Fieri interview

As Planet Hollywood reels toward its opening (see what I did there?), which is in all likelihood to occur sometime this week, 

Earl, of course, is the founder of the Orlando-headquartered Planet Hollywood, which is putting the final touches on the chain’s renovations of its flagship restaurant. To go with the rebranded Disney Springs, the Orlando Planet, which originally was a giant globe, has been retrofitted as an observatory. In fact, the official name of the restaurant is now Planet Hollywood Observatory.


I did an interview with Fieri with my friends at icFlorida. (Click on the video at the top.) Afterwards, we were given an exclusive sneak peek at the inside, which looks great. I especially like that the globe was broken open on the second level — just above what used to be its equator — to add a balcony with a great view of the Springs. (The rather stagnant-looking water that used to surround the structure is gone, so at least one swamp got drained.)

Earl, by the way, was a no show for the Fieri interviews and a scheduled reception that night, which was cancelled because he could not attend. He had a good reason: His daughter Beth had gone into labor and later that day delivered Robert and Trisha Earl’s first grandchild. Mother and daughter are doing well.


It turns out that Epcot had a few weeks on the calendar without a festival of some sort, so now comes the debut of the Epcot International Festival of the Arts. It will run weekends (Friday to Monday)  through February 20, just in time to get out of the way of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, which opens March 1.

It says Festival of the Arts, and certainly the media that come to mind — painting, sculpture and such — are part of it. But the festivaleers are also emphasizing performing arts and, to our interest, the culinary arts, as well.

PPG Rats

The article has been updated to include a statement from Park Plaza Gardens.

It appears that the owner of Park Plaza Gardens has stepped up its War of the Rodents with the property's landlord.

As the photo above shows, signs were placed in the windows of the shuttered landmark restaurant earlier Thursday stating in no uncertain terms why the place is closed. It wasn't any secret, as I told you in this article about the closing of Park Plaza Gardens.

Since the photo was taken, someone has placed cardboard over the signs.

Through Sara Brady Public Relations, Park Plaza Gardens released this statement: “After more than nine months since Ms. Demetree was forced to close the restaurant due to the building’s condition, signs were posted today simply to answer questions about the closure.”


Check out this video for the first look at the newly refurbished Planet Hollywood, now rebranded Planet Hollywood Observatory, at Disney Springs.

Opening date is unknown but likely next week. More later, including my interview with Guy Fieri.

Chefs gala 25 logo

The 25th annual Chef’s Gala, the food and wine fundraising event for Heart of Florida United Way, will be Saturday, Feb. 4, from 6:45 to 10 p.m. at Epcot’s World Showplace.

That’s a little earlier this year. Recent CG’s have been held in May, but organizers found there were too many conflicts. I think we’re all about ready for a good party by February, don’t you?

And this is a heck of a party. Area chefs are stationed in the behemoth event space at Epcot. Among the talent this year you’ll find some of our favorite restaurants, including K Restaurant Wine Bar, Urban Tide, and Soco. (See below for a full list.) (And click here for a hint of what Jared Gross from Urban Tide will be serving.)

And you don’t have to pay for admission to Epcot. Instead, you’ll be directed to a special part of the parking lot where buses will be waiting to take you through the backstage area of the theme park to the gala venue, which is kind of cool itself.

That said, tickets aren’t inexpensive. They’re $275 or $500 for a couple. But know that 95 cents of every dollar goes to the local programs supported by Heart of Florida United Way. Food, wine, live music, a peek at a part of Epcot few people get to see, and you’re doing something good for the community. It’s really a bargain.

Follow this link for more information and to purchase tickets to the 25th annual Heart of Florida United Way Chef’s Gala.