Meet Grillmaster Steven Raichlen

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Cookbook author Steven Raichlen will be signing copied of his book "Planet Barbecue" Sunday, May 2. He'll be at the Walmart in Ocoee, 10500 Planet_BarbecueColonial Drive, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. across from Health Central Hospital and a Toojays.

Raichlen is well versed in all types of food and cooking but he all but owns the field of barbecue expertise. Anyone who enjoys throwing some meat on a grill should have at least one of his books on hand.

Steven and I collaborated on a Gault-Millau travel guide he was editing many many years ago. If you go out for the signing, tell him I said "hey."

Designer of Iconic Cup Dies

Written by Scott Joseph on .

It's called the Anthora cup. Who knew it had a name? It was so omnipresent in New York delis, so much a part of the continuum that it is hard to anthoraimagine it had a beginning. If you've ordered a cup of coffee from a New York deli in the last 40 years, or if you've watched an episode of any iteration of Law & Order, you've seen the cup. It's designer, Leslie Buck, a New Yorker who also had a home in Delray Beach, died Monday at 87. Here is his obitiuary in the New York Times.

The azure blue cup with a white drawing of a Grecian urn (known as an amphora -- the name was mispronounced by Buck) and the words "We are happy to serve you" sold by the hundreds of millions annually. Ceramic versions of the cup have been sold in souvenir stores for years; it was so much a part of the city's persona. But no, Buck did not receive any royalties for the design.

The obituary doesn't give any details of Buck's last wishes, but if his ashes aren't placed in a Grecian urn, there is no justice in this world.

Norman's at the Ritz-Carlton Announces New Chef

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Norman Van Aken has announced the appointment of a new chef to be director of culinary operations at his Orlando restaurant, Norman’s. Brandon Benack will take over the kitchen at the upscale restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes immediately. He replaces Joseph Burnett. Burnett’s wife, Viviana Altesor, had also served as chef at Norman’s and had been general manager. Both Burnett and Altesor have left the operation.

“It is our pleasure to announce Chef Brandon Benack as our new Director of Culinary Operations in Orlando,” Van Aken said in a statement.  “We are poised for a period of unprecedented growth and are excited by the possibilities that Chef Brandon brings to Norman’s.” Benack will be directed by Van Aken in the execution of his acclaimed “New World Cuisine.” He will also work with Stacy Cofield, director of operations.

Benack comes to Norman’s from Emeril’s Miami Beach where he was chef de cuisine. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work so closely with Chef Norman Van Aken, an American legend,” said Benack. “I am looking forward to expanding my responsibilities and to being a part of this talented team.”

Norman’s opened at the Ritz-Carlton in 2003. At the time it was a second location for Van Aken’s eponymous brand. The Miami Norman’s has since closed.

Help for Stranded Travelers; CVB Issues Call for Discounts, Other Offers

Written by Scott Joseph on .

The Orlando Convention & Visitors Bureau is trying to help the masses stranded in Orlando by the disruption of air traffic to Great Britain and Europe. If you're like me, by the time your vacation is over you've spent your allotted dollars -- or pounds or euros as the case may be -- and need to get back to work to earn more so you can vacation again.

The poor folks stuck at Orlando International Airport -- getting poorer every day -- are in a real pickle. Here's a chance to show a little Central Florida love.

Here's the message from the CVB:

We have been following the unprecedented events that have forced the closure of European Air space. In our community, we have stranded travelers that have been trying to return home since Wednesday, April 14.

The Orlando/Orange County CVB would like to ask for your cooperation in assisting European travelers, by offering discounts and free admission to any United Kingdom, Irish or Continental European tourists stranded in Florida due to the interruption in international air travel caused by Icelandic volcanic ash.

Please consider offering discounts to these stranded visitors. Your help will go a long way in showing our compassion and customer service.

As proof of travelers being affected, you can ask to see their return flight ticket from Wednesday, April 14, 2010, through Wednesday, April 21, 2010, or until normal flight schedules resume.

So how about it, restaurateurs? If you're able to offer a discount, send me a note at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I'll pass it along to the good folks at the CVB. Or you can contact them directly by sending a message to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thanks for your help.