Rick BaylessJust yesterday I told you about Art Smith perhaps opening a restaurant at the still-under-construction Disney Springs at Downtown Disney. Now I'm hearing that Rick Bayless, another Chicago area chef, is also in the negotiations phase. Bayless's restaurants include Mexican flavored Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, but according to my sources, he would bring a new brand to Central Florida. The arrangement would be made under a licensing agreement, but, I'm told, Bayless would be hands on with the development and ongoing operations of the restaurant.

Other restaurants that are slated to open include Morimoto Asia and Boathouse.

More details as I learn them.

 

 

The wine business in Orlando has come a long way over the last 30 years and there are several people to thank for it. Since I am so closely connected to the different aspects of the wine business, I know first hand the time and work it takes to get a wine into your glass. I am always disappointed when I read a review of a restaurant - one that I know has put a lot of time and energy into their wine and beverage program – and the wine list isn't even mentioned. I feel that at the greatest restaurants, the wine and beverage program are what make them the full package, the ultimate experience. The first thing people order at a restaurant, after all, is a drink.

For all of you who read Scott's flog regularly, you know he is always fighting for Orlando to be recognized as a culinary destination. Some say the beaches and theme parks hold us back but ultimately I believe that without a wine culture people are actually willing and able to talk about, Orlando will never be viewed as a culinary destination. Wine and food have a long history of marriage, and with wine comes the idea of culture, prosperity and most importantly sharing. To truly understand the wine culture in Orlando, I feel it's important to recognize the people who started it, and those who are fighting for our town to have a stage in the market. This is all pretty common knowledge amongst us that have been in the wine business for a while but for many, I think that it may not be known who is the driving force behind what has and does happen in our wine scene.

Art Smith, a celebrity chef with restaurants in Chicago and Washington, D.C., is in talks to open a restaurant at Walt Disney World, most likely as part of the Disney Springs project currently under construction, according to a source close to the chef.

Smith is a former personal chef to Oprah Winfrey and the owner of Table Fifty-Two in Chicago's Near North Side, the "home of Southern hospitality in Chicago," according to the chef's website. Other restaurants include Art and Soul in Washington; LYFE Kitchen in Palo Alto (it stands for Love Your Food Everyday); and Southern Art and Bourbon Bar in Atlanta.

Smith is also a native of Jasper, Florida, near the Georgia border, and in 2013 announced that he was in the planning stages to open a cafe with comfort food and a Starbucks. Smith and his husband, the artist Jesus Salgueiro, own a home in Jasper.

A spokeswoman for Walt Disney World would not comment on the rumor of an Art Smith restaurant at the resort, and attempts to reach someone in Smith's organization were not fruitful.

Earlier it was confirmed that Morimoto Asia and the Boathouse would be part of Disney Springs. Other restaurants that are rumored to be opening but not yet officially announced are STK and Edison.

Gordon Ramsay, the incendiary Scottish chef, was pranked recently, according to an article published on the Daily Mail's website. Ramsay opened his new restaurant, Heddon Street Kitchen in London's tony Mayfair section, a couple of weeks ago with a full roster of reservations on the books. But, according to Ramsay, the ressies were fake, made by a rival chef or enemy. According to the article, 140 reservations were expected but only 40 showed up. Ramsay has not said who he thinks the prankster might have been. Trouble is, how does he begin to narrow down who that enemy might be -- he's made so many over the years.

I avoid Ramsay's restaurants. He may be an excellent chef, but he's quite obviously not a nice person. I have the freedom to spend my money where I want; why would I want to give it to the likes of him?

I was first put off on Ramsay when the Sentinel asked me to do a review of the second season of Hell's Kitchen many, many years ago. I had not watched the first season, and after viewing the review copy of the first couple of episodes that were to air shortly, I literally felt sick to my stomach. There's no excuse for someone to treat people that way. Watching Hell's Kitchen also put me off of "reality" cooking shows forever. People are always surprised when the mention an episode of this cooking show or that chef program and I tell them I've never seen any of them. I don't feel like I'm missing anything.

 

Swiss Chard Gratin

Turkey day is upon us, and while divas stick with the basics like Aunt Glo's stuffing and Polly's pecan pie, we love adding a new twist to the holiday buffet. 'Tis the Florida season for greens to flourish, and Swiss chard is one of our favorites – a super-model beauty with rich, dark greens leaves and the rainbow of reds, purples, and yellows in its stalks and veins.

Swiss chard is nutritious and full of fiber, and for our holiday buffets, we want a touch of indulgence, so this side dish adds butter, cream and cheese. What's not to love?