NEW YORK — Your Central Florida chefs did a terrific job in New York last night demonstrating that when visitors come to Orlando they don’t have to settle for anything less than fine dining.
On Wednesday evening in a kitchen classroom of the Institute of Culinary Education on 23d Street, four of our area chefs conducted cooking demonstrations for a select group of media representatives that included producers and writers from Food Network, AOL, Travel and Leisure magazine and convention industry publications. The event was organized my the Orlando Convention and Visitors Bureau specifically to tout Central Florida’s restaurants as an Unexpected pleasure.
The chefs did just that. Participating were Kevin Fonzo of K Restaurant Wine Bar and Nonna Trattoria ed Enoteca; Mark Beaupre, executive chef J.W. Marriott Grande Lakes; Robert Ciborowski, executive chef Swan and Dolphin Resort; and John Mooney, executive chef Highland Manor, Apopka. The chefs each prepared a course, demonstrating the cooking process at the state-of-the-art demo kitchen while guests sat at tables. They could see everything the chefs were doing via overhead mirrors.
I was along to serve as the moderator. I had worked with Fonzo and Mooney before and knew they had an easy style and rapport with their audience. But I was impressed with Beaupre and Ciborowski who filled their time slot with lots of impressive cooking tips interlaced with comments about the dining opportunities at their properties.
The menu included a seafood carpaccio by Mooney; duck salad from Beaupre; cold smoked cote de boeuf from Ciborowski; and truffle dusted filet from Fonzo. (Yes, we hit them with double beef entrees, but no one complained.)
Seated with the media guests were representatives of the CVB plus bureau members from Discovery Cove, Mall at Millenia and Grande Lakes Resort. They all switched tables between courses to have an opportunity to meet the invited guests and talk about Orlando.
Special thanks go to the folks at ICE, and especially the students who assisted our chefs in the back kitchen and the staff members who did the serving. They were all very professional and knew intuitively what to do.
I’ll have photos for you later on, but I wanted to let you know how things went before I head to the airport. Sure hope I don’t miss my flight this time — I have to be back in Orlando for the gala at the Waldorf Astoria. Can’t wait — I was at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan last night and will be at Orlando’s tonight. Sometimes life is good.