Delicious Disney Chef Series Adds November Dinner Event at California Grill

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Delicious Disney dessert

Delicious Disney, the exquisitely upscale dining event that lets the resort's top chefs go wildly creative, has added a date for a special dinner at California Grill at the Contemporary Resort.

A Culinary Tribute to Mickey Mouse's Birthday will be the theme for the newly added dinner on Saturday, November 18. The dinner will feature "unique and inspired culinary creations coupled with deliciously creative wine pairings..."

The evening will begin with a reception at 7 p.m. followed by dinner at 7:30 in the restaurant's Napa Room. At 10, guests will move to a private observation deck for a viewing of Happily Ever After, the fireworks program over the Magic Kingdom.

Tickets are $350 per person, which includes tax and gratuity. Reservations may be made by calling 407-939-5773 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. There is limited availability. (A previously scheduled Delicious Disney dinner in December has been sold out for months.)

The Delicious Disney Chef Series is a unique showcase for the talents of Walt Disney World's stable of chefs. It allows them to step out of their regular kitchens and away from the daily menus and show what they can do. The price is steep, to be sure, but for those who really appreciate fine food and wine, it's really a bargain.

I recently attended a Delicious Disney dinner at Summerhouse, Golden Oak's clubhouse and restaurant, that featured the chefs of Disney's Concept Development Team. I'll tell you all about that dinner soon, but I wanted to let you know about this added dinner right away.

I've written about previous dinners here and here.

Pharmacy, Speakeasy Style Bar and Restaurant, is Closed

Written by Scott Joseph on .


According to a sign in front of the business, as well as a message on its answering machine, Pharmacy, the speakeasy-themed restaurant and bar in the Dellagio Plaza on Restaurant Row, is closed for a week beginning today for kitchen renovations.

However, according to multiple sources, it is unlikely that it will reopen.

One source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the business had been in bankruptcy court this week and was given a one-week extension to find an investor. A stipulation of the extension was that the restaurant could not be open for business while an investor was sought.

But on Friday, workers were seen removing furniture and equipment from the space.

The Pharmacy opened in 2013 as craft cocktails were trending. It was owned by chefs Tyler Brassil and his wife, Loren Falsone, with Dominick Tardugno handling the beverages. Such touches as house-bottled tonics, not to mention critically acclaimed food, made it a hit, even as many people were flummoxed by the speakeasy concept and had trouble finding the front door that was disguised as an elevator. Flasone and Brassil split last year, according to people who knew the couple.

Attempts to reach Falsone and Brassil were not immediately successful.

Nothing Half-Baked About Local Pastry Talent

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Saintemarie sculpture

Olivier Saintemarie, pastry chef for the restaurants and bakery at the France pavilion in Epcot, has been chosen to serve on Pastry Team USA for La Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie (World Pastry Cup) to be held in 2019 in Lyon, France.

Saintmarie was chosen following a two-day competition held at Secchia Institute for Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College earlier this week. Participants competed in both sugar chocolate contests to create centerpieces and chocolate cakes. Saintemarie was in the chocolate category; his centerpiece is pictured at top.

portrait saintemarieSaintemarie, left, found his passion for pastries and baking at age 11 at his uncle's Paris boulangerie. “I was fascinated with the dough mixing, the different processes and all the products you could make with simple but quality ingredients,” Saintemarie said in his profile on the Team USA website.

He found his way to Orlando via Disney Cruise Line, first working on the first two ships, Magic and Wonder, as executive pastry chef.

However, his first position in Central Florida was with a French bakery that eventually merged with Douce France Bakery in Winter Garden.

He joined the James Bocuse-owned operation at Epcot "four or five years ago," said executive chef Bruno Vrignon. He oversees a team of 35 preparing the bread and pastries for Les Halles Bakery shop, Les Chefs de France, the 220-seat Brasserie style restaurant, Monsieur Paul, the 110-seat fine dining and L’Artisan des Glaces, the artisan style ice cream shop.

Riemer headshot

Saintemarie was honored last month along with Stefan Riemer, executive pastry chef for the Culinary Development team at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, pictured at right, in Dessert Professional magazine's annual list of Top 10 pastry chefs in America.

Another of Central Florida's well-decorated pastry chefs, Laurent Branlard, below, of Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, served as a judge for the Team USA competition this week. Branlard is the only person to win the World Pastry Team Championship twice.

So Central Florida is certainly baking!

Branlard headshot

It's Official: Park Plaza Gardens Will Not reopen

Written by Scott Joseph on .

PPG ext

A settlement has been reached in the dispute between Mary Demetree, the owner of Park Plaza Gardens, and the landlord of the building, Park Avenue Plaza of Winter Park, LTD. Details of the settlement have not been disclosed, but Park Plaza Gardens, once a fixture of Winter Park and at one time a venerable dining and special occasion destination, will not reopen.

“After 36 years as one of Winter Park’s iconic gathering places, Park Plaza Gardens will not be reopening," Demetree said in a statement provided by her spokeswoman, Sara Brady of Sara Brady Public Relations. "The restaurant earned its place as part of Winter Park culture by providing patrons with wonderful memories of brunches, bridal showers, and just enjoying a glass of wine late at night on the Avenue. I am grateful for all those who supported and loved the restaurant for so very long.”

The restaurant has been closed since March 7, 2016, for what Demetree, who has been the owner for 18 years, said were water intrusion and rat infestation issues. Details of the dispute were reported here in December.

All along, the official line of the restaurant's management was that it was "temporarily closed." However, after nearly 17 months, few will be surprised that the closure is now permanent.

Indeed, many have asked if the business would have been able to reemerge after the brand had been so negatively impacted.

And will anyone else be able to move in and take over the space to start anew? If a new business does move in, it won't likely be called Park Plaza Gardens -- Demetree retains ownership of the name.