Blue Jacket sign

The little building at 745 Bennett Road has been home to a number of food and beverage businesses over the years. It was the original location of Redlight Redlight before that popular beer bar moved to Corrine Drive. I believe there was a barbecue restaurant at one point, and in the 1990s it was a gay bar.

More recently it served as the first location for the Smiling Bison, which opened a second location in Sanford in 2015 then last year made that its only location by leaving Bennett Road.

 Bocuse headshot

Here are a few other reminiscences of Paul Bocuse, the legendary chef who died Saturday at the age of 91:

  • I don't recall the date, but I was invited to join Bocuse and his fellow celebrated chefs Roger Verge and Gaston Lenotre for lunch at Les Chefs de France, the restaurant named for the three of them at Epcot's France pavilion.

There were about 10 of us at the table, and as far as I can remember, Verge was the only one of the three chefs who spoke even passable English. So they did a lot of conversing in French.

Bocuse memorial

Paul Bocuse, one of the most celebrated chefs in the world, named Chef of the Century in 2011 by the Culinary Institute of America, and one of the trio of famous cooks who opened Les Chefs de France at Epcot, died Saturday, Jan. 20 in France. He would have turned 92 on Feb. 11.

Because of his restaurants at Epcot, Bocuse maintained a home in Central Florida, but had not visited for several years because of Parkinson’s disease. His son, Jérôme, is a resident of Central Florida and operates the Bocuse brand from here. His name was on a statement from the family posted on Paul Bocuse’s Facebook page announcing the death.

(Translated from French): “It is with great sorrow that we inform you of the death of Paul Bocuse. Our ‘Captain’ died on January 20th, at the dawn of his 92th birthday.

“Much more than a father and a husband, he is a man of heart, a spiritual father, an emblematic figure of world gastronomy, and a tricolore porte.

“Mr. Paul loved life, sharing, transmission, and his crew. These same values will continue to inspire us forever.” It was signed Mrs. Raymonde Bocuse, Mrs. Françoise Bocuse-Bernachon, Mr. Jérôme Bocuse.

The significance of Bocuse’s contribution to the culinary culture and especially to the awareness of chefs today can’t be overstated. If it weren’t for Bocuse, there very likely would be no such thing as “Top Chef.” He was the first celebrity chef.

That’s because, in 1965, he did something no chef had ever done: He put his own name on his restaurant in Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or just outside Lyon. Before that, Bocuse told me in 1996, chefs were no more than hired kitchen help. The restaurants were owned by the maitre d’ or the hotels where they were located. It’s hard to imagine in a world proliferated by show kitchens that the cooks were almost always relegated to the basements and were never seen by the diners.

pie update

Update: According to reader Michael McNarney, who supplied the photo above, The Pie has new owners and will reopen later Friday. Stay tuned.


Earlier: It appears that The Pie, the by-the-cut pizzeria in College Park, is closed. No one answers the phone at the Edgewater Drive business, and an email asking for details did not get a response.

According to chatter on a neighborhood website, the Roman style pizzeria, which was barely a year old and which I reviewed favorably, told customers last week that it would accept cash only. Another poster said there was evidence of people packing up inside just recently.

More details when they are forthcoming.

Bocas ext

I clearly ordered poorly at Bocas Grill & Bar, a South American eatery out of South Florida that recently opened a location in South Orlando. (Restaurant Row, actually, but we were on a roll with the southern thing.)

In my defense, the menu is really elaborate, with 12 pages. There are breakfast items, rice dishes, noodles, arepas, tostones, burgers, steaks and seafood. I don’t know what made me choose the Pabellón Criollo Venezolano, but I did. It was essentially Ropa Vieja with a Venezuelan accent. It featured a crock of shredded meat next to a crock of black beans, a mound of white rice and sweet plantains that for some reason were topped with cheese.

It was OK.