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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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Bangrak Thai Street Kitchen has been holding pop up sessions at Swine and Sons the past few months, specializing in authentic Thai cuisine not usually found anywhere else in Central Florida.

We at Tasty Chomps chatted with Dylan Eitharong, one of the founders of Bangrak along with Jordan Neumann recently to find out more about the project and where it’s all headed.

Dylan on Why Bangrak…

When it comes down to it, we’re just two dudes who cook Thai food. Our mission is to bring the Thai street food that my (Dylan) family grew up with to Orlando, where finding these types of dishes is either what we feel misrepresented or totally unavailable.

We try to make all of our dishes 1) from scratch, down to our curry pastes and spice mixes and 2) identical to how you’d find it on the streets of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, etc. We don’t get too fancy or anything. We even get the plates and bowls we use from a little shop in Bangrak (where our name comes from) district, Bangkok. With our events, we really want to evoke a feeling of actually “being there” – minus the 100 degree heat and humidity, haha.

When it comes down to it, we’re just two dudes who cook Thai food.

From the Apartment to Swine and Sons…

As for how we started, well – originally, it was just me, serving thai noodle dishes out of my apartment. I’d constantly be posting Instagram photos of things I’d make at home, and friends would always be like “ohhhh I’ll pay you to cook for me”, so I was like “prove it.”

That was a regular thing for a while, until it got to be too much for just me, but around that time, Jordan had just moved back from Portland, so I approached him about 1) going to Thailand with me to eat “real Thai food”, as I called it, 2) learning to cook the food with me, and 3) starting to make it in a bigger venue (legally, haha).

We did all those things, but not without doing several more guerilla-apartment-dinners first, until we finally partnered with Swine & Sons, which is where we’re based out of now.

Chef Lexi (Alexia Gawlak of Swin and Sons) had actually asked me if I’d be interested in doing the pop ups there a while back, but I hadn’t felt ready, but once Jordan joined me we were able to get our shit together enough to actually do it.

The rest is kind of history I guess – we had our first pop up there October 26th, 2016, and we sold out in 2 hours.

We’ve done several since then, including one at redlight redlight, and as of a month ago, after a month long stint back in Thailand, we’re at Swine every other Wednesday. We love it. We could not be more grateful for the opportunity they’ve given us (if this goes in writing, I want them to know that, hah – I’m sure we drive them crazy sometimes).

We also have some other events in the works around town, with some different sorts of menu items and stuff. We’re really excited. A brick and mortar is inevitable, we just wanna make sure we do it right. Until then, we really like doing the pop-up thing. It feels different than anything we’ve been to here and it’s a lot of fun for us.

Dylan and Jordan

On Acceptance…

On top of that, the Thai community seems to Approve – thankfully, haha. They always seem a little apprehensive that one half-Thai guy and one non-Thai guy is making their food, but the response has been great.

Khanom jeen Nam ngiaw, a northern thai curry of ground pork, pork ribs, steamed blood, tomatoes and dried cotton flowers served over spaghetti noodles with a side of pickled mustard greens.

On previous training in the kitchen…

Neither Jordan or I had any kitchen experience. We just cooked a lot, haha.

On meeting the Gawlaks and how did they get involved…

Lexi and I actually used to work together at Whole Foods. We bonded over loving Asian food and Lucky Peach Magazine (RIP). We were Facebook friends after she left Whole Foods, and I guess she saw what we were doing through that.

I was cashiering and she came through my line and was like “Hey, wanna do one of those things you do in a real restaurant?”

It was a long time before we actually did it though…we were nervous. Now me and Jordan work there (at Swine) outside of Bangrak, too, ha. The Gawlaks are the best – I wonder what Bangrak would be doing without them.

I was cashiering and she came through my line and was like “Hey, wanna do one of those things you do in a real restaurant?”

On future plans for Bangrak…

We’re going to stay a pop-up for a little bit – but not tooooo long. We wanna keep it exciting. While we just started going biweekly at Swine, we have some plans to pop up elsewhere too.

The idea is to keep a full, more sit-down-and-share, type menu there, more variety, and when we go elsewhere, have some sorta themed thing going on – we really wanna do a Thai noodle shop type thing, with the plastic stools and tables and everything.

We brought some cool stuff back from Bangkok with us for that sole purpose. Think you’ll be seeing that soon. We are planning on a brick and mortar when we’re ready too – but we want it to be just right.

We want it to feel like a shophouse you’d eat at in Thailand. When we find the space, we’ll take it.

On some of their favorite dishes on the menu…

So, our Swine menu changes every time except for 3 things – Khao Soi, a curry noodle soup, and two versions of Som Tam, or green papaya salad.

Otherwise, we try to showcase foods from the 4 regions of Thailand – Northern, Northeastern, Central, and Southern.

We pretty much always have some kind of Laab – a salad of minced meat, on the menu, and it’s all but once been a Northeastern (called Isaan) variation. That’s my favorite food of all time – especially the catfish version, which we did recently. It’s delicious.

Jordan really likes the Panang Neua, which is a Southern Thai style curry of beef. It’s super rich, and we do it the old-fashioned way – very dry, thick, not soupy, and oil. It’s goooood.

My tip to anyone who comes to our events – order what sounds the least familiar to you.

On some things most people in Central Florida don’t know about Thai food …

Number 1 – put down your chopsticks. In Thailand, chopsticks are ONLY used for noodles. That’s it. And not even every noodle dish. We send out forks and spoons with all the dishes and we still see people eating Laab (minced meat) with chopsticks. No need! It’s only making your own life more difficult, haha. But in Thailand, it’s mostly either a fork and spoon or your hands. Even then, you use your fork just to push your food onto your spoon. But no chopsticks. It drives me craaaaazy – probably more than it should.

Other than that, it’s really just that Thai food is more varied than just Phad Thai and red, green and yellow curries. In fact there are literally HUNDREDS of types of Thai curries that aren’t eaten over here, and they aren’t even referred to by their color – and they don’t even contain coconut milk!

Thai food is SUPER diverse and regional, and chances are, that dishes that you’re used to eating are entirely different in so many ways than what’s available in Thailand.

A BIG thing we’ve had people ask us is why there’s a lack of vegan or vegetarian dishes on our menu – and our honest answer is that that’s generally how it is in Thailand, especially once you leave the tourist trap areas.

PS – Khao San road and Pai are popular tourist destinations with lots of vegan restaurants and pizza shops, but are far from representative of Thai culture. Steer far, far away. Just a heads up for traveling foodies.

In fact there are literally HUNDREDS of types of Thai curries that aren’t eaten over here, and they aren’t even referred to by their color – and they don’t even contain coconut milk!


On this week’s menu – Nam Tok Muu Yang – “Waterfall Pork”! Grilled pork salad with lime and fish sauce dressing, fresh herbs, chili and toasted rice powder! Spicy, smoky, and also refreshing, this is an Isaan classic! Available this Wednesday, 6/7, from 5-8 PM!

Bangrak Thai Street Kitchen

Popup at Swine & Sons, 595 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park
http://bangrakthaistreetkitchen.com/

Photos courtesy of Bangrak Thai Street Kitchen via David Burns https://www.instagram.com/daveyxburns/

Bad As’s Sandwiches was originally founded as a food truck but now includes a brick and mortar restaurant, taking over the space once occupied by Se7en Bites Bakery in the Milk District of Orlando.

Founded by Chef John Collazo, whose resume includes KASA and Raga restaurants, Bad As’s Sandwich was his first operation run by himself. He wanted to ‘wow’ food truck lovers in Central Florida with their wild and frankly, badass sandwiches.

Some of their sandwiches include the Big Boy, a huge sandwich sure to please the inner fat boy in each of us, made with Adobo roasted pork, bacon, pepperoni, tater tots, and more.

I ordered the special of the day: El Anormal, with adobo roasted pork, chorizo, chipotle jack cheese, pickled fried onions, topped with savory aioli and drizzled with a sweet guava glaze. It was a spectacle behold, oozing with meat and cheese and sauce, but was so, so satisfying of a sandwich. Make sure to ask for wet naps to go with this though.

Bad As’s Sandwiches
207 Primrose Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
Phone: (407) 757-7191
http://badasssandwiches.com/

Bad As's Sandwich Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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The Taste of Yucatan is a new Mexican taco restaurant specializing in food from the Yucatan – with a heavy emphasis on Mayan influences. We owe much to the ancient Mayan culture which has given us gems such as guacamole, tamales, and chocolate.

Taste of Yucatan sells empanadas and also a limited daily supply of vaporsito, a banana leaf wrapped ground beef tamale.

Cochinita pibil (also known as puerco pibil or cochinita con achiote) is another traditional Mexican slow-roasted pork dish originating from the Yucatán Península. Cochinita stands for pork and a pibil is the Mayan oven that it is roasted in.

Preparation of traditional cochinita involves marinating the meat in strongly acidic citrus juice, seasoning it with annatto seed which imparts a vivid burnt orange color, and roasting the meat while it is wrapped in banana leaf. At Taste of Yucatan, the pork is marinated in sour orange and slow roasted for 8 hours wrapped in banana leaf.

When ordering, guests can first choose preparation – whether with hand made corn tortilla tacos, or salbute – deep fried handmade Mayan corn tortilla, panucho – similar to the salbute but with fried beans inside of the tortilla, quesadilla style, or burrito style.

Then, choose your meat – from cochinita pibil, to al pastor (layered pork steak marinated in a combination of dried chilies, spices and pineapple), carnitas (seasoned pork braised until tender with lard and herbs), barbacoa (spicy shredded beef slowly braised for hours in a blend of chipotle adobo and herbs), rajas Poblanas (sliced poblano pepper with onion, mushrooms, corn and cream), carne asada (marinated Grilled Beef), Pollo Adobado (Chicken marinated with mixture of dried red chiles, garlic, spices, and vinegar), Carne Molida (Ground Beef Mexican Style), Papa con Chorizo (Smash potatoes + Mexican Chorizo), Champiñon (Sauteed mushrooms), or Queso (Mozzarella Cheese).

It’s a small place, but the tacos pack a lot of flavor. It did bring me memories of my trip to the Yucatan a few years ago, especially the influence of the Mayan dishes.

My favorites included the barbacoa and the cochinita pibil. I really enjoyed the salbute style of fried corn tortilla in the tacos – unique and delicious.

Taste of Yucatan
1375 S. Semoran Blvd.
Orlando, FL, 32807
(407) 704-2248
thetasteofyucatan.com

The Taste of Yucatan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Millenia106, recently opened (no surprises here) in the Millenia area (Suite 106) and helmed by local Chef Bruno Fonseca. You may remember Chef Fonseca once owned and operated the 5 Gastronomy food truck in the beginning of the gourmet food truck days here in Orlando. He taught at Le Cordon Bleu and also worked in several local restaurant kitchens in town.

We got to chat with Chef Bruno via e-mail to dig a little deeper into his story and the new venture at Millenia106.

Chef Bruno Fonseca of Millenia106.

Tell us about yourself and background.

I was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  I was raised in a household with strong Portuguese influences, where we sat nightly for dinner together, with a variety of foods through the weeks. Fish, potatoes, olive oil were seen at the table as often as black beans and rice.

My mom is a great cook, and she made sure that we always had variety not only in flavors but also culturally. She would always explain where the food originated, etc…  I got to the US (Orlando) in 1993, where I have travelled through the US extensively.

Lived in Tallahassee while attending school, spent a ton of time in Portland, OR., and I have enjoyed driving cross country often.

However I always would circled back to Orlando…

What inspired you to start cooking?

Multiple things… where I grew up, I lived right across the street from the ocean.  We were always eating incredibly fresh seafood and I loved it!!

Also my family was never wealthy, but my mother truly enjoyed taking us out to eat at nice places once a month or so.

In the beginning, it was a drag for me since I was so young, but as I grew older and got exposed to other things, I began to enjoy it.

After moving to the US, I worked in various restaurants in the front of the house.  One day working a server shift at the Governor’s Club, I was asked to help in the kitchen.

It was a fine dining club, headed by Master Chef Jack Shoop… and I was hooked.  I dropped out of college, moved to Orlando, and went into culinary school.

 Tell us about the Millenia 106 concept and the menu.

106’s concept is very straight forward: we source ingredients locally, we change our menus daily, and we serve New American fare.

From oysters, to pork, to whole fish, pan seared chickens, to local beers, craft cocktails, boutique wines.  We identify ourselves as an ever changing restaurant that takes pride in serving great food at an affordable price.

I am proud to say that I put our food up against any restaurant in Orlando.

My previous experiences as a cook and as person (culturally) are seen on the menu daily as are the personalities of others that work with me are in there as well.

What are your first childhood food memories?

So many… my “ a-ha” moment was going to a traditional French restaurant as a kid in Rio, and breaking the sugar dome in a dessert.

Also, seeing my mom frying “bolinho de bacalhau” (salted cod fish cakes) and eating it before lunch with a load of olive oil…eating “feijoada” (traditional black bean stew) after the beach on Saturdays, was a big deal too.

I consider myself very lucky on that department.

What are some of your favorite dishes at your new restaurant?

The Portuguese Surf and Turf is incredible with pork belly confit, fish collar, grilled royal red shrimp, and sofrito Ipa broth, and murro potatoes., as is the chicken that we get from Orlando Farms, but I am really enjoying this new tuna dish we have now.

Its Fl Tuna, farro “verde”, chanterelle mushrooms, tomato-citrus salad, coriander jus.

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

My daughters love a simple pasta with tomato sauce, and whole roasted chicken.  Nothing better.

Where are some of your favorite local places in Orlando to dine in (outside of Millenia 106).

Once a week I am at Border Grill (Mexican) and Pizza Bruno.  Great honest delicious food.

Millenia 106 Restaurant and Bar
4104 Millenia Blvd, Ste 106
Orlando, FL 32839
Phone number (407) 930-6206
www.millenia106.com

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Orlando’s Mills 50 District is known for its eclectic and diverse restaurants and businesses – from the Vietnamese markets and restaurants to fusion restaurants like Tako Cheena and Pig Floyd’s serving up creative and delightfully delicious dishes with a modern twist.

Lately there have been new restaurants popping up so here is our latest guide to the Mills 50 District – visit soon!

Black Rooster Taqueria
Image via yelp.com

Dishes to try: Achiote Pork taco made with slow roasted pork in banana leaf, achiote, pickled onion, cilantro, habanero salsa and the divine Chocolate Chipotle Flan for dessert.

Black Rooster Taqueria
1323 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 32803
Phone: (407) 601-0994
www.blackroostertaqueria.com
Banh Mi Nha Trang
Dishes to try: Any of the 22 Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches! I like the traditional banh mi dac biet nha trang with their spicy nuoc cham sauce.
Banh Mi Nha Trang
1216 E Colonial Dr #9, Orlando, FL 32803
Phone: (407) 346-4549
Lazy Moon Pizza

Dishes to try: Their ginormous pizza – top it any way you like. Eat with a knife and fork.

Lazy Moon Pizza

1011 E Colonial Dr, Ste 101
Orlando, FL 32803
Phone number (407) 412-6222
lazymoonpizza.com

Tasty Wok

Dishes to try: Cantonese bbq plate with crispy skin roast pork, honey bbq roast pork, and roast duck, and the fried salt and pepper squid.

Tasty Wok
1246 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
Phone: (407) 896-8988
King Bao

Dishes to try: Hogzilla bao, braised pork belly with pickled carrots and daikon, and the truffle tater tots.

King Bao
https://www.facebook.com/kingbaoorlando/
Address: 710 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 32803, United States
Phone: +1 407-237-0013

King Cajun Crawfish – Vietnamese influenced Louisiana cajun cuisine

Dishes to try: Boiled crawfish, crab, and shrimp in “sha-bang” sauce, a unique blend of buttery garlic, spices, and sweet orange peel. Also try the beignets and fried shrimp po boy sandwiches.  The owners are from Louisiana and imbued their Vietnamese heritage into some of the dishes like the gumbo. They recently moved into this larger place next door.

King Cajun Crawfish
924 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 32803
Phone: (407) 704-8863
www.kingcajuncrawfish.com

Mamak – Malaysian street food

SONY DSC

Dishes to try: Wontons in hot peanut sauce, Indian mee goreng, char kwa teo, and the roti canai.

Mamak
1231 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
Phone: (407) 270-4688
www.mamakasianorlando.com

Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa

SONY DSC
Dishes to try:  The Oak-smoked St. Louis ribs (half-rack $14.99, full $22.99) are truly among the best, if not the best, ribs in all of Orlando – slow-cooked with a crispy surface yet tender, fall of the bone meat within and a nice sweet flavor. Try it with the crispy sweet fennel apple salad. Also,  great chicken tikka tacos and shrimp and chorizo tacos.

Pig Floyds
1326 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 32803
Phone: (407) 203-0866
www.pigfloyds.com

Chuan Lu Garden – Sichuan Chinese cuisine


Dishes to try: La Zi Fish, fried with spicy numb Sichuan peppercorns, cumin lamb, beef and chicken clay pot, dan dan noodles, sliced tofu and fish in hot sauce, and the pan fried house made dumplings.

Chuan Lu Garden
Phone (407) 896-8966
??1101 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
http://www.chuanluorlando.com/

The Strand


Dishes to try: STRAND BURGER – bacon, blue cheese dressing,
lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, & roasted jalapeño on brioche bun served with fries

The Strand
807 N Mills Ave
Orlando, FL 32803
Phone number (407) 920-7744
strandorlando.com

Vietnam Cuisine:


Dishes to try: Banh cuon, a rice noodle crepe dish filled with mushrooms and pickled daikon radish, and the oxtail beef pho noodle soup.

Vietnam Cuisine

1224 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
Phone: (407) 228-7053

Ming Bistro: Dim Sum

Dishes to try: Dim sum! Shrimp ha gow dumplings, siu mai pork dumplings, fried taro shrimp balls, chicken feet, steamed spare ribs, a plate of beef chow fun, salt and pepper calamari, and some egg custart tart pastries for dessert.

 

Ming’s Bistro
Phone: 407-898-9672
1212 Woodward St., Suite 6
Orlando, FL 32803

 

For more on things to do when visiting Orlando, Florida, visit: http://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/things-to-do.html

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Inspired by the culture and tradition of authentic Spanish cuisine, husband-and-wife duo Vassilis and Katerina Coumbaros, Tapa Toro at I-Drive 360 features tapas-style dining, a full-service bar and Flamenco dancing.

The restaurant leads with a 12-seat paella pit serving up family-style paella, a traditional Spanish dish made of rice, vegetables, and meat or seafood.

We recently chatted with Chef Wendy Lopez of Tapa Toro about her inspiration and her favorite eats.

Tell us about yourself!

Chef Wendy Lopez: I’m from Michoacan, Mexico, and I have been cooking since I was little. I received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu here in Orlando. I began my career at the Isleworth Golf and Country Club in Windermere, then later I became a sous chef under Certified Master Chef Russell Scott.

I’ve been with Tapa Toro since we first open. I’ve had the chance to create a really unique menu that combines traditional Spanish dishes with contemporary flavors and presentations that are unexpected, but still accessible, for Orlando foodies.

Where did you get your inspiration to cook?

My family. Both of my parents were restaurateurs, so I have been playing around in professional kitchens since I was three years old. I also think my Mexican culture has something to do with my passion for cooking. In my culture, we wake up thinking about what we are going to eat that day and plan our whole day around it.

Favorite first memories of food?

My first memory of food is eating rabbit for the first time — and loving it!

Every afternoon, me and my brother would come home from school, wash our hands and eat what Mom cooked us. One day when I was about eight, we were eating something our Mom told us was chicken, but it did not taste like chicken. Me and my brother looked at each other thinking, “What’s going on here? This isn’t chicken!” Finally (after some begging and pleading) she told us what we were eating was actually rabbit. She didn’t want to scare us. But it was quite the opposite, we both loved it. After that we requested rabbit all the time. Recently, when I hosted a Chef’s Table at Tapa Toro, I prepared a duck à l’orange — which was a tribute to my mom’s rabbit à l’orange recipe.

Another favorite food memory is trying oysters for the first time in St. Augustine. I was a little older — about 12 years old. My brother and I wanted to try oysters. My mom insisted that we weren’t going to like them, but we tried them and ended up eating 30 oysters each. I thought they were so refreshing and tasty.

We were always curious about food and wanted to try everything.

Best Dishes to Try at the Restaurant?

When you come to Tapa Toro, you have to try the paella. I’ve worked very hard to perfect it and it’s what we are best-known for. (Don’t ask me for the secret recipe!)

My favorite dish on the menu (besides the paella) is the stuffed piquillo peppers.

It’s the one tapa where you take a single bite and taste so many different, incredible flavors. Spanish cuisine has many influences, including Morocco and the Mediterranean.

The Moroccan spices and the Greek Yogurt sauce in the piquillos best describes my eclectic style of cooking and Tapa Toro’s contemporary take on traditional Spanish.

What is one dish you would make for yourself to eat after a long day in the kitchen?

Every day I go home and I make tacos. (You can really tell I’m from Mexico!) I probably eat tacos at least six days a week. Tacos with queso fresco and refried beans are such a comfort food for me. Growing up, beans were always cooking in a room, somewhere.

That comfort that comes from the smell and that taste of tacos has stuck with me since I was little.

Favorite local Orlando places to dine?

When I go out, I love to eat Asian food because it’s so different from my day-to-day. Shin Jung Korean BBQ on Colonial Drive is one of my favorites because the meat is so full of flavor. If I’m in the mood for pho, House of Pho on John Young & Sand Lake is my go-to spot. I love the people at Thai Thani on International Drive because I joke that no spice is too hot for me, so they try to make me cry with how spicy they prepare my food… But it’s still never too hot for me to handle!

DINING NEWS: Tapa Toro and the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye are teaming for Tapas Before Take-Off, a new dining package. Now Orlando residents and visitors can enjoy a three course prix fixe meal and complimentary drink at Tapa Toro, plus a ticket to ride the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye for the low, all-inclusive price of $49.95, including tax and gratuity. (Tickets to ride retail for $25.) For more info, visit http://tapatoro.restaurant/tapas-before-take-off/

Easter

Tapa Toro (I-Drive 360, 8441 International Dr) Enjoy an Easter brunch buffet with Spanish flair, flamenco dancers & DJ from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Buffet is $35 per adult and $15 per child. Add bottomless mimosas and sangria for $15. Reservations required.

Taverna Opa (Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Dr) Free glass of house wine with purchase of any lamb entrée. Traditional Greek entertainment all day.

Mother’s Day

Tapa Toro (I-Drive 360, 8441 International Dr) Mom drinks free during a special Spanish-style brunch buffet with live entertainment from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Complimentary bottomless mimosas and sangria available with purchase of adult buffet. $35 per adult and $15 per child.

Taverna Opa (Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Dr) Mom eats free on Mother’s Day with family-style menu for four. One offer per party. Traditional Greek entertainment all day.

Father’s Day

Tapa Toro (I-Drive 360, 8441 International Dr) Enjoy an all-you-can-eat steak & chorizo paella special. Meal includes chicharrones and flan. Plus dad drinks a free 20oz beer with purchase. Paella special is $30 per person.

Taverna Opa (Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Dr) Dad eats free on Father’s Day with family-style menu for four. One offer per party. Traditional Greek entertainment all day.

TAPA TORO AT I-Drive 360
8441 International Dr #260, Orlando, FL 32819

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ENSALADA DE PULPO 19. Grilled octopus, heirloom tomatoes, cucumber

Bulla Gastrobar is a new restaurant in Winter Park inspired by the most popular tapas restaurants in Spain. Bulla (pronounced boo-ya), which is slang for chatter and what people are talking about, and is led by Bulla Gastrobar Executive Chef Miguel Rebolledo. The sleek and modern restaurant is a bustling, high energy place where friends go to meet up for a drink and to share in good company and good food.

According to his official biography, Chef Miguel Rebolledo “brings his extensive culinary experience, talents and unending love for Spain to Bulla Gastrobar. While Rebolledo’s seaside upbringing naturally leads him to fresh ingredients like seafood, vegetables, and rice, his stints with contemporary chefs have created a constant desire to experiment. After attending culinary school and learning traditional recipes, Chef Miguel Rebolledo improved his techniques at one of Spain’s most famous restaurants, El Bulli, under Chef Ferran Adria. In that position, Rebolledo cooked with some of the biggest names in the industry, for some of the most important people in the world including royalty.”

We recently spoke to Chef Rebolledo via e-mail about his experiences and inspiration who was at first inspired to cook by his family.

He told us, “I started to help my father to cook at 6 years old, I used help him with the paellas every Sunday in summer, and we would also in winter cook rosquillas, traditional dessert like donuts.”

Some of his favorite childhood memories involved Christmastime, when his home was like a tasting – “We started with cured meats and cheeses, cold seafood , and then some fried stuff, like lamb brains or croquetas, more seafood but this time in sauce, like clams in green sauce, then fish , monkfish, spanish hake…then a meat, always baby lamb, and finally an assortment of desserts”

When he worked at Bulli in Spain, “it was at first a dream, and then working in el Bulli with the Adrias brothers changed my life, my vision of the way we cook, the way we understand the food, technique, and I can say it changed the way I see my life.”

Some of the elements of El Bulli that he brings to Bulla Gastrobar include his vision of how they cook, totally respect to the products, and high standard in quality.

One of Rebolledo’s signature dishes is “Huevos Bulla,” made with eggs, homemade potato chips, Serrano ham, potato foam and truffle oil. The dish is mixed at the table.

SANGRÍA BLANCA 10./37.
Cava, peach schnapps, triple sec, strawberries, blueberries
HUEVOS ‘BULLA’ 10.
Eggs, homemade potato chips, Serrano ham, potato foam, truffle oil*
HUEVOS ‘BULLA’ 10.
Eggs, homemade potato chips, Serrano ham, potato foam, truffle oil*
JAMÓN SERRANO 8.
‘Fermín’ Serrano ham, aged 18 months , LOMO IBÉRICO 10.
Cured Iberian pork loin, LEONORA 9.
Soft goat’s milk from León, medium strong flavor
PATATAS BRAVAS 7.
Crispy potato cubes, spicy brava sauce, aioli
TARTAR DE ATÚN 15.
Ahi tuna, mango, avocado, soy sesame vinaigrette, Sriracha aioli*
ENSALADA DE PULPO 19.
Grilled octopus, heirloom tomatoes, cucumber
PINTXO MORUNO 9.
Cumin marinated grilled pork, mojo verde, Greek yogurt

CHURROS CON CHOCOLATE
Traditional fried dough, chocolate sauce, dulce de leche

Bulla Gastrobar
110 S Orlando Ave #7, Winter Park, FL 32789
Phone: (321) 214-6120

Menu:
http://bullagastrobar.com/media/menus/BullaWinterParkMenus.pdf

Bulla Gastrobar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Alton Brown, the Food Network television personality of Good Eats, Iron Chef America, and Cutthroat Kitchen fame, will be returning to Orlando for his live “Eat Your Science” show at the Dr Phillips Performing Arts Center on April 22, 2017.

On his last visit to Orlando, he stopped by some local favorites such as Beefy King, Credo and Lineage Coffee, Skyebird Juice Bar, Olde Hearth Bakery, Kappo at East End Market, The Ravenous Pig, Pho 88, and Pom Pom’s Tea House and Sandwicheria.

On March 14, Alton Brown posted this on Facebook:

“Dear Orlando: The last time I was in your fine city for Alton Brown Live, you directed me to these fine establishments. Well…I’m coming back April 22 (http://bit.ly/EYSOrlando) and need your help again. Where should I go? #ABRoadEatsORL”

I humbly submit a few places for his next visit, including a few of my favorites.

Knowing he is probably on a tight schedule, I recommend visiting the Mills 50 area first, where he can hit up a few spots at once:

1. Mamak – Malaysian street food

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Dishes to try: Wontons in hot peanut sauce and the roti canai.

Mamak
1231 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
Phone: (407) 270-4688
www.mamakasianorlando.com/

2. Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa

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Dishes to try:  The Oak-smoked St. Louis ribs (half-rack $14.99, full $22.99) are truly among the best, if not the best, ribs in all of Orlando – slow-cooked with a crispy surface yet tender, fall of the bone meat within and a nice sweet flavor. Try it with the crispy sweet fennel apple salad.

Pig Floyds
1326 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 32803
Phone: (407) 203-0866
www.pigfloyds.com

3. Chuan Lu Garden – Sichuan Chinese cuisine


Dishes to try: La Zi Fish, fried with Sichuan peppercorns and the pan fried house made dumplings.

Chuan Lu Garden
Phone (407) 896-8966
??1101 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
http://www.chuanluorlando.com/

4. Vietnam Cuisine:


Dishes to try: Banh cuon, a rice noodle crepe dish filled with mushrooms and pickled daikon radish.

Vietnam Cuisine

1224 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803

5. Seito Sushi at Baldwin Park:


Dishes to try: Pork Tonkotsu Ramen – made with a 24 hour pork broth, and topped with slices of braised pork belly, poached Lake Meadows soy pullet egg, and house made garnish

Seito Sushi
4898 New Broad St, Orlando, FL 32814
(407) 898-8801
www.seitosushi.com

6. The Osprey Tavern:


Dishes to try: Spicy Egg Pizza

The Osprey Tavern
4899 New Broad Street
Orlando, FL 32814 407-960-7700

7. The Donut King in Winter Park


Dishes to try: The Cronut or the Traditional Glazed Donut

Donut King
3716 Howell Branch Rd Winter Park, FL 32792
(321) 316-4817
http://www.thedonutking.com/

8. Viet-Nomz


Dishes to try: Vietnamese pork tacos and Vietnamese coffee

Viet-Nomz Vietnamese Pho & Street Fare

7581 University Blvd, Winter Park, FL 32792
Phone: +1 407-636-6069
http://vietnomzfl.com/

9. Shishco Mezze and Grill

Dishes to try: The Gyro bowl, a generous bowl with a large lavash flat bread base overflowing with bulgur wheat grain, sliced pickled red onion, chopped tomatoes, and slices of beef and lamb doner / gyro.

Shishco Mezze and Grill
118 Lake Ave, Maitland, FL 32751
Phone:(407) 661-1336
Menu: shishcomezzegrill.com

10. Bulla Gastrobar in Winter Park

Dishes to Try: Huevos Bulla, made with eggs, homemade potato chips, Serrano ham, potato foam and truffle oil. The dish is mixed at the table.

Bulla Gastrobar
110 S Orlando Ave #7, Winter Park, FL 32789
Phone: (321) 214-6120

Where would you send Alton Brown? Use the hashtag #ABRoadEatsORL on facebook, twitter and instagram to send him your recs.

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My first experience with Yummy House was during college when my friends and I would travel to Tampa to visit friends at USF. The main draw: a 3 dishes for $20 menu at the time for very decent Cantonese style Chinese cuisine – a great deal for some delicious food for a bunch of starving, poor college students.

They have since expanded to many other cities outside Tampa, including right here in the Orlando area in Altamonte Springs. There is a special 3 for $22.99 menu still, which is great for family style dinners, but do mind you have to ask for it.

The regular menu is still a good bargain for what you get. I would count Yummy House in the top 3 Chinese restaurants in the Orlando area. Some may argue that their sauces are a bit on the sweet side, but their Hong Kong style roast duck and their perfectly cooked sweet and sour Mandarin Pork Chop (known as Peking pork chops in other restaurants) push Yummy House to the top for my list, especially in a city which surprisingly lacks many good Chinese establishments for the time being.

Here is the 3 for $22.99 menu!

HERE are some of our FAVORITE choices for a dinner at Yummy House, enjoy:

Crab Meat Fish Maw Soup $14.00
Fresh crab meat and fish maw in broth.
Salt and Pepper Calamari $7.99
Beef Chow Fun $9.50
Cantonese style rice noodles stir-fried with beef, bean sprouts and green onion.
Salted Fish with Chicken Tofu Clay Pot $12.00 (try any of the hot clay pots)
Stir-fried white meat chicken, salted fish and tofu in brown sauce.
Hong Kong Style Roasted Duck $12.00 half / 22.00 whole
Traditional HK style roasted duck marinated with our house special five spice sauce.
Mandarin Pork Chop $9.50
Stir-fried pork chops and onions in sweet and sour Mandarin sauce.
Snow Pea Tips with Roasted Garlic $12.00
stir-fried snow pea tips with roasted garlic

Yang Chow Fried Rice $8.50
Shrimp , BBQ pork, egg, green onion and cilantro with jasmine rice.

Shrimp and Scallops Spicy XO Sauce $14.00
Sauteed tender scallops, shrimp and snow peas in their classic spicy XO sauce.

Black Pepper Beef $9.95
Sautéed beef with onion and green pepper in black pepper sauce.

For the full menu, visit:
http://yummyhouseflorida.com/menu/yummy-house-orlando
Yummy House Orlando
(407) 339-8877
478 E. Altamonte Dr. #102
Altamonte Springs, FL
33701

Hours: Sunday & Monday lunch: 11am – 2:45pm, dinner: 4:30pm-9pm
Tuesday – closed
Wednesday & Thursday lunch: 11am – 2:45pm, dinner: 4:30pm-9pm
Friday and Saturday lunch: 11am – 2:45pm, dinner: 4:30pm – 9:30pm

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Maraq (Somalia)

The Trump administration recently issued an immigration ban from seven Muslim majority countries (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen). This ban – the way it currently exists – was overturned by the federal judicial courts as unconstitutional. It not only banned refugees, but there were also cases of authorities detaining and deporting legal VISA holders and others, including here at the Orlando International Airport.

This story is personal to me as I am the child of refugees, my parents having escaped by fishing boat from Vietnam before finally being sponsored into the United States. The America I know and love has always been a welcoming and gracious nation, one full of opportunity and a place of safe harbor for those most persecuted and oppressed. If not for America’s open hearts, who knows if my parents would not have been one of the many thousands who died at sea or captured by pirates.

Chef Hari Pulapaka, a native of Mumbai, India, came to the U.S. for graduate studies in 1987. An Associate Professor of Mathematics, he has been at Stetson University since the fall of 2000. When not teaching or working on mathematics and related areas, he is at Cress, a restaurant in downtown DeLand that he owns with his wife, working as an active professional chef. He is also a four-time semi-finalist for the prestigious James Beard Award-Best Chef South and has been invited to cook on multiple occasions at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City.

Chef Hari Pulapaka is soon hosting a family style meal at Cress featuring the cuisines of the 7 countries who are part of the administration’s immigration ban – the 300 tickets are practically sold out at publication time of this article.

I was honored to speak to him briefly about the upcoming project.

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Tell us about how this dinner came about, what inspired you to create “7 Courses, 7 Countries”?
I was sitting in a plane on the tarmac in Atlanta, GA having just landed, coming off a Taste of Mathematics event hosted by the Mind Research Institute, when we heard that Delta Airlines was experiencing computer glitches nationwide and that it would be several hours before we could deplane.

At least I had a dedicated Wi-Fi connection. I logged into Facebook to find a number of posts related to the chaos and stress emanating from the Executive Order essentially banning US entry by citizens of the 7 countries. As a first generation immigrant, for some reason, I was struck by the callous and inhumane manner in which the Executive Order was enacted and impulsively felt the urge to resist with a message. So I posted that I was inspired to create such a dinner.

The reaction that ensued was mostly positive and encouraging. I usually do what I say, so, here we are.

What are your responses to criticisms about mixing politics and food?
That is a bunch of crap. First of all, business owners are human beings first. To expect them to not be vocal about political issues when they feel the natural urge to do so is almost an expectation of servitude.

“Shut up and cook” or “Shut up and get me my whatever”.

Secondly, the reality of the matter is that the United States Food System is as tightly woven with the political system as one can possibly imagine. Every decision made by consumers and producers have political implications and are influenced by politics.

The food industry lobby in Washington DC is quite impressive and I don’t necessarily mean that as a compliment. For example, they managed to make the health of future generations a political issue. I understand that the devil is often in the details, but the political will is both lacking and powerful, often to the detriment of progress.

So, if I’m guilty of mixing politics and food it is because I care about improving the state of food in this country and beyond. I’m ready to live with the consequences. I’ve done it my way since the inception and I can’t imagine doing it any other way.

Polow (Iran)
Polow (Iran) – Courtesy Hari Pulapaka, Cress Restaurant

Tell me about the ingredients and dishes that are going to be served, what kind of research or assistance will you be getting in crafting these dishes? What prior experiences have you had with these 7 cuisines?
It is still premature for me to give anyone a full menu, but I’ve always prided myself on supporting American farmers and farms. On some occasions, I’ve gotten ingredients produced in another country, but by and large, our ingredients are produced in the United States. So, the menu will be a series of dishes representing culinary influences from Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Iran, Libya, and Yemen (SISSILY).

Guests can expect deeply flavoured stews, herbaceous sauces, rustic breads, aromatic rice dishes, and complementing side dishes. My goal is to present the meal with dishes from many countries during the same course to illustrate that there are few rules and most dishes complement each other and that the power of food as a great equalizer, at a communal table, is a lesson for the ages. Many of the cuisines have significant intersection with flavours I am used to creating whether they are from the Indian subcontinent or the Middle-East. So, I would like to think that I am not out of my proverbial league.

But, I guess time will tell and our guests will ultimately decide. It’s $40 a person for a lot of food with all the proceeds going towards charity. Need I say more? My research has and will include a lot of reading and imagining. But in the end, my own (global) sensibility will have to lead the way.

As an immigrant, what are your thoughts about what is going on right now, what can we hope for?
On the one hand, I am hopeful that the growing resistance by both immigrants and multi-generational citizens against this climate of hate and prejudice is a sign that the America we love (as immigrants) is alive and well. On the other hand, it is disheartening to have to justify our presence to natives after having already sacrificed so much and more importantly having given so much towards the growth and betterment of this place we now call home. My hope is that ultimately, decency will prevail. But my greater hope is that bigotry and discrimination will end once and for all in my lifetime (I’m not holding my breath).

Maraq (Somalia)
Maraq (Somalia) – Courtesy Hari Pulapaka, Cress Restaurant

What do you hope that people will come away with from this dinner?
First and foremost, I hope people will come away with believing (even more) in the healing power of food amidst differences of opinion and ideology. Secondly, I am hopeful that guests will feel empowered to be messengers in favour of inclusivity across the spectrum. I hope that our generation, the next one, and beyond will forge ahead with demanding and finding better solutions to the complex problems of the world. And lastly, I hope that people begin experiencing before judging.

——–
“7 Courses – 7 Countries”

“7 Courses – 7 Countries” is a family-style meal presented by Cress Restaurant with guest collaborators featuring the amazing cuisines of IRAQ, IRAN, LIBYA, SOMALIA, SUDAN, SYRIA, and YEMEN. 100% of the proceeds will be donated to a soon to be determined non-profit organization dealing with immigrant and refugee issues. The cost to attend is $40, all-inclusive. BYOB. Sunday, February 26, 2017, 4-6 pm. For Tickets, Visit Here.

7courses7countriesflyer

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