FusionFest, pastry chefs, a food truck headed for the Pass, a Norman's update and Ramsay funds
FusionFest, the annual multi-cultural celebration, returns this year to its usual calendar spot, the weekend after Thanksgiving. The event will take place on the Frontyard Festival space at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts Nov. 27 and 28. Saturday hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sunday it’s from noon to 6 p.m.
FusionFest features dance, music, visual arts and games. Most notably, it features vendors serving foods from various world cultures. It’s free to attend and food can be purchased separately. Or you can buy a VIP Passport for $25 that will include four food tokens. Information here.
Ron James, the award-winning pastry chef at Tornatore’s Ristorante and Italian Market, has announced his “semi retirement,” which I think means he’ll only make pastries using semi-sweet chocolate. Taking over full-time head pastry chef duties will be Christopher Sawaryn, left, who has been working with James for the past four years and was previously with the pastry team at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin. He’s also a former master sergeant of the U.S. Air Force, which should help keep his napoleons in line.
James had previously owned Sugarbuzz Dezert Company, a previous winner of our Best Dessert Foodster Award for Independent Restaurants. He was forced to close Sugarbuzz during the pandemic, and when he stopped by Tornatore’s to tell owner Denny Tornatore that he would no longer be able to supply the restaurant with pastries Tornatore invited James to come work for him.
The Pass Kitchen, an Altamonte Springs takeout and delivery ghost kitchen also known as Pass Progressive, is adding a food truck to its operations. Owner Willian Herrara said the truck is waiting to be “wrapped” with the Pass logo and pass its final inspection. Herrara also told me he’s been in discussions with Matthew Cargo about adding pizzas to the repertoire. The two worked together in the kitchens of the former Luma on Park and Prato (still on Park). Cargo left the area several years ago to accept the chef de partie position at Otium in in Los Angeles but recently returned to the area. However, Herrara said that Cargo had to leave again to deal with some family issues. He’s still hoping the two can get back together. I’d enjoy seeing that because they obviously did great things with pizzas. Watch for the Pass food truck in the Hourglass District (which is in the Curry Ford West district) on Dec. 11.
Norman Van Aken was in town for last weekend’s Cows ’n Cabs and stood alongside John Rivers dishing out paella to the masses. I asked him for an update on the relocation of Norman’s, formerly of the Ritz-Carlton. He would only say that the restaurant, which will be in the Dellagio Plaza off Sand Lake Road in what was previously Bravo!, is “moving along” and “it’s going to happen.” The design, he added, “is going to be amazing.”
Gordon Ramsay North America has announced a commitment to raise $1 million each for Make-A-Wish and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. More than $175,000 has already been raised from opening week events of Ramsay Fish & Chips at Icon Park in Orlando.