chew crew

Walt Disney World announced Thursday that the popular ABC television food program The Chew will tape five episodes at this year's Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. According to Pam Brandon of Disney Parks Blog, this will be the first time the show has taped episodes outside its New York City studios. The episodes will be taped October 7, 8 and 9 and will air October 12 through 16. The Chew features celebrity chefs Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Clinton Kelly, Carla Hall and Daphne Oz.

 In addition to the tapings, The Chew will be featured in two marketplace venues, called Next Eats, that will be in the Future World area of Epcot, the first time the food and wine event has expanded to that part of the park. Next Eats will showcase sustainable cuisine, food-science labs and kitchen tech.

The festival, which runs from September 25 through November 16, is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2015. Information on tickets to the tapings will be available at The Chew's website. Probably safe to say that admission to Epcot will be required to attend.



Havana Bistro platter

This is not a review of Napa Venezuelan Cafe. True, it’s also not a review of four thousand or so other restaurants in the area, but those restaurants aren’t the one that I set out to visit the other day. Napa was my destination, however, even though I showed up at a time that the website said it would be open, it was not.

Luckily, right next door, Havana Bistro & Cafe was. So in I popped.


CL brews

Today is the day that craft beer lovers in Florida have been waiting for. Beginning July 1, 2015, as signed into law by the governor of Florida, breweries in the state can legally fill and sell beer to go in the 64-ounce containers known as growlers.

The issue had been the source of a legal battle for years, led ostensibly by large brewing companies that felt threatened by the competition from smaller, so-called craft brewers. 

Winter Park's Cask & Larder, which has a large brewing facility on site, is among the first in the state to offer to fill growers for thirsty consumers. A growler is a reusable container that holds up to 64 ounces, or about a half gallon, of beer. Consumers take their growlers to their favorite craft brewer to have them refilled.

C&L is offering the refill service beginning Wednesday from 3 to 5 p.m. with its popular Citra Hopped IPA ($15) and Lone Palm Golden Ale ($12). Consumers must bring their own growlers; there is a two-growler limit. Cask & Larder will sanitize the growlers before filling them, a process that takes approximately 10 minutes. The restaurant's brewing staff recommends that the beers be kept cold, so take along an ice chest, and that the brews be consumed within two days of filling. After today, C&L will offer growler fills only on Wednesdays and Fridays from 3 to 5 p.m. with beer offerings rotating weekly.

Cask & Larder is at 565 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park.


Isla Verde food

When evaluating a restaurant, one takes into consideration the food, of course, but also the service and the ambience. When the three are at their finest and everyone is working together, you have a great dining experience.

But if only one of those components is at an acceptable level and the other two are substandard, should the restaurant get a review that ends in a recommendation? What if the only thing good about the place is the food? Should that be given more weight?


drayer danDan Drayer, who has served as executive chef for Talk of the Town Restaurants for nearly 15 years, has left that company. He is leaving Central Florida Tuesday to accept a position as executive chef for Restaurant Works, a Dallas group with restaurants in Texas, Colorado and Georgia.

Drayer, 57, said he will be doing some of the same things he has been doing for Talk of the Town, “opening restaurants, training guys.” But he said the move was desirable because it’s a return to his hometown region where he still has family.

He also is mulling around the idea of returning to school to pursue the field he was studying for before he got pulled into the restaurant business: medicine.

Drayer recently received his master chef’s degree, and he completed a book he cowrote with Charley Woodsby. Drayer said the book is “all about [Woodsby’s] Red Lobster days, all of that history, the Old South and the restaurants he was involved with.” The book, he said, is on its way to a publisher.

Drayer’s last day at ToTT was June 2. Talk’s Seth Miller told me that there currently are no plans to replace Drayer but that his duties will likely be absorbed by others, at least initially. He said Drayer’s leaving was “a big loss. He was a very dynamic individual.”

Restaurant Works’ brands includ Cru - Food & Wine Bar, Victory Tavern City Grille, and a new restaurant called Princi Italia.