Chef's Gala Changes Dates

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Chefs Gala Jared

Chef’s Gala, the annual food and wine fundraiser for Heart of Florida United Way, is moving the event up next year. Usually held in May at Epcot’s World Showplace, the gala will take place on Saturday, February 4, 2017.

Citing scheduling conflicts with the venue surrounding the usual dates, organizers made the decision to go early next year.

Chef’s Gala features 20 chef’s from Walt Disney World Resorts and top Central Florida restaurants in a splashy, party-like atmosphere. Think Party for the Senses without the Epcot admission fee. (Guests are bused to the venue from the Epcot parking lot through the theme park’s backstage area.)

Click the video below to see some scenes from this year’s event and to get an idea of what to expect in February.

Victoria & Albert's One of Best Fine Dining Restaurants in U.S.

Written by Scott Joseph on .

tripadvisor list

Victoria & Albert’s, the ultra-fine fine dining restaurant at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, was named the second-best fine dining restaurant in the United States by travel website Tripadvisor in its 2016 Travelers’ Choice Awards.

V&A came in behind Alinea, the Chicago restaurant from chef Grant Achatz, and ahead of Thomas Keller’s Per Se in Manhattan. (I especially found that juxtaposition interesting because when I dined at Per Se, in 2006, I remarked to my dining companion at the end of our meal, “I can get this food at Victoria & Albert’s.”)

Chef Scott Hunnel and his team are certainly deserving of the accolade, and it isn’t their first — it has won enough stars, diamonds and gold medals to start a jewelry store. But this particular honor might appear more dubious when taken in full context with others on the list. You may find yourself, as I did, going “Huh?” at some of the “winners.” (There is a link to the full list below.)

Ravenous Pig Moving to Cask & Larder Space; C&L Will Be Airport-Only

Written by Scott Joseph on .

New Ravenous Pig

The Ravenous Pig will vacate the Orange Avenue address it has occupied for nearly 10 years and move up the road to Fairbanks Avenue and the building where its sister restaurant Cask & Larder currently operates.

Chef/owners James and Julie Petrakis announced Monday that the popular Pig will move to 565 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, beginning December 1. Cask & Larder, which debuted at that address in 2012, opened what was to be its second location at Orlando International Airport last week. That will now be the only Cask & Larder, although the beer-making facilities at the restaurant in Winter Park will continue to be known as the Cask & Larder Brewery.

The Ravenous Pig will remain at its current address through the end of November while renovations are made to the Cask & Larder space. Cask & Larder will cease operating at the Winter Park location Oct. 30.

Taking over the Orange Avenue space will be Reel Fish Coastal Kitchen and Bar, a new concept from Fred Thimm, formerly with Palm restaurant in Washington, D.C., and hard Rock International.

In addition to Ravenous Pig and Cask & Larder, the Petrakises operate Swine & Sons, a gourmet sandwich and prepared foods store next to the Fairbanks Avenue restaurant, and will open the Polite Pig at Disney Springs in 2017.

Cows 'n Cabs is Saturday

Written by Scott Joseph on .

cowscabs group

Cows ’n Cabs, the annual food and wine fundraiser spearheaded by John Rivers of 4Rivers Smokehouse, is Saturday, Oct. 22, from 7 to 10 p.m. in the West Meadow of Winter Park’s Central Park.

The event benefits United Against Poverty and Elevate Orlando. Over the past five years, according to the CnC website, more than $400,000 have been raised for the charities.

This is a really fun event that takes place under a huge circus-sized tent. Rivers had noticed that the city put the tent up every year for Fashion Week and left it standing, unoccupied, until it was needed for the holiday skating rink. A fine place to hold a big party/fundraiser, he wisely figured. So you’re covered if it rains, and the cowboy atmosphere also means you don’t have to get all dressed up.

Cows ’n Cabs brings together a trove of culinary talent. I’m always impressed with how the community comes together when a good cause — not to mention a good party — is at hand. See below for a list of restaurants that will be on hand this year.


Also, click the video above for a look at one of the Cows ’n Cab events from a couple of years ago.

General admission tickets are $110 per person. There are some VIP level ticket opportunities as well, which you can find at the

The West Meadow is at 150 N. New York Ave., Winter Park. You’ll know you’re close when you can hear the country music coming from a big, white tent.

Here’s the list of restaurants you’ll find at Cows ’n Cabs this year: