Taste Cook Sip

Tasting, cooking, sipping and snapping through life in Orlando.

Grandma Party Bazaar returns this Sunday, December 14

The phrase “Grandma Party Bazaar” may conjure up some odd images in your mind, so I’ll break it down for you. In the same space used by the Audubon Park Community Market, in the parking lot of Stardust Video and Coffee, local vendors set up shop while local bands perform on stage. The music is loud, the crowd is hip and vendors are crazy talented.

You’ll find locally produced items ranging from jewelry and candles to grooming products, pottery, food, stationary, housewares and more. Last year I picked up many unique items that rounded out my holiday shopping with a creative and local touch. (And, I found a few special items just for me!) Check out the listings of this years local vendors and bands online.

Looking for an epic holiday photo for your Christmas cards this year? Be sure to pop into Stardust from 1-4 pm to visit the free holiday photo booth. We had a blast watching people get their perfect shot and the photos were posted online later that day. The Grandma Party Bazaar runs from 10:00 AM – Sunset on Saturday, December 2014. Visit the official Facebook event page for band schedule and event updates. Follow the fun on Twitter at @GrandmaParty.

Poster art by Chelsey Hyatt

Poster art by Chelsey Hyatt

Grandma Party Bazaar
December 14, 2014
10:00AM- Sunset (Photobooth 1-4PM)

Stardust Video and Coffee
1842 Winter Park Rd.
Orlando, FL 32803

#GivingTuesday has double the impact for Give Kids The World Village

Is your Facebook or Twitter feed blowing up with the hashtag #GivingTuesday? If not, I hope that you will help spread the world.

In 2012, the Giving Tuesday movement started as a way to bring attention to charitable organizations and hopefully raise funds along with awareness. We’ve given thanks on Thanksgiving, shopped till we dropped on Black Friday and Cyber Monday and it’s now a perfect time to give back.

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I’ve had the pleasure of visiting and volunteering for Give Kids The World, in Kissimmee, Florida. This nonprofit provides incredible week-long vacations for families with children with life-threatening illnesses. Between the whimsical Give Kids The World Village 70-acre resort, donated Disney, Universal and Sea World attractions tickets, transportation and meals, Give Kids The World is making dreams come true every day of the year. Since 1986, Give Kids The World has helped over 120,000 families from across the United States and over 70 countries.

Today, your donation can have double the impact, as an anonymous donor is matching each donation made, up to $20,000. (So, your $10 donation, just became $20!) All donations to Give Kids The World Village are tax deductible, so be sure save your receipt. If you are active on social media, please share this post and get the word out by using the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #GKTW. For updates and more information on Give Kids The World Village, visit their website or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

The Fabulous Beekman Boys Feed The Need in Winter Park with 11/10 cookbook signing

Maybe you know Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge from the popular Cooking Channel show The Fabulous Beekman Boys or maybe you know them from their big win on The Amazing Race. These would-be farmers changed career courses and have taken up the challenge of operating a farm in Upstate NY while creating their product brand, Beekman 1802. Their online shop features everything from household items to food items and soaps. The dynamic pair has also written several popular cookbooks and will be in town today (11/10) for a special appearance at The Ancient Olive, Winter Park to sign copies of The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook. The event starts at 5:00 pm and the duo plans to sign cookbooks until 6:30 or 7:00PM.

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Copies of their cookbooks are onsite for signing and part of the proceeds from the book sales will go to support the local charity, Feed The Need, in Winter Park. There is also a full selection of Beekman 1802 products to purchase to stock your kitchen for the holidays. The Ancient Olive will be preparing several dishes from the Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook, for guests to sample at no charge. 

The Ancient Olive has also hosted a series of sold out cooking classes with local celebrity chef, Franicis Biondi from MasterChef Season 5. If you love to cook, or know someone that does, follow The Ancient Olive on Facebook for a complete listing of all future events and classes. For full information on today’s tasting check out the Facebook event.

Monday, November 10, 2014
5:00pm -6:30 or 7:00pm
The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook Signing
The Ancient Olive
324 North Park Avenue
Winter Park, FL 32789

There is no charge to attend the event, copies of the book are available for sale.

 

Magical Dining at Hemingway’s at The Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

The last few nights of Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining month are upon us! If you are looking for a way to close out this tasty month on a high note, consider Hemingway’s in the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. Chef Juran is creating delicious Key West and island inspired cuisine at this picturesque Orlando property. The Magical Dining menu features full portions of popular items from the year-round Hemingway’s dinner menu. Diners can enjoy 3 gourmet courses for $33 per person, with $1 of each meal being donated to charity.

Hemingways Key Lime Ceasar

I started with the Key Lime Caesar salad, a beautifully composed salad that was as tasty as it looks. I particularly enjoyed the delicious zing from the key lime Caesar dressing.

Hemingways FL Rock Shrimp Corn Chowder

I also sampled a bite of the delicious Florida Rock Shrimp Chowder, the tender rock shrimp and Zellwood Sweet Corn shine in this Florida inspired chowder.

Hemingways Cuban Criollo Chicken

Cuban Criollo Chicken: Fired grilled chicken flavored with Cuban inspired herbs and spices is served with roasted mushroom escabeche, sautéed spinach, fingerling potatoes and a savory Chorizo sauce.

Hemingways Crab Cakes

Hemingway’s “Cayo Hueso” Crab Cakes, two jumbo lump blue crab cakes served on local sweet corn coconut grits and topped with zesty corn salsa. These ulta-premium crab cakes are made with minuscule amount of binder to form the generous cake- it’s all sweet and succulent crab meat. The sweet corn coconut grits are subtly flavored and infuse the dish with festive tropical notes.

Hemingways Duval Street Shrimp Scampi

Duval Street Shrimp Scampi is an impressive dish, four Jumbo tiger shrimp rest on fried green tomatoes with a centered nest of pappardelle pasta, a scrumptious pool of flavorful, slivered garlic and white wine butter sauce finishes the dish.

Hemingways black fin snapper

The Crispy Black Fin Snapper entree is a generous portion of crispy skin local Florida Snapper and asparagus perched on a yucca cake with roasted tomato and fennel jam topped with a delicate yellow pepper espuma. The snapper was perfectly cooked and complimented by the bold flavors in the roasted tomato and fennel jam. The yucca cake was a delicious compliment to the rest of the entree.

Hemingways Key Lime

Magical Menu diners have a choice of the Peanut Butter Bombe, a decadent peanut butter mousse covered in dark chocolate ganache, or the Key Lime Tart.  I finished my meal with the tart, made with a brightly flavored key lime curd filling, a buttery graham cracker and almond crust and finished with a baked meringue topping. I particularly enjoyed the wonderful balance of tart acidity and sweetness to this traditional Florida dessert. Either option is a delicious way to end a lovely meal at Hemingway’s.

Reservations can be made by calling (407) 239-1234 or by booking through OpenTable.com. The three course Magical Dining Month menu runs through Sepetember 30, 2014, and all items are available on the regular Hemingway’s dinner menu year round. Complimentary Valet Parking is offered for all Hemingway’s guests.

Disclosure: I was a guest at a media dinner, no other form of compensation was received and the opinions in this post are my own. Cheers!

Hemingway’s in the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
One Grand Cypress Boulevard
Orlando, FL 32836
(407) 239-1234

Broissants are back at Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park for a limited time

Last August I stumbled upon a decadent pastry treat created by Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park. The well known chocolate and gelato shop had re-envisioned a Cronut and was serving up warm, flaky Broissants faster than you can say, Broissant. The popular treat was made by Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park’s pastry team who painstakingly made the laminated croissant dough in-house, a four hour process, then cutting out the familiar doughnut shape and frying them up to order.

The resulting Broissants were then topped with a variety of scrumptious toppings from peanut butter cream with milk chocolate drizzle and crumbled Nutter Butter cookies…or pictured above, the Dark Chocolate and Carmel with Sea Salt. Broissants quickly became a top seller and a cult favorite; the smell of buttery dough and chocolate mingling in the air of the Park Avenue shop was quite addictive.

The beloved Broissants are back for a limited time and Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park has introduced a tempting new flavor to their popular line up, using Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter. I asked co-owner, Jami Wray, Why use Cookie Butter for a new Broissant flavor? “We were inspired to try cookie butter from all of the mentions on social media…all of the pics with different recipe combinations got me drooling! As you know our local TJ’s recently opened and we wanted to try them out, so we went and bought several jars of the crunchy Cookie Butter for our broissants. One taste and I knew we had a hit!”

Peterbrooke Broissants

And after sampling the new Cookie Butter Broissant yesterday, I can attest to the fervor I’ve seen with the release by searching #Broissant on Instagram and Twitter. The warm Broissant dough softens up the cookie butter and the rich, Peterbrooke milk chocolate is drizzled right off of the chocolate wheel. (Taking this picture had me feeling like a character out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.) Just when you think nothing can be added, there is a flourishing garnish of crushed cookies.

All of the Broissant flavors will be available for the remaining weekends of Magical Dining Month and then only available by request for special events. After all, the Peterbrooke chocolate kitchen will soon be in full holiday preparations to ensure that everyone has a sweet ending to 2014.

Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park
300 S. Park Ave
Winter Park, Florida 32789
407-644-3200

Hours of Operation
Mon – Thu: 10:00 am – 10:15 pm
Fri – Sat: 10:00 am – 11:15 pm
Sun: 11:00 am – 10:15 pm

Local Orlando vendors and products showcased at The Daily City pop up shop

The Daily City Pop Up shop is back and greeting shoppers through the weekend in Downtown South in the SODO Plaza. Located in an air conditioned storefront space in front of the Super Target and across from the TJ Maxx, the shop is filled with unique and artisan local vendors.

There are items ranging from home goods, mens and womens apparel, stationary, accessories and food vendors. Enjoy familiar favorites like Cloak & Dapper, Retromended, Rifle paper, OPP, Lure, Whisk & Bowl, Wondermade, Credo and Yum Yum Cupcake Truck. Discover a newer vendor like Project Pop, J & G Chocolate & Tea, Nathan Selikoff, Bookmark It or Hog Eat Hog. For a full list of vendors, check out The Daily City.com.

Along with great merchandise, there is an opportunity to enjoy seminars and tastings. Participate in a sewing class, learn how to mix the perfect cocktail, gentleman can learn how to pick the perfect suit, ladies can learn how to dress for their body type.

On my visit had left with a delicious Yum Yum Cupcake Truck Orlando, FL chocolate cookie with citrus icing, Bungalow 23 all natural cocktail mixer, addictive Eat Project Pop all natural Kettle Corn, several Lure cards, a beautiful Rifle Paper Co. calendar and Juice Lab juices. Some items were special gifts and I kept a few treats for me. I’m still spying a few items, you can bet I’ll be back to check out some of the demos and rotating food vendors.

I asked Mark Baratelli of The Daily City.com, if we could again expect a Daily City Holiday Pop up shop in December. He smiled and replied “keep your fingers crossed”. We will!

Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month 2014, adds preview week [Kickoff Event Recap]

TCSmagicaldining2014

This week starts the most Magical Time of the year for Central Florida foodies as Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month kicks off with an extra week of Magical Dining deals. Dine at Orlando’s top restaurants and enjoy gourmet three-course meals for the fixed price of $33.00 per meal. This year $1.00 from each Magical Dining meal will be donated to The Foundation For Foster Children. Along with Magical Dining is the Magical Nights promotion, featuring special packages from area resorts and hotels to enjoy a night away throughout the month of September. To kick things off in style, Yelp Orlando hosted a kick off party for Magical Dining at the beautiful Ballroom at Church Street Station.

Lucky attendees sampled delicious Magical Dining items from Hemingway’sFiorenzo Italian SteakhouseNapaK RestaurantRuth’s Chris SteakhouseSiro Urban Italian Kitchen and Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar. What a fun way to explore new restaurants and preview their Magical Dining menus.

MD Yelp HemmingwaysSiro

Hemingway’s made a petite version of their “Cayo Hueso” jumbo lumb crab cakes, served on local sweet corn coconut grits with corn salsa. A must try for seafood lovers.

MD Yelp Italian

Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse made Vesuvio Pasta with Butternut squash puree, dandelion greens, fresh pear, ricotta salata, toasted pine nuts.

MD Yelp Ruths Chris

Ruth’s Chris wowed guests with hand-carved beef tenderloin and succulent Florida shrimp, all Orlando area Ruth’s Chris locations are participating in Magical Dining.

MD Yelp Siro WatermelonSiro Urban Italian Kitchen presented several dishes, the compressed watermelon salad was vibrant and fresh with a decadent creaminess provided by the Burrata cheese. Check out my full review on Siro’s 2014 Magical Dining menu, loaded with plenty of pictures.

MD Yelp Napa

Napa prepared Crispy Fried Florida Snapper, served over Lemon Risotto with broccolini and a charred pepper coulis.

Chef Kevin Fonzo of K restaurant made a delicious Seafood “Minestrone” with fresh Clams, oysters, shrimp, summer beans, local greens in a flavorful bacon broth and a wonderful Roast Palmetto Creek Farm Pork Tenderloin served with Onion soubise, berry-sage preserves and pinot noir sauce that was out of the world. Cuba Libre whipped up refreshing mojitos and served their Lechon Asado, made with Leidy Farm’s slow roasted marinated pulled pork, sour orange mojo, Amarillo chile smashed yuca & black bean broth. Topped with Vigorón slaw. If you enjoy a Cuban sweet, be sure save room for their rice pudding or traditional flan.

Each dish we sampled had us making our list to check out the full versions sometime over the next month. We hope you do the same and enjoy each delicious bite. Join the conversation online! Check out great pictures and tidbits on Twitter and Instagram by searching the hashtag #MagicalDining. Let us know what you are loving and we’ll do the same @TasteCookSip on Twitter and Instagram. For a full list of the Magical Dining restaurants and their menus, be sure to check out Visitorlando.com/magicaldining/restaurants.

Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month 101

Who- Anyone living in or visiting Central Florida can enjoy Magical Dining Month

What- Enjoy a three course meal for $33 per person, not including tax or gratuity

When- August 25-September 30, 2014

Where- Throughout Central Florida, Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining site has a complete list of participating restaurants and their menus

Why- Check out a new restaurant or one of those “special” places you keep meaning to try. Plus, $1 of every Magical Dining meal will be donated to The Foundation for Foster Children. Helping never tasted so good.

Eat great food, drink Craft Beer and fine wines- while helping hungry kids. Taste of The Nation is this Saturday, 8/9/2014

You’ve heard the statistics about hungry kids across the nation. If you think hungry kids are limited to urban areas, somewhere else, you are wrong. My friend Kelli at Exploring Orlando reports that her daughter’s middle school in Winter Park (Orange County) has 48% of the students receiving free or reduced lunch.

Surprised at that seemingly high number, I asked my teacher-husband about the discounted lunch ratio at his A rated Winter Park High School (Seminole County) and he replied “Well over 50%, with some kids going hungry because they didn’t want the stigma of being on free or reduced lunches.” Hungry kids are all around us in Central Florida.

Before you flip the channel because you are hearing the sad Sarah McLachlan song in your head, and you know the sadder puppy pictures are coming…there are some easy things you can do (right now) to help childhood hunger go away.    

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Purchase a bottle of Olive Oil from The Ancient Olive in Winter Park. $1 for each bottle sold will go right to No Kid Hungry. I really like the Ancient Olive Blood Orange, it’s great for salad dressings and marinades. (PS. They are running a free summer shipping special, too! Ship a gift or drop a hint to that out of area relative.)

 

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Drink beer! This Thursday, World of Beer in Dr. Phillips is donating money from the sales of select craft beers. Sales will benefit Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. ALSO, guests who purchase one of the fundraising brews will receive a free raffle ticket for a chance to win a variety of prizes, including Taste of the Nation Orlando tickets.  

 

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Drink wine! Orlando’s orginal wine bar, Eola Wine Company Downtown is hosting their final #WineWednesday in the series to benefit the feeding programs of Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, the two local beneficiaries of Taste of the Nation Orlando. $15 donation gets you great wine from 6-8pm this Wednesday.

Eat at the following local restaurants. When restaurants are full, they can support local charities.

Buy tickets to Taste of The Nation Orlando, this Saturday, August 9th. Use discount code FRIEND15 to enjoy a special price on the tickets.

Francis B will be at Taste of The Nation on Saturday, August 9th!

Francis B will be at Taste of The Nation on Saturday, August 9th!

If you are attending Taste of The Nation Orlando this Saturday at the Orlando Word Center Marriott, bid in the silent auction for a chance at former Master Chef contestant Francis Biondi cooking for you! Or a cellar full of wine! Or a trip to Octoberfest! There are some amazing things to bid on this year and proceeds are donated right to charity.

Contact Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida year-round for volunteer opportunities and needed donations.

A big thank you to each of the 2014 Taste of The Nation Participating Restaurants!

 

More information on Taste of the Nation Orlando and a sneak preview of what this gala event will showcase, please watch this great video!

Taste Of The Nation from DeMarco Films on Vimeo.

 

Shake Shack Winter Park, brings grand opening feeding frenzy!

Shake Shack sign

I’ve never been to a Shake Shack, so when I was invited to the grand opening party, I decided to brave the Trader Joe’s plaza parking lot and head over. I arrived at 5:15pm and had no problem finding a spot in the parking lot- afternoon storms had just passed through and the construction crews were off-site.

Shake Shake patio

Since I was early, I had a chance to explore. I walked past waterfalls, whimsical bronze sculptures and fountains leading me to the covered Shake Shack patio overlooking Lake Killarney. This beautiful view was once limited to Hillstone’s next door, it’s nice to have a casual option to enjoy the same picturesque view while dining.Shake Shake beerI was happy to see all of the local touches that this NYC company has injected into their menu. Adults can enjoy popular Florida craft beer from Funky Buddha, Brew Bus and Cigar City.

Shake Shake woof and concrete

Or stay local with a famous Shake Shack Concrete made with Audubon Park’s own P is for Pie Bake Shop’s Key Lime Pie. (It was outrageously delicious!)  But past the contemporary, open layout, cool menu and spectacular views is a hard working kitchen cranking out some tasty food at family-friendly prices. I was pleased to discover that Shake Shack uses 100% natural Angus beef with no hormones or antibiotics. Burgers come cooked medium, so if you prefer a different cook temp you should specify when ordering.

Shake Shake SmokeShack

The classic burger and cheese burger received enthusiastic nods as people chomped into the tasty and juicy burgers. But the SmokeShack was a revelation to newcomers and seasoned Shake Shack fans, alike. It’s a cheeseburger topped with w/ smoked applewood bacon, chopped cherry peppers & ShackSauce, lots of big flavors made this the overwhelming crowd favorite.

Shake Shake Dogmeister

The Dogmeister Flat-Top Dog Is 100% all natural, no hormones or antibiotics. The hot dogs are split and griddled, then topped with Shack cheddar & American cheese sauce with crispy Brooklyn Brewery Ale marinated shallots. Diners will taste a hint of the proprietary Shackmeister Ale and it’s a nice combination with the cheese sauce hiding under the pile of crispy fried shallots.

Shake Shake Fries

Speaking of cheese sauce, you may want to plan to go all in with Shake Shake’s Cheese fries. The crinkle cut Yukon potatoes were exceptionally light and nicely salted. The cheese sauce is described as “our special blend of cheddar and American cheese”. It’s special, in that it tastes pleasingly cheesy and not overly processed- it was crazy yummy.

Shake Shake Portobello whole

Vegetarians rejoice, Shake Shack has got you covered with their impressive ‘Shroom Burger. It’s big and satisfying; the stuffed and breaded Portobello mushroom cap is fried in soy oil, with no chance of the meatiness from the grills messing up your tummy. Let’s talk about the stuffed part of this sandwich…

Shake Shake Portobello reveal menu

One bite and you are enjoying melty-cheesy goodness! Munster and cheddar cheeses take this vegetarian offering into the stratosphere. My next visit, I would love to mix it up and add in some of the chopped cherry pepper for that spicy kick. If you still want to indulge in the meaty greatness of the Shake Shack burger, but are intrigued by the mushroom, order the Shack Stack- a cheeseburger topped with the ‘Shroomburger. I have it on good authority that this combo is out of this world.

Shake Shake Concrete

After you’ve walked off some of your meal by checking out the patio, playing some ping pong and maybe walked a few laps of the parking lot, get ready for the Frozen Custard. I grew up in the Northeast, so one spoonful of Shake Shack’s frozen custard had me reminiscing of family vacations and summers at the beach. Frozen custard is a richer cousin to ice cream, it’s a rich mouth-feel, but not heavy. Shake Shack points out on their menu “Our vanilla and chocolate recipes use only real sugar, no corn syrup, and milk from dairy farmers who pledge not to use artificial growth hormones.” I really enjoyed the Key Lime Pie Oh My made with Vanilla custard and Orlando’s own P is For Pie Key Lime pie, and the above Winter Park exclusive Winter’s Wonderland, Vanilla custard topped with marshmallow sauce and crispy crunchies. Shake Shack has pledged that 5% of the sales of Winter’s Wonderland supports BASE Camp Children’s Cancer Foundation, helping children and their families living with cancer. Check out the rotating Custard Calendar in store or plan your stop by checking online.

You can also feel good drinking bottled water, as 1% of every Shake Shack bottled water sold goes to Waterkeeper Alliance, which supports the clean up of water sources around the globe. Which is especially nice to think about, while you are enjoying a beautiful Orlando sunset from the spacious Shake Shack patio.

Shake Shake sunset

Shake Shake Winter Park It’s now open to the public! (grand opening 7/30/2014)
119 N Orlando Avenue
Winter Park, FL 32789

Hours
Sunday – Thursday, 11 AM – 10 PM
Friday & Saturday, 11 AM – 11 PM

Francis Biondi talks about spring rolls and his exit from MasterChef

Francis Biondi is still cooking and perfecting the team surf and turf dish in his head. “Maybe if we had made a saffron crab cake with a radicchio salad and gastric to go with the Moroccan steak, our dish would have been elevated enough for the judges. I don’t know, our dish was a good dish, it was solid.” It was a bit surprising to see the duo that made a tasty dish, then move on to the dreaded pressure test. MasterChef judge, Gordon Ramsay, declared the dish “bland” and clearly expected more of the two solid chefs. Maybe things played out as teammate Courtney intended when she paired the teams; the judges automatically had higher expectations for the strong duo. Francis B shared that he felt like he was having an “off day”, but that he and Christian tasted the dish and it was good. He let Christian take the lead in picking the components in the pantry and took it as a challenge to push himself to up his game. He thought they had enough to move on to the next episode, as evidenced by his comments televised in the episode. Francis and Christian ended up headed for the elimination round, instead.

When the pressure test was announced as spring rolls, I thought to myself “He’s got this.” In my first chat with Francis B he mentioned growing up cooking with his family, so I knew he had to have made a ton of Lumpia in his lifetime. (Lumpia is a the Filipino equivalent to spring rolls.) The pressure test ended with Francis B exiting the show and a lot of viewers wondering “What just happened?!” Fellow contestant, Cutter, also had problems with his spring roll and had watched his duo challenge meal chucked in the trash. Shouldn’t Cutter have been the first choice to be eliminated? Francis B was equally surprised “It was hard to watch.” What about the outcry on social media? Francis B has been interacting with fans all week on his Facebook page, Twitter and more. “I seem to have a big following on social media, it’s been interesting to talk with people and hear their thoughts. I’ve even had offers for lessons on how to make doughnuts and spring rolls.” he shared with a laugh.

So about those springrolls…

“My filling was great. The judges came by, tasted and told me it was a really great filling. But I’ve never made a spring roll or Lumpia with freshly made pasta sheets. Lumpia aren’t made that way. I saw Dan using the pasta roller and thought maybe I should have gone that way, but I’ve always used the hand roller when making pasta. I got that pasta thin.” It all came down to the temperature of the oil in the fryer. “When you are in the MasterChef kitchen, it’s all about time constraints. If I had noticed that the fryer oil wasn’t hot enough before I put the spring rolls in, I would have dumped the oil into a dutch oven and done a stove-top fry. I guess not everything works perfectly, even in the MasterChef kitchen.”

So when Gordon Ramsay stopped by Francis B’s cooking station and declared the fried spring rolls anemic-looking before the judging, Francis took action and fell back on his roots. “Lumpia are cooked on the stove-top in a very shallow fry,” he quickly poured a small amount of oil in a pan and tried to get some color on his cooked spring rolls. The judges weren’t pleased and we all know the rest. Francis B has been busting out spring rolls ever since, this week he even posted a picture of perfectly made spring rolls ready for the fryer. You can look for some of Francis B’s in-depth thoughts on his MasterChef exit and some tips on making your own Spring Rolls on his new blog, in the next few days.

If you’ve been watching MasterChef you know that in past seasons there has been a occasional redemption challenge, when former contestants from the season get to battle for a chance back into the Masterchef competition. I asked if there was a redemption challenge this season and if we would we see him cooking on MasterChef again. His answer was neither a confirmation or a denial, “That certainly is a possibility. You’ll have to watch & see.” He would confirm that he will be on the finale show when the winner was announced.

Until then, Francis B is keeping busy working, gearing up to compete in several golf tournaments, working on his new food blog, accepting private chef work and collaborating on charity events, like the upcoming Share our Strength’s Taste of The Nation event to benefit No Kid Hungry on August 9th, 2014. He hopes to see some of his MasterChef fans and supporters at this great charity food event!

 

These are busy times for Francis Biondi, who is open to the opportunities that are unfolding. Maybe there is a way for him to pursue his love of food while also working in his golf aspirations? I would love to see him touring a few of the wonderful Florida golf courses and collaborating with on-site chefs on a featured dish. Does that sound like a Golf Channel show in the making? Maybe a highlight of a charity golf tournament or a special event at Bay Hill during The Arnold Palmer Invitational? Only time will tell.

Hal Boedecker from the Orlando Sentinel teased in his article this week that there may be Francis B Spring Rolls at Txokos Basque Kitchen at the East End Market this weekend. “I am making a bunch for the kitchen crew and bringing them in this weekend for them to enjoy,” Francis confirmed. Who knows, maybe a few lucky patrons will get to sample a Francis Biondi Spring Roll. Joe Bastianich called it early when he said, “Keep your eye on Francis B, he’s one to watch.” Indeed.