Boldist - The talk of the town

We won’t lie, we used to view Central Florida in the negative light like a lot of people still do. We walked through that brief period of time where it seemed that you needed to be in New York or L.A. to accomplish something big and to become someone notable.

Thankfully, the last handful of years have shaken that misconception. In 2008, we came to believe in the creative talent here so hard that we opened an art gallery to support it. For us, the art and music scene was always apparent, we just needed people to believe in it enough for it to thrive.

Suddenly (in the last couple years), we’re seeing this talent spread into multiple other areas of our state – food, cocktails, products, design, craftsmanship, clothing, etc. We are witnessing makers and do-ers pop up all around us. Either they’ve always existed and people are finally just catching on or everyone woke up at the same time and said, “hey, we’re a talented little state. we’ve got dreams and ambition, sun and water, let’s do something and make it big.” It’s hard to say when the shift happened, but the Central Florida family is definitely in a movement of creating a serious name for itself.

If you’re an Orlandoan, you’ve at least heard of the East End Market by now. The owner, John Rife, did something. The vendors within it did something. And the atmosphere they’ve created is so inspirational and unique that for the first time ever the James Beard Foundation, based in NYC, announced semi-finalist awards live inside their building, right here in Orlando, Florida.

For those typically visiting our blog for branding and web chatter and not food knowledge, read up on the James Beard Awards here or just take our word on the fact that being a part of this is a huge deal and huge honor in the culinary world.

Of the 20 nominated for James Beard’s “Best Chef South,” 8 are from Florida and 5 are from Central Florida (we’re including Tampa here).

James & Julie Petrakis – The Ravenous Pig (Winter Park)
Chad Johnson – SideBern’s (Tampa)
Hari Pulapaka – Cress (DeLand)
Henry Saldago – Spanish River Grill (New Smyrna Beach)
Steve Phelps – Indigenous (Sarasota)
Haracia Rivadero – The District (Miami)
Jose Mendin – Pubbelly – (Miami Beach)
Hats off, chefs! This list is cool. This list is important. But it doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the culinary talent around us and those who’ve worked underneath these chefs. There are so many who couldn’t fit on one list. A few that come to mind nearby are:
Kathleen Blake – Rusty Spoon
Brandon McGlamery – Prato
Chef Norman Van Aken – Norman’s
Scott Hunnell – Victoria & Alberts
Kevin Fonzo – K Restaurant & Wine Bar
Josh Oakley – Smiling Bison

But that’s not even considering the plethora of talent in Miami, Tampa and surrounding regions. Under the title of executive chef is a team. This includes the rest of the staff, the line cooks, Chef de Partie’s and Sous Chefs that will soon rise up in the ranks and take over the helm, or start something of their own. Just like big cities, the restaurant world in Central Florida forces you to want to push yourself, to want to be better.

There is so much talent being fostered right here in our own backyard. It’s our responsibility to continue to build this place up; to keep it awesome so that they WANT to stay here. So, be a patron. Visit the local venues around you. Help foster the growth, the talent and the people (see what we did there?). There is a collaborative effort to all great things. Get in there and be a part of it – be it culinary or not.

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