Zach Bell Leaves Cafe Boulud for Country club Gig

Written by Scott Joseph on .


Zach Bell - Photo: PRWeb
If Florida has a list of rising-star chefs, Zach Bell undoubtedly is near the top. As executive chef at Cafe Boulud in Palm Beach, Bell earned kudos from Wine Spectator and numerous other publications, and the restaurant garnered four stars from Mobile Travel Guide. And he has been a finalist for best chef in the region by the James Beard Foundation Awards four times. Oh, and looky here: he was recently named Rising Star Chef of the Year for the South by Star Chefs.


So why did he leave Daniel Boulud’s high profile restaurant, and why has he accepted the position of executive chef at a private country club?

I haven’t been able to get any good answers, though there’s plenty of conjecture. Some wonder if Bell and his wife, Jennifer, might be wanting to start a family. The demands of a chef at a conventional restaurant -- especially one located in a hotel, as Cafe Boulud is -- are great. Late nights, weekends and holidays are part of the deal. Taking the job at Addison Reserve Country Club in Delray Beach will undoubtedly give him better home hours.

And, some say, he was finally frustrated with the four tries at the Beard Award without taking home the medallion.

A more likely reason? Word is that Bell stands to make somewhere around $300,000/year cooking at Addison.

(I wonder how many readers I just lost because they left to Google “cooking schools”?)

Cafe Boulud’s new chef, as reported by my friend and fellow flogger Jan Norris, is James Leiken, who was previously at Boulud’s DBGB in New York. He starts his duties July 4.


Dubsdread Comes to Rescue of Jilted Highland Manor Brides

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Highland_ManorSteve Gunter, owner of Tap Room at Dubsdread and Dubsdread Catering, announced this morning that his team has been selected by the City of Apopka to manage the troubled Highland Manor property on an interim basis.

Highland Manor, also remembered by longtime Central Floridians as Townsend’s Plantation, was closed after the city evicted the current owners for nonpayment of rent. As reported yesterday in the Orlando Sentinel, Apopka police arrested Richard Wilhelm Thursday on charges that he schemed to defraud customers by continuing to collect deposits for events at the property after he had received notices of the impending eviction. According to the article, the people who paid the deposits, mostly brides who planned to have weddings and receptions there, likely will not get that money back.

But Gunter told me this morning that the city’s deal with him, which gives him the facilities rent free, will allow him to honor the contracts without requiring an additional deposit. He also stressed that although the city wants another restaurant to operate in the Highland Manor space, he will not be the one to operate it. His Tap Room at Dubsdread is a popular and critically acclaimed restaurant, but he says the Apopka property has limitations that would hinder a duplicate success -- mainly that people approaching the property from the south cannot make a left turn to reach it.

So Dubsdread Catering will handle the weddings for those currently booked and others who wish to hold their receptions there in the future. Dubsdread, another popular wedding and reception location, is booked solid for the year and, according to Gunter, has turned away 100 requests.


Dates Announced for 16th Annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Epcot_logoThe 16th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival will run from September 30 to November 13, 2011. The 45-day fest is one of the largest and longest food and wine events in the country.

There will be three new tasting marketplaces -- Hawaii, Caribbean Islands and Portugal -- plus new menu offerings at popular returning marketplaces. Look for exotic cocktails to be a new focus.

The Hawaii kiosk will offer Kalua pork sliders and tuna poke with seaweed salad and lotus root chips to team with a Seven Tiki Mai Tai or a Kona Longboard or Pipeline beer. The Caribbean Islands marketplace will serve ropa vieja with rice and jerk-spiced chicken with mango salsa and a beverage menu featuring a frozen Dragon Berry Colada and frozen Rock Coconut Mojito.

The new Portugal marketplace will have the Portugal Wine Bar with offerings to pair with calamari salad with olives and smoked paprika. The Scandinavia marketplace will return after a hiatus with a fresh new Xante Sunshine cocktail made from Xante pear and cognac liquer. And the Canada marketplace will introduce its apple ice wine.

Celebrity chefs scheduled to appear include Jeff Henderson, Cat Cora, Alan Wong, Gale Gand, Suvir Saran, Jamie Deen, Rock Harper, Celina Tio, Robert Irvine, Andrew Zimmern, Buddy Valastro, Warren Brown, Art Smith and Keegan Gerhard.

New this year, HGTV will offer home entertaining seminars each Friday, saturday and Sunday. And Craisins will offer a cranberry bog display.

Plus there will be the usual seminars, bottle signings, author events and culinary demonstrations.

And, is that a new official logo for this year?

More as it becomes available.


Invitations Out for Visit Orlando Magical Dining Month

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Visit Orlando has extended invitations to the restaurants it would like to participate in this year's Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month. (Yes, it's by inviation only -- not just any restaurant can be a part of it.)

Did you notice the subtle name change? It used to be Orlando Magical Dining Month. Now it has the new name to incorporate the new name of the former Convention and Visitors Bureau.

As with previous years, the month of Magical Dining will be during September. The restaurants that accept the invitation will offer a three-course, $30 prix fixe meal. Each year a portion of the proceeds goes to benefit a charity. This year it's Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida.

If you've already received your invitation, be sure to respond. If you haven't gotten one, and you're wondering why you haven't been invited, send me a note and I'll slip it to the people at Visit Orlando. I'm sure it was just an oversight!

Can't wait to see which restaurants will be participating. I've already heard from one that has decided not to be a part of it this year. I'll give you more details later.