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First Look: BBQ50 Opening Soon at Marketplace at Avalon Park with Dan Ashby – Coming Soon to East Orlando!

The 8,000-square-foot Marketplace at Avalon Park is opening soon, including a rotating commissary kitchen, live entertainment and event space, general store and, an eclectic food hall.

From Marketplace at Avalon Park:

Local favorites, emerging chefs, tasty cultures, and fusion at its best! This is the flavor of our food hall: unique, diverse and trending. Handpicked for you, every restaurant is original, every chef’s dish sublime. Add a local tap and musicians in the house and you get more than a flavor of fun—you get a locally crafted, culinary experience! Try our chefs one at a time, or sample several at once—the choice is yours. Come for the taste, stay for conversation.

Inspired by chef’s table experiences and farm-to-table meals, the Gathering Kitchen offers foodie experiences with a theatrical flair. Decorated by a gallery of local artists, foodie events unfold inside our ‘black box’ of eatertainment like a season of shows. During the day, chefs perform culinary demonstrations and makers host cookie decorating classes for kids. But at night, the lights dim for some dining drama. A swanky Supper Club; cocktail attire required. Date night at the Speak Easy; grab your feather boa at the door. Diamonds and denim—jambalaya and jazz. The sky’s the limit in this shared space. In addition to our events, you can book your own. From bridal luncheons and book club nights, to birthday parties and baby showers…and the catering’s in the house!

Makers, chefs, and artisans of all kinds are invited to join our friendly commissary. No cutthroat competition to make you uncomfortable here, just a welcoming, shared-use commercial kitchen where you can innovate and incubate to your heart’s content. A safe place to work—to craft and create—to refine your best and brightest ideas. And if you’re one of our commissary members, you can be sure you’ll be invited to share your culinary creations on the shelves of our town’s General Store!

Interview with  Dan Ashby of BBQ50 BBQ Catering 

Coming soon to the Marketplace at Avalon Park

Tasty Chomps: Tell us your background before opening BBQ50 BBQ Catering

Dan Ashby: I have been in Orlando for almost 25 years. Worked many jobs in the food service industry. Started as a dishwasher overnight at a truck stop…worked fast food and Tex Mex restaurants and bars through college and into my early professional years.

I would say that I fit in the box of a corporate guy turned Pitmaster simply for the love of the smoker and how it turns cuts off meat into works of culinary beauty.

My skills have been honed over hours of watching my grandmothers work in their kitchens when I was a little kid. I cooked for my family at the age of 16, as both my parents worked and we had to get food on the table. I have also spent hours and hours researching the origins of bbq and how it’s prepared and smoked in its different ways.

My uncle has written a series of cookbooks filled with recipes from the best grandmas and moms of the Midwest. These books keep my creative juices fresh and flowing when we need to try some sides for the table.

In 2002, my wife and I moved to Avalon Park and we instantly loved it. As the neighborhood grew, so did our family and our network of friends. At block parties and cookouts, we’d fire up the smoker, load it up with meats made according to the family recipes, and the sweet smell of smoky ribs and chicken was like an aroma-magnet, pulling old and new friends out of their houses and into the streets to eat and have fun!

After six kids, 20 years working in corporate America, and lots and lots of long, back porch discussions with my wife, we made the leap to do what we love for the community we love. We started a family BBQ business!

Our first idea was to operate a food truck and that’s where the name BBQ50 came from. Our plan was to serve great BBQ from Union Park all the way to the beach along East Colonial, or “50” as it’s lovingly known to the locals.

But…money WAS an option, so we decided to start a catering business to work up the bank account first. Then, Hurricane Irma hit. People were flooded out of their homes and the power was out. But we cooked with fire! So, we coordinated with C3 Church to feed the folks affected by Irma. And the crisis became a blessing—we built relationships with our east Orlando neighbors; we put money in the bank, and we started to see the outlines of our community-based BBQ brand.

Our menu is like a peek into the recipe files of several generations of Ashby cooks. The rubs and meats are prepared the same way Bob, my grandfather cooked them more than 100 years ago.

The Southern-style sides were first made by my Grandmother Barbara (aka GrandAshby) a woman born and raised in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Kentucky. I’ll never forget her saying, “…if you aren’t adding love and patience to each dish, then you aren’t cooking my way!”

Some of our recipes come from my Uncle Jimmy. He hosted a radio show in Iowa for many, many years and his audience was filled with sweet women who could cook the pants off everyone they knew. Lucky for us, Uncle Jimmy wrote all of those secrets down!

Serving great BBQ to our neighbors in a family-friendly kind of way is at the heart of BBQ50. What we do now is not that much different from firing up the smoker like we did 20 years ago in the neighborhood. And we hope you feel that way every time you eat with us.

What’s Your First Memory of your love for cooking?

I was eight. I remember watching my grandmother make scratch chicken and dumplings. She would hum to herself when she was in the zone. If she was making supper, she was one hand with the spatula in the pot, and one hand cradling an ice cold gin and tonic humming away as the goodness boiled so slowly. Those chicken and dumplings were perfect every time. I can still smell them.

Where were you trained?*

I was trained in the kitchens of Barbara Ashby and Gertrude Loyd. They were my grandmothers and taught me the basics to make delicious Southern food.

What is your favorite dish to create?*

I love making lasagna. To me, it reminds me of Christmas, family get togethers, and comfort. The smell that fills the home brings happiness.

What is your favorite dish to eat?*

I love eating tacos! I am addicted to them. They put me in a different place in my head.

What 4 ingredients are necessary in your kitchen?

1. Salt
2. Hot sauce
3. Sugar
4. Vinegar

Who is your biggest supporter?

My wife, Jenny, is my rock. She’s been my strength for 28 years. Second, is my amazing neighborhood, Avalon Park. It’s been a pleasure being part of this community for as long as we have.

Why did you choose Marketplace at Avalon Park?

Well, I feel like it chose me! I have been working like a nomad for years now. Finding a home for our little bbq company has always been our biggest struggle. Two years ago, my friend came to me with the opportunity of a lifetime. I live just a few blocks from the Marketplace. The building is state of the art, brand new, and filled with all of my neighbors and friends. What better place to open?!

What is your favorite dish to eat?

I like most types of food…I’m more the type that doesn’t like certain ingredients….you can politely keep your olives to yourself. Knives!! All kinds of them! I’m also a fan of the stick blender!! Well….I set my kitchen on fire when I was 21. That was fun. Good times? Gosh, cooking with/for family and friends has always been the best of memories. Also, I really enjoy getting in the zone in the kitchen by myself. I love the Zen it creates for me. Always learning and trying my best!!

Marketplace at Avalon Park
3801 Avalon Park East Blvd.
Orlando, FL 32828

Job Opportunities at Marketplace at Avalon Park: 

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