May 19-21 Food Wine Conference at Rosen Shingle Creek

Join Me on MAY 19-21, 2017 for the Annual Celebration of Food & Wine at the Rosen Shingle Creek in beautiful, sunny Orlando Florida. During the three-day conference, bloggers, small business owners, winemakers, chefs, public relations professionals, traditional media, new media, authors and brands will have the opportunity to gain knowledge and insight to:
SEO – Search Engine Optimization
Marketing and promotion on social media channels
Effective writing
Publishing a cookbook
Working with PR agencies
Food photography
For further details or to purchase tickets, visit the event’s web page foodandwineconference.com Please mention Promo code “Irina2017” and you will receive $50 off tickets to Food Wine Conference at Rosen Shingle Creek. For guests looking to get the full experience, weekend packages offer access to exclusive after parties and more. You are going to have a GREAT time!!

Chef Art Smith – “Homecomin’” at Disney Springs – Enjoying the Florida Funshine!

With over 900 freshwater springs in the state of Florida, there are many places to choose from to relax and renew yourself while traveling. One of the best, and newest, is Chef Art Smith’s “Homecomin’” restaurant, at Orlando’s own “Walt Disney World’s Disney Springs!”

Chef Art is no stranger to the culinary world, being a two-time winner of the James Beard Foundation Award, known as the “Oscars of Food.” Additionally, his many fans know him from such television shows as “Top Chef Masters,” “BBQ Pit Masters,” and the “Today” Show. With talent, skill, and, most importantly, his gregarious and friendly personality, he has truly blazed a trail throughout the national food scene.

“I am a native Floridian… a sixth generation native Floridian. Opening my restaurant at Disney Springs is part of my own “Homecomin’.” With restaurants in such places as Chicago, Atlanta, Washington D.C., and others, one could wonder why Chef Art wished to return to the Sunshine State. His excited response if very clear, “Florida is one of the fastest growing states in the U.S.A…. it is the land of sunshine, but also the land of deliciousness! Florida has palm trees, beaches, and attractions, but it also has oak trees, dirt roads, and farmland. Florida produces wonderful fruits and vegetables, has an amazing cattle and beef industry, is a producer of fine poultry… and don’t forget about the awesome seafood!”

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“Every great Chef must have a great repertoire, a great pantry, in order to cook great dishes, and here at “Homecomin’” I have been able to use all the wonderful things that Florida produces, the things I grew up with, all the fabulous family recipes… nothing gives me more joy than to take a wonderful cake my Grandma used to make and serve it to the thousands of guests we entertain here at the restaurant… that is success.”

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Chef Art reminisces about his childhood in Florida, and how some of life’s lessons can help to shape you for the long term. “I grew up on a farm, and I wanted to take piano lessons… boys were supposed to work on the farm, but I discovered the piano was a way of escaping that world. And, since I was a little ‘different,’ I would be a target for bullies. However, I learned rather quickly that if you fed the bully, he would go away or at least get nice… there are no angry people, just HUNGRY people! ‘Food’ became my mission, the revival, to capture people’s attention… if you feed someone a good meal, they will remember you, and I have been very fortunate to take the food I love, the comfort foods, and make it not only for my family, but also for the world… especial here at Walt Disney World!”

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Chef Art was private chef to none other than Oprah Winfrey for a decade, and during his tenure with her, he met and fed a wide variety of people, from Presidents to Movie Stars, and even such world-renowned public figures as Nelson Mandela and his holiness, the Dali Lama. “I believe that if there is something you love, others will love it, too… nothing is more humbling and makes you feel so good as when others appreciate what you do!”

“One thing piano has taught me is how important it is to ‘perform’ and that the ‘show always goes on!’ The first thing you learn in piano is that if you make a mistake, you keep going, and it is the same thing in the culinary world, you have to have courage and be present in what you do, for you are sharing bits of your life, we are all giving bits of ourselves, so we should never be afraid to make a mistake, fail, or begin again. That is truly how we find the path to success.”

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Chef Art has a true love for humanity, and has always been a big believer in philanthropy and wanting to help people. In 2003, with support and urging from his husband, Jesus Salgueiro, Chef Art co-founded “Common Threads,” a charity geared towards teaching cooking and nutrition programs to help prevent childhood obesity and reverse the trends of generations of “non-cookers,” reducing the reliance on fast foods. Designed as a hands-on, family-centric outreach to low income and urban communities across America, “Common Threads” empowers children to eat healthy, make life-improving behavioral changes, and celebrate culture through food. “We live in an age of ‘conscious consuming…” we want to make choices that are best for our family, and we want our lives and other’s lives to be better. ‘Common Threads’ has been able to teach kids not only about health, but also about getting together as a team… we started the program with only thirteen kids back in 2003, and this year we taught NINETY THOUSAND kids in nine states! As Walt Disney himself put it, ‘We, as humanity, share more in common than different,’ and it is this commonality that I believe we need to teach the generations to come!”

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When asked how he became interested in opening a restaurant at “Walt Disney World,” Chef Art laughs and simply states, “Walt Disney knew what he was doing, his family had been coming to Florida for years, his parents honeymooned here, he loved Florida and believed it was the perfect location to build the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’… so I just convinced them it was the ‘Happiest Place on Earth for Fried Chicken!’ They had created a beautiful spring and I believed it needed a Florida inspired restaurant to complete the picture. ‘Disney Springs’ has captured the spirit of renewal that has drawn people to Florida’s many springs since before the time of the Conquistadors… families come here to renew their relationships… it is a ‘Homecomin’… so there you have it!”

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Don’t miss your chance to dig into the “farm-to-fork” cuisine that showcases all the fresh flavors of Florida, found at Chef Art Smith’s “Homecomin’” at “Disney Springs,” in the beautiful “Walt Disney World Resort,” Orlando, Florida. As Chef Art puts it, you will walk in as a hungry guest, but you will leave as satisfied family member!

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“Breakfast for Dinner” at Ravello Restaurant at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando – April 20

Have you ever felt like eating Breakfast, but it is time for Dinner? Then, on Thursday, April 20th, you are in luck, because “Orlando Weekly’s” Faiyaz Kara is hosting “Breakfast for Dinner” at “Ravello, Four Seasons Resort, Orlando,” at Walt Disney World! Faiyaz is presenting five choice dishes from his new book, “Gourmet Breakfasts for the GENIUS” which will be prepared by Chef Fabrizio Schenardi… and that means this is one event your taste buds will not want to miss!

$75 dollars not only gets you in the door, but it also includes a signed copy of Faiyaz’s book, and a chance to enjoy the marvelous tastes of:

-Piperade Basquaise
-Rosemary Belgian Waffles with Seared Foie Gras and Pomegranate Syrup
-Crispy Duck Confit Potato Cakes with Heirloom Tomato Gravy
-Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee Ribbed Rib-Eye with Chanterelle Cream and Huevos Fritos
-East African Doughnuts with Coconut Pigeon Pea Curry

all fantastically prepared by Chef Fabrizio and his team… and don’t forget to grab a Negroni Cappuccino, a Mimosa, or to top it all off with a Peanut Butter & Jelly Sno Cone!

“Breakfast for Dinner”… or perhaps “Brinner”… at “Ravello, Four Seasons Resort, Orlando” on Thursday, April 20th… We could do Brinner EVERY day!

Tickets can be purchased here:

Chef Brandon Frohne – Balancing Biscuits With A Constant Pursuit of Knowledge

Chef Brandon Frohne, Director of Culinary at Holler & Dash, grew up with a culinary family legacy that has deep roots.  “My great grandfather owned a restaurant in Berlin, Germany.  My grandmother owned a Bed & Breakfast in Switzerland, and she still owns a restaurant in Florida.  My grandfather was an amazing saucier and traveled the world working in many different kitchens.  I guess it is just in my blood!”

When Chef Brandon was a boy, he would be with his grandmother and his aunts and his mother in the kitchen, watching what they did, helping out whenever he could, learning the little “tricks of the trade” that still bring him inspiration when creating or recreating dishes and recipes today.  “Cooking has been my family’s way of life, we have been in the restaurant business for the last five generations.  If you wanted to spend time with family, you were around food, working in the kitchen, helping out in the restaurant… I loved it and gained such an appreciation for food, for the process of making it all work together, to create something that people would love to eat.”

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“I’d be visiting with my grandmother, and she would make this amazing salad dressing, my aunt would be making mother-sauces, and my mom would be baking biscuits… and this scene would happen all the time! I was ingrained with so many things that would become part of my culinary and life philosophy when I got older.”
Even though Chef Brandon grew up in the kitchen, he did not actually decide to start cooking as a profession until he was seventeen.  “I was at a crossroads… I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life, but I knew that if I started working an office job, I would probably end up jumping out a window!”   Luckily, he kept his feet planted firmly on the ground and decided to find a mentor in the professional culinary world.  “I stumbled upon an apprenticeship from an amazing chef in Florida and I worked and learned the culinary craft for two years, and this just ignited my passion for cooking… and that’s how I got my start!”
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Chef Brandon believes that being a chef is akin to being an artist.  He insists that a chef must use all of his or her creativity to always explore, grow, and discover the dishes that are inside of them, that are just waiting to be made.  However, it isn’t just a walk in the park, “When you have those creative/artistic traits, you struggle sometimes to balance it all, to have the inspiration to recreate a dish, to see the potential that may or may not be apparent.  Then you have to balance that with leading and engaging a team, learning your team members’ personalities and providing a structure and environment to be able to reach a common goal, but not stifle or discourage their individual uniqueness, their vision and desire to create.  Personally, I believe a good leader makes his team feel they are not just team members, but part of a family… a culinary family.”
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When describing his vision for “Holler & Dash,” Chef Brandon’s eyes light up and his speech becomes rapid, as he is visibly excited to explain his dream.  “Holler & Dash is a biscuit-focused restaurant… a ‘Biscuit House,’ if you will.  We have four restaurants in Alabama, Tennessee and Florida with eleven chef-crafted biscuits, each with its own personality.”
“I like the term ‘Fine-Casual’… we have higher quality food, with a huge emphasis on hospitality in our restaurant and sourcing, but we do it all in a ‘fast-casual’ model… you get in and out really quickly, but have amazing, great tasting food!”
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Holler & Dash definitely has a unique and flavorful biscuit menu, but it doesn’t stop there, “We also have a ‘Crafty-Coffee’ program, sourced from a local roaster in Orlando, Florida, and we have instituted a ‘Craft-Soda’ program, as well.  We create our own flavors, based upon the food history of the region, and, needless to say, for Orlando we have a very citrus-focused history!”
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When asked for any advice he may have for those who are interested in a culinary career, Chef Brandon is quick to say that you need to get a strong foundation in the basics.  “People have this idea of what the ‘Culinary World’ is like, they want to be a ‘Rockstar Chef’ almost immediately, and don’t understand the amount of work that it takes just to be successful, let alone a rockstar.  Besides, fame isn’t the reason you should want to be a chef, or anything, really… you should do it because you are passionate about it and love what you are doing.  You have to work in restaurants, that’s how you learn ‘staging’… you need to go to culinary school, or maybe go the European route, the way I did, and get an apprenticeship, but you have got to build your foundation, learn the nitty-gritty, put in the hours, because that is where you will find your inspiration and your courage to create and really put yourself out there.  It builds knowledge, technique, and confidence… but, most importantly, becoming a good chef is a constant pursuit of knowledge.  If you are passionate about it, you will study and perfect your technique every single day and commit yourself to excellence.”
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If you want know what passion tastes like, just head to “Holler & Dash” and discover what five generations of professional cooking can do to improve something as simple as a biscuit.  Classic “Southern” ingredients with a modern spin… you’ll go from “I’ll try it” to “I’ll be back!”
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Beer Hall Dinner with Cask & Larder Brewery – Feb. 28

DoveCote is thrilled to welcome a good friends Larry Foor, brewmaster at Cask & Larder Brewery, along with Chef James Petrakis and Chef Nick Sierputowski from The Ravenous Pig to DoveCote on Tuesday, Feb. 28 for a very special Beer Hall Dinner.

The Swine Family trio will collaborate with DoveCote Executive Chef Clay Miller to create a family style beer pairing dinner featuring five signature and seasonal Cask & Larder beers.
Seating is extremely limited and is $55 per person (plus tax and gratuity). Reservations are required and non-refundable. To reserve a seat please call:
(407) 930-1700 or email info@dovecoteorlando.com.
The Beer Hall Dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m. with an opening reception hosted by Larry Foor and featuring a Cask & Larder Brewery Pale Ale Cocktail.
 The menu for the evening includes: 
1st Course:
Octopus Pot Au Feu, Beer Mussels, Chicken Pate with Grilled Bread, Frisse Salade
DoveCote Saison and Lone Palm Gold Ale
2nd Course:
Roast Lamb shoulder with Olive Vinaigrette and Baked Gigantic Beans,
Boudin Blanc, Sauerkraut & Confit Potatoes
Red drum Hoppy Ale and Red Wine Barrel Aged Saison
3rd course:
Beer Doughnuts with IPA Chocolate Dipping Sauce, Chocolate Porter Cheesecake with Almonds & Strawberries
Milk of the Hoppy Dry Hopped Milk Stout

Brunch is Better Bottomless

Executive Chef Wendy Lopez is thrilled to invite you to Tapa Toro for a Spanish-style brunch menu every Sunday from 11am – 3pm featuring bottomless mimosas and sangria.

Fresh Yogurt – house made granola with honey, jam, pears and berries

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House Made Focaccia Sanwich – ham, chorizo, serrano, olive spread and olive oil

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Three Little Pigs – Cheese grits, pork belly, chicharrones and chorizo

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Tapa Toro Chicken N Pancakes – fried chicken milanese, fried eggs with house honey glaze

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Grilled Chicken On Ciabatta Bread – grilled chicken, curried chickpea spread, arugula

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Unlimited Mimosa and Sangria – Sangria is available in Classic and White.

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Tapa Toro is located at I-Drive 360, 8441 International Drive.

Chef Jason Bergeron – Innovation of Food!

Chef Jason Bergeron, a contestant on Chopped: Grill Masters earlier this year, strongly believes that a great chef has to be attuned to great taste and it is their sole responsibility to share this  with the rest of the world. It’s an art and the passion has to burn within a person. He also believes being a good chef is like being an artist. You have to start with the right ingredients and have skills to create a masterpiece.

From the age of four Chef Bergeron has always had a desire to become a great chef. He attributes his success to both of his grandmothers who were nurturing his passion from a young age. Also growing up, he liked to watch T.V. shows to learn new things  and develop skills that he could bring later to his kitchen.

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Chef Bergeron believes all great chefs have to learn to balance passion and management. Owning a business for something you have a passion for is how anyone enjoys life, but this is not always the easiest of paths. He thinks to be a successful person in the restaurant industry, you have to have a lot of prior planning in place.

The advice that Chef Bergeron would give to people that have the calling and desire to work in food service industry is to join a reputable restaurant that have top notch chefs that will mentor you and give good exposure to the workings in a kitchen.

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After spending four years in California and learning new trends in culinary industry, Chef Jason Bergeron brings his knowledge and innovation to Central Florida. Come visit Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen located in Lake Nona Town Center, which serves a colorful spectrum of small plates with big tastes.

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