Everybody knows the executive chefs who command the area’s top kitchens. They’re the ones who get nominated for awards, who get interviewed on the food channels and who are sought out to participate in cooking shows and culinary events.
But of course in any kitchen there is an army of support staff, the soldiers who carry out the bidding of the general or head chef. In kitchen hierarchy, the sous chef could be considered second in command. In many cases the sous chef — the French term means under chef — has all the skills and qualifications to be the chef de cuisine, and in fact the sous is the one in command of the kitchen when the chef is away, whether that means taking a night off or roaming the dining room as the star of the restaurant.
Not surprisingly, most of our top chefs worked first as a sous chef before taking the lead position. Scott Hunnel, Victoria & Albert’s executive chef and one of the area’s most celebrated, worked as a sous chef at the Executive House Hotel in Chicago under Len Trevino and was also a sous at the Polynesian Resort at Walt Disney World. Kathleen Blake of the Rusty Spoon did sous duty at the Steelhead Grill in Pittsburgh and Nora’s Restaurant in Washington, D.C. (and one month later was named the chef de cuisine). K restaurant’s Kevin Fonzo was 21 when he was hired to be the sous chef at the B-Line Diner, and was promoted to chef de cuisine six months later. And just to demonstrate how these things sometimes work, one of the cooks that Fonzo hired to be his sous chef at K was Scott Copeland, who just opened his own restaurant, Artisan’s Table, in downtown Orlando.
My point is that many of the people working as sous chefs in area kitchens today are very likely to be the star chefs of tomorrow.
So our next Pop-Up Event is going to celebrate the up and coming talent of the sous chefs who help make their bosses look so good. We’re calling it “Sous Chefs, Road Food and Rioja” and it will take place Wednesday, May 21, at 6:30 p.m. Click here for tickets.
Now as you know, I usually keep the location of the Pop-Up a secret until the day before the event. But in this case the location is what is driving the road food connection, you should pardon the pun, so I’m letting you know now. We’ll be taking over the showroom of the Orlando Harley-Davidson dealership off of I-4 south of downtown. This is going to be one terrific party.
Here’s a list of the sous chefs who will be there:
- Alexi Acevedo, David Ramirez Chocolates
- Jason Campbell, Cask & Larder
- Andrew Claytor, Txokos Basque Kitchen
- Tom Hill, Victoria & Albert’s, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
- Derek Peters, Cress
- Lucas Reid, Citrus Restaurant
- Reanna Reyes, The Rusty Spoon
- Ryan Vargas, Emeril’s Tchoup Chop
- Jason Wolfe, K Restaurant
- Norman Grant, FishBones, Lake Mary
The chefs have been charged with creating a road food dish — it’s a broad interpretation, even the Champs-Elysees might be considered a road. And our friends at Rioja will be pairing the dishes with appropriate selections from their considerable repertoire.
This is a walkabout event, and the chefs will be cooking and serving from stations throughout the showroom and maybe even spilling out onto the lot, where you’ll find row after row of the famous motorcycles. And if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to ride a Harley, my friends Anne and Steve Deli, the owners of Orlando Harley-Davidson, have arranged a way to let you experience it — safely. It’s called the Harley-Davidson Jumpstart Experience and involves a Harley on a special stand that let’s you ride without fear of falling.
Tickets for the event are $85 and a portion of the proceeds will go toward the scholarship fund of the American Federation of Chefs. It made sense to help some more aspiring chefs get the education they need. A donation will also be made on behalf of Give Kids the World.
The Orlando Harley-Davidson complex is a huge space, but even so, we have limited tickets available.