Executive Chef Philip Romano – Teak Neighborhood Grill


Meet dynamic and always evolving Chef Philip Romano of Teak Neighborhood Grill. His inspiration to became a chef came from the love of fishing and making meals from the catch of the day. Although he is preparing famous burgers at Teak, seafood remains his specialty. Along with Thai cuisine, it is his absolute favorite meal to cook at home. Chef Philip is striving for the best in everything he does; he is not afraid of the competition and accepts any culinary challenge sent his way.

Teak Neighborhood Grill is a neighborhood bar with TV screens designed to watch any sporting event inside or outside on their spacious patio. Teak serves a wide variety of the award winning dishes and is known for their tallest and heaviest handcrafted burgers.


Drunken Monk was voted Number One Burger by WESH’s Orlando My Way. Angry Orchard onion jam, roasted cherry tomatoes, smoked bacon, herb mayo, provolone cheese & Teak chips topped with melted white cheddar cheese served on a pretzel bun.


Caprese Burger and the Cronie, a “french doughnut” tossed with cinnamon-sugar.


Teak Neighborhood Grill is located at 6400 Times Square Avenue, in the Southwest Orlando community of Metrowest.

Teak Neighborhood Grill on Urbanspoon

Executive Chef Shawn Kaplan – Kasa Restaurant & Raw Bar

Executive Chef Shawn Kaplan of Kasa Restaurant and Raw Bar began his culinary odyssey as a teenager in Canada. He became serious about cooking after attending school in Florida and traveling to Napa Valley, France, and Italy. He is fascinated with cooking and would love to be able to take some time to expand his culinary techniques and artisan skills, such as making soba noodles from scratch.


Open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, Kasa Restaurant and Raw Bar offers a raw bar with fresh seafood and an exciting menu of diverse small plates, combining the influence of Asian and Latin cultures. Kasa is located in Downtown Orlando at 183 S. Orange Avenue.


Featuring Kasa Corn made with miso lime aioli, togarashi spices, manchego cheese, queso fresco.


by Irina Pabis / Gail Couchman

Kasa Tapas & Raw Bar on Urbanspoon

Katerina & Vassilis Coumbaros – Taverna Opa Orlando

“To eat and drink with someone makes them family.” This Greek proverb highlights the importance of the dining experience, and a pleasant experience is just what you will find at Orlando’s own little corner of Greece, “Taverna Opa!”  Just off of International Drive, on the second level of Beautiful Pointe Orlando, “Taverna Opa” provides not only the finest in Greek dining, but also a nightly taste of “Entertainment: Mediterranean Style” where you will be amazed by the belly dancing, dance with the newest members of your “Greek Family” or just drift away to the soothing sounds of Mediterranean music.  Just remember, “the night is not over until the Ouzo runs out!”
Of course, authentic Greek food comes from authentic Greek people, and the best ingredient is the husband and wife team who own, manage, and most importantly, oversee everything about the experience you will find at “Taverna Opa.
Katerina Coumbaros is the youngest daughter of Greek parents, who emigrated here from the Greek Island of Crete.  “My mother has always been very traditional Greek; always cooking, always entertaining, my favorite childhood memories are of the family gatherings, and of the kitchen!”  A graduate of the “Le Cordon Bleu” College of Culinary Arts, Katerina believes that every dish prepared at “Taverna Opa” is a sharing of Greek culture with their guests.  She also knows that great ingredients are the key to great food, and that great cooking has to happen in a fun environment, “You can taste the difference in food prepared in a fun kitchen!”
Vassilis Coumbaros grew up in Greece, and his fondest memories are being a child surrounded by family and friends cooking, eating, and enjoying each other.  “Every day is a celebration, and the Greek culture teaches you to be energetic, friendly, and to love life!”  Vassilis believes that great cooking is done through “feeling”… that you have to “feel” the ingredients and the preparation of each dish.  “There is a Greek saying: ‘It is the way you breathe, the way you stir… you feel it!’”
Taverna Opa” specializes in lamb, and only the finest domestic and tender lamb will do.  However, most of the ingredients and spices are imported directly from the mountains and islands of Greece.  Another specialty of the house is seafood, but not just any seafood, only the finest imported Greek fish will make it to your plate.  “The salt and the water in the Mediterranean Sea is different from any other place in the world, and this adds to the delightful taste of our Greek seafood.”
No traditional Greek dinner would be complete without a special toast to the “Old World.”  In Greece, breaking plates and throwing napkins are a way of showing a “zest for life” and being “free as birds” to enjoy yourself.  While “Taverna Opa” may not carry on the tradition of breaking plates, you will find many napkins thrown with an exhilarating cry of “Opa!” as an exhortation to live your day to its fullest!
Taverna Opa
With Belly Dancing and Traditional Mediterranean Music spun by a DJ seven nights a week, “Taverna Opa” is the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion, relax after an adventurous day, or just enjoy being part of a traditional Greek family.  Deep in the heart of “Pointe Orlando,” celebrate life at “Taverna Opa!”
Taverna Opa on Urbanspoon

Chef Luis J. Negrón – Mingos

Chef Luis J. Negrón was born and raised on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico in the city of Ponce, the birthplace of the world famous Don Q Rum. Inspired by his family and TV Chef Martin Yan of the show Yan Can Cook, Chef Luis decided to move to Florida to pursue a career in Culinary Arts.

After graduating from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, he worked in several restaurants in South Florida, as well as a restaurant owned by Celebrity Chef Douglas Rodriguez in New York City. His experiences in NYC contributed greatly to the knowledge and techniques Chef Luis implements in his kitchen today. In 2005, he moved to Orlando to work for Loews Hotels, where he focused on their numerous restaurants within the Universal Orlando properties. Today, he is the Executive Chef of the destination restaurant Mingos, located at 100 S. Eola Drive, Suite #105 in beautiful downtown Orlando.


Mingos is a fast growing chain of restaurants, specializing in classical dishes prepared using locally-grown fresh ingredients with Chef’s unique touch in every creation. From steaks and sea food, to salads and desserts, menu items are designed to please every palate. Stop by for their Sunday Brunch, voted Best Brunch in Orlando by OpenTable Diner’s Choice Awards.


If you find yourself in the Thornton Park area, come meet Chef Luis and his staff at Mingos. With amazing food, attentive staff and friendly atmosphere, I guarantee your first visit there won’t be your last.


Mingos on Urbanspoon

Escape to Margaritaville with Chef Daniel Murray


Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville is located in Universal City Walk in Orlando, Florida. If you are looking for great margaritas, island-inspired dishes, and live entertainment, you are in the right place. From a live band on stage to an acoustic guitar on the terrace to a stilt walker making balloon hats for the children, young and old alike will enjoy the relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere.


Featuring Jimmy Buffett tunes, an airplane replica, and an erupting volcano, Margaritaville was voted 2014 Best Theme Park Restaurant by Orlando Weekly Best of Orlando.


Executive Chef Daniel Murray has been with Margaritaville since 2005, where he enjoys working with his team. We had a chance to sit down with Chef Daniel and learn more about his background and experiences.

The Landshark Lager Fish & Chips are hand dipped in Landshark batter, fried and served with jalapeño tartar sauce, French fries and cilantro lime coleslaw. The crispy batter and fresh fish makes this dish one of my personal favorites.


You should also try the show stopper Volcano Nachos with house-made tortilla chips topped with chili, cheese, fresh guacamole, sour cream, jalapeños, tomatoes and scallions. This mound of Nachos is a great appetizer to share.


Of course, margaritas are featured on the bar menu, voted Best Bar Menu by Orlando Sentinel Foodie Awards 2013.


Don’t forget the  award winning Burgers in Paradise, voted 2014 Best Burger by Orlando Magazine.


Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville on Urbanspoon

25th Annual Taste of the Nation Orlando


On August 9th, 38 Chefs, including Food Network celebrity chef Melissa d’Arabian, along with 2,000 attendees have raised over $300,000 in the 25th Annual Taste of the Nation Orlando. All of the proceeds from the event are going to help end childhood hunger in Central Florida, benefiting Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.The Coalition will use the funds to provide food, shelter and services to more than 150 children and their families each night in the coming year. Second Harvest will direct the funds to Benefits Connection, one of their primary feeding programs. P1040740_Fotor_Collage_2

What a successful event! Thank you to everyone who participated – all of the chefs, sponsors, volunteers and guests! For more information on how to become a part of this great cause, please visit www.tasteofnation.org/orlando.