Searching for elegant dining in a relaxed atmosphere close to everything that makes Orlando, Florida, a magical place? Then you will definitely find yourself at “The Capital Grille” at The Mall at Millenia, just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Orlando’s theme parks and the world famous International Drive.
Executive Chef and Partner, Jason O’Neill, is dedicated to every guest having an extraordinary experience while in his care. “We have 18 to 24 dry-aged steaks, a butcher that sculpts them every day, a pastry chef that arrives at sunrise and creates fresh pastries, an exclusive wine list with over 350 bottles of wine, priced from $30 to $1000… when a guest walks in the door, they are treated like royalty, our servers pamper them, giving them an unforgettable experience!”
Chef Jason got his start as a 15 year old in Connecticut, at various “Mom & Pop” places and then moved to Boston, where he got his “fine dining” experience. “My roots are pretty much Italian Cuisine, that is what I learned in Boston, and at home. My Grandmom was from Italy, and she and Mom would always make traditional Italian dishes, and make enough food for what seemed like an army. I really embraced that culture, the food and the atmosphere… most of the restaurants I have worked at were Italian, it is my favorite cuisine.”
When he was a younger, Chef Jason worked at his Uncle’s restaurant in Cape Cod. “I was washing dishes, but I was so caught up in the atmosphere of the kitchen, it was so driven. Everyone was running around each other, making the food, the were so busy, it was very fast paced, and I just wanted to get involved in that, too. It was like they were on stage, making the dishes that everyone was longing for, that brought them to the restaurant in the first place. They would stand in line around the corner, and the people were always talking about the restaurant, almost like the staff were superheroes… and that was something that I wanted to be part of, I knew what I wanted to do with my life.”
When it comes to his own dishes, Chef Jason excitedly explains that the right combination of ingredients is the most important factor. “Ingredients have to accent each other, play off of each other, from the simplest to the most complex dish. A chef has to orchestrate everything together so that all the ingredients accent each other, from one step to the next, from one taste in the front of the palate to the back of the palate, everything just explodes together!”
“I like to be the manager, to the be the friend, to get everyone together and get them working as a team. I like creating a harmonious environment… and to create new accents for my dishes, especially for my regular guests. I love creating new tastes for classic dishes.”
When asked what advice he would give to the aspiring chef, he is quick to answer, “Advice? Make sure this is what you want to do, that it is your passion, your dream, then give it 110%! You have to become the best that you can be, don’t go into it thinking you’re going to do it, know you are going to do it! Make sure that every dish you create is the best you can make it, because people will remember your last dish. The best dish you are going to make is your last dish, the best shift you are going to have is your last shift… if you have the passion, then you just have to give it your all, but it won’t work if your heart isn’t in it!”
Chef Jason puts passion in every dish he creates, and he loves to see the smiling faces of his guests as they enjoy the fruit of his labors. “It is a thrill to see the smiles, the eyes light up, the way people enjoy what you have made for them. When someone sends their compliments to the chef, it is like you have just won the Super Bowl… you never get tired of hearing that!”
The next time you are at the Mall at Millenia, make it a point to stop by the Capital Grille… the relaxed and elegant dining will impress you, but the explosion of tasteful ingredients is what will make you glad you are there. Just be hungry, because you will want to try everything on the menu!