Inaugural Orlando Wine Festival and Auction will take wine tasting to a whole new level

Written by Scott Joseph on .

orlando wine fest barrels

The inaugural Orlando Wine Festival and Auction kicks off Friday, March 15, with a weekend of dinners, tastings and events organized by the Orlando Magic and benefitting the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation (OMYF). It’s already clear that this is not going to be your typical wine and food tasting.

It is certainly set apart from other wine events because of the cost, but we’ll come back to that in a moment.

But there is also the scope. The weekend begins with a series of dinners hosted in private homes — well, ok, private mansions in many cases — featuring celebrity chefs, both local and visiting, and a featured winery at each location. Unfortunately, it’s not a dine-around or a progressive dinner — attendees will have to choose just one location. But there’s a varied array from which to choose.

For example, Robert and Tricia Earl will host a Japan themed dinner that will be prepared by Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto in their Isleworth estate featuring the wines of Accendo Cellars.

Bullet Point Buffet: Women in the KItchen

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Women in the Kitchen

  • I can’t imagine you could have anything better to do on Sunday than to attend Legends, Mentors & Friends: Women in the Kitchen, a celebration at Lake Meadows. Kathleen Blake (The Rusty Spoon), one of our favorite women from one of our favorite kitchens, is hosting a lineup of stellar culinary talent from throughout the country. Proceeds from the dinner, from 3 to 6 p.m. at Lake Meadow Naturals in Ocoee, will benefit the James Beard Foundation’s WEL Program, which supports women in the culinary industry. Tickets are $150 and can be purchased here. Use that link for more information, including directions to Lake Meadows. As for who else will be there cooking, get ready for the sub bullets:
    Jennifer Hostetter- The Rosen School
    Kerri Rogers, Bellwether, Jacksonville
    Abra Berens, Granor Farm, Three Oaks, MI
    Liza Hinman, The Spinster Sisters, Santa Rosa, CA
    Whitney Otawka, The GreyField Inn, Cumberland Island
    Melissa Kelly, PRIMO, Orlando, Rockland, Tucson
    Charleen Badman, FnB, Scottsdale
    Ilma Lopez, Chaval & Piccolo, Portland, ME
    Emily Luchetti, Big Night Restaurants, San Francisco
    Katharine Elder, Elderslie Farm, Wichita, KS
  • Blake is teaming up with chef Jamie McFadden of Cuisiniers Catering for another event Sunday, March 24, at 10 a.m.: Swamp Sistas La La Charity Brunch at the Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts in Winter Park. Food, drink and music. Tickets are $75 and benefit Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. Buy them here.
  • Our friend Ricky Ly from Tasty Chomps is hosting a dinner Saturday, March 9, at the restaurant of another friend, Tony Roma’s (we’re so close he lets me call him Tone). The dinner will feature Tone’s New Classics menu and is priced at $65. Click here.

Oakley tapped for executive chef job at 1921 Mount Dora

Written by Scott Joseph on .

1921 bar 1

The restaurant formerly known as 1921 by Norman Van Aken has appointed Josh Oakley executive chef. Oakley was one of the founders of the Smiling Bison, which first opened in Orlando then Sanford. He sold his interest in the Bison in October.

Van Aken ended his association with 1921 in November, prompting the restaurant to change its name to 1921 Mount Dora. Van Aken was the restaurant’s executive chef, though Camilo Velasco ran day to day operations as chef de cuisine. Velasco parted with 1921 in December to take a position with Winter Park’s Ravenous Pig. Pastry chef Gloriann Rivera also left 1921 to join the Pig Rusty Spoon.

Just to tie all of this together, Oakley was also with the Ravenous Pig before opening Smiling Bison on Bennett Road in Orlando in 2013. A Sanford outpost of the Smiling Bison opened in November of 2015 and the original Orlando SB closed a year later.

Without a celebrity chef overseeing his work, Oakley should have free rein to make menu changes at 1921 Mount Dora. We’ll look forward to seeing what he does with the place.

Next! Flower & Garden Festival starts March 6 at Epcot

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Epcotfg prep

If you’re someone who observes Lent, I hope you haven’t pledged to give up festivals, because the next in Epcot’s rotating roster of special events is the International Flower & Garden Festival, beginning the day after Mardi Gras, which this year falls on a Tuesday.

The EIF&GF, which runs from March 6 through June 3, is dedicated to all things that grow. That of course includes a lot of food.

I tiptoed through a media preview of the upcoming fest and sampled some of the dishes that will be available this year.