Market2table dining room

Market to Table, a new restaurant that took over the AlFresco space in the Roper Building in Winter Garden, started in an actual market.

From a booth in Plant Street Market, Ryan Freelove sold stocks, soups and other products for home cooks before opening the restaurant last year. Don’t assume, as I did, that Market to Table is just another way of saying farm to table. Freelove freely admits that he sources some ingredients from more conventional means, including major distributors. (Though not exclusively; indeed some items come from as close as a rooftop garden.)

But that does not diminish the overall high quality of the food served here.

Foodstock logo

Wednesday is the launch of the first Foodstock Orlando, a multi-day event dedicated to food, Florida agriculture and local restaurants. The event is sponsored by Grand Tour Foundation, an organization that raises money for scholarships for hospitality and restaurant students in Central Florida, including those attending UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management and Valencia.

Today’s do kicks off at 6 p.m. at the Cheyenne Saloon on Church Street in downtown Orlando. Called Taste of Foodstock @ Church Street District, it will offer food from featured downtown restaurants with chef Jamie McFadden of Cuisiniers Catered Cuisine. There will also be live music, and complimentary craft beers and wine.

Similar events will be held over the next couple of days, including Taste of Foodstock @ I-Drive 360 on Thursday (which includes a ride on the Coca-Cola Eye) and Taste of Foodstock @ Pointe Orlando on Friday. It all comes back downtown Saturday with the Foodstock Party at the Broken Cauldron Brewery on West Church Street.

Tickets for the first three “Tastes” are $49 online or $55 at the door. You may also purchase a three-day pass for $125 online. There is no admission fee for the Saturday Party.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the Foodstock website.

TAstecfl logo

When I wrote about Orlando’s Taste of the Nation event in August I said that I hoped it would be the last one.

It turns out that it was.

Of course, I was hoping that there wouldn’t be any need for the event, which raises money to deal with childhood hunger. Unfortunately, there is still a need.

But after 27 years, the grand food and wine event, which had been operating under the auspices of Share Our Strength, a national organization, is going local. It will now be known as Taste! Central Florida.

Taste! continues to be a fundraiser for Second Harvest Food Bank and the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. But with the change, more funds will go to their programs.

The reason for the change is simple, said spokeswoman Krista Zilizi Logue. It allows the event sponsors to keep more of the funds raised in Central Florida. Although organizers have always stated that all monies raised go to childhood hunger relief, 20 percent of the Orlando Taste of the Nation’s funds went to Share Our Strength’s programs.

Just about everything else remains the same. Still at the Orlando World Center Marriott, still in August (the 19th, this year), still featuring the luminaries of Central Florida’s culinary community who dedicate their time and materials to the effort. (World Center Marriott donates the space, too.)

So here’s what else you need to know:

Hunger Street sign

There’s brisket at 2103 W. Fairbanks Ave. again.

That Winter Park address, you’ll recall, was the site of the first 4 Rivers Smokehouse, before it outgrew the space and moved and multiplied.

In January of 2013, B&B Junction, a burger concept, moved in, and while it had its share of loyal fans, they apparently weren’t enough to sustain it. B&B closed late last year. Now it’s the home of Hunger Street Tacos.

Speaking of loyal fans, something else has returned to the corner of Fairbanks and Formosa Avenues: parking problems and teed off neighbors. As was the case when 4 Rivers had lines out the door, Hunger Street Tacos, too, is causing taco fanatics to cruise the surrounding blocks in search of parking, much to the consternation of the neighbors. (Printed signs on telephone poles and the windows of the restaurant admonish customers to not park in the surrounding streets, but what else are they to do?)

BalluffBryce Balluff, a local chef and one of the early leaders of the food truck scene, died February 21. He was 35. 

Balluff was the original owner of Fork in the Road food truck, and the food that he was serving helped those who couldn’t quite grasp what the food truck craze was all about to “get it.” Going beyond burgers and street food, he served more upscale items like foie gras and pork belly. In 2013 he provided the food for one of our Supper Club events, serving from the truck behind the warehouse setting of Wine on the Way.

In 2014 he was the opening chef and co-owner of Southern Moon Smokehouse on Curry Ford Road, but after only a few months, he left the business following a dispute with his partners. His online resume indicates he was working with Frog Song Organic Farm. He was also doing occasional cooking demonstrations with Orlando appliance dealer Southeast Steel.

Bryce William Balluff was born July 23, 1981. He received his training at French Culinary Institute, and he listed chef de partie at New York’s popular Per Se among his past experience. “Being one of only five chosen for the position out of forty,” Balluff wrote in his Linkedin profile, “I came to Per Se a cook. I left as a chef.”

Locally, he worked at Luma on Park, Puff ’n Stuff Catering, Funky Monkey Wine Company and Draft Global Beer Lounge. On Facebook, he was known for his quips and offbeat humor. “I have the heart of a champion. Unfortunately, I also have the liver of a quarterfinalist…” was a post from August.

But as a former employer posted on Facebook after Balluff’s death was announced: “This business is so brutal we have to all stick together. The stress is so bad sometimes that people cannot handle the extreme pressure we are all under.”

Balluff’s survivors include his wife, Kerri Finkel; children, D;Artagnan (Tanner) and Aubry; parents, Paula and Paul Balluff; and brother, Daryl.

Services were held Sunday. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that contributions can be made to the D’Artagnan Balluff College Fund, 311 Needles Trail, Longwood Florida, 32779.