Celebrate Labor Day Weekend at Grande Lakes Orlando

Written by Scott Joseph on .

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Grande Lakes fireworks

Some people lament the coming of Labor Day because they see it as the end of summer. I look forward to it because I see it as the promise that cooler weather is only four or five months away.

Our friends at Grande Lakes Orlando see it my way, so they’re hosting their annual Labor Day celebration, culminating with a spectacular fireworks display on Sunday (in the evening, because these people are serious about their fireworks).

The fireworks start at 9 p.m., so the smart thing to do is to plan dinner at either Highball and Harvest at the Ritz-Carlton or Primo at the JW Marriott beforehand.

H&H will feature its regular a la carte menu as well as some special dishes inspired by the holiday (probably something that takes a lot of labor to create). And because Highball is part of its name, the Southern inspired restaurant will also have some great handcrafted cocktails to pair with the food.

Across the way, Primo will be rooting through its onsite garden to come up with its hyper-locally sourced specialties featuring sustainable seafood and organic produce. You can balance all that healthfulness with something from the extensive wine list or one of Primo’s special cocktails. An added advantage to dining at Primo is that you can just step outside to the terrace to watch the fireworks over the Lake, Grande.

2nd Annual Sous Chef Challenge Will Be Open to the Public

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Sous Chef Challenge 2019

The second annual Scott Joseph’s Sous Chef Challenge: The Next Big Thing is Sunday, Sept. 15, and you’re invited to attend, taste the competitors’ dishes and vote for your favorite.

The event will be at the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show at the Orange County Convention Center and will be part of the ACF Central Florida Chapter’s Culinary Arts Competitions. Up to 15 sous chefs – the men and women who serve as second in command in a restaurant’s kitchen – will prepare and serve a dish that they think represents the next big food trend, whether that’s an ingredient, a method of preparation or a way of serving. The winner of the challenge will be presented a check for $1000.

The winner will be selected by a panel of certified chefs (and me) who will evaluate the entries for taste, creativity and presentation.

The contestants will cook in the Tasting Arena that will be set up on the convention floor next to the vendor exhibitions. The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show is generally open only to restaurateurs and culinary professionals. But those holding a ticket to the Sous Chef Challenge will be allowed to wander the convention floor, where, not incidentally, there will be dozens of other food, beer and wine samples to taste.

Only 95 tickets are available to the general public. The cost is $35 and all proceeds from ticket sales will go to Give Kids the World. Tickets can be purchased at the Sous Chef Challenge event page.

Next Drawing is for Tickets to Taste! Central Florida

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We’re less than a month away from Taste! Central Florida, Saturday, Sept. 14, from 6:45 to 10 p.m. at the Orlando World Center Marriott. This will be the 30th annual Taste! Central Florida, which is now in its third year.

I should explain. For the first 27 years, the event, which raises money and awareness for childhood hunger, was known as Taste of the Nation and was part of Share Our Strength. In 2017, the beneficiaries, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida took it local, so now all of the proceeds stay right here.

And those proceeds are sorely needed. Childhood hunger is persistent problem in Central Florida. The money raised at Taste! — more than $252,000 last year — fund community outreach programs to feed those in need. Thanks to a roster of volunteers — even the Marriott donates the space – 100 percent stays right here.

Also volunteering their time and talent are many of the area’s top chefs representing some of our best restaurants, including our friends at Raglan Road and Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes, and a cadre of beverage representatives serving wine, beer and craft cocktails.

How to Sign Up for Scott's Weekly E-letter

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