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Chef “Macy” MacNealy: Spreading Love for Cooking

There’s only something bigger than her smile, and that’s her passion for cooking. We are talking about Chef Macy MacNealy, Resident Chef at Publix Aprons Cooking School, a woman who can’t hide her love for what she does.

In fact, she loves cooking so much that she can work 18 hours shift and then get back home to cook again for her family and friends, and you can tell this is true by the spark in his eyes when she talks about how much she enjoys herself in kitchen.

But this could have been foreseen very early, as since she was a little girl she would sneak on the kitchen the moment her parents weren’t home so she just could play pretend being a chef even if the dishes never came out right back then. At the moment, it wasn’t clear where that path would take her, but now, several years later, she knows that’s when all started. Maybe it had to do a bit with the fact that MacNealy`s mother wasn’t that skillful as a cook, so the moment our little soon-to-be chef started trying new flavors and combinations, a new world opened and she began to understand cooking was more than just eating.

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Moving to Louisiana after living most of her life in California, shocked her in many ways, but mostly because of the food. Although she used to stick to Mexican and Asian food while in California, when she moved south the food, and its flavors really opened her mind, giving her the final push into a cooking career.

As a chef, she understood that clients want a bit of everything, “not too spicy, not too sweet”, which is why she always tries to find that “fine line”, that balance, that will captivate the diners, which is finally the rewards that motivates her. And that’s what really moves her, the faces and the expressions of its clients when they try her dishes, that “wow” moment it’s that makes all the effort worth it for her.

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MacNealy likes it old school though, she highly enjoys preparing an amazing fried chicken, or macaroni´s and cheese while elevating the cuisine level with a twist, dishes she consider “comfort food” that have the power of bringing back home memories and touching people sensitivities.

Although she worked as a Sous Chef for Fleming’s, she considered that the corporate side wasn’t quite right for her, she wanted a bit more creativity freedom. When she heard about Publix and its Aprons Cooking Schools she discovered something in her, her desire to teach other people, to give “hacks” and advice to them, to make their lives easier while cooking, spreading love for well prepared food.

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Publix Aprons Cooking School it’s not necessarily about certifying people as a chef, but more as making them love home cooking by making it easier and fun for them, even if it’s something as simple as grabbing and using knife correctly (something most people assume they know, but they don’t).

MacNealy considers herself more of an artist than a manager, and that’s not really hard to tell from the way she speaks. She loves creating, she loves creativity and then, she loves sharing her work and experience with everyone else.

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And for those who are starting a chef career, she has a clear piece of advice, which is not thinking that a diploma will instantly shoot you to an executive chef position, in fact, the path to get there will be long and rough, but the secret is really enjoying the whole ride.

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Executive Chef Brandon McGlamery: Arts, Crafts, & Taking Chances

Winter Park, Florida, is home to many varied and unique restaurants that are, by design, simple, sophisticated, trendy, and tasteful. Two uniquely themed restaurants, Luma on Park and Prato, are helmed by non other than the simply sophisticated, trendy, and always tasteful, Executive Chef Brandon McGlamery.

“I’m just a normal guy who wears a Chef’s jacket five to six days a week,” is how he describes himself with a disarming and amiable smile. “I have a passion for food, preparing tasteful dishes for people, and working alongside like-minded individuals.” When not in the kitchen, Chef Brandon is content with his role as a father and a husband and also with his other great passion: fishing for Tarpon!

While preparation of food has often been viewed as “culinary art,” Chef Brandon has a little different take on the subject, “I view cooking as more of a craft than an art. You can obviously have artistic expression through it, but in order to reach that level, you need to have the foundations and techniques of a craftsman.” Of course, mastering the basics includes more than creating a tasteful dish, “You also have to be part psychiatrist and part leader… you have to learn how to lead your team, get them motivated to perfect their skills. You set the game plan and then articulate the vision in such a way that everybody understands both the vision and the part they play to successfully enact it… and then you have to have the stamina to keep it up, night after night, to produce high quality food that makes you both happy and proud. That is what will keep a restaurant busy, which is the best sign that a Chef is doing something right.”

When asked what got him interested in the culinary world, Chef Brandon says it was a very pragmatic decision. “I didn’t like school, didn’t want to be in the college scene, it just wasn’t me, wasn’t what resonated within me… but I didn’t know what else to do. And then I thought, ‘If I cook, I could at least always feed myself.’ Of course, once I was introduced to that world, cooking, creating different tastes, it just drew me in, and I became very focused on food. It really set my compass bearing, learning the techniques of the craft, and having the desire to make a career out of it.”

While attending the California Culinary Academy, the future-Chef Brandon was presented with a life-impacting experience. “My mother got us reservations to Thomas Keller’s restaurant ‘The French Laundry’ in Yountville, California, which was well-known then and even more famous now. It was amazing, such an inspiration for me at the time. And then my mother and I were touring the restaurant, and by my questions and knowledge, they found out I was in culinary school, and somehow, I wound up in the kitchen, talking with Thomas, meeting the man himself, and he asked me what I was planning on doing once I was out of culinary school, so I told him ‘coming to work for you.’ He looked at me and said ‘send me your resume,’ which I did and about six months later, I was there, working in that very kitchen.” Of course, Chef Brandon’s story doesn’t end there, apparently his rather brash statement made an impression upon Chef Thomas as well, for when “The French Laundry Cookbook” was released, the story of an upcoming student and his mother just happened to make it in as an anecdote! “When I met the co-writer for the book, Michael Roman, he said, ‘I know you from somewhere,’ and then he figured it out, ‘Oh, you’re the kid from the book!’ It is just so cool to have been included, my mom and I, in something that is as widely read, loved, and used as that book.”

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Chef Brandon is very straightforward about how he gets his inspiration to create a menu. “First and foremost, you have to ask yourself, ‘What is in season? What is being brought in fresh from the farm, fresh from the ocean?’ Then, once you know the type of food, ‘What is the traditional way to prepare it, to season it?’ ‘What have we done in the past and do we want to do it again or try something different?’ I am very into collaboration, especially as a mentor, and I often want to see what my team brings to the table, what flavors they will suggest. Cooking is a craft, and it is often fun to experiment, but you must keep in mind, people have been cooking for a very long time, so it is not likely you will create something that hasn’t been done before. You just cook from your heart, trust your gut, and add in the experiences that you have had before, the things you have seen. It is a very exciting and insightful process!”

Does this ever lead the taste in a bad direction? “Of course, but if you are experienced, it won’t happen that often. I have a saying, ‘It’s either good or it’s not.’ Don’t try to save something if it isn’t working, most likely it is never going to work. However, I also realize that, just because something isn’t appealing to my personal tastes, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work. I’ll tell my team to put it on the menu, see what it does; and sometimes our guests have a really good reaction to it, which means it is a great teaching moment for us all.”

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The menu’s at both “Luma on Park” and “Prato” follow the personalities of the restaurants. “Luma is new American, it is about freedom, there is an open flow to the menu, perhaps more experimental at times. The idea for Prato was to keep the nod to the Italian influence. Of course, both restaurants are seasonally directed and ingredient driven, but they each have a solid core menu, dishes that you would expect, that become your favorites to enjoy again and again. But, that doesn’t mean we won’t experiment a little, keeping the door open for innovative tastes. Prato is more structured, so we have about a 25% flexibility with that menu, but Luma is much more open with about 50% flexibility in the menu, which leads to new and exciting taste combinations.”

Chef Brandon is never afraid of stepping out of his comfort zone, “Experience is about taking a chance, pushing your boundaries… you never know until you try it!”

If you haven’t experienced the craftsmanship of “Luma on Park” or “Prato” in Winter Park, Florida, be sure to push those boundaries aside and open your taste buds to new and wonderful culinary experiences… you will be glad you did!
Luma on Park Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Harry’s Brewmaster Series

On Friday, May 13th, Rosen Centre’s award-winning Chef Tello Luna will be preparing five course delicious meal paired with five local brews by Crooked Can Brewing Company at the Harry’s Pool Side Bar and Grill.

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Harry’s Brewmaster Series Menu:

*Shrimp & Scallops
Tomato & Saffron Consommé with Ratatouille Bruschetta
Mr. Tractor Kolsch Style Ale – 5.0% ABV

*Duck Tacos
Shredded Duck with Tamari and Tropical Coleslaw
Served in a Wonton Taco Shell with Tomatillo Sauce
American Pale Ale – 6.5% ABV

*Cucumber Sorbet
Cucumber Salsa and Cloud Chaser Hefeweizen

*Stuffed Beef Tenderloin
Stuffed with Spinach, Mushroom and Manchego Served atop a Potato Cake with Wine Reduction Sauce
Domestic Bliss Belgian Golden Strong Ale – 9.5% ABV

*Tortilla Crusted Lamb Chops
Sweet Potato Hash and Ancho Sauce
High Stepper American IPA – 7.0% ABV

*Chocolate Nest
Fried Cheesecake topped with Vanilla Ice Cream Drizzled with Warm Caramel
Taproom Stout – 5% ABV

Here are the highlights from previous event featuring Cigar City Brewing Company:

For reservations and more information, please call (407) 996-8560 or visit www.rosencentre.com

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Chef’s Garden at Crimson Tavern

At Crimson Tavern, you are invited to take a stroll through 2,500 square foot Chef’s Garden and see what is ready to be harvested. For Executive Chef Anthony Hull, Crimson Tavern truly defines the “farm to table” culinary movement. Every dish is the sum of its components, the farm to table philosophy means a strong connection to the surrounding farms and artisans. The culinary team works effortlessly to develop partnerships with many of Orlando’s suppliers to source the finest ingredients available. They also invite the local farm community to grow for them, which helps these farms to sustain a way of life.

Crimson Tavern has recently begun a really sweet labor of love! Just across the lake from the Chef’s Garden a licensed beekeeper has been placed beehives for honey production. Chef Tony Hull use honey in a variety of ways including to make salad dressings,barbecue sauces, house-cured bacon, and for barbecue ribs, oatmeal, pancakes, and waffles.

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“We wanted to bring the hives on property so we could increase pollination in our Chef’s Garden as well as reduce our carbon footprint,” notes Chef Hull. “We will continue to purchase local honey if the need exceeds our production levels, but our hope is that we will see our first honey harvest in early May. It is our ultimate goal to be self-sufficient with regard to our honey production and consumption”.

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MasterChef Junior Semi Finalist – Junior Chef Zac Kara

He is only 13 years old, and he is already a celebrity, but that doesn’t seem to bother him at all. We are talking about Junior Chef Zac Kara, MasterChef Junior season 4 Semi Finalist, who knows how to mix his two passions, cooking and playing tennis, into being better on each one of them. He just can’t get enough cooking; he does it every single day and loves to travel around Florida with his mom trying to find to freshest ingredients for his dishes. He is, without doubt, a very competitive fellow, and no, I am not just talking about Tennis, about which he proudly claims his 34-4 win/lose ratio, but also through his participation in the show.

In fact, that competitiveness helped him to control his nerves on the kitchens of the MasterChef Junior Show, just like he used to do when entering a Tennis Court. But he admits the “butterflies in the stomach” at first were unavoidable, that didn’t trouble him to be one of the best through the whole season. He remembers what he calls his most memorable moment on the show, when he won the Mystery Box Challenge. It was his creativity and his desire to do the best he could what lead him to make a savory dish rather than a sweet, something that put him on the spotlight for the judges who gave him the victory that day.
But, truth be told, he wasn’t always this comfortable in front of cameras or even kitchens. He admits that one of the reasons he started cooking was because his mom thought that would help him to be more organized, so she made him follow recipes step by step, trying to make the less mess he could and that caught his attention. But that wasn’t all, he started watching Master Chef Junior, without knowing that one day he would be one of the participants.

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It was his mom and sister, who encourage to take part in the Season 4 auditions that changed his life. Now, after his exciting ride through the show, his got a Chef life planned, working on YouTube and periscope live cooking shows, writing on his blog and even working on his own cooking book. Zac is definitely going places.

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Now, it seems he is in the right path into being a well renown chef in a couple years, we sure hope so! We can see that determination in his eyes when he talks about how does he creates a dish, and how he tries to have everything planned beforehand, proportions, vegetables, texture, color, he got it all figure out before even heating the pan.

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His favorite dish it’s his signature Pan Seared Steak, accompanied with this personal puree, a red wine reduction, a vodka cream sauce, served with seared asparagus and thin sliced carrots and radishes. For him, this is one of the most delicious steak dishes.

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And of course, being a sport player, means he loves healthy dishes, so one of his goals is, making people less afraid of cooking and making them eat healthy food. This young man has the right ideas.

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We would recommend keeping an eye over this young fellow and his career, we might be watching the rise of an important name in the business. Don’t forget to check his YouTube Channel and Blog – Cooking with Zac.

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Ramen Rumble presented by Tasty Chomps

Orlando Ramen Rumle hosted by the Osprey Tavern presented by Tasty Chomps was held on Monday, March 7. Three local chefs competed for the best, made from scratch, Ramen Noodle dish. Chef Austin Boyd of Seito Sushi prepared Tonkotsu ~ Pork Bone ~ 24-hour pork broth, braised pork belly, Lake Meadows soy pullet egg, Seito ramen noodles.  Chef Greg Richie of Baoery Asian Gastropub made Kim Chi Shellfish ~ shrimp, scallops, crab, tofu, homemade kamaboko. Chef Chau Trinh of Sushi Pop Restaurant created Tsukemen ~ Hot Dipping Ramen ~ toasted buckwheat and rye noodles topped with chicken-annato schmaltz, black garlic oil, pork belly head cheese, lime, crispy shallots.

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Congratulations to Chef Austin Boyd of Seito Sushi  for winning judges’ award, people’s choice and the bragging rights! Also, congratulations to The Kevin Fonzo Foundation which will be receiving proceeds from the event!

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