Chefs night hunnel

This has to be a typo.

It says here that Scott Hunnel, the much decorated chef de cuisine at Victoria & Albert's, and the Grand Floridian's master pastry chef, Erich Herbitschel, who never saw a piece of chocolate he couldn't fashion into a work of art, will team up as guest chefs for Second Harvest's Chef's Night Series.

That part I believe. The two chefs have always been generous with their time and talent, especially when a good cause is involved. In this case, the cause is Second Harvest's Culinary Training Program, which teaches students the skills they need to obtain entry level food service positions. Teach a person to fish, and all that. Very worthy program.

And the four-course menu certainly sounds like something the two chefs would put together for a gourmet meal: King Crab Roulade with caviar; pickled peach soup; Gulf Shrimp with Prosciutto and Melon; Poulet Rouge with Mushroom Ragout and Summer Truffles; Grass-fed Beef with Potato-Turnip Gratin and Oxtail Jus; and Peruvian Chocolate Timbale.

But I think the press release left a couple of digits off the cost of the dinner, because it says here it's only $75 per person. Maybe it was supposed to say "per course." Or maybe that was just the cost of the truffles.

Whatever. I suggest you go to FeedHopeNow to claim your tickets before someone figures it out.

The dinner is Thursday, August 27, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, 411 Mercy Drive, Orlando.




A new concept called Urbain 40 American Brasserie is planned for the former Cantina Laredo space at the Dellagio plaza on Restaurant Row. It is being developed by a new company, Boulevard Restaurants, owned by Orlando attorney Jaafar Choufani, son of longtime restaurateur Rashid Choufani.

The elder Choufani told me that the new restaurant will be a paean to the 1940s in decor and ambience, including music of the Big Band era, “just like we used to have at Timpano’s,” he said. Choufani was the owner of E-brands, which developed Timpano and Samba Room. (The original Timpano on Sand Lake Road is where Eddie V’s now stands, and Rocco’s Tacos, next door, was the home of Samba Room.) Choufani still has the restaurants at the Morocco pavilion at Epcot and the Latin American themed restaurant Paradiso 37 at Downtown Disney. Paradiso 37 is undergoing renovations to become part of Disney Springs and its size will double.

Choufani said the chef for Urbain 40 will be Jean-Stephane Poinard, who previously owned Bistro de Leon in St. Augustine. (Poinard, from Lyon, France, is the son of a celebrated chef in that city, also named Jean-Stephane Poinard, whose body was found stuffed in a freezer — placed there by his common-law wife, apparently, 18 months before it was discovered — in 2010. But that’s a topic for another time.)

Rashid Choufani stressed that his son owns the company “100 percent” and that he is just helping him out. “I’m just doing this for my pleasure,” he said. He added that the menu, which will feature “big city cocktails and big city food,” will be mid priced.

The restaurant will feature a chef’s table in the kitchen and will make use of the terrace overlooking the Dellagio’s central courtyard and fountain.


Fusion 360 lounge

Fusion 360 has opened on Sand Lake Road in the space that previously, and all too briefly, held American Gymkhana. Although the name might lead one to think it features a global cuisine, Fusion 360, like its predecessor, is mainly Indian (see below for the menu).

Watch for a review of Fusion 360 soon.

In a very short span of time, this second level restaurant space has been home to three restaurants — Raga, in addition to the other two mentioned above — all of them Indian and all of them with essentially the same ownership. When Raga failed to catch on, the investors approached Manhattan restaurateur Rajesh Bhardwaj, whose Junoon, an upscale Indian restaurant, boasts a Michelin star, to redo it in a similar light. American Gymkhana was the result.

That restaurant was well received critically, including by this critic, but the investors weren’t pleased with its performance. Bhardwaj and much of the team he had assembled, including chef Aarthi Sampath, returned to New York.

Fusion 360’s menu features many familiar Indian dishes, some with an Asian influence, much as Raga had at one time.

The biggest difference with F360 is that on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings the restaurant will be turned into a nightclub called Kerala, with, it claims, the largest dance floor on Sand Lake Road. (Quick, name another place on Sand Lake Road with a dance floor.) There will also be bottle service, a late night menu and a VIP room. Best of luck with all of that.

Later in the summer, a halal menu is planned.

Fusion 360, 7559 W. Sand Lake Road, Orlando, is open for dinner daily. Here’s the current menu (prices not provided):


CorkFork logoPlans for a restaurant to replace the recently closed Funky Monkey have fallen through. Chef Ed Hollingsworth stated in a Facebook status update that his investors backed out.

He had planned to call the restaurant Hollingsworth's Fork & Cork. Had he continued, he might have had some pushback from the owners of a new restaurant opening in the former Belle Isle Bayou space at Conway Road and Hoffner Avenue to be called Cork & Fork. That business, which is calling itself a "freshtaurant," is expected to open in the coming weeks.

Back in Mills 50, word comes that Pom Moongauklang will open a second location of her popular Tako Cheena brand in the former Forbidden City location on Mills Avenue. But the first Tako Cheena is just a few doors away, I hear you saying with complete logic. That space will focus on takeout, apparently.

As for the Funky Monkey space, no word on any other takers as yet.


eola wine.001

OK, so you really want to help the cause of the Taste of the Nation event to help end childhood hunger, which I told you about here, but the $150 ticket charge is too steep, even if it all goes for a good cause. I get that.

So do some other good people in the community, including our friends at Eola Wine Company in downtown Orlando.

They’re hosting specials that continue on the next two Wednesdays with proceeds going to Taste of the Nation. Eola Wine Company welcomes guests to raise a glass to end childhood hunger with a series of weekly wine tasting events on Wednesdays from 6 to 8:00 p.m. for a $15 donation at the door. All proceeds will benefit Share our Strength’s efforts to end childhood hunger, which includes local beneficiaries Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. Eola Wine Company is  at 430 E. Central Blvd., Orlando.

And here are some other local businesses where you can help raise money for the cause: