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Interview with Emily Ellyn, Orlando’s Next Foodie Star


The Winter Park Food & Wine Classic (“WPFWC”), a two-day festival curated by ABC Fine Wine & Spirits’ David Larue and celebrated chef-owner of 4 Rivers Smokehouse, John Rivers, will take place on October 26-27 at 150 North New York Avenue Winter Park, FL. Visit for more info.

With a rustic, western scene set for 400 guests, the 2nd Annual Cows ‘N Cabs (“CNC”) is a food-and-wine walk around, which raised more than $40,000 last year for three local charities in past years. Hosts for the evening include a chef-studded line up of personalities from the Food Network’s “The Next Food Network Star” including Nikki Martin of season eight, Orlando-based Emily Ellyn of season eight and along with recent Bravo TV’s “Chopped” winner Giorgio Rapicavoli.

We got the chance to talk to Emily Eilyn recently on her past experiences and her future projects as well as thoughts on Orlando’s up and coming dining scene.

Emily currently divides her time between finishing her Ph.D in Food Service Education at University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management in Orlando, teaching food and beverage classes, doing consulting work, and developing her Retro Rad culinary TV career after competing on The Food Network’s “Next Food Network Star.”

Follow her on where she is continually cooking up projects like a new cooking calendar featuring recipes, cooking techniques and more!

Fabulous Emily Ellyn

What will your involvement be as MC of the Winter Park Food & Wine Classic? What are you looking forward to the most?

Emily: I am looking forward to supporting an event in my hometown that celebrates our local restaurateurs, food purveyors, vintners and brewers while giving back to the community and the Coalition for the Homeless, Community Food & Outreach Center.

We all have that first memory growing up that made us fall in love with food, what was yours?

Emily: I have known I wanted to cook and be part of the hospitality industry since birth! My mother used to prop my sister and I up in our bassinets and we would watch her cook, can and jam. When we got older we were cooking right beside her!

At about the age of 12 I over heard the “adults’ talking about my second cousin who had gone to the Culinary Institute of America and it was perceived as THE BEST!! So, right there and then I had my sights set on the CIA.

I applied when I was 17 and on my 18th birthday I got a phone call that said I got accepted and did I want to start in July or October! I said October…moved to the CIA and started my culinary education. I was always working through school, but at the CIA I assisted the chefs with a lot of continuing education classes and then after my bachelors program at the CIA I stayed on and did a teaching assistantship where I taught all the baking students how to own and operate a café! Right then and there I knew I would be teaching, consulting, or mentoring people for the rest of my life! Lots of education and I am still teaching – my goal is to be on TV so I can touch a greater audience!

What are some of your favorite dishes from around Orlando right now?

Emily: It may have seemed to take awhile but Orlando is evolving from having the reputation as a touristy town that capitalizes on corporate food chains into a food town. We have some gems that are starting to get recognized by more than the locals. I am a HUGE fan of Teak Neighborhood Grill’s BURGERS (BEST IN TOWN)! Also, RusTeak their sister restaurant has a great selection of wines and AMAZING specials! I LOVE Four Rivers pulled pork and CORNBREAD SALAD (DROOL), TAKO CHEENA has the yummiest Pan Asian selections rolled up in Latin wrappers, Cask and Larder has the best brunch with their peanut butter and jelly profiteroles and Maxine’s on Shine has the coolest retro rad fare and flare.

I also have to give a shout to Courtesy for elevating our bar scene down town with their boot legged speak easy! And, when it comes to food trucks – The Brisket Truck is a meat Mecca with DELICIOUS sweet tea cured bacon adn tender brisket!

After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, you travelled to Paris for a while, can you share with us a few highlights or memories of your visit?

Emily: There are highlights from all my memories, but most memorable was the food! Having the town close down on Wednesdays and Sundays for the markets, buying all my produce from the market or from my favorite vendors off my street (because as you may not know Paris is fighting the big “super-sized” grocery with one-stop shopping and still maintains individual stores that specialize in one thing (i.e. bakery, butcher, fromagier…)

Any favorite foods from Paris?

Emily: RILLETTE and baguette sesame (I will elaborate on the experience as I talk)! I could eat rillettes buttered on baguette everyday until the day I die!

What is the most challenging dish you have cooked? Most challenging dish that you’ve eat?

Emily: Hmmmmm…well, maybe it had to be one of my first solo cooking projects! I was about 10 years old drooling over the book LaVarene and I attempted Dacquoise! Maybe my meringue did not keep its shape as good as hoped because my small arms could not beat the egg whites enough?! Regardless, the dish still haunts and intrigues me!

Most challenging dish you have eaten?

Emily: LIVE Octopus – which squirms around and sticks to your cheeks and throat as you consume!

What is next for Emily Ellyn?

Emily: I am grateful that the Food Network helped launch my culinary TV career! I am continually cooking up new projects like a calendar, which can be seen on my website I am working on launching webisodes, blogs and book “Leave it to Cleaver,” while perusing the television goal!

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