Second Harvest prep

Update: The date has been changed for the next Chef's Night dinner with Kevin Fonzo. It is now scheduled for Wednesday, May 20. The story has been updated to reflect that change.

Here’s an event I think you should consider going to. It’s Chef’s Night at Second Harvest Food Bank, and there are so many good reasons to attend.

Not the least of those reasons is that the chef for the May 20 dinner is Kevin Fonzo of College Park’s K restaurant. A multiple James Beard Award nominee, Fonzo is considered one of Central Florida’s most talented chefs, and it’s always fun to see what he comes up with for a special dinner like this one.

And it is special because it is held in an event space right there at the Second Harvest Food Bank facility at 411 Mercy Drive in Orlando. If you’re like me, you’ve heard about Second Harvest for decades, maybe even contributed to it or attended other events on its behalf, but have never been there.

I corrected that oversight when I was invited to attend the previous Chef’s Night, in March. On that evening the special guest chef was John Rivers of 4 Rivers Smokehouse. Another thing that makes this dinner extra special is that the guest chef is assisted by students in the food bank’s culinary training program, which, during a 14-week period, teaches participants the skills to help them get a job as a culinary professional. In fact, all of the proceeds from the Chef’s Night events benefit the culinary training program. Click this link to get tickets to the event.

And for that very reasonable fee of $75, you’ll get an impressive dinner with wine. Rivers’ menu included:


Joe BurnettJoseph Cournoyer-Burnett, who has been serving as the Ravenous Pig’s chef de cuisine, is leaving the popular Winter Park restaurant to lead the kitchen at Baldwin Park’s new Osprey Tavern. Saturday, June 16, is Cournoyer-Burnett’s last day at the Pig.

Taking over there will be Nick Sierputowski, who has been with owners James and Julie Petrakis for many years and most recently has been chef de cuisine at their Cask & Larder restaurant.

Cournoyer-Burnett (at left) is also a longtime employee of the Petrakises, and Julie told me that she has known Cournoyer-Burnett’s wife since they were in culinary school. She says Cournoyer-Burnett’s leaving is an amicable departure, and everyone is supportive of his move. She acknowledged that he will have more freedom to develop the menu at Osprey Tavern and make it more of his own, something that he couldn’t do as chef de cuisine at the Pig. Previously, he had served as chef de cuisine at Norman's at the Ritz-Carlton.

Sierputowski has shown himself to be a talented chef and the transition should be seamless.


Two Chefs Poboy

It’s an odd location, I’ll grant you that.

Two Chefs Seafood & Oyster Bar, the very good new restaurant, occupies a space in a small office building in Orlando’s North Quarter district. Actually, it occupies several spaces. There is the main dining area next to the open kitchen; a bar, located across the way from the main room; and an upstairs dining room for private dining and spillover that overlooks the bar area, accessible through the waiting room of a doctor’s practice.

It’s an odd setup, but the food is excellent, as you would expect it to be from the two chefs of the title. That would be Bernard Carmouche, formerly corporate chef for Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants, and Larry Sinibaldi, who left his job as executive chef at Palm Restaurant to start this new venture.

The menu, which reflects Carmouche’s ties to New Orleans, is simple and straightforward, but has several items worth trying.


RWBlue burger

R.W. Blue bills itself as an “American Grill & Bar.” In fact, I’m guessing by the color scheme of the logo that the R and W stand for Red and White. And you’ll find such flag-waving favorites as pot roast, Philly cheesesteak and something called the Southernmost that features Key West shrimp.

But you’ll also find such things as fish & chips, gyro and a sandwich called the French Onion. So, we are the world.

When I asked my server what the restaurant wants to be known for — it’s too new to be known for much yet — she said the wings and burgers were their signature items.


Palmanos Croque

This may be the biggest croque madame I’ve ever seen.

It’s what I ordered, in my faltering French, at Palmano’s on Park Avenue. Yes, Palmano’s is an Italian name, and up until recently it had been ostensibly an Italian cafe, emphasis on the cafe/caffe.

But the new owners are French, and while they kept the name, they’ve changed the menu to be a bit more Gaulling. So of course there are the French bistro standards, including the croque monsieur and its lovely wife, madame. I usually go for the latter because it is the same as the monsieur except that it includes an egg, which is really more biologically correct than I like my sandwiches to be, but I try not to think about it.

For the uninitiated, a croque monsieur is sort of an inside out ham and cheese sandwiches, with a cheesy bechamel slathered about. It’s definitely a knife and fork sandwich, even without adding the fried egg

But like I said, I’ve never had one quite like the one I had at Palmano’s, not even in France. It was a triple decker with thick slices of French toast quality bread and thin slices of ham in between. Well, OK, the ham is more of the lunch meat quality, or viande de dejeuner, as they say in Paris. But the bechamel was thick and cheesy and made the whole thing taste like tartines on steroids. And the fried egg was gorgeous, even before I pierced the yolk and let it ooze all over the bread.

I didn’t see much else that has changed about the place. Unfortunately, it is still next door to a cigar store, whose patrons sit outside and ponder Freud, their noxious spew flowing into Palmano’s open door. “Puant!” as they say.

Palmano’s is at 333 Park Ave. S., Winter Park. It is open for breakfast and lunch daily. It does not have a website and it’s Facebook status has not been updated since 2011. The phone number is 407-647-7520.