Chef and I scallops

This episode of Compliments of the Chef could be titled Compliments of The Chef & I as Chris Rains, chef/owner of The Chef & I at Hall on the Yard in Ivanhoe Village, demonstrates his recipe for Wild Mushroom Risotto with Pan-seared Sea Scallops.

Risotto is labor intensive, but Rains gives some useful tips on making the rice dish. And he shows how to beautifully sear the scallops.

Watch the video below and then give the recipe a try.



Kung fu tea

Kung Fu Tea is the business that will replace Too Much Sauce at Mills Park in the Mills 50 district. KFT is a franchise that started in Flushing, Queens, in 2010. It specializes in Taiwan-style bubble tea and claims to be the largest bubble tea brand with over 350 locations across the U.S. “[a]s one of the OGs of bubble tea...”

Just curious – how much longer do we have to put up with businesses and menu items being labeled as the OG? For those not wishing to Google it, OG stands for original gangster and its provenance, you shouldn’t be surprised, is in gang culture. Cute, huh?

A tenant has been found for another vacant space, this one in downtown Orlando. Solita Tacos & Margaritas will move in to the former Wahlburgers on the corner of Church Street and Orange Avenue. Solita is from Xperience Restaurant Group, which also owns, among other brands, Chevys Fresh Mex. Wahlburgers, which opened in 2016, closed permanently in June 2020. Solita is coming this fall.


Outdoor dining

Here are the finalists for the 2022 Best Outdoor Dining Foodster Award for Independent Restaurants.

You may vote for one restaurant by ticking the box next to its name and then clicking the VOTE button.

After you vote, leave a comment below telling us WHO YOU VOTED FOR and why you think your choice should win. Be sure to mention the name of the restaurant in your comment – we can’t see who you voted for. Tell us what you like about the restaurant and its outdoor dining. We may use your comment if your choice is declared the winner.

Voting will continue through Sunday, July 17.

Here are the finalists:


JW Garden4 copy

The JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa has a new garden that not only serves as a tranquil spot for guests to relax but also provides ingredients for the resort’s chefs to use in its signature restaurant.

JW Garden sprang up in April, the creation of landscape designer Lily Kwong. It’s an elevated garden with a stone pathway and benches for seating, planted with herbs and citrus – oranges, kumquats, tangerines and Meyer lemons – as well as vegetables and edible flowers.

It’s very much a kitchen garden, and Melissa Sallman, executive chef at Sear + Sea, the hotel’s very good steak and seafood restaurant, and chef de cuisine Jose Escanio are incorporating the hyper-locally sourced ingredients into their dishes and cocktails. (More on that in a moment.)

To further the JW Garden mission, the resort has partnered with the Orlando City Foundation to donate gardens to two local schools – Rolling Hills Elementary School and Lockhart Elementary School – as part of the organization’s efforts to promote good nutrition and to bring fresh ingredients to the area’s food deserts. Which is a pretty nice thing to do. The produce from the gardens will be donated to the Orlando community and will educate kids about healthful eating habits and sustainability practices.

But back to how the garden’s bounty is being used at the JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek. As you’re probably aware, the resort has a pretty dynamic craft cocktail program. Here are a couple of drinks that are making use of some of the ingredients outside the kitchen door.


Winter Flavors

This time of year you see all sorts of references to Christmas in July. So it’s July, and I’m thinking about Christmastime.

Specifically, about the culinary tour of New York I’ll be hosting with Art In Voyage – Beyond Travel this December 7-11.

This will be the second year for the Winter Flavors of New York journey. If you missed my recap of last year’s trip you can read about it here. I’m still amazed at everything we packed into those days. And I can’t wait to do it again.

We’ll do have some of the same experiences but add some new adventures, too. I’d love to have you join me and let me show you my favorite city in the world. New York is special any time of the year, but it’s magical in December.

Check out the details here.