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Chef Series Chefs

Back in February, when the Dr. Phillips Center still had that new performing arts center smell, the folks there decided to try a bit of alternative programming and brought in celebrity chef and popular television host Alton Brown. He talked about food science and did cooking demonstrations, and everybody had such a good time that the DPAC folks said, “Hey,” (I’m paraphrasing here) “let’s do that again.”

So they’ve put together Chefs at Dr. Phillips Center, a three-chef series with some really big time superstar chefs, television personalities and authors: Emeril Lagasse, Ina Garten and Guy Fieri.

Lagasse will kick things off — and probably up a notch, if we know Emeril — on Dec. 1. He’ll chat with the audience about what inspired him to become a chef and his food philosophy. He’ll also conduct a cooking demonstration on the stage and then take questions from the audience.

Ina Garten, better known as the Barefoot Contessa, takes to the stage of the Walt Disney Theater on January 21. Given the date, I trust she’ll be properly shod. Garten, whose first book, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, was one of the best-selling cookbooks of 1999 and still very popular, will talk about cooking and entertaining and, perhaps, footware, and then have a question and answer session with members of the audience.

On Feb. 11, Guy Fieri will storm the stage with a cooking demonstration and a chat with the audience.

Following each performance, the chef will sign books in the lobby of the Dr. Phillips Center. Writer’s Block Bookstore of Winter Park will have books for sale. Combined, the three chefs have written over 30 books. So, no writer's block among these cooks.

Tickets for the series range from $154.92 to $305.28. Tickets to individual shows will go on sale Oct. 2 for Emeril Lagasse ($59.50-$99.50); Oct. 9 for Ina Garten ($49.50 to $89.50); and Oct. 16 for Guy Fieri ($59.50-$99.50). But really, that series subscription price is going to get you the best bang for your buck.

Or bam for your buck, if you prefer.

For more information and to purchase series tickets, visit the Dr. Phillips Center website.

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Ravello veal

Veal Milanese is one of my favorite dishes, and I’ve had it many, many times. But I think this is the first time I’ve had one that was deep fried.

This was at Ravello, one of the restaurants at the Four Seasons. I had reviewed the hotel’s Capa, on the top floor, and had a delightful wine dinner featuring Markham Vineyards at Plancha, in the golf course’s clubhouse. But I hadn’t experienced Ravello, which serves breakfast and dinner. Its participation in Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month seemed like a good excuse to give it a try.

Overall, it wasn’t a very pleasant experience, and not just because of the oddly prepared Milanese. The space is cavernous and impersonal, the decor cold and austere. The only warmth in the ambience is from the fire in the pizza oven of the open kitchen.

The deep fryer is in full view, too, which is how I learned about the veal preparation. Perhaps the full immersion is why the breading was hard crusted and a darker brown than the desired golden hue. And while it’s customary to be served with a bit of arugula on top, Ravello’s had a full salad —complete with croutons! — weighing it down. I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be an entree or a first course.

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EXCLUSIVE -- Look for wall-to-wall Wahlbergs when Wahlburgers has its grand opening in downtown Orlando in December. It will be a Hollywood premiere-style event covered by A&E network that will feature the Wahlberg brothers — yes, including Mark — on the red carpet. Pencil in December 11 for the party. (There will be a VIP event inside the restaurant, but a celebration open to the public on the street is also planned.)

Ahead of the grand opening, a ground-breaking ceremony will be conducted on Sept. 25.

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Let's say you get to Orlando International Airport with just enough time to get through security, hop on the shuttle and get to your gate, only to find that your flight is delayed for a couple of hours. You could try to snag a stool in one of the bars or grab a bite from one of the fast food restaurants. But I have a better idea. Click on the video above to see it.

Where To Go, What To Eat When... is a collaboration between icFlorida.com and our friends at WFTV and Scott Joseph's Orlando Restaurant Guide.

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Pop Thai Interior

I don’t know why, but every time I hear the name Pop Thai, I think about lemongrass flavored pastries that you heat up in a toaster.

But no, Pop Thai is the name of a new restaurant in the Mills 50 district that replaced the three or so years old Yum-mi Sandwiches shop.