Henry MosoPhoto of Henry Moso, Kabooki Sushi, via Facebook

Henry Moso of Kabooki Sushi has been named a semifinalist for a James Beard Foundation Award as a Rising Star Chef of the Year. The category honors exceptional chefs under the age of 30.

Moso, 29, is the only Central Florida chef to be nominated in any category.

Twenty-nine young chefs are on the list of Rising Star semifinalists, which will be pared to five names in an announcement on March 25. The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Chicago on May 4.

Six chefs from five South Florida restaurants were among the list of 20 nominated for Best Chef: South, a region that also includes Alabama, Arkansas, Puerto Rico, Mississippi and Louisiana, or more precisely, New Orleans.

Representing the Sunshine State are:


Twisted Root burger view

Twisted Root Burger Co. is an odd name for a burger joint, so you’d think there might be a logical explanation for it. But I’ll address that later. TRBC is a youngish chain out of the Dallas area with a hefty handful of locations. The one that opened recently on Aloma Avenue in Winter Park is one of 17.

Owners Jason Boso and Quincy Hart started the concept in 2006 after meeting in culinary school, where they both were seeking new careers after jobs in stock brokerages and telephone line repair. That first Twisted, in Deep Ellum, a Dallas neighborhood, caught the attention of Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” television program, and, as has happened so many times before, it took off.

The newest Twisted is in the Grove at Winter Park shopping mall on Aloma Avenue at Old Howell Branch Road. The entrance sits under a marquee-like sign. You can spot the front door because it says “Get you buns in here” right next to it.


Sushi platter

  • In sushi news, up in Oviedo, Yuki Hana is out and Koi Sushi is in. I’d say that’s a lousy name but I don’t like to carp.
  • In other sushi news, Kabooki Sushi, which recently opened a second location on Restaurant Row, is going to expand the original location on Colonial Drive by punching through the wall into the space that was a Jet’s Pizza. Yes, they apparently have permission to do that.
  • More sushi news: Ari Hibachi & Sushi in the Gateway Village north of Orlando International Airport closed about two weeks ago. Frankly, I’d been expecting this, but closer to the date of the review I wrote about it almost exactly five years ago. This was a sort of second location for Ari Japanese Cuisine in Celebration, which is still open. The Orlando restaurant was distinct in that it had teppanyaki tables for people who like to see their food get slapped around before they eat it. Orlando Weekly reports that Agave Azul Cocina Mexicana will take over the Gateway Village space. Agave Azul also opening a location in Lake Nona and Windermere.


Eola Wine sign

After 18 years, Scott Schrope has sold Eola Wine Company, the downtown Orlando wine bar and cafe. The new owners, Paul and Ashley Emery took possession on Wednesday.

Reached by phone Monday, Paul Emery said that things will remain the same at the popular neighborhood meeting spot, at least for the time being. “We have no major plans to change things, we’ll keep it business as usual, keep what’s working,” he said.

He added, “In the short term, most menus will remain the same,” though he’s looking to “add a few more champagne drinks.” And he sees eventually adding more food options.

Emery is the events and marketing director for venues at Wall Street Plaza and says that he will stay on there for now. He said he and his wife had been looking for an opportunity and heard that the wine bar was for sale. “Everyone dreams to own their own place.”

Schrope announced the sale in a lengthy Facebook post Friday. He opened Eola Wine Company with then-co-owner John Walsh in a corner spot on Central Boulevard and moved it across the street in 2012. He also opened a second location in Winter Park on Park Avenue. He sold that location to his bar manager Matt Coltrin in 2014; Cotrin changed the name to the Parkview.

The transfer of Eola Wine Company was seamless, said Emery, and the couple has retained the entire staff.


Dine Out for Life

Dining Out for Life, a charity event with local restaurants, is coming to Central Florida. The one-day event on Thursday, April 30, is to raise awareness and funds for The Center and its efforts to provide support services for people living with or affected by HIV and AIDS in Central Florida.

Dining Out for Life was started in 1991 in Philadelphia and now benefits more than 60 organizations across the United States and Canada. This will be the first year in Central Florida.

Participating restaurants pledge to donate 25, 50 or 75 percent of the day’s food sales. The monies raised at restaurants in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties will remain in the area to fund education, prevention and comprehensive support.

The Center is currently signing up restaurants that would like to participate. If you’d like to sign your restaurant up – or recommend one – contact Tommi Pritchett at The Center at 407-201-2544 or visit the Dining Out for Life website. Besides doing something good, you’ll also benefit from advanced marketing and potentially increased traffic.

I’ll have a full list of participating restaurants as we get closer to the date. All you have to do as a diner is choose to visit one of those restaurants on April 30.