Pinery shrimp and gritsPhoto: The Pinery

Shortly after it opened last summer, The Pinery, the very good lakeview restaurant in the Ivanhoe Village district, had a chef change. Steven Mattix took over the role of executive chef following the departure of opening chef Naomi Freeman. (You can read my review here.)

Mattix moved to Central Florida from the D.C. area where he was a sous chef for Jose Andrés and also opened restaurants for [Jeff] Black’s Restaurant Group.

So far he has maintained most of the opening menu, though there may be some changes to come. I asked Mattix if he could share the recipe for the restaurant’s Shrimp & Grits with Cornbread for my monthly Local Flavor column with Community Paper, and he was more than happy to oblige.

You can find the recipe on the Community Paper’s website. Mattix suggests you make the cornbread, which is essential to the recipe, first so that it’s ready as soon as you’ve cooked the shrimp.

Give it a try.


Hunan Taste interior

I first heard about century eggs from my father after he returned from one of his trips to Southeast Asia in the nineteen-sixties. They’re also known as hundred-year-old eggs, thousand-year-old eggs, pidan, millennium eggs, black eggs and, as they’re more simply known at HuNan Taste in West Orlando, preserved eggs. Some have even referred to them as one of the world’s most disgusting foods.

I don’t think I’d go that far but the mere thought of them might be enough to turn some people away. And if the thought doesn’t do it then the appearance might.


Branlard headshotLaurent Branlard, the award-winning pastry chef, is leaving the Lake Nona Wave hotel just months after its opening to take the pastry chef position at the Fountainbleu Miami Beach.

Branlard is the only person to win the World Pastry Team Championship competition twice, in 2002 and again in 2008. He said Monday that he had been recruited by a headhunter to move to the fabled Miami hotel. He’ll be leaving Florida’s newest hotel for one of its older

Just last week, we reviewed Bacán, the signature restaurant at the Wave and singled out Branlard’s dessert as one of many hight points.

Prior to joining the Lake Nona Wave, Branlard had been at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort since 2002. When he announced in October that he was taking the position at the then not-yet-open Wave, he told me that one of the attractive points was that it was a boutique hotel with only 234 rooms. “We won’t have to mass feed and do mass banquets,” he said then.


EEE exteriorPhoto: Edible Education Experience via Facebook

Edible Education Experience, the nonprofit that operates the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Kitchen House & Culinary Garden in College Park, is celebrating its fifth anniversary with two special dinners, Sunday, April 10, and Monday, April 11.

Resident chef Kevin Fonzo will be joined by culinary compatriots from throughout the area to cook the dinners. Sunday’s dinner will feature Jason Wolfe of Tornatore’s; Michael Collantes, Soseki; Hari and Jenneffer Pulapaka, Global Cooking School; Jamie McFadden, Cuisiniers Catering; and Trina Gregory-Propst, Se7en Bites.

Monday will feature Wendy Lopez; Reyes Mezcalaria; Lordfer Lalicon, Kadence; Fabrizio Schenardi, Four Seasons; and Julie Petrakis, Ravenous Pig.

Tickets are $150 plus gratuity and you can purchase them online here for Sunday and here for Monday. Both dinners begin at 6 p.m.

The second Orlando Wine Festival & Auction, which was slapped together in just 45 days, raised nearly $750,000 for the Orlando Magic’s Youth Foundation, which serves at-risk kids in Central Florida. The event, which was held at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes last month, included a wine and food tasting event Saturday afternoon and a live auction and formal dinner that night. Attendees who purchased packages that started at $2500 for two people, also received tickets to the Magic’s game the next day and will be invited to a ceremony presenting the funds on April 10.

Speaking of Grande Lakes, John Tesar, who fronts the Ritz-Carlton’s Knife & Spoon, will softly open his casual Knife Burger this weekend at the JW Marriott there.

Dr. Phillips Charities, which is developing the Packing District near Orange Blossom Trail and Princeton Street, has tapped Hospitality HQ to run the food hall that will be located there. HHQ is headed by Akhtar Nawab, a New York-based chef, and currently operates food halls (foods hall? feed halls?) in Brooklyn, New Orleans, Chicago and Philadelphia. Construction won’t begin until August, which probably means it won’t begin until after the first of the year, so...a December 2024 opening? Any wagers? The development will also include a seven story hotel, a signature restaurant and bar (currently unsigned) and a microbrewery.

Speaking of microbreweries, we have many. But the Mills 50 district will be getting the area’s first micromeadery. Zymarium Meadery is taking over the Orange Studio – you know, that studio, the orange one – at 1121 Mills Ave. Later this year, maybe.

In other chef news, Huy Tin, who has been with Seito Sushi Baldwin Park since 2012 and was promoted to executive chef in 2017, has been named chef/partner. And New York-based Hung Huynh has joined Orlando’s Omei Restaurant Group (Bento, Doshibox, Collab Kitchen) as its director of culinary innovation. Huynh, a winner of tv’s Top Chef, has also collaborated with Orlando’s Earl Enterprises to open Asian Street Eats by Chef Hung Huynh, a fast-food concept at LAX.

Omei’s Johnny Tung wrote on his Facebook page: “My goal is to keep great chefs that come through Orlando to stay and help build our community into a nationally and internationally recognized food city. With Michelin now coming we have to take advantage of this momentum and help retain culinary talents such as Chef Hung.” I like that thinking.


Bacan dining room

Orlando has a new luxury hotel, the Lake Nona Wave, and with it an upscale restaurant, Bacán.

That’s pronounced bah-KAHN and is a Spanish word meaning cool or awesome. I might add suave and sophisticated, too, because dining here is a fashionable experience with a modern menu of Latin American-inspired dishes served in a stylishly appointed atmosphere.

My companion and I sat in a booth with buttery leather seats beneath a large, colorful wall mural with a full view of the open kitchen, the rows of banquettes that run down the middle of the room and the cluster of gold-mesh hexagonal light fixtures overhead.