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Catrinas render

Catrinas, which self describes as a Mexican Fusion restaurant, is set to open in the former Garibaldi Mexican Restaurant space at 925 N. Semoran Boulevard. There is no apostrophe in the name, so we’ll assume there is more than one Catrina involved.

As to what the Mexican cuisine is fused with, we’ll have to wait until it opens “in a few weeks” – no menu has been posted on its website. Although you might be able to get a pretaste when Catrinas – all of them? – serve at the Calle Orange Festival in downtown Orlando Sunday.

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Branlard headshotLaurent Branlard, the only person to win the World Pastry Team Championship competition twice, has joined the staff of the soon-to-open Lake Nona Wave Hotel as its pastry chef. Branlard had previously been pastry chef at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort.

“I’m very excited because it is a boutique hotel,” Branlard, pictured at left, said by phone Monday. “We won’t have to mass feed and do mass banquets.”

The Lake Nona Wave will have 234 “high-tech” guest rooms. An opening date has not been announced but Branlard said it will be late fall. (Tick tock.)

Branlard joins executive chef Guillaume Robin, who was the opening chef for the JW Marriott Bonnet Creek hotel.

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Beard medals

Here’s something for those of you who are fond of banging your head against a wall: The James Beard Foundation is accepting recommendations for its 2022 chef and restaurant awards.

Bang lightly, however, as this will be the first award program following an audit conducted by the foundation to attempt to make the awards more diverse, both in nominees and voting body, and remove any systemic bias.

(If I were giving this information in front of a live audience, this is where I would pause for laughter.)

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shinjung21 ext

When I went by Shin Jung on June 27, 2019, a day after a fire had swept through it, I look at the damage and thought, “No way they’ll reopen here.”

Shin Jung has reopened there.

The building, a converted original single-family home, perhaps the only one remaining within miles in either direction on Colonial Drive, has a new look, one that is more open and brighter, thanks to new picture windows on the front and side.

A canopy across the front makes it look less housey. There’s even a new side patio for outdoor dining.

It’s a transformation for the better – the last time I was in the old place I found it dark and dank and in need of tidying.

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NYC iceskating copy

If you’ve been kicking yourself because you missed out on booking the Flavorful Escape to New York City tour that I’m hosting in conjunction with Art In Voyage, I have good news: We’ve just had one room open up for the Dec. 8-12 trip.

That’s less than two months away so click on the Art In Voyage link for details and to snag that room. We’re keeping the group small – 10 or 11 of us – so no additional rooms will be added.

It’s going to be a wonderful return to New York, and December is one of my favorite times of the year to be there. We’ll do culinary tours to Chinatown and Little Italy, we’ll have high tea overlooking Central Park, we’ll take a class at the legendary Murray’s Cheese in Greenwich Village and do some cooking at De Gustibus Cooking School at the top of Macy’s in Herald Square.