Newsy Nuggets: Bison, lobster, noodles, beer, lamp shades

Written by Scott Joseph on .

HangryWG ext

The Hangry Bison, the popular gourmet bison burger and bourbon restaurant from Joe Liguori, is looking to move beyond its two locations, in Winter Park and Winter Garden. Liguori is even willing to consider places without Winter in the name.

Perhaps realizing he has a winning concept, Liguori is working with Flavia Kanyago of Crossmarc Services to find suitable spaces to expand the brand. Currently, Central Florida is the focus. But one could easily see Bisons Hangry once again roaming the national range.

I mean, if Mason’s Lobster Rolls can do it why not Hangry Bison? Mason’s is a franchise out of Annapolis, Maryland, with about 15 or so locations throughout the country, though most are on the east coast. Interesting, however, that even though the front page of the restaurant’s website states “Mason’s Means Maine,” none of the locations are in that state.

Novel new step in the judging process for Beard chef awards: Tasting the food.

Written by Scott Joseph on .


The James Beard Foundation is instituting a major change in the judging process for its restaurant and chef awards this year. To wit: The judges will now actually visit the restaurants and taste the food of the chefs.

That might seem like a no brainer, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that that has always been the case. And it kinda sorta was, but not really.

Let me explain.

From the time the JBF Awards were initiated, in 1991, instantly becoming a sought-after coveted prize, the restaurant and chef categories were determined by panels of judges comprised of restaurant critics, food editors and other culinary experts. They made the initial recommendations for nominees, voted to cull the list to 20 or so semifinalists (choosing up to five favorites in each category), then ultimately voted on one of five finalists to determine the lucky winner.

(I was a charter judge and remained one for over 30 years but ended my relationship with the organization a few years ago; more on that in a moment.)

But the judges only had to attest that they had eaten in the restaurant OR tasted the nominated chef’s food. It did not matter if that restaurant visit or food consumption occurred last week or 10 years ago. There was also no attestation about where the food was consumed, maybe at the restaurant or at a charity food event the chef was attending. And judges could vote for restaurants outside their own regions. So judges could, in theory and certainly in practice, vote for a restaurant in, say, New Orleans that they visited and enjoyed several years ago without considering another nominee in, say, Orlando. (Both cities are in the South Region Best Chef category.)

A few years ago, the initial recommendation phase was opened up to accept nominations from anyone – restaurant owners, the dining public, a chef’s friends and relatives – with semifinal selections made by the official judges but still not requiring contemporaneous visits to the nominated restaurants.

But now that has changed.

Newsy Nuggets: Hollerbach's Joint, Buster's Bistro, Windermere Wine Dine, new Baldwin Park restaurant and taking licks in Tokyo

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Thejoint logo

What are they smoking in Sanford?

The people behind popular German restaurant Hollerbach’s (that would be the Hollerbachs) plan to open a marijuana-themed restaurant called The Joint at West End, as in the West End Trading Co., a concert venue in downtown Sanford. According to Hollerbach’s Facebook page, you can expect such things as Blazed Wings, Premo-Nuggs, Dope Sliders, and QP Dogs. All of it, presumably, THC free. But then with the current push to make recreational marijuana legal in Florida you never know. No opening date has been announced yet, so just chill.

Also, when did Hollerbach’s drop Willow Tree Cafe from its name? And why didn't they name the new place Hollerbach's Mellow Tree Cafe?

Elsewhere in Sanford, Buster’s Bistro, the Belgian bar and restaurant, has changed hands. The new owner is Robbie Kennerney, who also owns Sanfords Throwbacks bar as well as Bar 43 in Queens and the well-known McHale’s in midtown Manhattan. Kennerney, who is originally from Dublin, told me that he’s “not looking to do anything too dramatic” with the place and that he wants to be reverential and keep everything that was popular. Although he said he’ll likely move away from the Belgian theme and pare down the list of Belgian beers, which he said made the bar “an intimidating place to walk in to.” He said he’ll introduce a broader range of beers and craft cocktails.

Beginning in March, Buster’s Bistro will start serving lunch then have a full dinner menu but stop service at 9 p.m., then offer a limited late night menu. He’ll keep the name too, for now, but don’t be surprised if you see a change later on.

The former owners of Buster’s Bistro (that would be the Busters) are growing hemp in New Smyrna Beach and have opened a business called Turf Origins. And yes, they have edibles.

Tell Scott where to go...and go with him!

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Rome viewRome at sunset.

I’m once again partnering with Art In Voyage, the Orlando and Cape Town travel agency that specializes in food and wine journeys, to host several trips later this year and in 2024.

Some of the trips have already been decided – and I’ll share details about those soon – but we’d like your help in narrowing down the choices for future trips.

Below you’ll find a poll with several options. There are four curated journeys but each has a different date option. You may vote for any or all that fancy you. (You’re not committing to anything; no one will contact you for a down payment. We just want to gauge interest.)