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!

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Chef Luis M. Reyes – Supporting the local food industry

Chef Luis Reyes, Executive Chef for Sysco Central Florida, has found the joy of helping local chefs and owners into finding their own flavor just like he enjoys cooking, this is thanks to the support and the opportunity given by the Sysco corporation. But the truth is, this isn’t what Reyes had always envisioned for himself.

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, he first enrolled in a local college for an accounting career, but destiny had different plans for him. While he was in this path, he had the luck to work on a local Bakery, on which he started from the bottom as a dish washer, then started moving up into helping in the lines, serving pastries, and on from there, that’s what lighted the spark on him.

Besides that, he grew up always around his family who taught him that the dining table was the “center of family” and unconsciously feed and shaped his inner cook and his passion for food. Without losing too much time, he moved into West Palm, FL, in the 96 and joined the ranks of the Florida Culinary Institute, where he graduated and formally started his successful chef career.

Right now he is a very valuable piece of Sysco Corporation, on where he has enjoyed the chance of being around exceptional people and celebrities, but he explains that the real satisfaction comes from helping and supporting small “mom and pops” restaurants that lack of great marketing budgets like some big chain restaurants.

And he knows this because, apart from being in charge of the kitchen, he is the one visiting their customer’s locations, talking to them, looking at the layout, the staff training, menu development and so many other details necessary to make a restaurant profitable and competitive.

“There’s hardly two restaurants that are the same” he claims, but that’s a challenge he embraced the moment he stood for the responsibility of bringing those procedures that are regular on big restaurants, and making them happen in the smaller one for the wellbeing of themselves and the whole culinary industry.

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Chef Jason Eccleston – Comfortable and Fun – at Itta Bena, Pointe Orlando

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Itta Bena” is a comfortable, friendly, and tasteful restaurant at Pointe Orlando, in Central Florida, and it reflects the qualities and tastes of the man who puts the magic on the plates, Chef Jason Eccleston.

Born in Connecticut, Chef Jason spent his younger years in Augsburg, Germany, before finding himself back in the U.S. in the Central Florida area. “Growing up in Germany was a great cultural experience for me, it influenced my life in so many ways, from introducing many foreign tastes to my pallet to broadening my views on culture and how a culture influences your perceptions and assumptions.”

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While this international influence is important to who he is, Chef Jason is quick to point out that his roots are All-American: “I have been eating and cooking Southern food for over 20 years, I’ve been a Florida chef my entire career, plus, this is where I began my culinary career, cooking with and learning from many of the great chefs found right here in Florida… so I have a unique perception of international and local fare.”

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“To create a successful menu, or even dish for that matter, you have to start with the clientele, what do they want, what drives them, but you also have to cook for yourself at the same time… the dish is something you have to express honestly, you have to believe in it as a chef. You have to put your heart into what you cook, that is what leads you in your passion to create and to excel… it isn’t just about ingredients and flavor, even though those are big considerations, but the successful dish is created with passion and heart. It always starts with people, then you follow the drive to create something that exceeds their expectations.”

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When asked what qualities he believes an aspiring chef should possess, Chef Jason has a very practical answer: Determination. “Being a chef is a very hard job, there are a lot of long hours and all the sacrifices that go along with that. For most restaurants, the majority of the stress in your day as a chef happens during dinner service, which means you definitely aren’t doing a ‘9 to 5’ job. Also, you can’t just jump right into being a chef, it takes a lot of practice, training, and experience, time spent learning from others, so you have to start by finding someone to get behind, someone you believe in, who is willing to mentor you… and then you start washing dishes, peeling potatoes, whatever it takes to be in the kitchen, learning from the professionals, to see what they are doing when time is short and decisions have to be made quick. That’s the best way to find your path, to get direction.”

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Chef Jason is equally passionate about his work at “Itta Bena” on the 2nd level at Pointe Orlando, in Orlando, Florida. “We have a very relaxed atmosphere at ‘Itta Bena’ and that is just the way I like it. Upscale and nice, but you don’t have to be in a 3 piece suit… what I would call ‘polished casual,’ with musical interpretations played on the piano, based on the influences of BB King and other similar artists.” With steaks, seafood, and other classic “Surf and Turf” fare on the menu, guests may arrive hungry, but they will only leave satisfied! “It’s not too loud, there is nothing overwhelmingly distracting going on… our guests can have a nice dinner with family or friends and be able to actually chat and converse… it is the perfect combination of food and a friendly atmosphere!”

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For a comfortable, enjoyable, and tasteful dining experience, make it a point to go to “Itta Bena” exclusively at Pointe Orlando, in Orlando, Florida. Chef Jason Eccleston knows you will enjoy the Southern Hospitality with the International flair!

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Chef Cristobal Lopez – Living the American Dream

When Chef Cristobal Lopez first came to America he had no idea that he wanted to be a chef. He came for the American Dream, looking for any opportunity. As it happens, Lady Luck must have been watching Cristobal closely as it was during his first job working as a dishwasher that fortune paid a visit.

“It’s kind of crazy. I came from Mexico looking for opportunity, you know, the American Dream. So I started working as a dishwasher. That was my first job when I came to the United States. A friend of mine asked, ‘Hey, are you looking for another job, Portobello is looking for bread cooks? ‘And I said ‘okay, let me go ahead and try.’” It’s not every day you can stretch the truth in an interview and get away with it but perhaps luck had intervened once again as Chef Cristobal had fortunately received some training in cooking and using a knife from a chef while working at Christini’s, although in an unprofessional capacity. This, and a sous chef providing a good reference were enough to get Cristobal through the door with a chance.

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“So I came to Portobello and the executive chef and the sous chef gave me an interview. The sous chef told the executive chef ‘Give him a chance, I know the guy is good.’ I kind of lied to them because I told them I knew how to use a knife, and I knew how to cook because one of the Chef’s at Christini’s showed me how to do it.”

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“After that I started my career as a Chef. Cooking, doing prep cooks, then sous chef, senior sous chef, executive sous chef, and now executive chef at this time. Now 19 years at Portobello’s that I love.” Chef Cristobal loves his customers and wants them to walk out the door having the best dining experience possible after sampling one of the many dishes available at his little trattoria in Disney Springs. He’s passionate about the menu and making everything fresh and from scratch. You won’t find any premade dishes in Cristobal’s kitchen.

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“We have a great place, a little trattoria in Disney Springs, with a great menu. All the sauces and everything start from scratch. Everything is homemade. We have homemade pasta, ravioli homemade in the house. We have a lot of options on our menu. Desserts are home made too. Beeramisu, our version of tiramisu, made in house, created in house, panna cotta as well made in house, and with local ingredients.” Chef Cristobal likes to experiment away from the grill. His restaurant has a pizza oven but he uses it for more than pizza as he believes the pizza oven imparts a unique flavor to the food that traditional stove or grill cooking doesn’t.

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“Our wood pizza oven, that’s unique. It makes a difference for the pizzas and all of the other things we cook in that pizza oven. I think for a lot of restaurants to have that kind of oven, it’s really unique because the flavors change a lot than to cook it on the grill, or to cook it on the stove. It makes a lot of difference.”

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His passion for cooking also extends to his home life as he’s a devoted family man. He admits that although the hours are long and the enthusiasm for cooking is somewhat diminished when he gets home, his love for his kids and their love for his food inspire him back into the kitchen even during his downtime.

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“Most of the time I don’t have a favorite food. It’s more what your kids like to eat and that’s when you create something, it could be a homemade pasta, or a grilled cheese sandwich. It can be something that your kids love because at the end you go home and that’s who is waiting for you, your kids. “

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Portobello Country Italian Trattoria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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