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MILA Group, the Miami Beach restaurant concern, has announced the culinary team for its upcoming Winter Park restaurant, Ava MediterrAgean, which will occupy the former Luma on Park space.

Hung Huynh, the season-three winner of the cooking-competition show Top Chef, will be the executive chef. Huynh, who was born in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, but raised in Pittsfield, Mass., is a 2002 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. (He earned money for his culinary training by working at a teppanyaki restaurant in Puerto Rico where he had to fake an Asian accent.)

Huynh’s resume included stints at New York’s Lespinasse and Per Se and the Las Vegas Guy Savoy. Following his 2007 win on Top Chef, he led the kitchens at Catch NYC and The General.

Ava’s culinary team also includes Daniel Garner and Erick Melendez as MILA Group’s corporate head chef and corporate research and development chef, respectively. Garner was previously senior sous chef at Nobu Malibu and Melendez was with Zuma in Miami, New York, London and Rome.


Pammies int

Pammie’s Sammies, the Winter Garden sandwicherie, is the runaway winner of the 2021 Best Sandwich Foodster Award for Independent Restaurants.

Yellow Dog Eats in Gotha was second and sentimental favorite Beefy King was third.

Other top vote getters included Bad As’s Sandwich, which was a previous winner of the Best Sandwich Foodster Award, LaSpada’s Original Cheesesteaks & Hoagies and George’s Cafe.

Pammie’s Sammies opened its Winter Garden shop just minutes before the coronavirus necessitated a shutdown and general disruption of restaurants. But owners Pam and Thorp Thomas persevered, and their restaurant has become a popular hangout. (I reviewed Pammie's Sammies in Sept.)

Besides its ample sandwiches, Pammie’s is known for its musical atmosphere – even the menus are printed on the backs of vintage rock album covers. “Great atmosphere, food, and service,” wrote on commenter.

In voting for Yellow Dog Eats, Steve Alcorn said, “The creative combinations at Yellow Dog are always gourmet quality!”

Congratulations to all the winners and thank you to everyone who voted.


Lugarden ext

I got Chinese food from Lu Garden the other day.

“Leu Gardens sells Chinese food?”

No, not Leu Gardens, Lu Garden.

“You mean Chuan Lu Garden?”

No, but Lu Garden has some good food to chew on.

Lu Garden is a compact, unassuming restaurant in a small strip mall on Conroy Winermere Road between Kirkman road and Dr. Phillips Boulevard. It seems the space was previously occupied by a business called Magic Wok, but Magic Wok apparently went poof.

I needed to order some food to take to a business meeting and found Lu Garden’s website. It was easy to navigate and had a user-friendly ordering feature. I grabbed some items and put them in my cart, easily choosing the side selections for each entree.



Cattle Baron sign

The Cattle Baron’s Ball, the annual event to “give cancer the boot,” returns to Rosen Shingle Creek Sat., Dec. 4, from 6 to 11 p.m.

This is the twentieth annual fundraiser to benefit the American Cancer Society and the first return to an in-person event since the pandemic.

If you’ve never been, the Cattle Baron’s Ball is a big, fun Western-themed hoedown featuring numerous restaurants situated around one of Rosen Shingle Creek’s grand ballrooms. It’s a walkabout event so you’re free to roam – just like buffalo – to sip, taste and sample as much as you’d like.

Individual tickets are $250 and table purchases are also available. Proceeds will fund pediatric cancer support.

Cattle Baron dance

Some of the restaurants participating this year include:


CPC logo

College Park Cafe, the Edgewater Drive diner, has been under new ownership since Oct. 18 when Alan and Joey bought the business. You’re asking, “Alan and Joey who?” and I’d love to tell you. But Joey told me in a phone conversation that they have been receiving threats and are concerned for their safety. So first names only.

Longtime fans of the cafe might also like to know that they’ve brought back David – also no last name – who cooked at the diner from 1988 through 2018 when the previous owners took over. David has brought back the “world famous” made-from-scratch biscuits and collard greens.

The previous owners had introduced a line of Cuban dishes gathered, according to a note on the cafe’s Yelp page, from their grandmother’s recipes. And the place was dubbed Abuelita Kitchen at College Park Cafe.

But what about the threats?