salmon with Crown Royal Maple Whiskey Glaze, Parsnip Silk, Apple Chutney and Hazelnut Croquant

Traditional French Canadian Tourtiere with Canadian Ketchup

American Holiday Table – Slow-roasted Turkey with Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans and Cranberry Sauce

Feast of Three Kings – Roasted Pork with Smashed Yuca and Pickled Green Bananas

Thank you Epcot for the generous goodie bags!

Rockin’ the festive Disney ears with my celebrity friend and Disney expert, Lou Mongello.

The festival includes merchandise that you cannot find anywhere in the world, exclusive to Disney, and some for only this park – like artisan Reinhard Herzog, who creates personalized glass-blown ornaments at the Holiday Market.

Festival gear and exclusive Annual Passholder t-shirt (middle).

Explore the Festival – We encourage you to enjoy some of the cultural entertainment throughout World Showcase at your leisure including:

Sigrid Meets Julenissen The Christmas Gnome (Norway) – Celebrate the season with laugher, as the unsuspecting storyteller Sigrid encounters Julenissen, a magical, mischievous gnome.

El Mariachi Coco de Santa Cecilia (Mexico) – Inspired by the Disney•Pixar film “Coco” and the celebration of Dia de Muertos.

Mostly Kosher (Between Morocco and France) – Capture the joy of Hanukkah and Klezmer music with this unique, high-energy indie band.

Joyful: A Celebration of the Season (Fountain View Stage) – The ‘JOYFUL!’  singers celebrate two holidays of the season— Christmas and Kwanzaa—with spirited, uplifting R&B, Pop and soul-stirring renditions of classic holiday music.

Voices of Liberty (American Adventure Rotunda) – Embrace the spirit of the season with the festive a cappella holiday music of the Dickens Carolers.

Candlelight Processional at America Gardens Theatre – A joyous retelling of the Christmas story by a celebrity narrator, accompanied by a 5-piece orchestra and a glorious massed choir.  The celebrity narrator that evening was actress/comedienne Ana Gasteyer from but not limited to: Saturday Night Live and Mean Girls.

NARRATORS

  • Nov. 24- 26 – Laurie Hernandez – NEW!
  • Nov. 27-28 – Matt Bomer – NEW!
  • Nov. 29 – 30 – Ana Gasteyer
  • Dec. 1-3 – Whoopi Goldberg
  • Dec. 4-5 – Pat Sajak – NEW!
  • Dec. 6-8 – Jodi Benson
  • Dec. 9-11 – Kurt Russell – NEW!
  • Dec. 12-14 – Warwick Davis – NEW!
  • Dec. 15-17 – Trace Adkins
  • Dec. 18-21 – Neil Patrick Harris
  • Dec. 22-24 – CCH Pounder – NEW!
  • Dec. 25-27 – Jaci Velasquez
  • Dec. 28-30 – Chandra Wilson

Festival of the Holidays version of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.  The World Showcase Promenade comes alive nightly with the brilliance and splendor of music, lights, lasers, water fountains and custom pyrotechnics.  With the song “Let There Be Peace on Earth” at its center, this special musical finale brings the message of peace and goodwill.

I am going to wrap this up like a gift!  Be sure to check out the inaugural Epcot International Festival of the Holidays before it ends on December 30th, you don’t want to miss this!

(Source credit: Walt Disney World)

Epcot
200 Epcot Center Dr, Orlando, FL 32821
(407) 939-5277
https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/holiday-festival/

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We may have found our new favorite hang out location. Orange County Brewers open industrial design features exposed brick walls, wood accents, a beautiful Florida-themed mural and customized ceiling design, long tables/group interior seating and outdoor seating via patios in the front and rear of the brewery.

Inside or out, it is pet friendly so bring your furry four-legged puppers!

In addition to regular food and drink service, OCB will offer tours, and Brewmaster Amanda will organize multiple group activities that will involve education for anyone who would like to learn more about beer. OCB beers will also be distributed via City Beverages.

Led by Head Brewer Amanda Roberts, the brightly-colored, 3,400 square-foot facility located on the corner of Orange Avenue and Jefferson Street, will brew a variety of different styles of beer, including Ales, Lagers, Pilsner, Stouts, IPAs, Hefeweizen and Porters.

Whether you are a beer lover or not, you’ll end up finding a beer at OCB that you will love with the help of Amanda and her beer-loving family. Order a flight to try a number of beers or go big with a full glass! Also, OCB offer a wide selection of wine if that tickles your fancy.

Orange County Brewers will include a full service craft pizza kitchen with a wood-burning oven called “Orlando Pizza and Wing Co.” serving pizza, wings, salads and sandwiches.

These wings…are brilliant. From the time OCB open, they start to smoke their wings. The skin is wonderfully crispy while the meat is tender and juicy.

Try the wings with some sauces. Our favorite sauces include: Classic Buffalo, Strawberry Jalapeño and Pineapple Habanero. The Classic Buffalo is our #1 choice; keep in mind that not all buffalo sauces are delicious, but this is excellent. The Strawberry Jalapeño is very fresh and we believe it will taste great with salads too. The Pineapple Habanero is unique and delicious with a slight kick at the end.

The Mac & Cheese Pizza is creamy and savory. with a chewy, yet crispy crust. It was the first time I tried a Mac & Cheese Pizza and this was not a let down.

The Tree Hugger Pizza is full of flavors and textures. The goat cheese makes the pizza different from others and it is quite different. This is a healthier choice when choosing a pizza.

Orange County Brewers is located at 131 North Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801.

Hours of Operation

  • Sunday thru Wednesday 11:30am-12am
  • Thursday thru Saturday 11:30am-2am

Happy Hour

  • 4pm-7pm

For more information, call 407-914-2831 or visit www.theocbrewers.com and www.facebook.com/orangecountybrewers.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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

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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

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Photo Courtesy of KADENCE

The founders of the wildly popular Kappo at East End Market have finally opened their newest project, Kadence, just a few blocks away from their original location in the heart of the Audubon Park District of Orlando.

Kadence is a nine-seat sushi and sake bar with a menu consisting of a multi-course sushi tasting focused on the highest-quality selection of seasonal fish. Their menu is all omakase, meaning chef’s choice of the day.

Photo Courtesy of KADENCE

From their website, Kadence owners Lordfer Lalicon, Jennifer Bañagale and Mark V. Berdin are University of Florida alum, who, after graduating, moved to New York City and then London to train in Michelin-starred restaurants.

Hours are currently by reservation only, on Tuesday – Saturday for dinner (6:00pm & 8:30pm seatings) and Sunday (11:30am, 2:00pm & 4:30pm) with lunch hours coming soon. Dinner prices range from $135 to $145 per person consisting of 18 courses.

Photo Courtesy of KADENCE

Our friend, Mike Cho, co-founder of local Orlando t-shirt printing shop Impress Ink, recently went to dine at Kadence on one of their first nights and reported back to us:

“If you were to pick anywhere geographically in the world, Kadence would place among the best contenders. We are blessed to have them here in Orlando.”

“What makes it excel further is the synergy between Mark, Jennifer, and Lo that reinforces the dining and food experience. Their personalities and even the music enhance and play a large role in the ambience of Kadence.”

“It’s like having the best of traditional Japanese omakase in Japan with the delivery of a uniquely Asian-American experience.”

“There is less than a handful of restaurants in all of Florida where food is delivered as an experience at this level. As someone who has dined around the world, if Orlando had Michelin star ratings, Kadence would definitely make the list.”

Photos Courtesy of Mike Cho

Kadence
kadenceorlando.com

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

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Seafood dishes, Cantonese stir fry noodles, dim sum – these are just some of the many staples at Chan’s Chinese Cuisine in the heart of Orlando.

Partners Tony Yeung and Annie Wong opened Chan’s Chinese Cuisine in late 1996 in Orlando, and have now been open for over 20 years here in Orlando serving authentic Cantonese Chinese cuisine. On June 5, 2017, the City of Orlando proclaimed it “Chan’s Chinese Cuisine Day” in honor of their anniversary.

Black Pepper Lamb Chops

Annie Wong’s uncle Chan opened Tom’s Chinese Cuisine in Daytona Beach many years ago. Annie, who operated her uncle’s restaurant, wanted to continue the success and opened an authentic Chinese cuisine in Orlando with Tony Yeung as a partner in 1996.

Chan’s Tony Yeung and Annie Wong

With over 45 years of experience, Chef Tony Yeung first started his chef career in Hong Kong at the very young age as 14. Prior to coming to Orlando, he worked as a managing chef in New York.

Special Roast Pork, Cucumber, and Dried Squid Appetizer
Special Roast Pork, Cucumber, and Dried Squid Appetizer

20 years ago when Annie and Tony founded Chan’s, they discovered that many customers did not know what authentic Chinese Cuisine consisted of, with many more knowing just the Americanized Chinese take-out version of the cuisine.

When they first opened, Tony and Annie had to explain and educate the customers about dim sum and authentic Chinese cuisine. Other challenges they faced including sourcing.

Special Geoduck Sashimi

“We had a hard time to find the right ingredients and often needed to order from New York or even California. Now, it’s easier to have fresh and good ingredients as the Asian American population is growing together with Chinese tourists,” said Chef Tony Yeung.

Ginger Scallion Dungeness Crab

“Many customers were from out of states or tourists who looked for authentic Chinese Cuisines. But right now, there are more customers especially younger folks who know about Dim Sum and authentic Chinese cuisine,” said Annie.

Seafood Fish Maw Soup

Today, Chan’s still has many customers who are tourists and convention guests looking for a traditional style Chinese banquet meal. Chan’s is still one of the few restaurants in Orlando who can cater wedding and birthday banquet and can host around 18-22 big tables, for a total of 200 or so guests.

Pipa Tofu – shaped like Chinese pipa string instruments

Managing Chef Tony told us he can prepare pretty much anything authentic Chinese as long as he has the ingredients. Call ahead to find out and coordinate at least 24 hours. Some local favorites at Chan’s include Stir fried noodle – Hong Kong style and egg tart dim sum. Chef Tony likes his secret recipe Soy Sauce Stir Fried Lobster, made by special request many years ago on special request for VIP high rollers when he was still a chef in Hong Kong.

Steamed Fish with Chinese spinachv

Some Special Dishes found at Chan’s

  • Baked Dungeness Crab with fried rice in lotus leaf
  • Chicken & Shrimp Fried Rice in Cream & Tomato Sauce
  • Superior Soy Sauce Live Lobster – secret recipe
Superior Soy Sauce Live Lobster – secret recipe
Dessert – Osmanthus Flower Jelly with Wolfberries

Chan’s Chinese Cuisine
1901 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803

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Hurricane Irma Information

In times of disaster, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and its network of 550 nonprofit feeding partners represent a vital emergency food supply for the community.

They are are providing extended relief service to storm victims in Brevard, Volusia, Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Lake Counties.

Emergency Food Assistance

If you find yourself in need of food assistance, please call 407-295-1066 and we will help you locate an emergency food pantry near you. You can also click on the county below and find food pantries that are open around you this week (list is updated daily).

If you need other help find a list of Community Resources here (pdf download).

How To Help

After the storm, ways for the local community to help Second Harvest help people in need are very specific:

  • Monetary Donations. Your $10 gift can help us provide 40 meals into our community during this time of need.   
  • Food and cleaning supplies donations: 
    Non-perishable food donations and cleaning supplies can be delivered to our distribution center in Orlando at 411 Mercy Drive, Orlando, Florida 32805. (see attached list of needs).
  • Volunteer opportunities:

Donation Drop-offs:

Tuesday – Friday 8am to 4pm
Second Harvest Food Bank, 411 Mercy Drive Orlando, Fla. 32805   Phone: 407-295-1066

Tuesday – Friday 7am to 3:30pm
Volusia County:  320 North Street, Daytona Beach, FL 32114         Phone: 386-257-4499
Brevard County: 6928A Vickie Circle, West Melbourne, FL 32904   Phone: 321-733-1600


TYPES OF GOODS NEEDED:

Basic Categories:

  • Canned Goods
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Cooking items
  • Personal Care
  • Bottled Goods
  • Charcoal/Sterno
  • First Aid Supplies
  • Paper Goods
  • Flashlights/Batteries
  • Dry Goods
  • Water & Ice
  • Infant Care items

Level 1 Priority (in addition to basic categories)

  • Peanut Butter
  • Assorted drinks
  • Cooking items
  • Jelly
  • Cereal
  • Paper Goods
  • Canned Meats
  • Canned Fruits & Veggies
  • Bread
  • Diapers
  • Baby Formula ? Food
  • Snacks
  • Bleach
  • Cleaning supplies

Level 2 Priority (in addition to other categories)

  • Cookies & Crackers
  • Toilet Paper
  • Feminine Hygiene
  • Instant Coffee/Drinks
  • Toothpaste & Brushes
  • Non-perishable milk
  • Tea Bags
  • Soap
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo
  • Candy
  • Staples (sugar, salt)

http://www.feedhopenow.org/site/PageServer?pagename=how_help_disaster

We are so happy to announce that Miami’s very popular Bocas Grill has finally arrived to Orlando bringing its fusion of vibrant Latin contemporary food, with an addition of a full bar.

The Venezuelan restaurant features all the classic favorites like arepas, wagyu burgers, and the crazy shakes they are known for like the churro shake.

Bocas Grill & Bar is a classy establishment with unforgettable high quality flavors, it is exactly what Orlando needed.  All meats are USDA prime.

Strawberry Juice

Appetizer Sampler – 8 mini Arepas, 5 Cheese Fingers, White Guayanés Cheese, Cream, Cilantro Aioli

Arepa Llanera – Beef, Chopped Avocado,  Tomato, Red Onions, and Soft White Cheese


La Levin Truffle Burger – 10 ounces of hand-cut Picanha 100% Wagyu with Lettuce, Tomato, Truffle Oil, Ketchup, Bacon, and Truffle Mayonnaise on a homemade black Bun

Churros with Nutella, Condensed Milk, Dulce De Leche

Bocas Grill Milkshake – Chocolate Flips Milkshake with Nutella and Flips all around the rim, crowned with Galleta María, a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream, a Nutella Brownie Donut, Brigadeiro de Toddy and a homemade Nutella popsicle on top

Follow @bocasgrill on instagram and be sure to visit them soon and meet all of their delicious flavors!  Reservations are recommended.

 

Bocas Grill & Bar
7600 Dr Phillips Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 723-8351
bocasgrill.com

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The Halal Guys is a halal Middle Eastern fast casual restaurant that began as a food cart in 1990 on the south-east corner of 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. We actually visited the original 53rd and 6th Ave Halal food cart way back in 2009 after a late night of walking the city.

Gyro sandwich

The place always had a long line, especially in the late hours of the evening after the night clubs would close, and people loved their signature white sauce over chicken and rice platters. In addition to rice platters, there are also pita sandwiches and salads, where you can choose beef gyro, chicken, or falafel as your main.

Chicken and Rice Platter

Today, the company has grown from one small food cart to over 200 new restaurants all over the world, including one right here in East Orlando, just south of UCF by Waterford Lakes.

Eater NY recently named the Halal Guys’ rice platter as “one of New York City’s most iconic dishes.” The platter includes meat (chicken, gyro, or both) or falafel, rice, iceberg lettuce (or, instead, extra rice), and slices of pita bread.

Falafel

In addition to the signature white sauce, there is a very spicy red hot sauce, I believe it is of Egyptian or North African origin because it reminds me a lot of harissa sauce.

Baklava

The Halal Guys
688 North Alafaya Trail Ste. 103
Orlando, Florida, FL 32828
Highlights info row image
(407) 271-8606

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Chef Emeterio “Tello” Luna adds authenticity and creativity to each dish at Harry’s Poolside Bar & Grill while he also concurrently oversees 98Forty Tapas and Tequila’s menu.

As head chef of Harry’s Poolside Bar & Grill, his blend of old-world techniques learned in his mami’s kitchen in Mexico, travels to the Caribbean, and his skills honed in New York City’s finest restaurants creates a unique and upscale offering of authentic Caribbean dishes.

Harry’s Poolside Bar & Grill items such as the “Mojito Salmon,” tropical chicken, and grilled rib eye steak marinated in Jamaican coffee is basted with his years of culinary experience and research.

Chef Tello and his staff prepares items daily from scratch using fresh aromatic herbs and spices and authentic Caribbean techniques such as steaming banana leaves to unlock distinct flavor for the “Island Mahi Mahi.” In every bite, you’ll taste the fresh creativity and the delicate attention to detail.

Tell us about your background and how you came to become chef at Rosen Centre
I came to NYC at the age of 16 from Mexico looking for culinary opportunities as there weren’t many in Mexico at the time. I worked in many kitchens as a dishwasher, prep and assistant until I decided to attend culinary school. I continued to work in NYC for a couple of years until I moved to Florida where I worked at other hotels until I finally arrived at Rosen Centre. In NYC, I worked at Metrazur by Chef Charles Palmer, Demi restaurant by chef Herb Wilson, café grazie (Italian restaurant ) and Rosen Deli.

What were some of your first and favorite memories around food growing up?
My first memories are those of my mother cooking. She always chose fresh ingredients and did everything by hand. She made fresh tortillas daily. I remember she would grind the soaked corn by hand in a metate or grind stone. She would grind it by hand until perfect. Then she would take the masa and flatten it in a tortilla maker. It was hard work especially having 13 kids but mom always made it happen. Another great memory I have is of Mole. It was only made on special occasions usually for Christmas. It took an entire day to make Mole. My mother would grind over half a dozen spices by hand in her metate to be able to create the rich Mole sauce. You could smell the fresh spices being grinded and creating a fusion of delectable aromatics.

What are some of your favorite dishes on the menu at Harry’s?
Some of my favorite dishes at Harry’s are coffee and soy marinated rib eye. The meat is juicy and tender and then you get an explosion of flavors in your mouth from the marinade that has fused into the meat. Another favorite of mine is the Mahi Mahi wrapped in banana leaf. It is served with Jasmine rice, tostones (fried plantains) and coconut curry sauce. The flavors fuse together wonderfully and make you feel like you’re eating in the Caribbean.

Where do you draw your inspiration from in your cooking?
I draw inspiration from my mother who always chose fresh ingredients and other great chef’s in NYC that I have worked with in the past.

What were some favorite dishes to cook for your family or yourself at home?
There is really not one particular food that I enjoy preparing, I enjoy them all but my wife does most of the cooking when I’m off from work. I have to admit she cooks really good food. My favorites include Arroz con gandules (rice & pigeon peas ), Pernil (slow roasted pork), Pollo guisado (chicken stew), and Chicken mole.

What are some of your favorite local Orlando eats?
My favorite local eats are usually small mom and pop restaurants. These restaurants where the food tends to be made fresh with great ingredients and you can taste the freshness in every bite. Some include Gubambilias (Mexican restaurant ), Andy’s House (Chinese restaurant ), Tu Casa (Caribbean restaurant), and
Chuck Wagon home cooking (breakfast coffee shop).

——–

Inside Harry’s Poolside Brunch Menu

Influenced by the flavors of the Caribbean,  this may be the most unique brunch in Orlando!

Island Berry Blast
Raspberries, Blueberries, Strawberries, Pineapple Juice
Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
Served with Island Berry and Mango Compote and Guava Jam
Baked French Toast
Layered French Toast topped with Caramelized Pecans and Bananas with Fresh Strawberries
Polenta and Eggs
Two Poached Farm Eggs on a Sweet Polenta Cake with Ropa Vieja Braised Beef, Sautéed Spinach, with Cayman Hollandaise
Harry’s Crab Cake Benedict
Bubba’s Mango Crab Cake Benedict topped with Cayman Hollandaise
Harry’s Tropical Bakery Basket:
Pineapple Coconut Bread, Mango Muffin, Guava and Cheese Pastelito
Chimichurri Filet and Eggs
Grilled Filet Mignon topped with Caramelized Grapefruit, Two Eggs any style and Harry’s Potatoes

Harry’s Poolside Bar & Grill is conveniently located next to the pool within the Rosen Centre Hotel on world-famous International Drive.

Harry’s Poolside Bar & Grill
9840 International Drive
Orlando, Florida 32819
http://www.harryspoolside.com/

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Tucked inside the busy Dr. Phillips Marketplace (seriously how many restaurants can fit in there??), you can find La Carraia, a new gelato shop for us here in Orlando.

La Carraia is recognized by @condenasttraveller @voguemagazine and @culturetrip for being one of the best gelato ???? shops in all of Florence, Italy ???????? and has now opened its first shop in Florida in Dr Phillips!

I loved my pistachio and sinfonia gelato from La Carraia this weekend – creamy, yet velvety smooth gelato. Bravo! They even serve house made gelato cakes.

La Carraia Gelateria in Dr Phillips Marketplace
7600 Dr Phillips Blvd #38, Orlando, FL 32819
Phone: (407) 864-8400
https://www.facebook.com/LaCarraiaOrlando
http://lacarraiaflorida.com/

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Jinya Tonkotsu Black Ramen - pork broth: pork chashu, kikurage, green onion, nori dried seaweed, seasoned egg*, garlic chips, garlic oil, fried onion, spicy sauce »served with thin noodles

The ink is now dry and the lease has been signed. In an exclusive to TastyChomps.com, we have been notified that 8 N Summerlin Ave, the location in Thornton Park once home to Tijuana Flats and most recently Tex-Mex restaurant Verde Cantina, will now soon be home to Jinya Ramen Bar. Construction and re-modeling will be underway in the coming months.

Brandon Delaniois, an associate at JLL, told us, “We had a blast working on this deal representing these passionate restauranteurs at an iconic mixed-use development in the trendy Thornton Park neighborhood of Downtown Orlando. JINYA Ramen Bar will deliver exceptional quality and enhance the diversity of dining choices in downtown. #JLLRetail #RetailIsntDead #BusierThanEver #TastyChomps.”

Partners Taff Liao and Eric Jakab are bringing Jinya Ramen Bar, the modern Japanese restaurant featuring authentic ramen along with a variety of tapas dishes, to Orlando sometime in early 2018.

Currently, there are over 20 Jinyas worldwide from Houston to Las Vegas to Vancouver and DC.

Jinya in Washington, DC

Partner Taff Liao tells us, “Orlando has always been home to us and with its booming food scene, we think that JINYA would be a great addition to the city.”

“After living in Houston, one of the biggest culinary hubs in the U.S. and traveling to Japan, we’ve had the opportunity to try many ramen shops. We found that JINYA’s ramen rivaled the best and so we wanted to bring JINYA’s world class ramen to our hometown.”

Jinya in Houston

What is special about Jinya?
Tomonori Takahashi, the founder of JINYA, is a very successful restauranteur in Japan and the United States. His ramen recipes are the most authentic and delicious of any ramen shop in the states. A significant focus is placed on the broth which is slowly simmered for more than 10 hours to create a thick, flavorful, and delicious eating experience.

Jinya Bun – steamed bun stuffed with slow-braised pork chashu,
cucumber, and baby mixed greens served with JINYA’s
original bun sauce and kewpie mayonnaise

Most Popular Dishes at Jinya Ramen Bar:
For Ramen: Tonkotsu Black and Spicy Chicken.
For Tapas: Jinya Bun, and Crispy Chicken.

JINYA introduces ramen to all palettes with chicken and vegetarian broth options aside from the traditional pork.

Jinya Takoyaki – battered octopus over egg tartar topped with kewpie
mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce, fresh cut green onion and
smoked bonito flakes

Stay tuned for more information coming soon on the development of Jinya in Thornton Park. To find more about Jinya, visit https://jinya-ramenbar.com

Jinya Tonkotsu Black Ramen – pork broth: pork chashu, kikurage, green onion,
nori dried seaweed, seasoned egg*, garlic chips, garlic oil,
fried onion, spicy sauce »served with thin noodles

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Urbain 40 American Brasserie and Lounge is a throwback to all the nostalgic swank and sophistication of the 1940s (hence the 40 in Urbain 40) Big Band era with a classic yet seasonally changing American and European continental menu.

Several months ago, after 9 years as executive chef of the award winning Flying Fish Cafe at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, Chef Timothy Keating joined the Boulevard Restaurant Group as Director of Culinary Operations. The group owns and operates both Urbain 40 on Orlando’s Restaurant Row and Paradiso 37 at Disney Springs.

“Can you guess where these clams are from?,” Chef Tim Keating asks as I looked over longingly at the intoxicatingly aromatic cup of creamy New England clam chowder placed in front of me.

“Cedar Key – just north of Tampa! There’s lovely bits of pork belly, chopped leeks, vegetables, with the chopped clam in there, all in a roux of bacon and duck fat.”

 New England Clam Chowder

Born in New Jersey, Chef Keating began his culinary career in his early teens – “the school of hard knocks,” says Keating.

Working at several high end hotel restaurants, he eventually became Executive Chef of the Five Diamond rated Four Seasons Hotel in Houston, Texas and Executive Chef of the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables before joining Flying Fish in Orlando.

Among his many accolades, he was nominated four times for the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef-Southwest – in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004.


At six feet, eight inches – a former college basketball player – Chef Tim Keating towers in the kitchen, both as a figure and with his great intangible love and care for his dishes and the sourcing of his ingredients.

He loves to bring creativity into his work, using the freshest and highest quality ingredients from local farmers, fish mongers, and more.

At Urbain 40 – he is bringing more of the “American” into the “Brasserie” with new touches of Asian inspired dishes – like the coconut curry ginger yellowfin tuna filet – while maintaining the French favorites that guests have grown to love. Pieces and patchwork and cultures together making a great, big, delicious quilt called America.

We were recently invited to chat with Chef Tim Keating and preview some of the new dishes in season at Urbain 40 right now.

Some of my favorites of the evening included the Duck confit and duck sausage trofi di abruzzo Ligurian style pasta dumplings and the char-crusted Angus NY striploin. The char is a delightful medley of spices that give the steak an addicting, flame-kissed taste without being burnt. It’s black magic.

House baked bread and butter – addictive.

Crispy Jonah Crab Cake
Savory Slaw, Sauce Verde, Piquant Mango-Pepper Coulis

Rock Shrimp and Cape Bay Scallop Ceviche Cocktail
Radishes, Cucumbers, Palm hearts, peppadew peppers, Citrus and Tequila

Duck Sausage and Duck Confit Trofie Di Abruzzo
Twisted Ligurian-style pasta dumplings, duck confit, duck sausage, wilted rhapini, alba mushrooms

Bolognese Pasta
Handmade pappardelle pasta, 11 hour Slow Braised Beef, Veal, and Heritage Pork Ragout
Arugula and Parmigiano Reggiano

12 oz Char-Crusted Angus NY Striploin

Ginger-Teriyaki Char-Crusted Yellowfin Tuna “Filet”
A massive cut of premium tuna steak, swimming in a delightful coconut-carrot-lemongrass curry butter emulsion, topped with lotus roots and mushrooms. I could still imagine slurping that curry up right now. The curry itself would be great with some noodles turned into a noodle soup with some duck confit – maybe next season!

Shrimp Lo Mein
Not your old neighborhood Chinese take out shrimp lo mein – this is an elevated lo mein dish with Wild Gulf Shrimp, Asian Vegetables and Mushrooms, Mirin, Miso, Lemongrass Emulsion

Urbain 40’s Pastry Chef Amanda McFall, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, may be one of the best, if not the best pastry chef in Orlando.

Her desserts are a work of art and it is almost feel a pity to eat them because they are so beautiful.

I say almost because they taste even more delicious than they look so I have no regrets.

The Tropical Sundae Deluxe, conjuring memories of the Caribbean with rum soaked angel food cake and toasted coconut gelato and spiced pineapple, may well be THE Dessert of the Summer.

Sinful Chocolate & Peanut Butter Creation
Layers of dark & milk chocolate, peanut butter crèma, and Florida raspberries.

Tropical Sundae Deluxe
Toasted coconut gelato, rum soaked angel food cake, caramel sauce & pink peppercorn spiced pineapple.

Lemon Meringue Tart
Blueberry-lavender sorbet, poppy seed crèma, and Florida blueberries.

There is a sense of playfulness in the creativity of all of Chef Keating’s dishes at Urbain 40 that is genuinely refreshing.

Urbain 40 since its opening had been one of my favorite restaurants in Orlando – those sizzling mussels are the stuff of dreams even still today – and not only is it in skillfully good hands with Chef Tim Keating, but the changes to the menu are refreshing and have elevated the restaurant higher.

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

Photos by So May Ly Photography

With the recent addition of The Gourmet Muffin to the four other bake shops in our Audubon Park Garden District, at the intersection of Corrine Dr and Winter Park Rd, we’ve reached a critical mass – and the time has come for us at Tasty Chomps to officially call the area our “Orlando Bakery District”.

It’s all arbitrary and very unscientific, but this corner of Orlando now has the highest concentration of bakeshops featuring pastries and other baked goods in our region.

So throw your carb and calorie counter out the window, here is:

A Guide to Orlando’s Bakery District:

Olde Hearth Bread Company

Address: 3201 Corrine Dr – East End Market Orlando, FL 32803
Phone: (407) 622-0822
oldehearthbreadcompany.com
https://www.instagram.com/oldehearthbread/
https://www.facebook.com/OldeHearthBread/

From croissants to peanut butter cream cookies, you can find the retail arm of the Olde Hearth inside East End Market. The veritable mother of fine artisan baking in Orlando, Olde Hearth Bread Company was founded in Orlando in 1988 by culinary artisans Shannon Talty and Janice Talty, each with classical training in some of our nation’s most acclaimed bakeries.

Their original vision was to “establish a retail and wholesale business offering high quality artisan breads and pastries.” Unbleached and unbromated flours and preservative-free ingredients are essential to their baking process. Minimal automation and a commitment to old-world “hand-made” processing ensures their breads are pure and flavorful.

Blue Bird Bake Shop

3122 Corrine Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
Phone: (407) 228-3822
bluebirdbakeshop.com/
instagram.com/bluebirdbakeshop/
acebook.com/bluebirdbakeshop/

Specializing in cupcakes, Blue Bird Bake Shop features flavors from Red Velvet to Sweet Cakes, Ch-chocolate to Peanut Butter & Jelly, rotating on a daily basis.

They bake everything from scratch daily, and also offer brownies, cookies, scones, muffins and other bakery fare.

P is for Pie Bake Shop

Address: 2806 Corrine Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
Phone: (407) 745-4743
www.crazyforpies.com
instagram.com/pisforpiebakeshop/
facebook.com/crazyforpies/

P is for Pie Bake Shop specializes in artisan pies, pie pops, & desserts. Everything is scratch baked fresh by hand.

Everything is made from scratch, by hand, incorporating natural, seasonal and local ingredients to every extent possible.

Whole and small pies are available on a first come first serve basis on Fridays and Saturdays. Order your pies aheaed though to be sure at least 24 hours for sweet pies and at least 48 hours for savory pies.

Gideon’s Bakehouse

3201 Corrine Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
gideonsbakehouse.com
facebook.com/gideonsbakehouse/
instagram.com/gideonsbakehouse/

This relatively new gothic/Victorian themed cookie shop inside the East End Market has been lighting up Instagram feeds everywhere with their wild chocolate chip cookies. Cookies are a must, but they also serve up cakes, pies, and dessert coffee. Get there early cause they sell out.

The Gourmet Muffin

Address: 2909 Corrine Dr Suite B, Orlando, FL 32803
Phone: (407) 751-4134
thegourmetmuffin.com
instagram.com/thegourmetmuffin/
facebook.com/TheGourmetMuffin/

Owner-Chef Catherine Hilgerson hails from New Orleans, baking in some of the finest bakeries in that region. She carries her muffin creations throughout Central Florida, as far as Gainesville at local farmer’s markets. But now, she has found a home in the Orlando Bakery District (officially the Audubon Park Garden District), selling also Italian cookies and specialty coffees.

Muffin flavors range from banana and chocolate chip to raspberry and more. My favorites are the “cruffins”, croissant-muffin hybrids, sometimes filled with cannoli cream, other times filled with strawberry mascarpone depending on the day and new ones are always rolling out.

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The restaurant that started as a craving
Hunger Street Tacos was borne of a husband’s desire to make his wife happy. Luckily for all of us, what made her happy was a taco.

Joseph Creech was a “missionary kid” born in Guadalajara and raised in Acapulco where his parents, Joseph Sr. and Rita, started a Presbyterian church. He loved the weather and people of the area, and especially the food. But the family moved back to Central Florida when Joseph was six and he fell right into being the All-American kid. He went to school at Auburn, but by his sophomore year, he was restless.

“I was majoring in International business and marketing, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life,” Creech said. “I figured a year off would help me figure it out.”

So this time, he became the missionary and went back to his beloved Mexico. During his childhood there, his parents had discouraged him from eating street food because of health concerns. But as a young man, he discovered what turned out to be the fresh, scratch-made food of the ubiquitous taco and quesadilla hawkers. He trolled the street vendors and markets in every city he visited.

“It became an obsession with me,” he said. “I couldn’t get enough of it.”

Creech quotes his favorite chef Enrique Olvera from Mexico City about what attracted him to the food.

“Olvera says there is a ‘wealth in poverty,’” Creech said. “Meaning that out of need comes amazing creativity. People were using ingredients they may not have tried if they could afford other things, but out of that comes incredible food.”

He points to some of the unique but affordable ingredients used in Mexican cuisine such as insects, cactus and flowers to make his point. He also appreciates the history of the food.

“People have been making this food for generations,” he said. “Much of it in the exact same way they are now.”

Nine months into his time in Mexico, he met a young woman named Seydi Plata. A Mexico City native, she had as much appreciation for street food as Joseph did. She also had a favorite taco – the taco de suadero.

Suadero is a term used to describe the type of beef used on the tacos. The cut of meat is found in between the belly and leg of the cow. In the U.S. Suadero is usually ground for burgers. Closest in taste and texture is brisket, which is also frequently used in Mexico for the tacos de suadero. The meat is slow cooked to tenderness and then seared on a hot griddle or pan before going on corn tortillas with the traditional toppings of cilantro, onion, salsa and lime. The only taco originating in Mexico City, it is also one of the most loved. Joseph and Seydi ate a lot of them; especially at a place right outside of Mexico City called La Calle Del Hambre or Hunger Street.

“Street food is everywhere in Mexico,” Seydi said. “Everybody eats and loves it, especially if you don’t have a lot of money.”

Seydi jokes that she had to “school” Joseph to get him to appreciate some of the traditional Mexican ingredients.

“He didn’t like chorizo or salsa verde,” she said. “But he does now.”

Joseph moved back to the Florida but he and Seydi maintained a long-distance relationship for four years. She moved to the States in 2005 and the two were married. Joseph dabbled in the restaurant business, at one point even dreaming of becoming a chef, but ultimately took a more “pragmatic” career path, working in finance. Two daughters were born, Bella and Mia.

And that’s when Seydi’s craving started. She missed her beloved taco de suadero.

“We would go to 4 Rivers and get the brisket, but I don’t like bread,” she said. “I would dream about eating that brisket on a tortilla.”

She kept telling Joseph they should try to make suadero.

“My wife had a craving,” Joseph said, “And I finally started paying attention to it.”

The couple had always entertained, so Joseph started using his friends and family as Guinea pigs, trying out different suadero recipes. They watched YouTube videos, they bought and learned how to use a pressure cooker because that’s how Seydi’s mother cooked “everything.”

“My mother used a pressure cooker every day,” Seydi said. “Many times, dinner ended up on the ceiling when one blew.”

They started researching and experimenting with different cuts of beef, finally settling on the brisket that Seydi loved so much.

“It has the right mixture of tender meat and fat,” Joseph said. “When you sear it on the flat top, the meat browns and the fat melts perfectly.”

The response was positive, to say the least.

“People were overwhelmingly blown away,” Joseph said. “It was great.”

They started making some other favorite dishes like Esquites, fresh corn simmered in a rich bone-marrow broth, and a refreshing cucumber and radish salad. Many of the recipes had been in Seydi’s family for generations, others, like mushroom quesadillas and squash blossom quesadillas, came straight off the street.

“We realized we had something special,” Joseph said, “And it wasn’t anything you could get here in Central Florida.”

In the meantime, Joseph’s little brother, David was working for Chick-Fil-A, in its employee training division. Joseph approached him about starting their own food business using the recipes he and Seydi had been developing.

“My time was coming to an end at Chick-fil-A,” David said. “So, I said yes, let’s go with our passion.”
Those summers the family spent in Mexico affected David much as they did Joseph. He fell in love with the people, the culture, the food. In college, he did a semester abroad in Mexico and found a calling to learn the language and the food.

“At that point I was thinking about going to culinary school,” he said, “but I decided to learn from Mexican grandmothers instead.”

As part of his missionary work, he lived in a house with 27 Mexican high school students. He went to the market every day and helped with the cooking.

“It was an amazing experience,” he said. I learned to really appreciate fresh, local ingredients.”

The brothers didn’t want to jump right into a restaurant, and food trucks seemed problematic, so they went with a catering company. The worked private and public events from under a 10’X10’ tent, lugging two cast iron flat top grills with them. They got rave reviews. The most interesting and valuable experience during that time, David said, was acting as the concessionaire for Maitland Little League.

“We learned a lot about organization and having procedures in place,” David said. “Catering was the perfect way to work on menu development and building a customer base.”

But a bricks and mortar restaurant was always in their sights.

“We always had that vision; that was always the goal,” David said. “We wanted to be able to deliver a modern Mexican ambience in the restaurant and share Mexico through not just our food, but the art and music too.

The brothers set a goal to have a restaurant open in five years.

“We had a five-year plan that turned out to only last a little more than two years,” Joseph said.
Joseph calls Seydi (and her taco cravings) the “driving force” behind Hunger Street Tacos, so it’s logical that future plans include a string of restaurants, but not franchised. All under the “corporate family” umbrella. And the catering operation that got them started will continue.

For now, Joseph and David plan on honing recipes and policies in their first location. The two have gotten help from a local restaurant legend, John Rivers of 4 Rivers Barbecue. While not an official part of HST, John is “like family” and is giving the brothers advice on everything from customer service to sourcing ingredients.

“We have so many people who support us and want to see us succeed,” Joseph said. “We’re very fortunate.”

 

All tacos are made on gluten-free, soft corn tortillas

Brisket 3.5
Seared brisket, onion, cilantro, avocado-tomatillo salsa, lime

Campechano 3.5
Seared brisket, chorizo, onion, cilantro, avocado-tomatillo salsa, lime

Chori-Pollo 3
Chorizo, shredded chicken, onion, cilantro, avocado-tomatillo salsa, lime

El Mañanero 4
Seared brisket, chorizo, refried beans, scrambled egg, Chihuahua cheese, avocado-tomatillo salsa, lime

Hibiscus & Guac 3
Sautéed hibiscus, guacamole

TOSTADAS
Chicken Tinga 4.7 (Dine-in only)
Shredded chicken, chorizo, refried beans, red cabbage, sautéed onion, tomato, garlic, chipotle, crema fresca and sliced avocado on a crisp corn tortilla

QUESADILLAS
Brisket 6
Seared brisket, Chihuahua cheese, avocado-tomatillo salsa

Chicharron de Queso 5 (Dine-in only)
Seared cheese wheel, served with guac and salsa


Esquites 3.3
Corn off the cob, bone marrow broth reduction, epazote, queso cotija, lime

Hunger Street Tacos
hungerstreettacos.com
2103 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789

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Housed in a former Checker’s drivethru stall on South Orange Blossom Trail, just north of the Florida Mall – I may have just found it. Some of THE best tacos in Orlando are at Tortas El Rey.

At first, it might look sketch with the neighborhood and setting, but look closer and you will find some of the best eats in all of Orlando. Even Edible Orlando magazine recently featured the tiny taco shop for their torta – a type of Mexican sandwich – for their Carnitas Torta – a huge sandwich of fried pork, a slather of refried beans, mayo, tomato, and lettuce on a cemita roll.

The tacos are not to be missed – for about $1.25, they are some of the best valued tacos in town. I ordered 4 – the cabeza (tender pulled beef head),  al pastor marinated pork, chicharron (Mexican sausage),  and the carne asada steak. The tacos here are served in fresh, hot corn tortillas and  topped with some cilantro and onion. They also came with these two special salsas, slices of lime, and pickled peppers.

Truly a well deserved name – they are the kings of not only tortas but tacos as well. Make your way over there asap.

Overview of the Carnitas Torta

Cross section view of the carnita torta – magnificent

These tacos are full of meat and flavors. Chorizo, cabeza, al pastor, y carne asada.

TORTAS EL REY
6151 S Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, FL 32809
https://www.facebook.com/TortasElRey/

Tortas El Rey Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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“What drives me as a chef is learning what’s new in the ever-changing culinary world, and having unique experiences with people I’ve met throughout my career who motivate me to be innovative in my craft.” – Chef Gabriel Massip of Capa Spanish Steakhouse

Born in Paris, France, Chef Gabriel Massip recently took over as the Chef at Capa, the 17th floor Spanish-influenced steakhouse at Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort.

Massip brings more than 11 years of experience to Capa, with a career spent cooking in award-winning restaurants across the globe, from Australia to New York and Bora Bora.

He began his culinary training in his hometown at the young age of 15.

“From the beginning, I was taught by my mother that the best dishes are cooked well, with simple ingredients.”

Continuing his growth after culinary school, Massip began his career in France as chef de partie at multiple award-winning restaurants and two 1-Michelin star restaurants. He then relocated to a resort in tropical Bora Bora, where he spent the next four years working as a sous chef.

After relocating from Bora Bora to Australia, he made his way from Down Under to board the Disney Cruise Line in Orlando working at the ship’s signature restaurant venue, adding to his diverse resume of culinary genres.

“Despite my French background, my travels have influenced the evolution of my dishes to be more on the bright side, lighter on the butter.”

More recently, Massip took his talents to New York City, where he worked at the renowned Daniel Boulud eatery DB Bistro, eventually moving on to re-open the downtown New York City restaurant Acme as chef de cuisine.

Now back in the Sunshine State, Massip is excited to bring his talents to elevate the dining experience at Capa.

“My recipe for success is simple: I know flavours and I know cooking. I love working with the team to continue to provide the high quality dining experience that makes Capa one of the best restaurants in Central Florida.”

We recently spoke to Chef Massip via e-mail to dive deeper into his background and inspiration.

 

What inspired you to start cooking?

Very young, I was already eating a lot of different things and was more curious than my brothers on that matter. I have two brothers, one who is three years older and one who is two years younger. I was the only one who tried everything my mom was cooking, while my brothers stayed away from trying new things. I enjoyed eating sautéed veal brain with parsley and garlic, and helping my mother with cooking and baking.

What are some of your favorite dishes at your restaurant?

The Cerdo (beer brined pork belly with apple butter and pistachio jazz) has a great balance of flavours, Zanahoria (thumbelinas carrots with za’atar spices, turmeric vinaigrette and puffed quinoa) is a great way to eat vegetables and is packed of flavors too.

Tell us about the new CAPA menu!

It is consistent with what has been done before; the tapas are inspired by the many different trips during my career. Some of them are dishes that I have created in the past, but I have tweaked and worked differently. For instance, the carrots dish I created in NYC. I took the main idea of roasting the carrots with the za’atar spices and made homemade vinegar with fresh turmeric. The celltuce dish comes from a restaurant in France, although it was completely different in France. I like the vegetable and worked the dish differently for Capa. As always, Capa is the place to go for incredible steaks and seafood.

What are your first childhood food memories?

My mom’s cooking with some staples of French cuisine: stews, fresh vegetables, foraging mushrooms in the forest and the fresh aromatics in the backyard.

What do you like to cook for “comfort food” at home with your family?

Anything, it can go from bread to roasted chicken to a fresh piece of fish. I like to randomly open the fridge and make up a recipe with whatever is available. It can be a simple roast chicken with mashed potatoes, black sausage with apples and plums, braised lamb shoulder with garlic olives and tomatoes. I also love light and acidic dishes such as ceviche and fresh tomato salad. The simpler, the better.

Where are some of your favorite local places in Orlando to dine in (outside of CAPA)?

A local Korean restaurant next to where I live, called Beewon Korean Cuisine, and Luma on the Park was a great experience along with SoCo.

Photos Courtesy of Four Seasons

Capa at Four Seasons Orlando
10100 Dream Tree Boulevard, Orlando, FL 32836
http://www.fourseasons.com/orlando/dining/restaurants/capa/

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Seasons 52 – as its name aptly suggests – is a restaurant concept that changes its menu along with the seasons. It’s owned by the Darden Restaurant group and so with the headquarters here in Orlando, the Sand Lake location (they are located on Restaurant Row – though it might be more accurate to call it Darden Row nowadays?) gets to have first dibs when it comes to being the test kitchen for new dishes.

The summer menu is full of fresh corn and watermelon flavors.

Here are our Favorite Bites from Seasons 52’s New Summer 2017 menu:

 

 

SUMMER CORN SOUP
bacon, leeks (230 cal)

LUMP CRAB, ROASTED SHRIMP & SPINACH STUFFED MUSHROOMS
panko crust (230 cal)

WATERMELON & HEIRLOOM TOMATO SALAD
shaved red onion, feta, lemon vinaigrette (190 cal)

ROASTED SUMMER CORN SKILLET
crispy bacon, caramelized onion, Parmesan (410 cal)

TRUFFLE MAC ‘N’ CHEESE EN BRODO
cave-aged Gruyère, cheddar, trio of roasted mushrooms, truffle zest, panko crust (350 cal)

*WOOD-GRILLED HANDLINE TUNA
black rice, kohlrabi slaw, sesame-peanut vinaigrette (530 cal)

*WOOD-GRILLED NEW YORK STRIP
sauté of vegetables, Yukon mash, roasted garlic butter (670 cal)


SIGNATURE MINI INDULGENCES INCLUDING:
KEY LIME PIE
pecan crust, toasted meringue (290 cal)
PECAN PIE
vanilla bean mousse, whipped cream, honey-glazed pecan (370 cal)

Other new dishes for the summer at Seasons 52:

· Roasted Prosciutto Wrapped Figs: Fresh seasonal figs have a distinctly smooth skin and sweet, chewy texture that pairs beautifully with rich gorgonzola, topped with a 15-year aged balsamic.

· Heirloom Tomato & Burrata Board: Sweet, Vine-ripe heirloom tomatoes pair perfectly with creamy burrata and prosciutto and topped with 15-year aged balsamic.

· Heirloom & Watermelon Salad: This color-rich dish combines the best summer produce flavors and textures: Sweet watermelon cubes resting on bright heirloom tomatoes, paired with shaved red onion, creamy feta and a pop of lemon vinaigrette.

· Chilean Sea Bass: This guest favorite entrée is roasted and drizzled in an Asian glaze, the Chilean Sea Bass is served with organic black rice, snow peas, shiitake mushrooms, and micro wasabi. Fun fact: Black Rice packs more antioxidants than blueberries.

· Copper River Salmon: Coming Soon! Sourced from the glacial rivers of Alaska’s famous Copper River, these fresh salmon are considered among the most flavorful and sought after fish in the world. Copper River Salmon will only be available for a short time, and every year our guests count down to the start of wild Alaska season when this rich, distinctly bright red salmon hits the menu paired with seasonal sweet corn risotto, toybox tomatoes and snap peas.

· Michigan Cherry Crème Brulee Mini Indulgence: Known as the Cherry Capital, Traverse City, MI, is considered the heartland of sweet cherries in the United States, and every summer visitors flock to taste the distinctly dark, sweet fruit. For a seasonal twist on a classic dessert, try our Michigan Cherry Crème Brulee Mini Indulgence, with classic vanilla bean infused custard over an intense compote of some of the best cherries from Traverse City and throughout Michigan.

 

There are two locations in Orlando:

Seasons 52 www.seasons52.com

7700 W Sand Lake Rd, Orlando, FL 32819

463 E Altamonte Dr, Altamonte Springs, FL 32701

 

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