Fess Parker, King of the Wild Frontier, Winemaker, Dead at 85

Written by Scott Joseph on .

DanielBooneDVDDaniel Boone is dead. So is Davy Crockett. That doesn’t sound like news, but to anyone who was a child in the ‘50s and ‘60s, that means Fess Parker is dead, too. Parker died Thursday at the age of 85. Parker personified the legendary personalities of Boone and Crockett in Disney movies and television shows. He was one of the few people who could look good in a coon-skin cap.

After his movie career had cooled, when he was in his sixties, Parker pursued a dream he had had for many years, to own a winery. He started Parker Wines in the early ‘90s, and his product earned some critical praise. (The winery would eventually add his first name to the label to take advantage of his considerable name recognition -- marketing is everything.)

Parker visited Central Florida in early 1992 as part of the Walt Disney World Village Wine Festival, the precursor to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. To tout his wines, he agreed to have dinner with the restaurant critic and wine writer for the local newspaper.

I remember arriving at his Disney Village townhouse to pick him up. I remember thinking he really is a big man as he walked into the room and shook my hand. I remember some of the things we talked about at dinner, including politics. (It was pretty evident our views weren’t the same, so we quickly moved on to other topics.

I remember that “Old Yeller” had just been released on VHS that week or the week before. Movies coming out on tape was a fairly new innovation. Parker said he hadn’t been aware of the release. I wanted to tell him what an impact the movie had on me, that I remembered seeing “Old Yeller” as a child, at a drive-in, with my family, and how I was certain it was the first movie that brought me to tears with its ending. It still can. But I didn’t. When you’re sitting at a table with Daniel Boone, you somehow don’t want to admit crying like a baby at one of his movies.

I remember a great deal about that dinner, including what a charming, gentle gentleman Fess Parker was. But I can’t for the life of me remember what restaurant we were at. It doesn’t matter.

My account of the meeting ran in the February 7, 1992, edition of Calendar. Read it below.

Win Dinner With Scott at Crave

Written by Scott Joseph on .


Stop by Booth 756 at the Central Florida Home & Garden Show this weekend for a chance to win dinner for two with me. You’ll go with me when I visit Crave, the new restaurant opening April 12 near Mall at Millenia, and I’ll use your quotes in my review. All you have to do is fill out an entry form at the booth. I will also have free copies of Orlando Home & Leisure magazine and the new food section called Flavor while supplies last.

Also Friday at the Home Show, Tim Keating, executive chef at Flying Fish Cafe on Disney’s BoardWalk will be doing a demonstration at noon in the ScottJosephOrlando.com Grilling Garden. At 2:30, Dan Drayer has fish and steak (I believe he’s bringing some Kobe beef!) to grill -- and sample.

Sunday at 12:30 p.m. in the Grilling Garden, John Rivers of Four Rivers Smokehouse is going to show you how to make a pizza on the grill. He’ll be using some of the delicious brisket that has people lining out the door of his Winter Park ‘cue joint. (Yes, you’ll get samples of that, too.) And award-winning pastry chef Laurent Branlard will demonstrate a very special kind of ‘smores at 4.

In between the cooking demos on Sunday, at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., I’ll be helping master sommelier Brian Koziol with tastings of Mondavi Wines.

Saturday evening, of course, is the big food & wine event benefitting the Little Haiti House, the manufactured homes that Harris Rosen is sending to the earthquake devastated region. Chefs David Ramirez, Michael Mullen, Jorge Olivera and Michael Rumplik will prepare such items as Focaccia-Crusted Lamb Chops, Tropical Crab Cakes with Mango Salsa, Tobias-Braised Short Ribs, Pan-Seared Diver Scallops, and Chocolate Sabayon for dessert. In addition, we'll be pouring wines from Rodney Strong and Opici. The chefs are going to demonstrate their dishes there, too.

If you don’t yet have your tickets to the Home Show, click here and enter promotional code SJO for a special $6 ticket. Tickets to Saturday’s food & wine event, from 6-9 p.m., are $25 -- that ticket also gets you into the show Saturday, so you don’t have to purchase a separate ticket.

It’s going to be a lot of fun, so come on out. And stop by Booth 756 to say hi and enter to win dinner at Crave!

Homeowners for Haiti Update - David Ramirez Will Appear

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Award-winning pastry chef David Ramirez
More details are coming together for this Saturday's Homeowners for Haiti event at the Central Florida Home & Garden Show. Award-winning pastry chef  David Ramirez will be part of the team cooking a fabulous menu for attendees. Ramirez was the captain of the 2009 Team USA, representing the country in the internationally acclaimed Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie, aka the World Pastry Cup, competition in Lyon, France.

Ramirez will join fellow chefs Michael Mullen, Jorge Olivera and Michael Rumplik to prepare such items as Focaccia-Crusted Lamb Chops, Tropical Crab Cakes with Mango Salsa, Tobias-Braised Short Ribs, Pan-Seared Diver Scallops, and Chocolate Sabayon for dessert. In addition, we'll be pouring wines from Rodney Strong and Opici.

Tickets are limited and MUST be purchased in advance. The cost is $25 and includes admission to the Central Florida Home & Garden Show. All proceeds from the event -- and by that I mean every cent of the $25 -- will go to purchase housing for victims of the Haiti earthquake. The Little Haiti House, a prototype of the specially designed homes that will be manufactured in Central Florida and shipped to Haiti for assembly, will be on display at the show.

This is a really wonderful event, and I know the food of all of these chefs and can tell you, this is an amazing deal.

The Homeowners for Haiti food and wine event is Saturday, March 20, 2010, from 6-9 p.m. at the Orange County Convention Center, North Concourse. Click here to purchase tickets.

Rangetsu Closing

Written by Scott Joseph on .


Rangetsu, the Japanese restaurant and sushi bar that has been a prominent fixture on International Drive since 1986, will close at the end of the month. General manager Takashi Kikuchi told me that the economy was a deciding factor. "We used to get big parties," said Kikuchi, "but conventions are down, Japanese tourists are down, and we have too many employees."

He said the building was under contract to be sold, but could not give any details about the prospective buyers. The current owner, according to Kikuchi, is in Japan. He also couldn't say what will happen to the many koi in the ponds in front of the restaurant, although he was certain they would be cared for.

Rangetsu, which was spelled with a hyphen for many years and whose name means orchid moon, has 350 seats and a staff of 40. The last day will be March 31.