Nestled into the I-Drive 360 Entertainment Destination of Orlando, Florida, Tapa Toro is just the place to experience classic Spanish cuisine with a contemporary flair!
The culinary creative genius behind the kitchen door is Chef Wendy Lopez, who describes herself as a very passionate individual who loves what she does. “I wake up every morning and come to a place I love to be… coming to work is never work!”
Born in Mexico, Chef Wendy came to the U.S. when she was 6 years old, and she learned what food service was all about, growing up and helping out in the family restaurant. “I basically lived at the restaurant, working with my family, learning how to do everything from clean tables to help in the kitchen. I was always involved, but it didn’t seem like work, it was what we did as a family, to survive, to live… it taught me that being with people who you care about and enjoy wasn’t really work, it was fun.”
These lessons learned in her childhood really shaped how she views her staff, “I love building the culture of the kitchen, bringing people together and making them feel at home, so that they want to come in and hang out even when they’re off the clock, or come in on their own time to see a new demo, to be involved and invested with the restaurant. I love to teach people just as much as I love to learn.”
What secret does she use to create her dishes? Chef Wendy simply smiles and says each day is different. “My inspiration is based upon how I feel, what sounds good to me at that moment, what would ‘fill a void’ for that day. You know, when you have to create a menu all at once, it stifles the creativity… so I prefer the ‘process’ of creating, just taking it one or two dishes at a time, so it is more authentic… dishes that are personal and authentic just take some time to develop, so every day is important and brings it’s own inspiration.”
“At Tapa Toro, our goal is to make you feel like you are sitting in Spain, enjoying the culture, having different dishes, and enjoying the nightly entertainment of live music or flamenco dancers. We want to get to know you, make you feel at home, whether you are a frequent customer or a one time guest. Tapa Toro is a happy place, where you are a part of the festivities!”
When asked what she believes is the secret of Tapa Toro’s success, Chef Wendy has one word: Tapas. “Tapas are a great way for our clientele to sample multiple dishes… we use the freshest locally grown ingredients where we can, and import only the best specialty items from Spain to ensure the most authentic culinary experience… and the paella is always great. Actually, the paella really takes me home, we always had it when the extended family would get together, and everyone would bring what they had to add to it, whether beef, chicken, fish or some other seafood… so for me, there is a natural family connection to that dish!”
A visit to Tapa Toro in the I-Drive 360 Entertainment Destination is not just going to a place to eat, it is enjoying the taste and culture of Spain and the daily inspiration of Chef Wendy Lopez and her culinary team. You may walk in as a hungry customer, but you will leave as a satisfied member of the Tapa Toro family!