The finalists in the contest to find a honey-based dessert to represent Orlando’s signature dish have been announced. The 10 top vote-getters in an online poll conducted by sponsor Visit Orlando will present their desserts to a panel of judges on Thursday at a private tasting. The winning dessert will be announced at Visit Orlando’s annual luncheon on Dec. 7.
The competition arose after Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs challenged local chefs to come up with a food that could be touted as the area's signature dish — our own New England Clam Chowder or Philly Cheese Steak. The focus was narrowed to a dessert featuring honey to highlight the abundance and variety of honeys produced in Central Florida.
Twenty-nine chefs submitted recipes for the desserts, which were required to feature honey as a main ingredient and had to be available for purchase by the general public in a restaurant.
The Top 10 Finalists (Listed in alphabetical order by the Chef’s last name)
Executive Pastry Chef Laurent Branlard, bluezoo at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort
Submission: “Honey for Tea” - Layered milk chocolate earl grey tea cream, gianduja ganache, hazelnut honey dacquoise sponge and homemade speculoos crunch, served with Chocolate coated honey hazelnut ice cream, on a honey cloud, with hazelnut dust and honey caramel sauce.
Chef Catherine Delrieu, Mon Petit Cheri Cafe
Submission: “Honey Nougat Glacé” - Italian meringue prepared with honey, nougat and fruit confit, on a red berries sorbet.
Chef Gloriann Rivera, 1921 by Norman Van Aken
Submission: "Honey I'm Home" - Honey cremeux with spiced cake, honey sponge candy, pistachio crumble, candied persimmon and chocolate black tea sorbet.
Chef Trina Gregory-Propst, Se7enbites
Submission: “Orange Blossom Honey Velvet Cake” - A moist honey 3-layer cake brushed with honey & orange blossom simple syrup, an orange blossom honey pastry cream filling and finished with an orange blossom essence American buttercream and crushed roasted salted pistachios.
Chef Amanda McFall, Urbain 40 American Brasserie & Lounge
Submission: "Local Honey-Laced 'Baklava' Cheesecake" – A hybrid of baklava and cheesecake, with pistachio phyllo layers, honey crema and Honey Feast small batch bourbon-scented honey.
Chef Bobby Rivera Otero and Chef Jason Stricker, Le Cellier Steakhouse in Epcot
Submission: “Local Wildflower Honey-Mascarpone Cheesecake” with Orange Blossom Honey Ice Cream garnished with Fennel Pollen Meringue Kisses and an Orange-scented Cookie. Gold-flecked wildflower honey pools in an indentation on the top of the cheesecake and is also drizzled over the ice cream and decorates the plate.
Executive Pastry Chef Rabii Saber, Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort
Submission: “Honey Peanut Butter Gelato” - This gelato is lightly scented with local Orange Blossom Honey from The Winter Garden Honey Company, swirled with creamy peanut butter ribbons and topped with crunchy candied peanuts.
Chef Henry Sison, Boardwalk Restaurant at The Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista
Submission: "Honey Orange Cassava Cake" - Grated yucca baked with ginger zest, coconut milk, orange zest, condensed milk, egg yolk, vanilla and honey.
Chef Vincent Gagliano, Chez Vincent
Submission: "Honeymoon" - Homemade honey and pine nut ice cream on a classic French meringue with a raspberry coulis and fresh mint.
Chef Andrea Zelen & Chef Jenny Herbert, 4 Rivers Smokehouse
Submission: "Orange Beehive Cake" - Orange honey cake with Lake Meadows Naturals wild flower honey caramel buttercream and toasted honey marshmallow frosting.
I will be a judge for the finals along with Art Smith of Homecoming Kitchen; Tish Boyle from Dessert Professional Magazine; and Lauren Delgado, food reporter at Orlando Sentinel.