Aimee RiveraAimee Rivera has assumed the title of chef de cuisine at Disney’s estimable Victoria & Albert’s restaurant. She takes over for Scott Hunnel, who is now the executive chef for Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, which is home to the fine dining restaurant.

Hunnel still officially oversees the restaurant. “I have one leg in Victoria & Albert’s and one leg in the Grand,” he said. The new structure for V&A, he said, essentially moved other personnel up a notch.

Rivera, who has been with the restaurant for 14 years, was previously chef. Sous chefs Tom Hill and Matt Sower now hold that title. Hill has been with the restaurant for 21 years. It’s a testament to Hunnel and the way he operates his kitchen that so many staff members have been with him for so long. Chefs, as a group, are fairly peripatetic.


Note: This article has been updated to clarify Henry Salgado's role at Luke's in Maitland.

Henry and Michele Salgado have sold their critically acclaimed New Smyrna Beach restaurant, Spanish River Grill. The restaurant, which opened in December of 1999, featured chef Henry Salgado’s modern approach to Latin cuisine.

The Salgados had also owned Txokos Basque Kitchen at East End Market but sold it last year. That restaurant has since closed.

The new owner of Spanish River Grill is Henry Rodriguez. Attempts to reach Rodriquez were not successful. The restaurant’s website still features the Salgados as the owners, so it isn’t clear what, if any, changes Rodriguez might make.

Michele Salgado says the couple are in the process of purchasing property off of New Smyrna Beach’s Flagler Avenue to open a new concept this spring. In the meantime, Henry, pictured at left, is working at Luke’s Kitchen and Bar in Maitland, which debuts today.

F2F pavilion

Master sommelier George Miliotes will be joining the top chefs from Walt Disney World Resort’s restaurants for the fourth annual Field to Feast event on March 25 in Zellwood. Miliotes, who opened was general manager of California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort before joining Darden to develop Seasons 52, will open his Wine Bar George later this year at Disney Springs.

In teaming up with the event, presented by our friends at Edible Orlando, Miliotes will oversee the wine, beer and cocktail pairings for the dinner. (Here's my review of last year's event.)

Field to Feast has become a must-do event for area food fans and has sold out each of the previous three years. The walkabout dinner takes place on the property of Long and Scott Farms in Zellwood and highlights the bounty of Central Florida’s food producers. 

Delicious Disney Alice

The announcement I’ve been anticipating has finally been made: Delicious Disney, A Chef Series, will continue through 2017.

The series started as a sort of experiment or trial last sumemr. In fact then it was called "A Summer Series." There were three dinners, all of them at Markham’s, the private restaurant at Golden Oak, but each featuring a chef and team from another restaurant at Walt Disney World Resort.

This year, the series will expand to nine dinners in all, and throughout the year. And while a majority of them will also be at Markham’s, which offers a pleasant atmosphere in its comfortable dining room (but seating for only 60 guests), three of the dinners will be at other venues throughout the property.

That includes the first dinner of the year, which will be at Cinderella’s Royal Table at Cinderella’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom Tuesday, January 31. It begins with a Fireworks Reception at 7: 45 p.m. and dinner begins at 9. The dinner will be under the direction of Magic Kingdom’s culinary director Robert Gilbert and his team. The cost? Hold on to your tiaras: $499 per person.

Most of the other dinners are $249 (and all include tax and gratuity) so you know there must be something really special planned for this one. No one is giving any specifics, but I do know that the park closes at 8 p.m., so it will be an after-hours dinner. (To see the full list of Delicious Dinners, A Chef Series, and for reservation information, see Pam Brandon’s article at Disney Parks Blog.)

And if the dinners held last year under the Delicious Disney banner are any indication, the evening will be an impressive presentation of food and wine excellence.

Foodster Award Best Burger Platinum.001

Tap Room at Dubsdread has won the title of Best Burger in the first of Scott Joseph’s Foodster Awards for Independent Restaurants. Second Place goes to The Whiskey, the Sand Lake Road tavern and restaurant.

Teak Neighborhood Grill takes third place, beating Smiling Bison by merely one vote.

Long a local favorite, the Tap Room Classic Cheeseburger is a half pounder of certified angus beef that according to Tap Room owner Steve Gunter is pattied fresh before every shift. “So of course it’s never frozen,” he added. The burger is also topped with Tillamook cheddar cheese after being cooked to the guest’s specified degree of doneness.

Gunter would not reveal the ratio of lean to fat for the patty, which is an important factor in any burger. “It’s enough to give it flavor but not so much to make it gross,” he said.

Gunter said he was honored to be the first winner of a Foodster Award. Winning something from one of the mainstream media outlets is always nice, said Gunter. “But winning an award from Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide means a whole lot more because your readers are more passionate about their food.”

The Foodster Awards for Independent Restaurants were created to honor excellence in food and beverage in Central Florida. Candidates for the awards are limited to businesses with three or fewer locations, so most chains are ineligible.

The Foodster Awards will continue throughout the year with new categories introduced monthly. Current categories include Best Cocktails and Best Pizza. The Best Cocktail award will be announced on January 26 in the weekly SJO e-letter.

Tap Room at Dubsdread is at 549 W. Par St., Orlando.