Jack in the ParkJack in the Park, an “outside the ballroom” fundraising event benefitting Special Olympics Florida, will be held Saturday, Oct. 24, at the Rachel D. Murrah Civic Center in Winter Park. I am honored to serve as the honorary chair and emcee of the event.

The Jack in the event’s name refers to blackjack. You were thinking it had to do with Jack Daniel’s, weren’t you? But no, a 21 card tournament is a big focus of the festivities. But there will be so much more, including a silent auction, raffles, entertainment, and, best of all, food from some really terrific restaurants.

Some of the restaurants that are scheduled to be serving include Flog favorite Tap Room at Dubsdread, Carmel Kitchen Wine Bar, Portobello, the Osprey Tavern, blu on the avenue, White Wolf Cafe, Scratch, BB King’s Blues Club, newcomers Lafayette’s and Itta Bena, and a bunch more.

There will also be an open bar, and looky here: it will feature Jack Daniel’s, so you got your wish after all.

Tickets for the event are $125, which includes the blackjack tournament, food and open bar. All proceeds go to benefit Special Olympics. For tickets and more information, visit the Jack in the Park webpage.

I think every party should have a pre-party, don’t you? Luckily, so do the people at Jack in the Park. So they’ve called on the folks at Talk of the Town Restaurant Group (Charley’s Steak House, Vito’s Chop House, FishBones et. al.) and they’re going to haul their big portable fire pit to Field’s BMW in Winter Park. They’ll be making Sliced Tenderloin with Gorgonzola Fondue and Atlantic Cedar Plank Salmon along with a salad and dessert. I’m told there will be drinks, too. The Field’s folks will be showing off all the new car models. Just be sure not to get any of the gorgonzola sauce on the upholstery.

The pre-party is this Thursday, Sept. 24, from 7 to 10 p.m. And get this: tickets are only $35. tenderloin, salmon, drinks — you do the math.

Purchase your tickets to the pre-party at the Jack in the Park Pre Party web page.


JJ Rotator.001Flog favorite JJ's Grille is celebrating its first anniversary Thursday with some specials at the Curry Ford Road restaurant.

All day Thursday, Sept. 24, guests can get a free side of guacamole, hummus, pico de gallo, or J-Bouli, as well as a free regular-sized soda or tea.

Owner Julio Paredes added, "We'll also be giving away prizes throughout the day, anything from our sweet JJ's Grille tank tops to our customized shaker bottles and even gift certificates."

And the first year has been such a success that Paredes plans to open a second location, in Altamonte Springs, before the end of the year. It's nice to see people embrace good, honest food served with genuine hospitality.

JJ's Grille is at 2950 Curry Ford Road (in the Winn-Dixie plaza at Crystal Lake Road), Orlando. It's open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-802-2947.


Diva lasagna stew

For our lazy lovers of lasagna, the divas have devised a little trick. We’ve combined all the creamy, gooey, messiness of this diva of all casseroles into one-pot wonder stew.

Okay, so you'll have to boil the pasta separately, but you get the gist. It's easier – and maybe even a bit healthier. Bravo!



Fresh Made Kitchen, a breakfast, lunch and dinner restaurant in Windermere, has closed. In case you missed it, this was my review from May.

A post of the restaurant's Facebook page says: "It is with a heavy heart that we announce that Fresh Made Kitchen is closed effective on September 17.2015.

"We are thankful for the support and patronage that all our guests have shown us during our time in Windermere. There are no words that clearly express the love and gratitude we feel for our staff that worked so hard to keep the vision alive." It concluded with the possibility of opening in another location, but gave no specifics.



Shakes logoAs you may have read — perhaps here on the Flog, for instance — Highball & Harvest, the Southern inspired restaurant at Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes Orlando, has a new chef, Nathan Hardin. That means it’s time for Scott to go back and do a refreshed review. You can go along and help.

“Dinner with Scott Joseph” will be one of the silent auction items at Sunday’s gala for the Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Partnership with UCF. The successful bidder and a guest will join Scott for a multi course dinner and will contribute comments and critiques that Scott will use in the review. The dinner is being donated by H&H, but they invite you to be frank with your critique.

The gala is Sunday, Sept. 20, at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center at Loch Haven Park. It starts at 5 p.m., and you’re going to want to get thereHighballHarvestLogo NoBackground 194x127 early and find the auction item. You’ll also want to keep a close eye on the bids as the evening progresses — when this item has been offered in the past there have been bidding wars.

Tickets to the event are $150, $200 and $250 and can be purchased by calling 407-447-1700 ext. 1. The gala will include food a walk-about food and beverage tasting with goodies provided by:

  • Arthur's Catering
  • Barnie's Coffee Kitchen
  • Bubbalou's Bodacious BBQ
  • Hawkers Asian Street Fare
  • Hillstone Restaurant Group
  • Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport Catering & Events
  • Peterbrooke Chocolatier
  • P is for Pie
  • Rosen Centre Hotel
  • Rosen Shingle Creek
  • Seasons 52
  • Winter Park Distilling Company

There will also be performances by cast members of Spamalot, the season opener at Shakes, including Davis Gaines, Dee Roscioli and Michael Hunsaker. And music from the UCF Jazz Chambers Group featuring Jeff Rupert, one of the area’s best jazz musicians.