Did you know there is a new craft brewery and eatery in historic Downtown Clermont? It is called the Clermont Brewing Company and it is the place for craft beer, cocktails, artisanal food, Tuesday night Bingo, and live music Friday through Sunday.
Voted “Best Place for Drinks” in the Best of South Lake Awards, Clermont Brewing Company has an on-site brewery where guests can taste exquisite seasonally changing craft beers paired with thin crust Neapolitan pizzas cooked in their 800 degree imported pizza oven while enjoying live music by Central Florida’s finest musicians and entertainers. For the live music calendar, click here.
Bring your family and friends and grab a seat in one of their three dining areas. Choose from their elevated farmhouse inspired indoor dining to their covered patio or their vibrant beer garden.
Every Tuesday at 6:30pm is Bingo night. Come grab a seat and play for cash prizes. Hosted by Off Beat.
Guests can also enjoy their Happy Hour menu available Tuesday through Friday from 3pm – 6pm.
Here is an inside look at the Happy Hour menu at Clermont Brewing Company:
LOADED CBC FRIES – Garlic seasoned crispy fries, melted colby jack cheese, queso blanco, applewood bacon, chipotle ranch, and scallions.
SEASONED FRIED PICKLES – Seasoned pickle chips, fried to perfection. Served with chipotle ranch.
BREWER’S NACHOS – Blue/white corn tortilla chips smothered in warm queso blanco, pico de gallo, pickled jalapenos, salsa verde, sour cream, house made salsa, and chipotle sauce.
Choice of: oak smoked beef brisket, smoked pork or Korean bbq chicken
KOREAN CHICKEN TACOS – Two flour tortilla filled with house smoked chicken, toasted sesame slaw, house pickled red onions and jalapenos, scallions, sriracha aioli, white & black sesame seeds.
CALIFORNIA ROLL – Classic California roll with krab, avocado and cucumber.
Topped with toasted sesame seeds.
HOG WINGS – Crispy, mini pork shanks tossed in a sweet soy garlic sauce and scallions. Served with ranch dressing and carrots sticks. (3 pieces)
All house beers, wines, margarita, sangria, and well drinks are $4 each.
Be sure to check out Clermont Brewing Company the next time you are in the area!
Every Sunday from 12pm-3:30pm, diners can experience a Japanese-inspired brunch buffet featuring freshly rolled sushi, a variety of dim sum, a selection of signature entrees, à la carte creative cocktails, a Dessert Lounge, live entertainment from DJ Marjorie, panoramic views of Orlando, and complimentary self-parking. Prices are $75 per adult, $29 per child.
The full new brunch menu including intricately curated cocktails perfect for spring can be found here.
Here is an inside look of the new Sunday Brunch Experience at illume:
Breathtaking 360-degree views, delicious Japanese-inspired brunch buffet, and artistic cocktails near Walt Disney World… what more can you ask for?
About JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa
The full-service, five-star JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa opened in July 2020 and has everything guests need for a luxurious Orlando getaway, from 516 plush guestrooms to fun-filled amenities. Situated conveniently right outside the gates of Disney World, the resort boasts a 10,000 square foot spa with treatments unique to the resort; an outdoor pool with swanky cabanas; seven onsite restaurants and bars, including the chic steak and seafood restaurant Sear + Sea and the new illume rooftop bar; a rooftop miniature golf course and rock-climbing wall; and a complimentary shuttle service to the theme parks.
Meet Ashley and Israel, the dynamic duo behind Phat Ash Bakes! This power couple left behind the hustle and bustle of New Jersey to make their cookie dreams a reality in Florida. Combining Ashley’s passion for baking with Israel’s career in management, they have created an incredible community centered around their mouth-watering cookies.
Starting with Ashley’s famous oatmeal raisin cookie, The OG, their business has grown to become a beloved local favorite. Not only do they get to indulge in their love of baking every day, but they also give back to the community through monthly donations.
Recently, Orlando’s very own Phat Ash Bakes & Foxtail Coffee launched their newest collaboration: Cookie Phactory – a curated collection of your favorite cookie flavors at the Foxtail Coffee location at 3122 E Colonial Dr. Orlando, FL 32803.
Read on to discover how their passion for baking has turned into a thriving business.
Tasty Chomps Q and A with Phat Ash Bakes Owners Ashley and Israel
TastyChomps: How did you come up with the idea and inspiration to start Phat Ash?
The combination of Ashley’s love of cooking, and hard-knocks-necessity. Ashley was working two jobs; at Lululemon in Winter Park and Winter Park Fish Co. while Israel was starting a new career with Atrium Management. Baking was Ashley’s outlet. We remember one time having to make the choice of treating ourselves to pizza for dinner, or buying butter to test bake. I’m sure you can figure out which choice won! We’ve had the opportunity to create an incredible community with Phat Ash Bakes, that allows us to bake cookies everyday (what a dream!) and give back to the community through our monthly donations. Double win for us!
How long have you been baking cookies and what motivated you to turn it into a business?
We’ve been baking cookies since the end of 2019. Ashley obsessed over creating a recipe for her first cookie – The OG, an oatmeal raisin cookie loaded with chocolate chips, shredded coconut, macadamia nuts and maldon salt. After testing 3,485,798 (totally exaggerating) test batches, her friends & co-workers encouraged her to have a bake sale. Once I realized that I was making more money than my 9 to 5pm, we began to take things seriously. We transitioned from a Cottage Food License to a fully licensed and insured kitchen.
What makes your cookies unique and stand out from others in the market?
Our cookies are unique because they’re big, fat, and full of our favorite snacks! Pop tarts, Oreos, M&M’s … you name it, we’ve probably tried to use it! But aside from unique flavors, we are proud to be able to give back to our community; one of the pillars of Phat Ash Bakes. We choose a different charity each month to partner with by donating $1 per sale of one of our Phat Chocolate Chip cookies. Local charities we have worked with are The Zebra Coalition, SALT, NextStep Orlando, Stand Up Survivor and The Primrose Center.
How do you source your ingredients and ensure their quality for your cookies?
We source our junk food wherever and whenever we can. A lot of our mix-ins are seasonal so we are always looking out for the newest flavor drops everywhere we go!
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Imposter Syndrome is a real thing! Ashley has definitely had her moments of doubt – “what am I doing here? … am I really a baker? … why would people want what I am making?” But that is why we are such a dynamic and amazing team; Israel has always stepped up in those moments to love, encourage and support. Our entire relationship is rooted in love and support, and so even when things are challenging we are definitely there to lift each other up & overcome.
How do you decide on your cookie flavors and variations, and how do you keep them fresh and interesting for your customers?
We started with 5 flavors on the menu, and have made over 200 flavors at this point! Since we change the menu weekly, aside from our Phat Chocolate Chip, we’ve been able to keep it fresh. Ashley and her team of amazing bakers come up with cookie flavors by browsing the supermarket aisles & eating different desserts. It sounds silly, but we can find inspiration in so many places. We have also definitely gotten some great ideas from guests at our Bake Nights! A 90 minute experience at our Speakeasy Bakery where star bakers can come to whip up some wild cookie creations! We provide the dough, a large variety of mix-ins, fillings & glazes and then they take it from there.
Can you share some of your proudest moments or achievements on this journey thus far? What can be done with a delicious cookie, other than eat it?
Well, with our chocolate chip cookie we were able to collect over 500 pairs of shoes for SALT Outreach – a community resource center helping those experiencing homelessness in Orlando & Central Florida. We’ve also recently partnered up with Foxtail Coffee Company to introduce our cookies to coffee lovers around Florida and beyond. They are expanding quickly and we are proud that our cookie company has made so much noise that they wanted to offer our flavors to their customers. Keep your eyes out for The Cookie Phactory by Phat Ash Bakes at Foxtail Coffee East Colonial.
From a culinary standpoint, one of Ashley’s proudest moments has been creating our dough recipes from scratch. Baking is science! And let us tell you, there were LOTS of experiments! And some … not so great. But after countless test batches, meltdowns, & recipe revisions we landed on the recipes that create cookies that WE love – soft, thick, and packed with flavor.
One of her other proudest moments has probably been that esteemed Pastry Chef, Stuart Whitfield, is one of our OG supporters. I remember he ordered cookies back when we were running this out of our apartment. After handing him his cookies and closing the door, a friend at our house asked her if I knew who he was. When she told me, I didn’t even know what to do with myself! It’s been 3 years, and I will forever be honored every single time I see him at one of our events. There really aren’t words to describe how it feels to have a chef with such culinary experience support you. Sorry Stuart, we had to put you on blast with that one!!! lol!
What are your plans for the future of your cookie enterprise?
We don’t know what the future holds. The Universe will provide us with whatever we are supposed to be doing, whenever things are supposed to happen. One thing we know is that we have to always enjoy what we are doing and have fun. Life is too short!
What are your most popular cookie flavors right now?
Ube N’ Cream; an ube and cookies & cream combo. Campfire Cookie Butter; inspired by cookie butter-s’mores. and Miss Betty Lee; lemon creme & raspberry
What are some upcoming plans for the menu?
As always we’re going to be keeping it fresh and full of surprises!
Thank you Ashley and Israel of Phat Ash Bakes for speaking with us at Tasty Chomps!!
The MICHELIN Guide Miami, Orlando, and Tampa just dropped its latest Bib Gourmand selections for 2023!
The 2023 edition of the MICHELIN® Guide Miami, Orlando and Tampa includes eight restaurants making their debut in the Bib Gourmand selection, offering foodies a chance to indulge in flavorful international feasts without breaking the bank.
A big congrats to Orlando’s Michelin Guide BIB Gourmand winners (4 out of the total 8 awarded in Florida!!) including: Isan Zaap (Thai), Norigami (Japanese), Otto’s High Dive (Cuban), and Taste of Chengdu (Sichuan/Chinese).
Very well deserved and congratulations to all!!
The Bib Gourmand restaurants are known for their quality dishes and ingredients, combined with an approachable atmosphere and price. This announcement precedes the MICHELIN Guide Ceremony on Thursday, May 11, in Miami.
Bib Gourmand restaurants offer a meal of good quality at a good value.
“The restaurants joining the Bib Gourmand selection prove that foodies can find flavorful international feasts right in their own backyard – in Miami, Orlando or Tampa,” said Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of the MICHELIN Guides.
“Not only are these establishments unique for their tasty dishes and quality ingredients, but they’re also approachable in terms of price and atmosphere. The inspectors are excited about these additions, and these restaurants teams have a lot to be proud of.””
Here’s the list of new Bib Gourmand restaurants in the Orlando / Central Florida area, with excerpts of the inspector notes from each restaurant:
Isan Zaap (Orlando, Thai cuisine)
Orlando’s Thai restaurants typically dole out southern curry dishes and the ubiquitous pad Thai, but Isan Zaap strays from the pack with its gaze trained exclusively on northeast Thai cuisine with Laotian overlaps. There is an impressive level of attention to detail and a nice balance of spice and fermented flavors, and though impeccably executed curry makes an appearance, there’s also an entire section dedicated to som tums that can be topped with fermented crab or fermented pork sausage.
Norigami (Winter Garden, Japanese/Sushi cuisine)
There are just eight seats at this tiny but mighty spot at the Plant Street Market from Chef David Tsan. This is sushi done in a casual “choose your own adventure” style, as guests pick from various cuts of fish and shellfish and then select as either nigiri, sashimi aburi or temaki. Can’t choose? The well-priced, ten-piece omakase is a nice option.
Otto’s High Dive (Orlando, Cuban/American cuisine)
This tiny but oh-so-sweet space recalls the charm of Old Florida with its whitewashed brick walls and white tile floors. Billed as a neighborhood rum bar, Otto’s High Dive is on point at every turn, from the genuine service to the unfussy but well-executed food. The kitchen delivers a concise edit of Floridian/Cuban fare with oodles of tropical elements.
Taste of Chengdu (Orlando, Chinese/Sichuan cuisine)
A long-standing restaurant in the Orlando area, Taste of Chengdu promises exactly that, as the expansive menu is singularly focused on Sichuan specialties. Chef Xiong “Tiger” Tang shows restraint in his use of spices, instead opting for depth and balance; while classics like mapo tofu are given a nuanced nudge.
The other Bib Gourmands in Florida were awarded to:
Gorkhali Kitchen (Tampa, Nepali cuisine)
Take the short drive from downtown for a taste of Himalayan cuisine at Gorkhali Kitchen. The menu is large with a Nepalese focus along with some Indian elements. Of course, there must be momo, those iconic Nepalese dumplings that are seared, pan-fried or even in jhol (soup). Chicken is a popular protein that appears often on the menu, but don’t shy away from the goat specialties. They’re falling-off-the-bone tender and savory.
Jaguar Sun (Miami, Contemporary cuisine)
This local favorite cooks as well as it shakes, offering a winning combination of excellent house-made pastas and balanced, creative cocktails. Warm Parker House rolls and Caesar salads stacked to the sky are opening acts to an umami-packed mushroom tagliatelle or spicy strozzapreti with plump mussels, ‘nduja and breadcrumbs. A warm, personal staff makes everyone feel like a regular.
Psomi (Tampa, Greek cuisine)
Owned and run by second-generation Greek-American Christina Theofilos, this daytime eatery and bakery epitomizes warmth and comfort. The menu is laced with Greek items ranging from flavorful and tender octopus ceviche to house-made dolmades that display an added level of care. Of course, with a name that translates to bread, there must be baked goods and you’ll find it all here.
Rosie’s (Miami, Southern/American cuisine)
Kudos to husband-and-wife chef team Akino and Jamila West. The notably Southern menu covers a generous amount of ground. Deviled eggs with chicharrones, biscuits in guanciale gravy and fluffy banana pancakes with vanilla custard are primo brunch favorites. Heartier hits, like fried hot chicken and waffles or a generous fried fish and grits with collard greens, satiate larger appetites.
The full list of Bib Gourmand restaurants will be available on guide.michelin.com and the MICHELIN Guide mobile app immediately after the MICHELIN Guide Ceremony.
The restaurants join the MICHELIN Guide selection of hotels, which features the most unique and exciting places to stay in Florida and across the world. Every hotel in the Guide is chosen for its extraordinary style, service, and personality — with options for all budgets — and each hotel can be booked directly through the MICHELIN Guide website and app. The MICHELIN Guide is a benchmark in gastronomy. Now it’s setting a new standard for hotels.
A Guide to Michelin Guide Awards – Stars, Bib Gourmands, Recommendations – What do they all mean?
For those wondering – The Michelin Guide awards Stars, Bib Gourmands, and recommendations to restaurants as a way of recognizing excellence in the culinary world.
The main difference between Michelin stars and Bib Gourmands is that stars are given to restaurants of exceptional quality, while Bib Gourmands recognize restaurants that offer good value for money.
Michelin stars are awarded on a scale of one to three, with three being the highest accolade, and are based on factors such as the quality of ingredients, creativity in the kitchen, and consistency in the dining experience.
Bib Gourmands, on the other hand, are given to restaurants that offer high-quality food at reasonable prices. The Bib Gourmand symbol is a red Michelin Bib, representing the Bibendum (the Michelin Man) character, and is awarded to restaurants that offer a full meal at a reasonable price, typically around $40 or less.
Finally, Michelin also gives recommendations to restaurants that meet its high standards but do not qualify for a star or Bib Gourmand. These recommendations are also highly coveted, as they signify that a restaurant is of exceptional quality and worth a visit.
If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind destination that will leave you with priceless memories, day or night, look no further than Pointe Orlando!
While some visitors may remember Pointe Orlando from years ago, it has evolved into an entirely new experience that offers a unique blend of dining and entertainment options that are sure to impress.
Gone are the days of a standard mall – Pointe Orlando has transformed many of its locations to make way for special experiences that you won’t find anywhere else.
Daytime or nighttime, Pointe Orlando offers an abundance of entertainment options. WonderWorks, the iconic upside-down building you’ve seen on I-Drive, is not only a must-do photo op but also an amusement park for the mind. And for movie buffs, a visit to the theater is a must, with the option to upgrade to a 4DX movie for an even more thrilling experience.
But it’s at night when Pointe Orlando truly comes alive. While families can enjoy the many opportunities for fun during the day, adults can let loose and revel in the vibrant nightlife. Happy hour is not just an hour at Pointe Orlando – it’s an experience.
With a diverse selection of incredible restaurants, you’ll be spoilt for choice. From laid-back pubs to high-end steakhouses and everything in between, Pointe Orlando has something to satisfy every palate. Even the kids will be impressed with food options from the kid’s menus that will tantalize their taste buds.
What sets Pointe Orlando apart is the incredible dining experiences that go beyond just a meal. At Taverna Opa, you can be fully immersed in a dining experience with daily belly dancing performances that will have you clapping and dancing along.
And if you’re looking for some independent fun, Main Event offers bundles where you can play games like bowling, laser tag, and more while indulging in tasty comfort food.
This spring, Pointe Orlando also welcomes new attractions and dining experiences including Earth Illuminated, JoJo’s ShakeBar, Kavas Tacos + Tequila, and Will to Escape escape room. Plus even more will be revealed coming soon including already announced four upcoming entertainment and dining experiences.
So come along with us for A Foodie’s Guide to Unforgettable Experiences at Pointe Orlando – Spring 2023!
A Foodie’s Guide to Unforgettable Experiences at Pointe Orlando – Spring 2023
Starting off the day at the newly opened JoJo’s ShakeBar which brilliantly combines 80s and 90s nostalgia with creative shakes and desserts that are more than Instagram worthy and diner favorites including burgers and hot chicken sandwiches. Take a walk on the wild side and make your dessert “boozy.”
Take a brief walk over to WonderWorks, an entertainment attraction that features interactive exhibits and activities designed to provide educational and entertaining experiences for visitors of all ages. WonderWorks is known for its distinctive upside-down buildings, where visitors can explore a wide range of immersive exhibits and activities that focus on hands-on experiments, virtual reality experiences, optical illusions, physical challenges, and interactive displays that encourage active learning and exploration.
With interactive exhibits like the Tesla Coil where you can become a human lightning rod, the Bubble Lab where you can create giant bubbles, or even laying on a bed of nails (yes, seriously!), WonderWorks offers “edutainment” for all ages.
Main Event Entertainment
Main Event Entertainment offers a wide variety of activities and attractions, including bowling, arcade games, laser tag, mini golf, billiards, rock climbing, and more for people of all ages as well as dining options.
Main Event Entertainment is known for its focus on providing a fun and engaging experience for families, groups, and individuals seeking entertainment in a casual and social setting with a vibrant and energetic atmosphere, with a range of activities to cater to different interests and ages.
Round out the day with dinner at Taverna Opa, a popular Greek dining establishment that offers a lively, festive, and interactive dining experience, inspired by Mediterranean cuisine and Greek culture. Taverna Opa is known for its energetic atmosphere, live entertainment, and traditional Greek food and drink offerings. At Taverna Opa, guests can expect a vibrant and upbeat ambiance, with lively music, nightly belly dancing, and flying napkins, which is a traditional Greek custom.
In terms of food, Taverna Opa offers a menu that features a range of Greek and Mediterranean dishes, include traditional appetizers such as hummus, tzatziki, and saganaki (flaming cheese), as well as grilled meats, seafood, and vegetarian options. Popular main dishes may include moussaka, souvlaki, gyros, lamb chops, and fresh seafood. The restaurant also offers a variety of Greek-inspired cocktails, wines, and beers to complement the dining experience.
In conclusion, Pointe Orlando is a destination that offers unforgettable experiences day or night.
With its unique blend of dining and entertainment options, it’s a place where adults can play, with or without kids.
Whether you’re savoring a culinary adventure, immersing yourself in interactive exhibits, or dancing the night away, Pointe Orlando has something for everyone.
Mother’s Day is just around the corner (Sunday May 14, 2023), and what better way to celebrate the special woman in your life than by treating her to a delicious brunch in Orlando and Central Florida?
Our region is home to some of the best restaurants and brunch spots, with menus that are sure to impress even the most discerning of taste buds.
Whether your mom is a fan of classic brunch dishes or wants to try something new, there’s something for everyone.
In this article, we’ll be highlighting some of the best Mother’s Day brunches and specials in Orlando, so you can plan the perfect day for your mom and make her feel extra special on this special occasion.
A very special Mother’s Day brunch featuring Chef Guillaume Robin’s extensive buffet featuring seafood station, carving station, sweet treat station and so much more! The garden inspired brunch is brought to life in HAVEN Kitchen featuring vibrant Instagram opportunities, photographer and live entertainment!
Sliced fresh fruit platter, seasonal berries bowl
lime Greek yogurt
Display of granola parfait in mini jar
vanilla yogurt, granola, blues berry, poached apricot, chia seed
Wave pastry shop selection of danish and croissant display
croissant, pain au chocolate, gluten free blueberry muffin, mango danish
Smoked salmon display
capers, pickled red onion, herbs goat cheese, lemon wedges, selection of bagel
Reservations made through Open Table, Resy or another 3rd party platform
Join on Sunday, May 14th from 11 am to 3 pm for Mother’s Day Brunch! $65 for adults and $25 for children 12 and under.
Credit card is required upon booking. Cancellations made less than 24 hours from reservation time is subject to a cancellation fee of $32.00 per person. No-shows day of will also be subject to a no-show fee of $32.00 per person.
Earn favorite child status and make your Mother’s Day Roses & Rose Brunch & Dinner reservation at STK Steakhouse; featuring Rose Specials & Roses for Mom. Book your Mother’s Day Brunch & Dinner reservations at STKsteakhouse.com
Mother’s Day Brunch by Bites & Bubbles
Treat Mom to a scrumptious Mother’s Day Brunch at Bites & Bubbles Sunday, May 14th from 11AM to 2:30pm. Satisfy your cravings with our delectable food stations that are spread throughout the restaurant, including a grill station on the rooftop. Indulge in an all-you-can-eat extravaganza, featuring a Chef-attended egg and omelet station with a diverse array of mouthwatering options.
You will also find a wide selection of Charcuterie and Gourmet Cheese Boards, both domestic and international, freshly baked Pastries and Croissants, and our Award-Winning Biscuits and Sausage Gravy. Breakfast favorites including Waffles, Pancakes and a beautiful Fruit Display. Satisfy your hunger with our BBQ Grill Station, serving up delicious Chicken Skewers, Beef Sliders, Grilled Vegetables, and more.
We also offer an array of appetizing options such as Shrimp Cocktail with a variety of dipping sauces, creamy Macaroni & Cheese, Zesty Orange Meatballs, Lobster Bao, assorted rolls and jams, and a Dessert Station brimming with sweet treats. Come celebrate with us and make your Mother’s Day extra special! Advanced purchase required, $89 per person; children under 12 are $29 per person. Alcohol, drinks, tax and gratuity are additional. BOOK ONLINE HERE or book on OpenTable HERE.
In February 2003, Darden Restaurants’ Seasons 52 opened the doors of its very first restaurant in Orlando.
It was also that same year that Steven Pham and Nav Manwani began their careers with the brand, as a food runner and a host, respectively.
Fast forward to today, 20 years later. Steven is now the Managing Partner and Nav is one of the managers at that very same restaurant on Sand Lake Road.
Today, Seasons 52 has also grown to 45 restaurants.
The brand itself has evolved but has stayed true to the basics: promising guests that any menu item they choose will be 595 calories or less and never once adding a fryer to the kitchen even after all these years.
Nav Manwani joined Seasons 52 on Sand Lake in Orlando, FL in 2003 as a host. From there, he held a variety of different positions in the restaurant, but spent the majority of time as a server for 15+ years of his career. Nav became the Beverage Manager at Seasons 52 in March 2019.
Nav graduated from Valencia College with an associate’s degree (AS) in Business Finance and completed the Introductory Court of Master Sommeliers in 2006.
Steven Pham joined Seasons 52 on Sand Lake in Orlando, FL in 2003 as a food runner. Wanting to ultimately advance his career, Steven rotated through many roles in the restaurant including sous chef and various front of house positions. Steven was on the opening team for multiple Seasons 52 restaurants: Altamonte Springs, FL in 2010 as Service Manager, two restaurants in Houston, TX between the years of 2012-2014 as Sales or Service Manager, and Memphis, TN in 2014 in his first Managing Partner role. Steven returned to Altamonte Springs as Managing Partner in 2016 before ultimately ending up back at the Sand Lake location as Managing Partner in 2018 where he remains today.
Steven graduated from Valencia College with an associate’s degree (AA) in General Studies and has completed the Introductory Court of Master Sommeliers.
We recently spoke with Steven and Nav about their experiences with Seasons 52 and how things have changed over time.
Tasty Chomps Interview with Steve and Nav of Seasons 52
Ricky Ly, Tasty Chomps: What was it like working at Seasons 52 when they first opened in Orlando? What were your favorite memories?
Nav Manwani, Beverage Manager – Seasons 52 in Orlando, Fla: There were a couple things that really made Seasons 52 stand out to me in the beginning. I served tables for 15 years and Seasons 52 was able to accommodate my schedule as a parent, which allowed me to be present in raising my kids. We also had what they called family meal, which was a meal made by our Chef for the entire team once a week. Now, we are proud to offer family meal every single day. I have loved the culture and work-life balance since the beginning, which you just couldn’t find at other restaurants at the time.
My favorite memories always center around our guests. We have a guest whose wife’s favorite restaurant was Seasons 52. When she became terminally ill and too sick to come dine with us, he came in every day to get her Cedar Plank Salmon. Years after she passed away, he got remarried and reached out to us to have his wedding at our restaurant. These meaningful connections with our guests make us all part of a family.
Steven Pham, Managing Partner – Seasons 52 in Orlando, Fla: The excitement of working in a new concept like Seasons 52 was amazing. It was and still is the place to dine! Our calorie conscious and naturally flavorful menu was intriguing to all our guests, it wasn’t something they had seen before.
My favorite memory at the start of Seasons 52 was our seasonally changing menu. We still change our menu with the seasons four times each year, but I can remember the fun and excitement when I first joined the team of seeing what new items were being added to the menu.
What was the food scene like in Orlando back then? What were the most popular / best restaurants that you remember at that time?
Nav: The food scene back when we opened was almost nonexistent. There were a few chain restaurants, but nothing like there is now.
Steven: There was not much of a food scene at the time, and especially nothing that compared to Seasons 52. We had restaurants like Timpano’s, now Eddie V’s, and Samba Room, now Rocco’s Tacos, that were our neighbors at the time. There were also steakhouses nearby like Ruth’s Chris, Roy’s, and Moon Fish. The success of Seasons 52 is directly related to continued support from our local and out of town guests that helped us stand the test of time.
How do you think Seasons 52 changed the restaurant scene for Orlando when they first opened?
Nav: Seasons 52 made a huge impact on the restaurant industry being one of the few that began printing and actively promoting the caloric value of each menu item. It has become a norm throughout most restaurants today, but we were able to differentiate ourselves early on for being proud of the calories we printed since nothing on our menu exceeded 595 calories.
Steven: Seasons 52 changed the food scene in a couple ways. We proved that naturally lighter and flavorful dishes were possible, which influenced and even encouraged other restaurants to explore delicious, calorie conscious options. We were also one of the first wine bars and were able to make wine interesting again. Our wine list was created with different wines from all over the world, offering 52 wines by the glass. The excitement in the wine industry over our wine bar concept allowed us to get the best wine makers to work with us from the start, some who are still working with us today!
What were some of the inspirations behind why Seasons 52 started?
Steven: Seasons 52’s entire reason for existing stems from our wish to offer people a balanced approached to food and wine, without sacrificing in taste, style or value. We started at a time where massive portion sizes and fast-food offerings were becoming the norm and there was a rising interest in healthier dining options. There was a large misconception, however, that healthy food didn’t taste good, so we set out to open a restaurant that had both great service and great tasting healthier food. When we opened, we really exceeded expectations and quickly became one of the most popular restaurants in Central Florida. We help give guests the freedom to enjoy everything on the menu, because every choice is one they can feel good about.
How has Seasons 52 evolved or changed with the times? What are some things you have noticed?
Steven: With the menu changing every season, it’s natural for Seasons 52 to evolve with the times. We can easily shift when food trends arise. We have had multiple items come on and off the menu including branzino, halibut, a tuna noodle bowl, turkey skewers, and even sushi rolls. Since we can do this, it allows us to keep or even bring back some of our guest favorites when we get positive feedback, like with our Cedar Plank-Roasted Salmon or more recently the Wood-Grilled Pork Chop. With a business model that allows us to make changes to our menu on a quarterly basis, it helps us evolve and stay current with what our guests like and what is in its peak flavor that season.
Nav: I think it’s also important to notice the things that haven’t changed. We have been brick-oven roasting and oak-fire grilling since day one. We’ve never once had a fryer in our kitchens in 20 years. Flatbreads and Mini Indulgences have been the bookends of a Seasons 52 dining experience since the day we opened. So, although our menu evolves and changes frequently, we never forgot our core value and purpose to continue providing the guest experience we sought to provide when our doors first opened.
How did the pandemic effect the restaurant and how did it meet the challenges from that time? how is the restaurant doing now?
Nav: Our guests are part of our family too, and we helped each other get through the pandemic. Being a part of this brand is a huge source of pride for me, and the way our team came together during the pandemic to take care of each other is more proof of how loyal and dedicated we are. We’ve seen return guests come in more frequently post-pandemic, and I think that is a testament to getting through that time together.
Steven: Although it was a tough time with a lot of unknowns, we came out with a lot of positive, too. Everyone was willing and able to do more than the call of duty. I truly believe the restaurant is positioned in one of the best times that Seasons 52 has seen in the past!
What makes Seasons 52 special to you?
Nav: I started as a Host 20 years ago, and in the time since, Seasons 52 has quite literally become my family. We run 5k’s and spend holidays together. We go on group outings like paintball, laser tag and dodgeball. All of that has created a very close bond. We lost a team member a few years ago, and nearly the entire Sand Lake team went to attend the funeral. Team members from our Altamonte location happily covered those shifts for us. The list goes on and on, but things like that speak volumes to how close of a family we have become.
Steven: Seasons 52 was a part time job for me while I was going to school. I started as a food runner about 20 years ago. I never thought I would find a career in the restaurant industry, but the culture is different here. My leadership at the time gave me the drive to develop in other areas as I worked as a server, bartender, and even a line cook. I had leaders who saw potential in me and assisted with my growth into a manager, sous chef, and now currently a Managing Partner. Working for Darden, the growth potential continues. With the support and development of both my leadership and team members that I have, it feels more like a family to me than co-workers.
Steven and Nav are thankful to have grown alongside the brand, and forever grateful to the community of Orlando for trusting them to host their dining experiences for the last 20 years.
Local Central Floridian Wess St. Victor fell in love with making barbecue and never looked back. Recently, he opened a new place on North OBT near College Park – a small hole in the wall type place which is an upgrade from his food truck called St. Vic’s Smoke Shack.
The place has some of the best collard greens I’ve had in town as well as excellent smoked ribs, pulled pork, and chicken – with a fantastic lunch sandwich deal.
We dropped by recently to check out the shop and also catch up with Wess as he starts off his business serving up some of the best barbecue in Orlando.
Tasty Chomps Interview with Wess St. Victor’s of St. Vic’s Smoke Shack
What inspired you to become a chef and how did you get started in the culinary industry?
Wes St. Victpr: I’m not a chef, I’m just someone who loves to make BBQ. It started with the search for good BBQ in central Florida.
What’s the most popular dish at your restaurant and why do you think it’s so popular?
Wess: I’d have to say the brisket. Our brisket has a completely different flavor profile than anyone else’s in central Florida and I believe that’s why people keep coming back for it.
If you had to choose one ingredient to cook with for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Wess: Garlic! I love the flavor profile of garlic and how it can completely change a dish based off the amount you put into it.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned as a chef that you wish someone had told you when you first started?
Wess: ‘Nothing worth having comes easy’
Why is Orlando a special place for you to start your business?
Wess: Orlando is home, and Orlando deserves good BBQ
Can you share any tips for home cooks who want to improve their culinary skills especially those interested in barbecuing and smoking meats?
Wess: ‘Low & slow and ‘Flavor matters’ Low & Slow consists of time and patients and Flavor Matters just means to understand the protein and ingredients you are working with.
What are some of the challenges you faced when first opening, and how do you overcome them?
Wess: Marketing is the hardest challenging. We’re currently still working on how to properly market and let people know that we’re out here.
Jeff’s Bagel Run today announces the location of its newest store in O-Town West, a new mixed-use community in southwest Orlando.
Joining the 350 acre development, Jeff’s Bagel Run will bring the same delicious bagels and welcoming atmosphere to this location but with a new look and feel.
The store is the first addition since the recent announcement of the strategic partnership with 1337 Capital.
Opening later this year, the new location is 1,200 square feet and features an open kitchen concept with bar seating so guests can watch the bagel making magic. Just like the other two existing locations, the bagels are made from scratch on-site, but in this location you can watch the process of mixing, forming, boiling, topping, and baking.
The cream cheese is still whipped on site but at this new location it will be displayed in a gelato style cabinet making it easier for guests to pick and choose their favorite flavors.
Finally, they will be substantially enhancing their coffee menu by introducing an array of espresso-based beverages, providing a diverse assortment of both hot and cold coffee choices to perfectly accompany their warm, delectable bagels.
“As we looked for our next location, O-Town West was the ideal spot,” said Justin Wetherill from Jeff’s Bagel Run. “This new development will serve residents and visitors – giving us the opportunity to share our bagels with a new community. We are thankful to Chuck Whittal and the Unicorp team for allowing us to showcase our store of the future in their world class O-Town West development. We are excited to unveil our open-concept inviting guests to see our bagels come to life later this year!”
The O-Town store joins the existing stores located in Ocoee and College Park.
Officially founded in August of 2019, Jeff’s Bagel Run bakes small batch, hand-crafted New York style bagels to order, using the highest quality ingredients and old world technique.
Jeff’s Bagel Run, founded by Jeff and Danielle Perera, is a fast-growing bagel shop which has quickly become a beloved local brand with a loyal following. Through franchising, Jeff’s Bagel Run aims to share its delicious bagels and warm community spirit with customers across the nation. For more information about Jeff’s Bagel Run visit www.jeffsbagelrun.com.
1337 Capital, led by Justin Wetherill, recently announced a strategic partnership with Jeff and Danielle Perera, founders of Jeff’s BagelRun, with plans to expand the brand nationwide.
The expansion to O-Town West is a part of their plan for at least four additional stores in the Central Florida market in 2023.
Prior to founding 1337 Capital, Justin Wetherill was a co-founder of uBreakiFix that started in his bedroom and has grown to over 700 locations throughout North America. “Since stepping back from the day to day at uBreakiFix, I have had the opportunity to be picky and work on projects that really get me excited,” said Justin Wetherill, founder and President of 1337 Capital. “When I met the team at Jeff’s BagelRun, it checked all the boxes and I knew I had to find a way to be involved. Jeff and Danielle have built a beloved brand in the Orlando community and I look forward to partnering with them to bring it to other communities.”
Universal Orlando Resort embraces the ‘aloha’ spirit with the recent return of Loews Royal Pacific Resort’s Wantilan Luau. The festive, family-friendly luau and dinner show takes off on Saturdays at 6:00 pm.
For those who have never been to Hawaii before, it’s a perfect evening escape to a luau complete with roast suckling pig and fire dancing from the islands of Hawaii and the Pacific right in our backyard here in Central Florida.
A luau is a traditional Hawaiian feast or party, a celebration of Hawaiian culture. In addition to the delicious food, luaus often feature live music, hula dancing, and other forms of Polynesian entertainment.
The origins of hula can be traced back to ancient Polynesia, and it was brought to Hawaii by the early Polynesian settlers who first arrived on the islands. Over the years, hula developed into a unique Hawaiian art form with its own distinct styles, techniques, and costumes.
The dance is characterized by graceful hip and hand movements, footwork, and facial expressions, which convey the meaning and emotions of the accompanying music and lyrics.
Hula is not just a dance, but is also considered a sacred art form that embodies the history, mythology, and values of the Hawaiian culture.
It is often used to pass down stories, legends, and history, as well as to celebrate special occasions, such as weddings, birthdays, and other important events.
Guests at the Wantilan Luau take a memorable journey through Polynesian culture featuring the elegance and enchantment of Hawaii, the ancient and vibrating pounding of the Nafa drums of Tonga, the mesmerizing hip shaking dance of Tahiti and the exhilarating and flaming art of the warrior fire dance from Samoa.
“We are delighted to offer this incredible event again to our resort guests, as well as Central Florida residents,” says Managing Director Larry Beiderman. “Every luau is a party and we are thrilled to have many guests come to celebrate birthdays, graduations, anniversaries and other special moments with us.”
Guests can enjoy a culinary and musical voyage featuring hula dancers, a fire knife dancer, lively music and an array of foods including:
A Polynesian-inspired buffet featuring traditional pit-roasted suckling pig, Hawaiian chicken teriyaki, catch of the day, lomi lomi chicken salad, Ahi poke salad, fire-grilled tender beef, island-spiced vegetables, freshly-baked breads, rolls and more
Dessert extravaganza featuring pineapple macadamia tarts, passion fruit crème brûlée and tropical fresh fruit with chocolate mousse shots
Mai tais, wine and beer for guests 21 and older
Kid-friendly buffet with pizza, chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly and more
The Wantilan Luau takes place Saturdays at 6:00 pm. Regular and premium seating is available. Tickets start at $89 for adults and $39 for children. Tickets are available at: WantilanLuau.eventbrite.com.
Soseki led by Chef Mike Collantes is known for their sushi and globally inspired seasonal dishes that takes diners on a culinary journey. Since Soseki means “foundation” and Omakase means “leave it to the chef”, guests can expect a Japanese forward menu that includes a piece by piece sushi nigiri with a modern take on European dégustation service.
In 2022, Soseki was awarded One Michelin Star in the inaugural Michelin Guide Florida awards. Here is what Michelin Guide had to say about Soseki:
“One MICHELIN Star: High quality cooking, worth a stop!
This tiny operation with Chef Mike Collantes at the helm is an ideal illustration of a contemporary meal expressed by way of an omakase. Diners should make their way down a hallway to arrive at the glorious space, outfitted with dark walls, sleek wood floors and a counter armed with ten plush seats. A laser-like focus on local Florida produce results in a menu that changes monthly. As a result, guests are likely to experience a new culinary theme each time they visit. If you’re lucky, sample the “Scandinavian-style” sashimi, entailing salmon that’s cured like gravlax and arranged with smoked mozzarella. The dish may sound busy, but each element unites so seamlessly and displays that desired balance between complexity and creativity.”
In his past, Chef Collantes has worked for some of the best Michelin starred chefs including Wolfgang Puck, Joel Robuchon, Eric Ripert, Masa Takayama and Jennifer Carroll.
In this interview, we catch up with Chef Mike Collantes and where he has been and where he is going, including his memories growing up in Orlando and an upcoming new a la carte sake and wine experience coming soon next door to Soseki.
Chef’s Corner: Catching up with Soseki’s Chef Mike Collantes – Spring 2023
How would you describe Soseki to people who have never been before?
Can we call Soseki a sushi bar? We have sushi as an element of the experience and we use Japan sensibility when it comes to the rest of the menu, but of the 20+ bites, the sake and the dining experience is just built on what we think is the best for the guests and putting it out there 4 nights a week. With Soseki meaning cornerstone or foundation we hope to build long lasting roots in Winter Park.
Ricky Ly, TastyChomps: How is business going since the Michelin star?
Chef Mike Collantes: Amazing! We are seeing some amazing new guests coming from all over the world to our little shop in the middle of Orlando and get to really showcase the 44+ local vendors, farmers, and growers we are in rotation with annually. As well the local seen has really taken to our concept and get to explore local Orlando in a new way and experience sake for the first time during our sake classes.
How have things changed or not changed at Soseki?
We have added to the original team and have been able to grow into additional space in our building, with that we are currently only 4 days a week to allow a day for RnD. When Soseki received our first star we were barely 1 year old and still creating our voice and ideals, while we do change our menu like we change socks, the team has really built their own voice within fine dining. This flows down to the service and beverage program, trying to create a unique and personal experience.
Tell us about the project at AVA – what is that like for you so far?
AVA MM Club is a 41 seat private members club set underneath the AVA bar, down some narrow staircase. I came on board with RDG to help consult and get the program going and have stayed as the culinary director for herre and Mila MM Club in Miami. Don’t let the private members club scare you, they are constantly adding new members and creating nightly programs for the members. It has been a great experience working with a big group with a lot of top tier talent to bounce ideas with like the culinary partner Chef Michael Michaelidis who spent the better part of 16yrs with Joel Robuchon.
What are some of your upcoming plans for your restaurants?
We are in the process of opening an ala carte sake and wine focused experience next door. Just adding 25 seats for another intimate experience but will allow us to have the occasional walk in business as well. This really came out of wanting to do more with our guests who frequent Soseki, hoping to do more with the exploration of sake down the road.
How have things changed since you were young growing up in Orlando?
Well coming from a 16 year old kid starting out at Sbarro’s in the Fashion Square mall with all this I would say, we are doing alright. I do miss my Fazoli’s, Rangetsu’s and Ming Courts I have seen this city really and food scene really grow into something uniquely Orlando.
What are some of your favorite ingredients to work with now?
At Soseki we are sourcing amazing fish from Japan but also staying about 90% local within, eggs, produce, dairy, cheese. So creating utilizing what is only around us and in season has its challenges, but it is the story we want to tell. Strawberry season starts in December and has been going strong and I think one of the best things we produce locally. You will find my family out at the U pick farms gathering strawberries for the season at Soseki from green ones to ferment and pickle to the plump ripe ones we get from Southern Hills and Big Daddy’s. It is my favorite ingredient because I get to share the experience with my kiddos.
How is the Orlando food scene doing right now in your opinion?
On Fire! I think Michelin helped bring an awareness of local restaurants, chefs and restaurateurs who have been working at this scene for some time. With Chef Henry Moso now being the first to secure a Finalist spot with James Beard, VnA back at full swing and even hearing amazing things from the recently reopening of Norman’s, not to mention my former team at Omni Group by the Tung brothers opening some incredibly unique concepts in the upcoming year.
The owner of Grills has posted a new letter on Facebook directed to Anheuser-Busch Corporation, “the epitome of Evil”, encouraging the use of cannabis over alcohol, and replacement of AB marketing materials:
I am disgusted by what you have done and what you are doing. You are the one causing this division and anger in our society. You are responsible for making some of the gay community think Grills does not welcome them. And you knew EXACTLY what you were doing when you launched this campaign. How could you not? “Good ole boy beer…meets Dylan Mulvaney? Hmm. Let’s see what that does to the country.” NOBODY is that stupid. This goes way beyond transgenderism. This wasn’t a marketing mistake. Your corporation knew the fire storm they would ignite in this country but chose to do it anyway. I pray all our eyes are opened as to why.
Our current plan is to eliminate Bud and Bud Light from our locations and replace it with a locally brewed, much higher quality Pilsner. Reference to all other Anheuser-Bush brands will be eliminated. This includes but is not limited to all promotional items such as umbrellas, neon lights, coasters, and apparel. Grills Restaurants and Sunrise Marina will not co-sponsor or seek endorsement from Anheuser-Busch for any local events, such as fishing and golf tournaments that we have jointly promoted for nearly three decades. We are going to pray deeply about whether we should vaporize all your brands and corporate corruption from all our restaurants and shift to all locally brewed beer. Decision pending.
To the gay and trans community. We do love you and all of us have close friends or family who are gay and some who are considering this option. There is no judgment in my heart towards you. Life has delt us all a different hand I have no explanation for the pain some have endured. I care about you, and I know it’s been a tough ride for many. But I cannot believe surgically altering a human body is the best form of suicide prevention we have available. Is this really the best option the AMA (American Medical Association) has for a child or young adults? If it is, then it’s time to look somewhere else. But my Biblical faith tells me there is something much deeper and darker than bad medical and psychiatric care.
Transgenderism is reaching younger and younger children, now under the veil of sports urgency. It does irreversible damage to young bodies before their own minds can make adult decisions about that choice. NOBODY should take that right away from a developing child. There ARE dark hearted, profiteering “medical” corporations using mind control “affirmation” techniques, to profit from 300K alterations of perfectly healthy children. That to me is the epitome of evil and Anheuser-Busch Corporation is clearly in partnership with it. I will not align with that in any way.
To the community at large. Thank you so much for the support over the years and I am grateful for so many words of encouragement and prayers now. Let’s remember Dylan Mulvaney and anyone who doesn’t agree with this position is not our enemy. As Christians we need to pray in fear and trembling instead of screaming in rage and anger or we gravely miss the mark of love we were called to exhibit.
‘Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; Rev 18:4.
In Love, Fear and Trembling.
Ps-PSA. As a Christian I do pray about the scourge of Alcohol for many people. I know more and more people personally that are getting benefits from proper cannabis use in fighting that battle. If you’re struggling in that area, I’d much rather you stay at home, pray and beat the grip, than come to my bar. Felt God told me to share that as well! Love you all. God Bless.
According to a story by The Space Coast Rocket, Grills Seafood has pulled Bud Light from their offerings. The restaurant has locations in Orlando, Port Canaveral, and Melbourne.
We called the Orlando location to confirm, and management confirmed that they o longer serve Bud Light, but would not say why.
Some speculated that this is due to Anheuser-Busch’s recent marketing campaign that featured transgender activist, Dylan Mulvaney. Mulvaney posted on April 1 about a $15,000 giveaway that the company had sponsored during March Madness, mentioning that she had been given a special tallboy can with her face on it to celebrate a full year of her “Days of Girlhood” series documenting her transition online.
In a statement, Anheuser-Busch said it works with “hundreds of influencers across our brands as one of many ways to authentically connect with audiences across various demographics” and that it sometimes sends commemorative cans to influencers as a gift. The cans are not available for purchase by the public.
Yesterday, Grills restaurant owner Joe Penovich released a statement on the decision.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information is available.
This week, Good Salt Restaurant Group led by Sue and Jason Chin (past James Beard Award nominees for Best Restauranteurs) is proud to welcome the James Beard Foundation back to Orlando at The Monroe on April 19th. Good Salt Restaurant Group is renowned for delicious concepts, thoughtful and inclusive leadership, as well as great culinary talent.
Their talented chefs from all four Good Salt restaurants (The Monroe, The Osprey, Reyes Mezcaleria, and Seito Baldwin Park) feature dishes inspired by the concepts that they helm as well as from their respective cultural backgrounds in a lively reception style setting.
Also included are cocktails, spirits, wine and local beer tastings, desserts from pastry chefs and live music in support of #goodfoodforgood.
Friends of James Beard Benefits provide critical funding for programs, to help JBF achieve its mission to celebrate, support, and elevate the people behind America’s food culture, and champion a standard of Good Food for Good anchored in talent, equity, and sustainability.
Sue and Jason Chin
Good Salt Restaurant Group, Orlando, FL
Executive Chef Nikk Burton
Pastry Chef Robbie Lamison
The Monroe, Orlando, FL
Executive Chef Michael Cooper
The Osprey, Orlando, FL
Good Food for Good stands for and the types of programs that are rooted in leadership, equity, and sustainability. Programs include scholarships, mentorships, advocacy training, policy summits, women’s leadership initiatives, food waste and sustainable seafood issues, programs to support the BIPOC and Queer Communities, and much more.
The James BeardFoundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to celebrate, support, and elevate the people behind America’s food culture and champion a standard of good food anchored in talent, equity, and sustainability.
Izabela Wojcik,Director, Friends of James Beard Benefits, will be traveling to Orlando to represent JBF at the event. We spoke with her via e-mail about the upcoming event – read on!
Tasty Chomps Interview with Izabela Wojcik, Friends of James Beard Benefits
Ricky Ly, TastyChomps: What are some big plans for the James Beard Foundation this year
Izabela Wojcik: The James Beard Foundation’s mission as a national organization is to celebrate, support, and elevate the people behind America’s food culture and champion a standard of good food anchored in talent, equity, and sustainability. In that capacity, we look to engage with culinary partners across the US to highlight great talent, engage with those businesses in joining and supporting our mission, and inspiring and educating consumers to celebrate and support their local food scene as well support our mission.
James Beard Foundation has just launched (on April 1st) an exciting new, mission-driven event space and hub for all activities in NYC, Platform by JBF and Good to Go kiosk at Pier 57.
As we say, it’s the ultimate culinary experience where culture, pleasure and purpose meet.
Why is this event important to the Orlando community?
Our hope is that Friends of James Beard events in general, and this one in particular with Good Salt Restaurant Group, put a spotlight on amazing culinary talent, which makes everyone from the culinary side, to front of house to management feel validated and recognized. Diners recognize the James Beard Foundation affiliation is an honor and feel a sense of excitement. And our goal is to provide meaningful engagement with James Beard Foundation, looking to build a relationship and highlight Orlando as a dining destination.
What makes the Good Salt Restaurant group a special highlight for the Foundation this year?
JBF has enjoyed a long relationship with Good Salt Restaurant Group through the years, with showcase events at both the Beard House in NYC as well as in Orlando, and have always been stellar stewards of culinary talent, and warm hospitality. We are especially delighted to be coming back to Orlando, engaging with all their chefs, and getting a taste of all their concepts while reflecting the chefs’ individual heritage and style. That is truly in keeping with our mission to highlight the people that are shaping our food culture.
There seems to have been quite the boom in Food Halls lately in Central Florida.
Food halls are indoor spaces where you can find multiple food and beverage vendors in one place. They typically have a communal seating area, where you can enjoy a variety of artisanal and gourmet offerings.
Food halls also offer a great opportunity for small and independent food businesses to showcase their culinary creations without the high costs of opening a standalone restaurant. With events and live entertainment often available, food halls are a great spot to hang out with friends who love good food with a little something for everyone. Get up and go explore these food halls asap!
Current vendors include: The Neighbors, Winter Park Biscuit Company, Dochi, Domu, Farm & Haus, Gideon’s Bakehouse, Hinckley’s Fancy Meats, La Femme du Fromage, Lineage Coffee Roasting, Wafu, Skyebird Juice Bar
Did you know the iconic Rosa Mexicano officially opened its newest and first Orlando location last week at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in the Dolphin side?
Rosa Mexicano offers authentic Mexican classic dishes in a stylish and festive atmosphere. The restaurant honors Mexican heritage as well as the culinary techniques, global explorations and inspirations of its acclaimed founding chef, Josefina Howard who opened the flagship Rosa Mexicano on New York’s Upper East Side in 1984 and popularized Mexican regional cuisine in NYC.
With current locations in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia and Maryland, as well as upcoming openings in Las Vegas and Fort Lauderdale, the dynamic brand offers an elevated fiesta dining experience, including signature menu items and award-winning margaritas.
The restaurant also features Rosa Mexicano’s renowned beverage portfolio, which boasts over 100 varieties of tequila and agave-based spirits – and of course, the restaurant’s signature frozen pomegranate margarita, named the best in New York City.
Here are our Top Picks at Rosa Mexicano:
Guacamole en Molcajete – Made Tableside Since 1984
Fresh To-Order with Warm Corn Tortilla Chips and Roasted Tomato Salsa
Parrilladas – Rosa’s Own Mexican-Style Mixed Grill, Served on a Sizzling Platter
Accompanied with Freshly Made Corn Tortillas, Roasted Onions, Frijoles Borrachos, Cheese-Stuffed Jalapeño, Charred Tomato Salsa, Pico de Gallo, Guacamole
Recommended for 6 People –Red Chile Chicken, Grilled Chorizo Sausage, 10oz Certified Angus Beef® NY Strip, Jumbo Shrimp with Cilantro Chimichurri, Grilled Cocoa Rubbed Short Ribs
“We are pleased to be the first Orlando location for Rosa Mexicano and to expand our current dining options for local Orlando residents and our hotel guests,” said Sean Verney, area general manager of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel. “This is a great partnership of two iconic food and beverage teams, and we couldn’t be more excited for guests to experience this newest, unique offering.”
The 11th Annual Science of Wine fundraising event, benefiting the Orlando Science Center. Science of Wine is a unique wine and food tasting with an educational twist returning April 22, 2023 | 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Sip, Savor, and Support The Orlando Science Center!
The Science of Wine is not just another wine tasting, but an oenological odyssey with presentations on multiple aspects of wine growing and wine tasting in addition to samples of more than 150 fine wines from the world’s most important wine regions and some of the best food from your favorite region, Central Florida!
This event offers a chance to celebrate with others who enjoy the culture of wine while also benefiting Orlando Science Center’s mission to “inspire science learning for life.”
Ready your mind and palate for a night of wining, dining and learning at Central Florida’s most unique wine event, the Science of Wine!
Uncork your inner sommelier (and scientist) to support the mission of Orlando Science Center at this annual fundraiser presented by Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits!
Plus, bid on silent auction items, including travel packages like one round trip flight for two guests to any regularly scheduled and marketed WestJet destination or a two-night complimentary stay at the Barrymore Hotel Tampa Riverwalk.
There will also be special sessions about pairing the right cheese with the perfect wine by Florida Dairy Farmers, they will share what makes a good match based on acidity, alcohol content, fat, and so much more. Come learn from the best!
You must be 21 or older to attend. Learn more and get tickets at www.osc.org/wine.
BECOME A SPONSOR OR PARTNER
To learn more about becoming a food partner, entertainment partner, or event sponsor, please email email@example.com.
$100 Members & Young Professionals
$125 General Admission
What’s New This Year?
Melissa McAvoy, owner of Swirlery Wine Bar, will be taking over Dr. Dare’s Lab to share her experience as an advanced sommelier! Enjoy a free-flowing environment where you’ll learn about the elements that make wine unique, including terroir, tannins, varietals and more.
MORE TO POUR
In addition to our selection of reds, whites and rosés, we’ll also be serving cocktails this year! Plus, we’ll have non-alcoholic options for our designated drivers and those who elect not to drink.
GUIDED WINE & CHEESE PAIRING
Our friends at Southern Glazer’s and Florida Dairy Farmers will lead a one-of-a-kind lesson on pairing wine and cheese. Explore what makes a good match based on acidity, alcohol content, fat, and more.
SCREEN PRINTING IN THE HIVE
Learn to screen print in The Hive: A Makerspace and take home a custom canvas tote bag generously provided by IKEA! It’s the perfect bag for periodic trips to your local wine shop.
The MICHELIN Guide today announced 11 additions to the selection in Florida – eight in Orlando and three in Tampa. Eight Miami additions were announced in February.
The MICHELIN Guide reveals culinary gems throughout the year. Some of these restaurants could be awarded Bib Gourmands or Stars. For now, these establishments are highlighted as “New” on guide.michelin.com and the MICHELIN Guide app to help food lovers enjoy these new discoveries before the full selection is revealed May 11.
“By revealing some of the new additions made by our inspectors throughout the year, we enhance our digital tools to further strengthen the ties that bind us to food lovers,” Poullennec said. “We hope that these regular revelations and updates to the selection throughout the year will provide opportunities to highlight the profession and invite everyone to discover and support the restaurants around them.”
The 2023 MICHELIN® Guide Miami, Orlando and Tampa will be unveiled at 6 p.m. May 11 at LoanDepot Park in Miami. Chefs and restaurant teams will learn in real time whether their establishments have received culinary distinctions such as MICHELIN Stars, Bib Gourmands or other professional award distinctions. The event is by invitation only.
“We are eager to share the 2023 edition of the MICHELIN Guide in Miami, Orlando and Tampa,” said Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of the MICHELIN Guides. “Florida’s finest flavors continue to impress the inspectors, who have enjoyed their visits to the Sunshine State. The restaurant teams are clearly inspired to serve the most delectable cuisine to food lovers – day in and day out. We are excited to celebrate their accomplishments and can’t wait to share those new discoveries with gourmets and travelers.”
The eight Orlando restaurants added to the Michelin Guide recommendations include:
Twenty Pho Hour (Vietnamese / Asian)
Victoria & Albert’s (Fine Dining)
Doshi (Modern Korean)
Otto’s High Dive (Cuban / Rum)
Sonny Nguyen, owner and chef of Domu, Tori Tori, and Edoboy tells us, “We are ecstatic about being included in the Michelin Guide and I know that our team will be celebrating tonight! I am so proud and happy for everyone included on that list today and it goes to show that Orlando/Florida is here to show out to the world. Let’s all keep pushing each other up! This is what it is all about!–”
A refresher for those wondering why a tire company is giving out awards to restaurants – The guide was first published by the French tire company Michelin in 1900 as a way to encourage more people to drive and thus buy more tires. It was initially focused on France but has since expanded to cover numerous countries worldwide. Today, the Michelin Guide is a prestigious and influential annual guidebook that reviews and rates restaurants and hotels in select cities around the world.
The Michelin Guide uses a three-star rating system to evaluate restaurants, with three stars being the highest honor. One star signifies “a very good restaurant,” two stars mean “excellent cooking that is worth a detour,” and three stars indicate “exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey.” The guide also includes “Bib Gourmand” distinctions for restaurants that offer high-quality food at a reasonable price, as well as various other awards and recognitions. The Michelin Guide is highly respected in the culinary world, and receiving a Michelin star or other recognition can greatly enhance a restaurant’s reputation and business.
Founded in 2006, the award-winning Nile Ethiopian on International Drive boasts a history of bringing authentic Ethiopian cuisine to the community for over 15 years. Owner Abeba Gonetse transports diners to a traditional Ethiopian home kitchen where everything is cooked from the heart.
For those new to Ethiopian cuisine, the food is a vibrant and flavorful blend of herbs, spices, and unique cooking techniques featuring savory stews to crispy flatbreads.
Over 15 years ago, Nile became the first Ethiopian restaurant open in Orlando under Abeba. Her friends and people would always ask her to open an Ethiopian restaurant and so she did to help share her experiences and the culinary traditions of Ethiopia.
For those who have not been before, Nile Ethiopian features authentic, traditional options as well as dishes for vegans and non-vegans, people with gluten allergies and celiac, as well as people who are adventurous.
Over the years some of Abeba’s favorite lessons in the restaurant industry has been learning how to socialize with people, learning from people a lot of things, including behaviors, character, friendship and family.
Amongst numerous awards consistently throughout the years, Nile Ethiopian recently won Critic’s Choice for Best African in the 2023 Orlando Sentinel Foodie Awards.
Ethiopian cuisine is characterized by the use of spices such as cumin and cloves as well as sauteed meat (tibs), stewed dishes (wat), and a fermented sourdough bread (injera).
One of the most popular dishes in Ethiopian cuisine is injera, a spongy, sourdough flatbread made from teff flour. This bread is used to scoop up a variety of stews and curries, creating a delicious and interactive dining experience.
Growing up in Ethiopia, chicken dorwat was a specialty made by Abeba’s mom for special occasions and a personal favorite for Abeba today. Another favorite is shiro – made with vegetables – affordable and healthy and eaten regularly.
There are also fantastic vegetarian/vegan options which include stewed cabbage, mixed lentil beans, collard greens, and more. Definitely get the Taste of the Nile veggie platter for those interested in plant based dishes.
Sambusa – Deep fried pastries stuffed with lentils, finely chopped red onions and jalapeño peppers.
St. George Beer
Habesha Cold Gold Lager
Coffee Ceremony at Nile Ethiopian – A Must Try For Any Coffee Lover
Nile Ethiopian is also known for their traditional coffee ceremony where green coffee beans are hand roasted in a flat pan over hot coals, ground in a pestle and brewed in a black clay pot called a jebena.
The ceremony is considered a sign of respect and friendship and usually performed by the woman of the household as an honor.
After roasting, the beans are brewed and served fresh at your table.
Be sure to check out Nile Ethiopian the next time you are in the I-Drive area for a delicious and fun Ethiopian experience with welcoming hospitality and phenomenal coffee!
Orange County Government, The City of Orlando and Visit Orlando Celebrate #407Day (April 7) to Support Local Businesses
Orange County Government, The City of Orlando and Visit Orlando have announced the return of #407Day this Friday, April 7, 2023, for residents to celebrate their hometown pride and support local area businesses.
This special campaign, inspired by the destination’s longtime area code, encourages residents to support their favorite restaurants, bars, shops, boutiques, services and other locally owned businesses by sharing posts and photos on their social media channels using the hashtag #407Day.
Where will you be going that day to support our local Central Florida / Orlando businesses?
We at Tastychomps.com will also be partnering with Visit Orlando for a very special, mega-giveaway (details to come).
In 2023, #407Day will continue to evolve as a day of pride and support for Orlando and Orange County.
The central event for this year will be the unveiling of the Unbelievably Real mural on Friday, April 7. After being displayed in key markets, the mural is finally coming home to Orlando. The mural is a visual representation of everything that makes Orlando unique, inspiring residents and visitors to embrace all the elements within the mural, ranging from innovation, technology, dining, arts and culture and more.
Celebrate #407Day with Local Orlando Dishes including…
McCoy’s Bar & Grill & Hemisphere at Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport Restaurant Address: 9300 Jeff Fuqua Blvd. Orlando, FL 32827 Local Dish Highlight: Crawfish Chowder – Legend has it that when Shaq was drafted to the Orlando Magic, the restaurant wanted to create something with all the hype coming to the city. So, with his LSU background the Cajun crawfish chowder was born
The Whiskey Restaurant Address: 7563 W. Sand Lake Rd. Orlando, FL 32819 Local Dish Highlight: The Southerner Regular Menu Item or Special Limited Time? Regular menu item
Maxine’s on Shine
Restaurant Address : 337 Shine Ave – Orlando
Local Dish Highlight: Squid Ink Linguine w/ Seared Gulf Shrimp and tomato lobster butter, served w/ Fava Beans Spinach and grape tomatoes – All ingredients used on the pasta dish are locally sourced. It’s a Special for the whole week
Café Tu Tu Tango
Address: 8625 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819
Local Dish Highlight: SPICED ALLIGATOR BITES- crispy wild caught Florida gator, key lime mustard – gator from Central Florida Trophy Hunts in Cocoa.
The Chef and I Orlando Restaurant Address: 1412 Alden Rd. Orlando, FL 32803 Local Dish Highlight: Apple Arugula Salad – locally grown arugula tossed with granny smith apple matchsticks, crumbled feta cheese, roasted peppers, and candied pecans in a local honey and chile vinaigrette and finished with extra virgin olive oil -The arugula for the salads is from B&W out of Fellsmere https://bwqualitygrowers.com
Paddlefish, Disney Springs:
Craft Beer Selection – Voted best rooftop bar/view of Orlando many times! Paddlefish’s key lime pie is made with the classic regional brand of Nellie & Joe’s Key lime juice out of Key West.
4 Rivers Smokehouse, several Orlando locations
Barbocoa Bowls (Shredded lettuce, white rice, black beans, cilantro lime creme fraiche, guasacaca, cilantro onion salsa, queso fresco, and squeeze of fresh lime juice with your choice of sazon pork or sazon brisket) Onions are from Pexco Farm, Plant City, FL; tomatoes are from Lipman Family Farms with multiple FL locations.
Nola Avalon Park at Marketplace at Avalon Park – 3801 Avalon Park East Blvd Orlando FL 32828
– Fried Fish sandwich or platter with Florida Key Lime aioli and 407 jalapeño slaw or seasoned curly fries
Fried Florida Gulf Shrimp Po’ boy or platter with Florida Key Lime aioli and 407 jalapeño slaw or seasoned curly fries
Restaurant Name: Cafe Coqui
Restaurant Address:3819 Avalon Park East Blvd Orlando, FL 32828
Local Dish Highlight: Tripleta, and puertorrican pastries.
Cheese to Share
We will be featuring our Signature Bread Bowl, one of our most popular dishes, crafted using locally sourced ingredients such as the sourdough bread bowl from a local artisan bakery and one goat cheese featuring the grade A goat dairy and creamery in Central Florida.
Restaurant Address: 3801 Avalon Park E Blvd, Orlando, FL 32828
Playa Pizza – 407 Pizza Slice Giveaway
Looking for a fun-filled evening to celebrate 407Day? Look no further than the 407Day Game Night at Orlando’s signature park on Friday, April 7, 2023 from 4-8pm. Join DTO for this free event at Lake Eola Park on the East Lawn for an evening of games, food, and fun for everyone. There will be a variety of games onsite to kick off your weekend – or feel free to bring your own! Discover Downtown is currently having a sale on 407 merch so you can look ready for the part.
This year’s celebration also marks the debut of Orlando’s newest mural. Unveiled at a special event on April 7 at the corner of Orange Avenue and Pine Street, the mural is an initiative for the “Unbelievably Real” brand platform, a first-of-its-kind partnership between Visit Orlando and Orlando Economic Partnership developed to speak to all audiences — leisure, meetings and business.
‘Unbelievably Real’ Mural in Downtown Orlando
From April 7 – 17, 2023, residents and visitors are encouraged to post selfies with the new mural on social media and tag Visit Orlando (@VisitOrlando) and Tasty Chomps (@TastyChomps) to have a chance to win prizes from local businesses, attractions and restaurants. Lucky winners will be awarded giveaways from attractions, service providers and restaurants, including:
Downtown Orlando: Downtown Orlando swag
Earl’s Orlando: $100 gift card for use at Buca di Beppo restaurants, $100 gift card for use at Brio restaurants, and a $50 gift card for use at Chicken Guy! restaurants
JoJo’s ShakeBAR Orlando: Complimentary experience for two, including one shared appetizer, one cocktail/mocktail per guest, one full size entree and side par guest, and one dessert per guest
Check with your favorite local businesses to see how they’re participating.
INTRODUCING THE ‘UNBELIEVABLY REAL’ MURAL
Designed by Orlando-based artist Clark Orr, the mural brings to life how all aspects of the region shine, from tourism highlights like nightly fireworks and water adventures to innovative technologies such as simulation and rocket launches. The mural has been displayed in Brooklyn, Mexico City, Manchester and London in the past year, and now makes its debut in Orlando.
‘Unbelievably Real’ Mural at 96 Whitechapel in the United Kingdom
“Nearly a year after the global launch of our ‘Unbelievably Real’ brand, we are excited to bring home a mural, designed by an Orlando artist, that is a visual representation of our entire destination, incorporating everything from our theme parks and beloved landmarks to elements of our dining, arts, culture and technology scenes that showcase Orlando’s dynamic nature,” said Casandra Matej, president & CEO, Visit Orlando.
“This mural brings to life all of what makes our region transformational and groundbreaking, from nightly theme park fireworks and adventures on our waterways to our region’s role in developing some of the world’s most innovative technologies and leading the nation’s space race,” said Tim Giuliani, president & CEO, Orlando Economic Partnership. “It showcases the imagination and innovation of our vibrant region, enriches people’s perceptions of Orlando, and demonstrates to our residents and visitors alike that they are part of what makes Orlando ‘Unbelievably Real’ too.”
‘Unbelievably Real’ Mural on Thomas Street in the United Kingdom
The “Unbelievably Real” brand launch is part of a multiyear initiative for Visit Orlando and Orlando Economic Partnership. The two organizations also launched O.U.R. (Orlando Unbelievably Real) Culture Project to engage with Orlando residents and cultivate new methods to showcase pride in the Orlando region. Future activities will include the creation of a new symbol for Orlando and the installation of a permanent Orlando sign to become an interactive and iconic backdrop.
The #407Day contest will be over before you know it, so make plans now to post your “Unbelievably Real” mural images by April 17, tag @VisitOrlando and @TastyChomps, and earn your chance to win prizes while enjoying our city’s newest artwork and supporting all your favorite Orlando businesses.
Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida proudly announce the return of their annual event, Taste! Central Florida! This highly anticipated event serves to fight childhood hunger and homelessness throughout the Central Florida community.
Taste! Central Florida 2023 is a premier food and beverage event and will be hosted at the Orlando World Center Marriott on August 18, 2023 from 7:00 to 11:00 PM.
Chefs and partners from more than 40 local restaurants will prepare small plates of their finest dishes, with a variety of beverage and cocktail samples from some of Orlando’s top beverage vendors.
In its 30+ year history, Taste! Central Florida has raised over $4 million dollars which has provided over 16 million meals to children facing hunger.
Currently, 1 in 5 children in Central Florida are experiencing food insecurity and may not know where their next meal will come from. Although the event is back after three years, the risk of hunger never left.
Vendor and Sponsor Packages are available online at the TasteCFL.org website. Individual tickets are on sale now.
All event proceeds from Taste! Central Florida 2023 remains in the community to help provide much needed food for children experiencing hunger in Central Florida.
Taste! Central Florida? presents its sponsors the opportunity to engage affluent, well-educated, charity-minded individuals and entertain key clients and stakeholders in a fun and dynamic environment. Cash and in-kind sponsorships underwrite all event costs.
To learn more about how you can partner with Taste! Central Florida? and help close the gap on childhood hunger in our community, click here to view the list of sponsorship opportunities available or contact Michele Byington, Co-Chair.
“We’re so excited that Taste! Central Florida is coming back in 2023! There’s nothing quite like the energy of a room full of people who are coming together to fight one of the most critical issues in our community – childhood hunger. Over the years, funds raised at this event have made an incredible difference for the youngest shelter guests at the Coalition. On any given day, there are about 100 children staying in our Center for Women and Families. Your generous support of Taste! Central Florida ensures that these kids wake up to a nutritious breakfast and end the day eating dinner with their families, never worrying when their next meal will be.” – Allison Krall, President/CEO of Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida
“Funds from Taste! Central Florida make it possible for Second Harvest to continue to provide 250,000 meals to those who face uncertainty every single day. Thanks to the kindness, generosity, and support of our community, we can continue to close the gap on childhood hunger in Central Florida which unfortunately remains too wide at this time. Thank you for caring, and for helping to make this possible.” – Derrick Chubbs, President & CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida
Please consider purchasing one of the Donor/Sponsor Packages, joining the team as a Chef partner, or attending Taste! Central Florida 2023! For more information on how to get involved, please visit the TasteCFL.org website.
Did you know there is a new water park, new VIP Oasis Lounge & new poolside burger concept by the legendary Michelin-Star Chef John Tesar now open at JW Marriott, Grande Lakes Orlando resort?
Guests can enjoy a luxurious pool day at JW Marriott Grande Lakes Orlando with a myriad of fun and enjoyment the whole family will love, including their signature lazy river, an aquaventure course, three watersides, full-service cabanas, delicious dining, and a Oasis VIP firepit lounge featuring large family cabanas and daybeds with their own plunge pools.
Three-time James Beard “Best Southwest Chef” semifinalist, two-time Bravo’s “Top Chef” contestant and head chef of Ritz-Carlton Orlando’s Michelin-Star Knife & Spoon, John Tesar, recently brought to Orlando a new concept called Knife Burger, located poolside at the JW Marriott.
Knife Burger offers some of the best tasting patty in town, sourcing beef from high-quality, Texas raised cattle including 44 Farms ground sirloin patty.
Knife Burger’s Double Ozersky burger
Tuna Poke Bowl
Tasty Chomps Q&A with Grande Lakes Orlando:
Tasty Chomps: What’s new this spring at Grande Lakes Orlando for local Orlandoans foodwise and attractions wise?
It’s an exciting year for Grande Lakes, as we have recently completed a 120 million-dollar renovation for The Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott, which includes new rooms, suites, restaurants, and a water park. Our newest addition has been Knife Burger next to the water park, which serves premium burgers and shakes from legendary Michelin Star Chef John Tesar.
Tell us about the new water park – what are the new features for people who have not had a chance to check it out yet?
The Grande Lakes Water Park has several areas to play and is home to a lazy river, Headwaters Slide Tower with three waterslides, restful lagoons, and an Oasis VIP firepit lounge. There’s something for everyone. The new cabanas and daybeds throughout the water park have been very popular since they opened, particularly the Oasis VIP cabanas that offer private plunge pools.
Knife Burger – what makes these burgers unique and some of the best in Orlando?
Knife Burger serves farm-raised beef from the famous 44 Farms in Texas, America’s premier 100% Black Angus Prime & Choice Grown Beef provider. Each burger is placed in a cVap (controlled vapor technology) oven to allow the beef to steam and brown at the same time. They are then added to the griddle with butter for a nice sear. Knife Burger makes everything from scratch, including the buns to ensure you get the freshest tasting burger.
What are some of the most popular items right now at Knife Burger?
Double Ozersky burger with American cheese, red onion, on a white bun with a side of hot fries. There are many options for cocktails, but favorites are the Grande Lakes Colada (Bacardi light rum, Captain Morgan spiced rum layered with Pina Colada and strawberry daquiri), or the Chef’s Kiss with Patron Silver, watermelon, and Thai basil lime cordial. For those keeping it simple, we have homebrew Surplus Honey Citrus and a pale ale made from the Orlando Grande Lakes partnership with Big Storm Brewery.
Popular Items at Oasis?
You’re likely to see our guests regularly ordering our Think Green Hummus plate, which highlights edamame hummus, radish, roasted sweet potato, endive heirloom carrots, taro chips and togarashi za’atar grilled naan.
What are some specials going on this spring at Grande Lakes? Where can people find more info?
We have several Spring specials such as the “Grande Escape” package, where you receive up to a $50 daily resort credit or a “Stay Longer, Save More” package which offers up to a 20% discount on stays of three or more nights. For more information on special packages please visit: www.grandelakes.com
How has business been so far this year? What is coming down the pipeline for the resort this 2023?
We are fortunate to be considered a destination property and have been very busy this year. There has been a buzz around the new water park and award-winning restaurants making the resort a unique experience for everyone. Coming down the pipeline, we will have a special event called GLO SUMMER NIGHTS. Starting May 27th, each Saturday from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day, you will see the lake light up with fireworks at 9pm. The festivity will include live music, sweet treats, delicious cocktails, games for the kids, and a few surprises. Also, this June Grande Lakes Orlando will celebrate its 20-year anniversary! And we are planning an unforgettable event to celebrate being part of the Orlando community for over two decades. Stay tuned for more details!
Caribe Royale Orlando’s celebrated pastry chef, Joshua Cain has been chosen to be a contestant on Food Network’s Spring Baking Championship.
Chef Cain has become known in Central Florida and beyond for his talent in chocolate artistry, creating realistic molds created in a custom blend of chocolate he created while visiting France. Most recently, Cain created life-like holiday displays for the resort made entirely out of chocolate, including Santa, all eight reindeer, a sleigh and a chocolate train. Chef Josh’s favorite part of baking is whipping up colossal chocolatey treats. His past coco creations include an 11-foot-tall chocolate rocket and a massive 32-foot-long chocolate train (which used 16,000 pounds of chocolate)!
Chef Cain joins 12 bakers competing for a chance to win the $25,000 prize and the title of Spring Baking Champion, on Food Network Mondays at 8|7c. “Food Network’s annual baking series celebrate the season with visually stunning, edible creations and spirited competition between the incredible bakers,” said Betsy Ayala, Head of Content, Food, Warner Bros. Discovery. “Monday nights have become appointment viewing for fans for this reason and they are in for a treat with a double-stacked night of spring baking skill and craftsmanship.”
Spring Baking Championship features 12 bakers who enter the Spring Baking kitchen and are tasked by host Jesse Palmer to give a fresh Spring makeover to the desserts that made them fall in love with baking. Judges Kardea Brown, Nancy Fuller and Duff Goldman determine which baker’s skills have blossomed to move on in the competition. One of the biggest culminations of love is a wedding – in the finale the three remaining bakers must design and create a dream wedding cake for a real couple. In the end, one baker is crowned the new Spring Baking Champion and takes home the cash prize and a spot in Food Network Magazine. Fans can meet the newest batch of bakers and see the best creations from past seasons of Spring Baking Championship at FoodNetwork.com/SpringBakingChampionship. Get an exclusive look behind the scenes with Jesse, Kardea, Duff and Nancy, as they take on their own challenges on social media using #SpringBakingChampionship.
Chef Joshua Cain Executive Pastry Chef – Caribe Royale Orlando
Chef Joshua Cain’s passion for chocolate and pastry creation have led him to be a distinguished chef and leader across the hospitality industry. With over 26 years of combined culinary and pastry experience at AAA Four and Five Diamond hotels and restaurants, his diligence and creativity shines through the excellent quality of his work. Now acting as Executive Pastry Chef at Caribe Royale Orlando, where he leads pastry innovation with a special focus on chocolate artistry, he plans to continue sharing his passion for culinary in exciting ways.
Born and raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Cain’s introduction to the culinary industry came from his first job working in a kitchen at 14-years-old, where he was drawn to the fast-paced, creative work environment. Deciding to pursue it as a career, he proceeded to go to college and earn Associate Degrees in Culinary Technology and Baking & Pastry Arts.
Through his early years as a pastry chef, Cain developed a deep affinity and love for chocolate. Spending time working as Pastry Chef de Partie at The Ritz-Carlton Hotels in both Amelia Island, Florida, and Charlotte, North Carolina, he oversaw production and quality of all pastries and desserts. In Charlotte, he was recruited to open the hotel’s dessert bar, “Bar Cocoa”, where he led production and menu design for the hotel’s restaurants, VIP events and weddings. He shared his passion for chocolate and desserts by teaching pastry classes in a state-of-the-art “Cocoa Lab.” There, he had the opportunity to challenge himself to create artful, edible displays, including a 1,500-pound, life-size organic gingerbread house for the holidays.
His passion for creating dramatic creations out of chocolate continued, gaining notoriety while creating chocolate masterpieces, including an eleven-foot Saturn V Rocket to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1969 moon landing. Cain even received national recognition for his artistry in sugar work, winning 1st place in the 2010 Sugar Art Casting Challenge and a Competitors Choice Award in the 2012 Pastry Live Showpiece Competition.
After leading the pastry departments at a variety of hotels and restaurants, today Cain leads as Executive Pastry Chef at Caribe Royale Orlando. His chocolate creations have become well-known by the culinary community, including his 40-foot chocolate train, accompanied by a chocolate-molded Santa Claus snowman, ornaments and presents during the holiday season. His work is also seen daily at the resort’s signature restaurant, The Venetian Chop House, where guests have the opportunity to enjoy his signature desserts like “The Ultimate Choc Sphere,” a chocolate lover’s dream dish, flambéed with caramel liquor as it is presented to the table.
He plans to continue pastry excellence at Caribe Royale in 2023, as the resort plans to debut a pastry kitchen that will include immersive experiences for guests, in addition to an expanded chocolate program.
Rocco’s Italian Grille is a romantic Italian restaurant in beautiful Winter Park, located across from The Glass Knife, and just a 10-minute drive from Downtown Orlando. Rocco’s proudly presents an authentic Italian cuisine prepared by their experienced native chefs.
Proprietor Rocco Potami was born and raised in Italy and he has always been passionate about cooking. His restaurant offers recreated recipes of his homeland which he has spent years researching, developing, and perfecting. Rocco’s uses only the freshest meats, imported pastas, and sauces made from scratch to serve a broad selection of dishes from each of Italy’s regions.
Rocco has 41 years of experience cooking in Central Florida. In 1982, the opening of Disney’s Epcot called him down from Montreal to work at the Italy pavilion.
Rocco’s menu is composed of a variety of appetizer, pasta, seafood and meat dishes that recreate old favorites and bring out new flavors. Choose one of their wines from the wine list, where you will find wines ranging from Aglianico to Zinfandel. They offer an ample selection of Italian wines, along with great Californians and others. Sip on an Amarone, Barolo or Caymus, you will find just the right one for your meal.
Here are some popular menu offerings at Rocco’s Italian Grille:
What are some of the most popular dishes right now at Rocco’s? Daily specials of homemade Ravioli, Veal and Fish dishes, Pappardelle alle Cinque Terre – Pappardelle (wide flat noodle-like pasta) with shrimp, scallops and lobster, braised in a white wine tomato basil cream sauce, topped with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and basil.
What are some of your upcoming plans for 2023?
To work with new and fresh ingredients, locally-grown.
For those who have never been before, what would you say to describe Rocco’s to them?
It is like walking into a restaurant straight out of Italy with a relaxed atmosphere in an old-world setting. Everyone is greeted at the door. I take pride in providing an authentic Italian dining experience with authentic Italian dishes created by my team and I, cooked fresh daily and served by a knowledgeable and professional staff.
What are some of your favorite lessons learned throughout your career in the food and beverage industry?
Never take success for granted and always strive to meet people’s needs whenever possible.
What makes Winter Park a special place for you as a chef/owner?
Many of the clientele from Winter Park and nearby love to travel and experience cuisine from around the world so it is fun to serve authentic food that they will enjoy and recognize.
What inspired you to go into the food world?
I love to travel and eat! This industry enables me to do both and it also gives me a way to express my creativity through the food I create at my restaurant.
What are your favorite ingredients for Spring 2023?
There are so many! Stone Crab is a favorite as well as anything that is fresh and can be found locally!
As Easter (Sunday, April 9, 2023) approaches, many restaurants in Orlando, Florida are gearing up to offer special menus and experiences to celebrate the occasion. From classic brunch options to creative takes on Easter favorites, there is something for everyone.
Join us as we explore some of the top Easter specials being offered by local restaurants, and discover the perfect spot to celebrate the holiday in style.
Tradewinds Restaurant at Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld
Four Flamingos at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
Tabla Indian Cuisine
Hemisphere Restaurant – Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport
Aurora at The Celeste Hotel – UCF area / East Orlando
JW Marriott Bonnet Creek Orlando
Taverna Opa at Pointe Orlando
STK at Disney Springs
Universal Orlando Resort – Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort and Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
More to Come…
Tradewinds Restaurant at Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld
Pricing: adults $108 per person, kids 12 & under $50 per person
Tabla Indian Cuisine
Get Ready for an Eggstraordinary Easter Feast at Tabla Indian Restaurant – Indulge in our Special Menu and Satisfy Your Cravings!
Our Easter menu includes a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, such as Achari Paneer, Deviled Eggs, Aloo Vatana Chilli Puff, Panchporan Fish Tempura, and Chicken Doughnuts. For dessert, indulge in Tabla’s Sweet Tooth Fairy Dessert – an Easter egg-shaped Mango Malai Kulfi that will satisfy your sweet cravings. Don’t miss out on this unique and delicious dining experience!
“For April 1 & 2 and April 8 & 9, we will be offering our traditional weekend a la carte brunch menu. However, the Easter Bunny will be hopping by during brunch hours to spread holiday cheer to all of our guests.”
14900 CHELONIA PARKWAY,
ORLANDO, FLORIDA, USA, 32821
The Wilson at Melia Orlando
TheWilson Cocktails & Seafood at the Melia Orlando Hotel Celebration is open for a special Easter brunch on Sunday, April 9th with a buffet menu curated by Executive Chef, Nicholas Mut – which is perfect for both adults and children.
$45 for adults, and includes coffee, tea, juice, soft drinks, prosecco, beer, wine, and mimosas
$15 for children under 12, and includes juice, milk, and soft drinks
Children 3 and under are free
Taverna Opa Orlando at Pointe Orlando
American Easter – Open Sunday, April 9 – 12-10 p.m.
Receive a free glass of house wine with the purchase of any lamb entrée!
Full menu available
Belly dancing entertainment begins at 7 p.m.
Reservations are highly recommended!
To reserve, call 407-351-8660 or visit www.opaorlando.com
Greek Easter – Sunday, April 16 – Open 12-10 p.m.
Receive a free glass of house wine with the purchase of any lamb entrée!
Limited amount of Tsougrisma available (a Greek tradition of cracking red eggs for good luck)!
Full menu available
Belly dancing entertainment begins at 7 p.m.
Reservations are highly recommended!
To reserve, call 407-351-8660 or visit www.opaorlando.com
Did you know that JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa – located just outside of Disney Springs at Walt Disney World- has over 153 different gins & specialized gin cocktails from all over the world – AND is the largest gin offering in Florida?
They also recently launched a brand new “Gin on Wheels” cart in their Lobby Bar and Sear + Sea Woodfire Grill.
Manned by the resort’s talented “Gin Experts,” the cart roves around serving up original takes on Gin & Tonics, with fun tableside prep perfect for Instagram.
The cart features the following:
New Gin + Tonic specials:
Mindful Moment: Rosemary infused Nikka Coffey Gin, Housemade Sear + Sea Tonic, Wild Moon Liqueur, Cucumber Juice and edible flowers
Rosa G & T: Malfy Rosa Grapefruit, Grapefruit Fever Tree Tonic, Dried Grapefruit and Rosemary Sprig
Florida Sunset: Old St. Pete Sunset Gin, Sear + Sea Tonic, Fresh Orange Peel, Star anise & Cinnamon Spice, and Thyme Sprigs
House-made tonic water in a classy old-fashioned perfume bottle
Aromatics such as star anise, rosemary and dried fruit
On the culinary side, the resort even integrates this beloved spirit into the dishes at Sear + Sea with a Gin-infused pepper that’s offered tableside in the restaurant.
We spoke with Heliana Bartlett, Restaurant General Manager of Sear + Sea Restaurant and Lobby Bar at the JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa about the new Gin offerings at the resort – read on below!
Tasty Chomps Interview with Heliana Bartlett, Restaurant General Manager of Sear + Sea Restaurant and Lobby Bar at the JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa
Ricky Ly: How did this all come to be?
Heliana Bartlett: This idea came to be during the pre-opening phase of the Sear + Sea Lobby Bar. The vison was to have instinctive differentiation amongst all our bars at the JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek, creating a journey of different beverages between the outlets. Each bar has a special focus on a distinctive spirit and the Lobby Bar quickly became the target for gin. The original idea was to feature a large spectrum of craft gins from all over the world and involve them in a special cocktail program. After the vision took form, we enhanced the idea to also include gin tastings and the development of a customized ‘gin + tonic on wheels’ offering.
Some of the biggest challenges with our gin program is training the staff on the 150+ different bottles, and being able to reach the top shelf gins – we need a very large ladder as the high back bar is 15 feet!
Is this Orlando’s only specialty gin themed menu?
The JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek is the only gin bar with 153 different gins and specialized craft gin cocktails in Orlando.
In our concept discussion, gin was always a hot topic as we researched and noticed a trend of many gin companies creating unique types of the spirit, especially in Europe. Gin can also be considered a healthier alcohol option for the way it is produced and its lower sugar content.
Tell us about your role and background and how it relates to this project
I am the Sear + Sea GM and responsible for the Sear + Sea Lobby Bar as well. As part of the opening team, my heart is connected to this project and I am very excited to put this sophisticated and trendy experience out into the market, introducing resort guests and locals to new types of gin.
How does this fit in with Marriott Bonnet Creek’s overall food and beverage program?
Our gin program fits into the JW Bonnet Creek’s F&B program very well. It differentiates Sear + Sea and the Lobby Bar from our other outlets, like the local rum selection at Palm Cove, the Japanese whiskey selection at our rooftop bar illume, and our craft beer focus at UnReserved. There is something for all tastes at the JW Marriot Orlando Bonnet Creek.
About JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa
The full-service, five-star JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa opened in July 2020 and has everything guests need for a luxurious Orlando getaway, from 516 plush guestrooms to fun-filled amenities. Situated conveniently right outside the gates of Disney World, the resort boasts a 10,000 square foot spa with treatments unique to the resort; an outdoor pool with swanky cabanas; seven onsite restaurants and bars, including the chic steak and seafood restaurant Sear + Sea and the new illume rooftop bar; a rooftop miniature golf course and rock-climbing wall; and a complimentary shuttle service to the theme parks.
Jaleo at Disney Springs is teaming up with beloved local Central Florida farm, Southern Hill Farms, to offer a limited-time Strawberry Festival menu from March 14 to March 26, featuring seven Spanish-style tapas using fresh, locally grown strawberries.
Menu items include a gazpacho, consisting of strawberries and Pipirrana, a popular summer salad from Southern Spain, and a Basque-style cheesecake topped with strawberries.
Jaleo’s executive team, including Head Chef Kristopher Anderson and General Manager Mario Bernal, worked closely with Southern Hills Farm to design the menu during peak Strawberry season.
The pair visited Southern Hill Farms in February, handpicking strawberries to ensure absolute freshness.
All the dishes on the Festival de Fresas menu feature strawberries from Southern Hill Farms, located in Clermont, Florida, just southwest of Orlando. Southern Hill Farms is a family owned and operated u-pick and commercially harvested blueberry, strawberry, peach and seasonal vegetable farm. They currently have 40 acres of blueberry bushes, five acres of peaches, 15 acres of strawberries and one acre of blooming sunflowers on the 120-acre farm, open for u-pick December-May.
We spoke with Jaleo Disney Springs’ Head Chef Kristopher Anderson about his background and the new special Strawberry menu partnership with Southern Hill Farms in an interview below – check it out!
Tasty Chomps Interview with Jaleo Disney Springs’ Head Chef Kristopher Anderson
Ricky Ly: Tell us about your background – how did you end up in Orlando?
Chef Kristopher Anderson: Growing up I never wanted to be a chef. It wasn’t until I received my first job in the kitchen at 16 — just as a way to make money over the summer — that I considered it.
Fast forward two years, and it was time for me to go off to college. I really excelled in the kitchen, and I enjoyed going to work more than I enjoyed going to school. I was always afraid to tell my parents that I wanted to be a chef. They wanted me to go the traditional route of going to college and focusing on a degree. I met them halfway.
I ended up attending Le Corden Bleu College of Culinary Arts here in Orlando, and that’s pretty much how my career started.I worked at Emeril Lagasse’s Tchoup Chop for four years. This is where I held my first sous chef position in 2015. Emerils eventually closed in 2017. I had a small stint at Seito Sushi in Baldwin Park before José Andrés Group called me in 2018, to help open Jaleo Disney Springs.
In 2021, I opened Jaleo Chicago as the Executive Sous Chef, and then in March 2022, I headed back down to Disney to take on the role of Head Chef at Jaleo Disney Springs.
What is your inspiration behind this strawberry menu?
The inspiration behind the menu comes from a mindset of simplicity, where we try and let the product shine without adding too many different flavors to the actual product. We also want to pay homage to classic Spanish dishes, such as Fresas con Nata (strawberries and cream), which had a huge influence.
We know what José likes and how he treats the product. For the chefs and I, we always pay close attention to a few main points when creating dishes. First, we talk about the product. And with the strawberries from Southern Hills Farms, we didn’t have to do much to create beautiful dishes. Next, we think about Jaleo, our brand and making sure we are staying in the realm of José’s vision.
This doesn’t mean we can’t limit our creations, but we want to make sure what we are doing makes sense for our restaurant and guests. There are some dishes on the menu that are Jaleo classics and some where we stepped a little outside the box to create something new that works for our restaurant.
Tell us about Southern Hill Farms – Why is the relationship with Southern Hill Farms important?
At the end of 2022, the chef team and I talked about some goals that we had for 2023. One of the main points was getting more of the locals from Orlando to come and try our restaurant. Sometimes it’s hard to get people to come out to Disney from the other side of town. We are not a small restaurant.
And even doing things like a festival for two weeks takes a lot of prep. We are serving anywhere from 800 to 1,300 guests a day.
We want to show the local Orlando community that even though we are a big restaurant, we can still specialize in local ingredients and make special plates that are off our menu for guests to enjoy.
What are your upcoming plans for the menu in the future?
We have one of the biggest menu changes that this restaurant has ever seen coming at the end of March. We have over 10 new dishes coming to the menu. I am really excited about our Paellas also.
In the past, we offered only 1 paella and we plated it on a small plate. Now we will have 5 paellas readily available, and they will be ordered by the Full Pan. Each pan feeds six to eight people.
Guests will enjoy the real experience of enjoying the paella straight out of the pan. We have a lot of ideas and goals this year to get our name to the local crowd of Orlando, and we are excited!
Jaleo Disney Springs x Southern Hill Farms Strawberry Festival Menu
March 14th-26th, 2023
Sopa de Frutos Rojos ($12)
Cold soup of Southern Hill Farms berries with olive oil yogurt ice cream
Ensalada de Cerezas y Fresas ($14)
Salad with cherries, Southern Hill Farms Strawberries, goat cheese and Pedro Ximenez Reduction
Cono de Hígado de Pato y Mermelada de Fresas ($8)
A savory cone with Foie Gras Mousse and a strawberry marmalade made from the hand-picked strawberries at Southern Hill Farms
Tarta de Queso con Sorbete de Fresas ($16)
Our Basque-style cheesecake served with local strawberries from Southern Hill Farms
Fresas con Nata ($10)
A traditional Spanish dessert, “strawberries with cream”
Helado con Fresas y Vainilla ($6)
Vanilla soft serve with macerated strawberries
Gazpacho de Fresas ($10)
Cold soup with strawberries and “Pipirrana”
Jaleo Disney Springs
1482 E Buena Vista Dr, Orlando, FL 32830