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Chef Bob Aungst – Tastes of the World

On Friday, February 26, The Bistro on Park Ave presents Guest Chef Bob Aungst! He will be preparing an incredible handcrafted menu featuring “Flavours Around the World” with courses from India, South America, Central America, Ireland and North America.  There will be wine pairings, as well the entire menu is Gluten Free with Dairy Free options available.

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Tastes of the World Menu

  • 1st Course: Butter Chicken Skewers, INDIA
  • 2nd Course: Southern-Inspired Garden Salad w/ Pears, Candied Pecans, Mandarin Oranges, topped w/ Gulf Shrimp, NORTH AMERICA
  • 3rd Course: (choice of:)
    • Charred Flank Steak w/ Chimichurri Sauce, Zesty Roasted Potatoes, Chef’s Seasonal Vegetables, VENEZUALA
    • Broiled Corvina w/ Pineapple Mango Salsa, Yellow Rice, and Chef’s Seasonal Vegetables, CENTRAL AMERICA
  • 4th Course: Bourbon Bread Pudding w/ a Sea Salt Caramel Sauce, IRELAND

Guests may make reservations for this event by contacting the restaurant by telephone at 407-539-6520, or by reserving through OpenTable. Please specify dietary needs when making your reservation.

To find out more about Chef Bob Aungst watch our interview:

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Appetite for the Arches 2016

Mix together the top Chefs from all over Central Florida, add their talents for creating special signature dishes using McDonald’s ingredients, and mix in the enthusiasm and good will of a room full food enthusiasts such as yourself, and you have the recipe for a VERY tasteful event!

On Saturday, March 5th, the top Chefs in Central Florida will really be mixing it up at the “3rd Annual Appetite for the Arches” at the Orlando World Center Marriott, which benefits the “Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida”. You can show your support by purchasing a ticket now, at a reduced price of $150 per person until Thursday, February 4th, which will increase to $200 dollars a person… such a small price to pay to help families whose children are in need of hospital care AND satisfy your “Culinary Curiosity” about the magic that these chefs will make out of the simple ingredients available to them at the event!

Need a little incentive? Okay, then here’s a “sneak peek,” to get your taste buds excited:

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Kevin Fonzo, K Restaurant: Chicken tortilla soup with savory biscuit bread pudding.

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Kathleen Blake, The Rusty Spoon: Deviled stuffed eggs with bacon brittle and oven-dried tomatoes.

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Rhys Gawlak, Cask & Larder: Kale Gnocchi Carbonara

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Clayton Miller, DoveCote : Smoked beef tongue, Reuben, crispy potato and Big Mac sauce.

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Julie Petrakis, The Ravenous Pig: Cheesecake with espresso crumble and strawberry-Frangelico sauce.

Don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to share your tasteful side and not only help families in need, but also to relish in the Culinary Creations of the Best Chefs in Central Florida… Please visit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida to purchase your tickets now, today! Oh, and McBon-Apetite!

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Chef Steve Jayson – A Culinary Adventurer

Just about any chef will tell you that planning the menu can be the most challenging but enjoyable part of the culinary business, and a perfectly planned meal can be served to as many as can fit into the restaurant… or convention hall… or amphitheater… or themed attraction… in theme parks around the world… which means that Chef Steve Jayson, the Vice President and Corporate Executive Chef for Universal Parks and Resorts, is planning very diverse menus for a variety of venues around the world for only about, say, tens of millions of guests each year!

Chef Jayson’s adventures began as a part-time job with “money” as the means to an end, “I was 16 years old, living in upstate New York, and I had just gotten my driver’s license, so I wanted to get a job and make enough money to buy a car. A restaurant opened up just down the street, and I started working there washing dishes… but it wasn’t too long before I was promoted into the kitchen, and I have been involved with the kitchen ever since!”

Finding a love for cooking and creating things in the kitchen is a common theme with many aspiring chefs, and often intuition is their guide. “I loved working in the kitchen, and as I grew and traveled, I heard about Universal Studios planning to open a theme park in Orlando, Florida… I was intrigued and thought ‘Why not?’ So I applied and was hired while the current attraction was just a field with dirt in it and I helped to create everything it is today, which is really unbelievable, when I think about it… everything that has been accomplished with the culinary program at Universal and how it has grown world-wide… it just amazes me.”

It can be quite an adventure, designing the culinary needs of a major theme park, and Chef Jayson marvels at the task, “Universal in Orlando started as one theme park with a number of great restaurants, all themed around the type of food for each area of the park, and I wanted to come up with really fresh and authentic cuisine. Then, the park evolved to “Islands of Adventure,” “CityWalk,” and now the “Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” with even more amazing things on the horizon… it is so exciting to see the guests try all the great tastes and foods while enjoying such world-class attractions!”

Chef Jayson is quick to point out that the size of the challenge is what determines the amount of your individual growth. “Self discovery is no small journey, which means every experience that you have, everything you learn, becomes a reservoir to draw from. I didn’t realize it at the time, but coming to work at Universal in Orlando was the culmination of all my life experience, I was able to use everything I had learned up to that point, to apply it in all those different areas that we were developing, and not only here but around the world. I have been able to travel, to collaborate with such diverse people, and continue to spread the spark that was started right here in Orlando.”

When asked to describe what traits an Executive Chef must possess, Chef Jayson smiles and shrugs his shoulders a bit, “Artist? Mentor? Administrative person? A chef has to be all three. Cooking is, by definition, a creative process, an artistic expression, which you are always innovating, by making new items, new dishes, improving on past experience to entice your guests to keep coming back, to fulfill their expectations. At Universal, we want to stay cutting edge, not only with the rides, shows, and other attractions, but also with the food that is offered. When you think about it, the culinary experience is one of the most intimate and direct ways to connect with the guests… you don’t get much closer than someone’s stomach!”

Administratively, there are a lot of moving parts to making culinary progress. “A chef is both a historian and a futurist. We reach back in time, look at how things were originally done, how they were made, and then bring them into our modern world to create something new for tomorrow, some new taste, some new experience. Like being a conductor of an orchestra, there are so many pieces that need to be harmonized, day by day and moment to moment, and you have to keep the music playing while trying to avoid all the sour notes. And to do that you have to lead, to be that mentor, to supply the light on the path for others to follow. Greatness is a culmination of many efforts; not to say that I am great, but I do believe in it, that it can be achieved, that it is worth the work… you set the goal high, accept the risks involved, and take the necessary steps to achieve it!”

When asked what advice he may offer an up-and-coming chef, Chef Jayson quickly responds, “Do it! Just jump into it, immerse yourself… a young person, just getting into this industry today, if he or she really applies themselves and has the drive and determination to make their mark, they will absolutely love it. They may not love the work, the long hours, the sacrifices, but they will love what they are doing… and that is what makes it a career rather than just a job.”

And what goals are still on his horizon? “The future for Universal Parks and Resorts is endless! You can look around the world, the things we are planning, or just recently opened, and I am involved with making the culinary programs and experiences as great as they can be, as our guests expect them to be… or even better, to surpass expectations. The future is going to be busy… but also a fantastic adventure!”

From washing dishes to impacting the culinary experiences of millions of people every year, Chef Steve Jayson proves that the desire to “Dream Big” is definitely a Universal one!

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Chef Whitney Miller – Sharing the Master Chef’s Recipe for Success!

Every good Chef has the health and well-being of their guests in mind while creating a dish, but it isn’t every day a Nutritionist is the one doing the work in the kitchen!

Chef Whitney Miller was in her last semester of college working to finishing her degree in Nutrition when she realized her heart just wasn’t in it, it was in the kitchen. So, being a resourceful college student, she sought out advice from an expert on her life: her mom! “I was finishing up my last semester of college, and I realized I really enjoyed serving people and helping to make their day brighter, so I went to my mom and told her my dream of opening my own catering business. She was so supportive and we began looking for the best location to set up shop!”

At that time, Chef Whitney caught wind of an upcoming Fox Network television show called “Master Chef” and she thought it would be great publicity if she could make it into the culinary competition. “‘Master Chef’ seemed like the perfect opportunity to get the ball rolling, so I auditioned and made it into the top 50 out of 10,000 applicants… and meanwhile my mom was back home, getting everything together to start our catering business.”

It has been said that very few good things in life come without a challenge, and being a contender on a competition show forced Chef Whitney to dive head first into her craft. “‘Master Chef’ really changed me for the good. It was very difficult, with very long hours, and the sparse ‘free time’ we did have was consumed with studying and research… it was a lot like college!” To be competitive, Chef Whitney had to learn about cultures, ingredients, and dishes she had never even thought about before, “We all had to memorize tons of recipes. I grew up in the South and there was just so much that I was unaware of, that I didn’t have a clue about… but I was determined to push through, as hard as I could, and to do my best, no matter what.”

This determination was put to the test in the finale to the first season, when she was preparing her final dish, “It was a turning point in my life. We were in the last 10 minutes of the show, and I was preparing buttermilk pan-fried chicken, but I dropped it and had to start over. I stayed calm, I knew I only had about 7 minutes left, but I also knew I had to trust my skills, so I put more chicken in the pan, made it to the plate, and then Gordon Ramsey asked me if I believed it was fully cooked… well, I decided to be confident, and I told him it was. He cut the thickest piece and it was perfect, and I was the first winner for the show… I knew from that moment on that this is what I am supposed to be doing! So after the competition, I went home, finished college, and then my mom and I got the catering business going, just as ‘Master Chef’ began airing.”

Chef Whitney’s early education in cooking came from her roots. “I grew up in south Mississippi, and we lived close to my great grandmother… she really mentored me in the art of cooking, she loved it so much and had a great passion for how each dish and every meal could make a difference to those enjoying it. We had such a large family, on any given occasion she would be cooking for more than 30 or 40 people, so this was laying a great foundation for my desire to start a catering business!”

Being the first winner of “Master Chef” opened many windows of opportunity for Chef Whitney. “I was suddenly in demand, with requests for appearances and collaborations coming in from all over the world. I’ve been to China twice, South Africa, Malaysia, Dubai… and since I never went to a culinary school, this became my culinary training. I was seeing first hand the cooking techniques and ingredients from these faraway places and cultures, experiences that would never have been available to me without ‘Master Chef.’”

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As if catering and world traveling were not enough, Chef Whitney has started a new adventure as “Chef de Cuisine” at “The Coop, A Southern Affair” in Winter Park, Florida. “I am very excited about having a place for people in Winter Park to try my food. I have just released by second cookbook, ‘Whitney Miller’s New Southern Table,’ and I have been putting select dishes from it on the menu, and it is so rewarding to see people enjoying them, asking for the recipes, and wanting to try them at home… it is a very humbling experience to know that people are enjoying something you have created.”

Cooking, creating, and passing her knowledge along to others who are just as passionate about food is what energizes Chef Whitney, “I definitely see more cookbooks in my future. I just enjoy the opportunity to pass along my ideas to people who want to re-create what I have made. People are always asking for my recipes, so I post them on my website, on my social media… it energizes me to know so many people are just as passionate about cooking as I am!”

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When asked for any final thoughts about being a chef, Chef Whitney pauses a moment, and then replies, “I am passionate about what I do, whether I am competing, writing, or cooking for my husband. My great grandmother taught me that cooking for someone is showing them how much you care for them. Southern food is about the love that goes into making it, the comfort that people feel when they eat it, all the food memories that are made. It is a constant re-creation, finding something new, something fresh… it is the same for life… cooking and life, keep it fresh!”

If you would like to sample one of Chef Whitney’s creative dishes, stop in at “The Coop, A Southern Affair” in Winter Park, Florida. To try some of her culinary magic yourself, be sure to get her new cookbook, “Whitney Miller’s New Southern Table”… just try not to drop the chicken on the floor before it gets to the plate!
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The Coop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Chef Simon Bond – Fresh, healthy, creative and tasty

It’s not an accident that people these days wants to have a better understanding of what they are putting in their body’s with every piece of food they try. This is a worldwide trend, a “consciousness awakening”, expression used by Executive Chef Simon Bond, who explains that more than ever, patrons are looking for healthy, fresh and creative dishes, exactly what “Cork and Fork Orlando“offers to all its visitors. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves quite yet, as there much more about Simon Bond than meets the eye. Born and Raise in England, came looking for what he calls “the American dream” as soon as he finished High School.

It was a rough start, having to start from the very bottom on odd jobs that didn’t satisfied him, but not everything was bad. Actually, this is what had his spark for cooking started as he ended up working on restaurants, mostly delivering food, but this gave him the chance to take a glance at what happens on the stoves, and that hooked him, he wanted to be there. With hard work and some luck in the mix, he had the chance to work with different chefs who gave him the chance to learn everything he could, opportunity he didn’t let go to waste. During this stage of his career, he learned how every cook had its own philosophy on how they would prepare and serve the dishes, this gave him the courage to start pouring his own personality on the dishes he made.

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Being a hardworking single family man, Simon finds inspiration and creativity thanks to his family and children, and this is what helps him to keep evolving and not stalling behind, something that he knows it’s crucial on this industry, where tastes and preferences change every week. All these experiences gave him the knowledge to adapt, to handle the stress environment that this line of works frequently requires and its his key to success he explains. “Everything has to be better than the day before” Simon claims, and that can’t be possible without a team that is willing to do what the chef wants to create, a team that shares the same passion as he does and that has the desire to learn something every day.

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For this, Simon likes letting their team pour in their own ideas and input on special dishes, letting them feel proud of their work and feeding their desire to grow as cuisine professionals. But, even though he reckons having a great team, he always makes sure to have his hands on every plate that comes out of the stoves, even if it’s on the base sauce, his print must be in the dish. This is crucial for a restaurant renown, the quality and the consistency of every dish that leaves the kitchen, even more in a community so close together like the one that Cork and Fork receives every day at its tables. Every dish has to feel personalized, like cooking for family members, that’s what Chef Simon Bonds aims at.
There’s no doubt that one of Simon strengths are the creativity he pours into his dishes, but this is not easy feat. In fact, this is the result of hard and persistent work. He acknowledges that sometimes he can try up to 20 different recipes, from which just 5 could work out, but this is part of the creative process that keeps his visitors coming back to different tastes every day.

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But that’s not all Simon Bond has to offer on Cork & Fork Orlando, as he is also committed into providing fresh, and locally grown ingredients and food to the community, making sure to keep his dishes free of preservatives, stabilizers and other non-organic elements, embracing the “Freshtaurant” style.

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In fact, Simon makes sure that even every sauce its fresh, from the ketchup to the salad dressings, to the seafood, which he proudly claims lacks frozen or out of the can food, in conclusion you will be getting the freshest and healthiest ingredients out of every bite, and what’s even better, all this while keeping a nice price point.
Chef Simon Bond has been in his community for over 13 years already, so he is proud and happy that through Cork and Fork Orlando, he’s able to give back some of the love and treatment he has received so far.
I think it’s safe to say that Simon did find he’s American dream.

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Cork & Fork American Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Chef Francesco Aiello – “99.99% Italian Culinary Tradition”

Chef Francesco Aiello proudly claims being “Born and Raised” in Palermo, Sicily, and that pride translate into his vision of bringing the real Italian flavor to Orlando, Florida with his Franceso´s Ristorante & Pizzeria.

Born in 1976, Francesco had a really different life envisioned for himself. At the age of fifteen, Aiello was a soccer player at his hometown, but with culinary blood in his veins thanks to his father and grandfather, who taught him the love for cooking. It didn’t took too long for Francesco to find his real path, that lead him into the “Instituto Alberhiero” in 1996, an Italian culinary school located at Palermo. But his career really started in 1998, year in which he decided to begin, what he calls an “Adventure”, into the United States.

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It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t quick, but after almost 15 years of hard work, dedication, long hours and love for what he does, Aiello had opened his own restaurant called Francesco´s Ristorante in Orlando, Florida.
“There is a lot of competition” Francesco claims, but he recognizes that the major challenge is teaching people how to differentiate the real Italian cuisine from those other food establishments that use Italian names just “business wise”.

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That was his main goal, bringing what he calls “99.99% culinary Italian tradition” to the States and that’s exactly what you can expect to have in his restaurant. Francesco sees himself as a seafood lover, and that’s thanks to his roots back in the southern region of Palermo, so he is not afraid of suggesting to all his customers enjoying a seafood dish like a seafood risotto or sea bass, both wonderful dishes.

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When he arrived to the United States back in 1998, there wasn’t many Italian products on the market, but he has seen that change for the better. But even today, he still sees a lack of love for the seasonal food, and he uses the eggplant as an example, food which can be harvested in Italy during May, June, July, August and September while in USA it can be found all along the year and this, mostly unknown by the consumers, can make a real difference in the flavor and benefits of these kind of food, and this is something that Francesco hopes to be able, in the long term, to push a change in this vision.

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“I consider myself as someone who loves what he does” Aiello claims, mostly those times behind the stove, on which he recognizes won’t leave out too much free time to share with friends nor family, and this is why this kind of job requires such high amounts of dedication, love and passion. Francesco admits he doesn’t cook for himself at the moment, in fact, he spends little time making meals for himself after those long hours of work but he often does receive family and friends for who he then does all the work.

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You have to love what you do, you have to love who you are and you have to love your roots and where you come from, no matter where you are, this are the main lessons we learned from Francesco and what sets him apart from the crowd.

Produced by: Irina Pabis
Photo/Video by: Richard Pabis
Written by: Jesús Morales

Francesco's Ristorante & Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Thanksgiving at the Whole Foods Market

Thanksgiving is a time of food, family, and fun… preparing for Thanksgiving is not so fun… but fortunately the Chefs of Whole Foods Market have put the “Thanks” back into “Thanksgiving!”

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A quick glance at the Holiday Menu at the “Whole Foods Market – Orlando” is the quickest way to make a smile appear: traditional turkey, salads, dessert, all prepared to satisfy the most picky Holiday eater! Be sure to order your natural-grown turkey with all your favorite side dishes by this Sunday, November 22nd, by visiting shop.wfm.com
or just stop by your new favorite Holiday shopping spot, “Whole Food Market – Orlando!

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Don’t go half-way… go to Whole Foods Market!