Newsy Nuggets

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Fusionfest Serbia Terry

FusionFest, pastry chefs, a food truck headed for the Pass, a Norman's update and Ramsay funds

FusionFest, the annual multi-cultural celebration, returns this year to its usual calendar spot, the weekend after Thanksgiving. The event will take place on the Frontyard Festival space at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts Nov. 27 and 28. Saturday hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sunday it’s from noon to 6 p.m.

FusionFest features dance, music, visual arts and games. Most notably, it features vendors serving foods from various world cultures. It’s free to attend and food can be purchased separately. Or you can buy a VIP Passport for $25 that will include four food tokens. Information here.

Sawaryn headshotChristopher SawarynRon James, the award-winning pastry chef at Tornatore’s Ristorante and Italian Market, has announced his “semi retirement,” which I think means he’ll only make pastries using semi-sweet chocolate. Taking over full-time head pastry chef duties will be Christopher Sawaryn, left, who has been working with James for the past four years and was previously with the pastry team at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin. He’s also a former master sergeant of the U.S. Air Force, which should help keep his napoleons in line.

James had previously owned Sugarbuzz Dezert Company, a previous winner of our Best Dessert Foodster Award for Independent Restaurants. He was forced to close Sugarbuzz during the pandemic, and when he stopped by Tornatore’s to tell owner Denny Tornatore that he would no longer be able to supply the restaurant with pastries Tornatore invited James to come work for him.

The Pass Kitchen, an Altamonte Springs takeout and delivery ghost kitchen also known as Pass Progressive, is adding a food truck to its operations. Owner Willian Herrara said the truck is waiting to be “wrapped” with the Pass logo and pass its final inspection. Herrara also told me he’s been in discussions with Matthew Cargo about adding pizzas to the repertoire. The two worked together in the kitchens of the former Luma on Park and Prato (still on Park). Cargo left the area several years ago to accept the chef de partie position at Otium in in Los Angeles but recently returned to the area. However, Herrara said that Cargo had to leave again to deal with some family issues. He’s still hoping the two can get back together. I’d enjoy seeing that because they obviously did great things with pizzas. Watch for the Pass food truck in the Hourglass District (which is in the Curry Ford West district) on Dec. 11.

Cows 'n Cabs expected to raise big funds

Written by Scott Joseph on .

 Cowscabs21 Rivers2John Rivers, right, greeted attendees and served paella with Norman Van Aken.

Note: This article has been updated to reflect a more accurate estimate of the funds raised.

The 10th – or maybe it was the ninth – Cows ’n Cabs was held Saturday, partially under a massive tent set up in Winter Park’s West Meadow.

The confusion on the anniversary, of course, has to do with the pandemic. As with many annual events, Cows ’n Cabs wasn’t held last year due to social distancing strictures. But the sold-out crowd of two thousand more than made up for the skipped year.

As organizer John Rivers told me as he scooped out paella alongside Norman Van Aken, the first CnC had about 350 attendees. And the participating chefs and restaurants were all contained under the cover of the tent with plenty of room to spare. This year there were as many vendors outside the tent as there were under it.

Chef, designs announced for Ava MediterrAgean

Written by Scott Joseph on .

AVA Cam01 01

MILA Group, the Miami Beach restaurant concern, has announced the culinary team for its upcoming Winter Park restaurant, Ava MediterrAgean, which will occupy the former Luma on Park space.

Hung Huynh, the season-three winner of the cooking-competition show Top Chef, will be the executive chef. Huynh, who was born in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, but raised in Pittsfield, Mass., is a 2002 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. (He earned money for his culinary training by working at a teppanyaki restaurant in Puerto Rico where he had to fake an Asian accent.)

Huynh’s resume included stints at New York’s Lespinasse and Per Se and the Las Vegas Guy Savoy. Following his 2007 win on Top Chef, he led the kitchens at Catch NYC and The General.

Ava’s culinary team also includes Daniel Garner and Erick Melendez as MILA Group’s corporate head chef and corporate research and development chef, respectively. Garner was previously senior sous chef at Nobu Malibu and Melendez was with Zuma in Miami, New York, London and Rome.

Cattle Baron's Ball returns Dec. 4

Written by Scott Joseph on .


Cattle Baron sign

The Cattle Baron’s Ball, the annual event to “give cancer the boot,” returns to Rosen Shingle Creek Sat., Dec. 4, from 6 to 11 p.m.

This is the twentieth annual fundraiser to benefit the American Cancer Society and the first return to an in-person event since the pandemic.

If you’ve never been, the Cattle Baron’s Ball is a big, fun Western-themed hoedown featuring numerous restaurants situated around one of Rosen Shingle Creek’s grand ballrooms. It’s a walkabout event so you’re free to roam – just like buffalo – to sip, taste and sample as much as you’d like.

Individual tickets are $250 and table purchases are also available. Proceeds will fund pediatric cancer support.

Cattle Baron dance

Some of the restaurants participating this year include: