worldorlando dinner

WorldOrlando, which is not to be confused with Orlando World, is teaming up with Z Asian Vietnamese Kitchen and our friends at TastyChomps to host a fundraising dinner for Afghan refugees Monday, Oct. 17. The dinner will be at Z Asian, 1830 E. Colonial Drive, from 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased here.

All proceeds from the dinner will go to WorldOrlando’s Afghan International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) Alumni Emergency Relief Fund. IVLP is a United States Department of State program that sponsors short-term visits to the U.S. for current and emerging foreign leaders. The emergency relief fund was set up to help IVLP alumni in Afghanistan and other countries who are at risk because of their involvement in U.S.-funded activities cover food, shelter and other basic needs as well as relocation expenses.


VA22 entry

Victoria & Albert’s, the crown jewel of Walt Disney Resort restaurants, named for someone who wore the actual Crown Jewels, has finally returned to the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa after its pandemic-forced closure and a renovation that has refreshed and revitalized the 34-year-old dining room.

Other changes have occurred, too.

Now in charge of the kitchen as chef de cuisine in the role that was defined by Scott Hunnel is Matthew Sowers, who was recruited by Hunnel more than a decade ago. (Aimee Rivera was chef de cuisine when the restaurant closed in 2020; she has left the company. Hunnel was promoted to an executive chef position that oversees culinary operations at several resorts, including the Grand Floridian.) The other major personnel change is Kristine Farmer as pasty chef, replacing Erich Herbitschek, who retired.

But we have a long way to go before we talk about pastries because some things about Victoria & Albert’s remain the same, including that dinner here is an evening-long affair.


Curated Experience logo

Grande Lakes Orlando is continuing its series of Curated Experiences with a special Michelin Weekend Oct. 7-9. It’s a celebration of the inaugural Florida Michelin Guide, which awarded a star to Knife & Spoon at the Ritz-Carlton and named JW Marriott’s Primo a Bib Gourmand recommended restaurant.

But the resort isn’t just tooting its own horn, it’s invited other recognized chefs to play.

The weekend will kick off with a Mingle with Michelin event Friday evening from 6 to 9 p.m. with Knife & Spoon’s new chef de cuisine, Tyler Kineman, and Primo’s new executive sous chef, Rhys Gawlak. They’ll be joined by Niven Patel, executive chef at Ghee Indian Kitchen, Miami, and Cindy Hutson, executive chef of La Tropical, Coral Gables, and others.

On Saturday, two time James Beard Award winner Melissa Kelly of Primo will host Brunch with Melissa and Friends. Those friends will include Hutson; Julie Petrakis (The Ravenous Pig); Alexia Gawlak (Swine And Sons); Joanna Kaskiw (Grande Lakes Orlando Pastry); Alexa Delgado (Grande Lakes Orlando Evrbar); and Amanda Gibbons (Primo).

The evening’s event will be Michelin Under the Stars, a gala dinner featuring Mitch Lienhard, whose Michelin-starred experiences include stints as chef de partie at Alinea in Chicago, sous chef at Grace in Chicago, executive sous chef at Saison in San Francisco, and chef de cuisine at Manresa in Los Gatos, Calif. He’ll be joined by Michael Ferraro, chef and vice president of food and beverage at Tavistock Restaurant Collection, and world-renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.


Descend 21 2Renderings: Hyatt Regency Orlando

Hyatt Regency Orlando is currently renovating two of its food and beverage venues, Rocks Bar and Urban Tide. Rocks will return in late December but Urban Tide is no more. It will be replaced with Descend 21, which will be more lounge-like and feature billiards and virtual golf.

The $8 million project is being coordinated by interior design firm Blur Workshop of Atlanta and Chicago’s GREC Architects.


Rosa Mexicano logo

Rosa Mexicano, an “elevated fiesta” chain that originated on New York’s Upper East Side, will open at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort after the first of the year. It will take over the space in the Dolphin currently occupied by Fresh Mediterranean Market, which serves a breakfast buffet. Rosa Mexicano was founded by Josepfina Howard in 1984 and claims to be the first New York City restaurant to offer Mexican food in a fine dining atmosphere. It currently has several Manhattan locations including one at Lincoln Center.

The restaurant’s website says that its interiors feature water walls designed by David Rockwell that pay homage to Acapulco cliff divers. The Dolphin-based RM will occupy 5,500 square feet and seat 300 guests. There will also be a bar that seats 30 and a private room that can accommodate 50 people.