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Sous Chef Challenge 2019

The stage is set for the second annual Scott Joseph’s Sous Chef Challenge: The Next Big Thing, Sunday, Sept. 15, at 11 a.m. at the Orange County Convention Center. The cooking competition is part of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show.

The show, which also features other competitions, is usually open only to professional culinary members. But I have a select number of tickets available to the Sous Chef Challenge that will also allow you access to the convention floor with rows and rows of vendors offering everything a restaurant needs to operate, from tables and chairs, linens, ovens, signage – and food, lots and lots of food booths offering samples for you to taste.

Tickets are $35 and all proceeds go to Give Kids the World. You can buy your tickets at this link.

The Sous Chef Challenge is designed to feature the talents of the cooks who serve directly under the executive chef. They’ll be preparing dishes that they think will be the next big food trend. The winner, selected by a panel of judges, will win $1000.

And as a ticket holder, you’ll get to sample each dish and place a vote for the People’s Choice Award trophy.

The sous chefs competing this year represent such kitchens as:
Morimoto Asia
The Whiskey
Grande Lakes
Hyatt Regency Orlando
Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill
Cress DeLand
Saratoga Springs
The Center Club Tampa

And defending his title will be last year’s winner, Jacob Rios, of American Kitchen at B Resort.

The Sous Chef Challenge is held in conjunction with ACF Central Florida Chapter and is sponsored by Sysco and FreshPoint, who provide ingredients to the competitors.

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Amso exterior

American Social Bar & Kitchen has set up shop in the former Bar Louis space at the Rialto plaza on Sand Lake Road. Amso, as it would like you to call it (though I think Ameri-Sosh has a nicer ring), is out of south Florida where it has two locations, the original, on Las Olas Boulevard in Ft. Lauderdale, and in Miami overlooking the Miami River. There is another location in Tampa.

Amso – why does that make me think of cleaning products? – is a sports bar with a boisterous atmosphere. Think loud. No, louder. It features an “all-American” menu, so of course you’ll find hummus, Ropa Vieja Tacos and Steak Frites. That the Steak Frites is topped with chimichurri only makes it all the more American.

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Himas Naan

Here are the finalists for the 2019 Best Indian 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 why you think your choice has the Best Indian food. 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 place, including your favorite dish. We may use your comment if your choice is declared the winner.

Voting will continue through Sept. 25. The winners will be announced on Sept. 26.

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Soco magdine sign

As I mentioned the other day, Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining restaurant promotion that was to end on Sept. 30 has been extended a week, through Oct. 7. The extension was ostensibly to make up for lost momentum – and revenue – from the threat of hurricane Dorian.

So quick, before Humberto becomes a thing, get out and dine magically some more.

One restaurant you may want to consider is Soco in downtown’s Thornton Park.

I stopped in to try chef Greg Richie’s Magical Dining menu and enjoyed what I tasted.

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Steer exterior

Take a look at the menu offered at the Steer, a new steakhouse on South Orange Avenue, and you’ll realize this is not a restaurant gunning after the likes of Christner’s, Ruth’s Chris or even Linda’s La Cantina. When you can get a 12 ounce New York strip for $15, you’re probably not in the realm of fine dining.

The restaurant’s subtitle – Pioneer Steakhouse – might lend a clue, as well. Pioneers weren't historically known for refinement. The Steer occupies a former Pizza Hut hut that most recently, and for decades, was home to Bauern-Stube, a German restaurant noted for its eclectic and cluttered decor. Perhaps the best that can be said for the Steer is that its owner successfully un-Stubed the place.

But go back to the price point and you’ll find it easier to find other kind words.