Here's what happened on the flog this week.
I stopped by Agave Azul the other day and presented the Best Mexican Gold Foodster Award for Independent restaurants to Alex Burns, above left, and Richard Li.
A.A. won the award just in time -- it soon may be ineligible. As you know, the Foodster Awards are exclusively for restaurants with three or fewer locations. Agave Azul has just announced that it will be taking over the former Square 1 Burger location in Winter Park (should still have some of the new-restaurant smell to it since Square One didn't occupy it very long).
And, according to its Facebook page, the company has two other Agave locations planned for Windermere (fall 2018) and Maitland (summer 2019). At least they're not rushing into things.
Agave Azul is owned by the Rios Restaurant Group, which also operates Saint Añejo in Winter Springs and La Fiesta Mexican Cocinas (cocini?) in Port Orange and Ormond Beach. The latter two are not related to La Fiesta Mexican Grill and Catering on Curry Ford Road in Orlando.
Coming soon: Best Microbrewery Foodster Award. Who would you nominate?
If you tune into today's broadcast of The Chew, you can see me in the audience. I'm easy to spot: I'm the one who isn't cheering, clapping wildly and laughing on cue. Sorry, I just not the type for audience participation.
But I enjoyed seeing the show being taped as part of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. I went along with the folks from icFlorida.com to interview the show's cast members after the taping. Those cast members are Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Carla Hall and Clinton Kelly.
The Chew is a weekday program that airs locally on ABC affiliate WFTV-Channel 9 at 1 p.m. It has been on the air since 2011. You can see some of my interview in the video below from icFlorida.
And now, a confession: The first time I saw an episode of The Chew was last week, when I sat in the audience at Epcot. Here are my thoughts:
The entries are in, and now the polls are open for you to vote in the quest to find a honey-fied Orlando signature dish.
As you'll recall, the initiative, which was started by Orange County mayor Theresa Jacobs and being facilitated by Visit Orlando, called upon area chefs to create a dish using honey as a prominent ingredient. Honey was chosen because it is an abundant crop in Central Florida.
An amazing 30 or so entries have been posted to the Visit Orlando website, with details on each dessert and where you can find them. It's up to you now to get out there and try as many as you can and then go back to the website and vote for just one. Polls opened today, and you have until Nov. 9 to make your selection.
The top 10 vote getters will be placed in front of a panel of judges who will make a final decision. The winner will be announced on Dec. 7.
Celebrity Chef Art Smith, Homecomin’ and two-time James Beard Foundation Award Winner
Tish Boyle, co-editor of Dessert Professional magazine
Lauren Delgado, multimedia food reporter for the Orlando Sentinel
Oh, and me.
Criteria for the competition included: local honey must be used as a key ingredient; the dish must be a dessert; and it must be available to the public in a restaurant or food venue. Participants could submit only one entry.
I'm impressed with the number of desserts that have been presented -- and I'm thrilled that that number is going to be narrowed down before we have to start judging. I'm also glad to see that so many of our most prominent chefs took up the challenge.
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