The Daily Flog

HoulihanThe Houlihan’s restaurant at Colonial Plaza on Highway 50 in Orlando will close on Sunday. A Miller’s Ale House will take its place.

According to a manager at the restaurant — who at first kept arguing with me that I was supposed to have been there Monday morning for my 9:30 shift — all approximately 30 employees have been told their jobs will be ending. (The guy who didn't show up for work today might not make it until Sunday.)

The casual-dining chain, which is privately owned by Houlihan’s Restaurants, Inc., has fewer than 100 restaurants nationwide. According to Nation’s Restaurant News, the company had been seeking a sale.

Miller’s Ale House is a Jupiter,Florida, based chain with 14 locations in the Orlando area. The restaurants have a sports bar decor and matching menu. A spokesman reached in the Orlando office could not give any details about the timing for the new location. 

h/t Robert Huss

Summer noodle salad

July is picnic time, and the divas are expected to show up with something delicious. Although we avoid the stovetop in summertime, this feisty dish come together in less than 30 minutes, with big flavors from Sichuan peppers, sesame oil and fresh Florida shrimp. Or skip the shrimp and serve it as a side with any meat or seafood from the grill.

We recommend fresh Florida shrimp, which takes a little more time to clean and quickly steam on the stovetop, but you also can grab cooked shrimp at the market. For picnic savoir faire, serve in little cardboard to-go cartons with chopsticks that you can pick up at the party store.

macdown logoI don't think there's a more ubiquitous item on local menus these days than macaroni and cheese. Once a lowly go-to stomach filler for grad students and harried mothers alike, mac and cheese has taken on gourmet qualities with such enhancements as chichi cheese and sweet lobster meet.

I know there are a lot of mac and cheeses out there, and I know that a lot of the chefs at area restaurants believe that his or hers is the best. Here's a chance to prove it, and to help out one of my favorite charities.

Give Kids the World is hosting the O-town MacDown, a creative mac and cheese cooking contest, Saturday, September 12 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Osceola Heritage Park's exhibit hall. The competition is open to area chefs and restaurants, who may apply by visiting the MacDown's official website.

General admission tickets to the event are $10 in advance ($15 at the door) for adults and $5 for kids ($10 at the door). Proceeds go to Give Kids the World. Besides all-you-can-eat macaroni and cheese, the event will also feature live entertainment, celebrity chef cooking demonstrations, and a kids' fun zone.

What does the winning chef get? Bragging rights for having the best macaroni and cheese dish in Central Florida and the satisfaction of helping out some good people doing some very good work. Maybe someone will craft a trophy made out of macaroni and spray paint it gold.

More info at gktw.org

haneyDustin Haney, the executive chef and co-founder of Scratch, has left that Winter Park restaurant.

Haney, who started the small restaurant with Ashley Byrd and Michael Roller in 2013, posted on his Facebook page that he has severed ties with Scratch:

“Many years ago, i wrote in a notebook, the concept for "scratch"...i worked very hard, with others, to build it...to realize it...to establish the quality, and set the course for the cuisine...i am no longer at scratch...a huge part of what made scratch great, the heart and soul, leaves with me...it may look the same, the food may still be good... but it will never really be "scratch" again... you've been great orlando/winter park...i truly adore you all...cheers, dustin”

In a private message, Haney told me that his sous chef would be taking over the executive chef position and that he maintains an ownership share. He is considering a move to New York City.

Calls to the restaurant were not immediately answered. This article will be updated when more information is available.

Chef Nathan Hardin

Tampa native Nathan Hardin has been appointed chef de cuisine of Highball & Harvest at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. Hardin replaces Mark Jeffers, who transferred to a Ritz-Carlton in California. Bucking recent trends at the luxury resort, the position was not filled from within the company.

Hardine will oversee all culinary operations of Highball & Harvest, which opend last fall. Highball & Harvest has been well received for its Low Country-style cuisine featuring ingredients from local purveyors and the resort’s 18,000-sqaure-foot Whisper Creek Farm.

Most recently, Hardin was executive sous chef at the award-winning Yardbird Southern Table & Bar in Miami Beach, where he worked with two-Michelin-starred chef Danny Grant, and prior to that at Copperfish Grill and Oyster Bar in Tampa. His earlier experience includes four years as Sous Chef and Head Line Cook at J Alexanders in Tampa.