Good food is far from hard to find in Orlando, from celebrity chef restaurants to value dining and even healthy theme park eats. This year, Orlando is the proud home of two James Beard Awards Semifinalist Nominees for the “Best Chefs in the South” category, a most prestigious (and delicious) honor.
Nominee Kathleen Blake, owner and chef at The Rusty Spoon, started cooking in her grandmother's kitchen growing up in Iowa. She attended the Community College of San Francisco's Apprenticeship Program, which landed her at Square One Restaurant. A Women Chef & Restaurateurs Scholarship Award brought her to Washington, DC as the chef de cuisine at the heralded Restaurant Nora, and then in 2003 she moved to Orlando to become 2013 James Beard Award winner Melissa Kelly’s chef de cuisine at Primo at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes. In 2011 Blake opened the Rusty Spoon, a gastropub in downtown Orlando.
Nominee Brandon McGlamery, Executive Chef at Luma on Park, attended the California Culinary Academy and trained with some of the top chefs in the world - Gordon Ramsey in London and Guy Savoy in Paris - and at some of the top restaurants in the country - French Laundry, Chez Panisse and Bacchanlia. He then came to Orlando to open Luma on Park in 2006, followed by Prato in 2012, both in Winter Park. An avid fisherman, McGlamery’s Italian cuisine focuses on sustainable fishing, local, seasonal ingredients and responsibly farmed meats. McGlamery also recently opened a third restaurant, Luke’s Kitchen and Bar in Maitland. Luke’s offers cocktails and American cuisine, such as oysters, a raw bar, soups and sandwiches, entrees cooked on open fire grill and rotisserie.
Final winners will be announced at The 2017 James Beard Awards Gala on Monday, May 1, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
If you’re looking for a great meal, you’ll always find one at The Rusty Spoon or Luma on Park, but Orlando has many more must-eats across the destination. Start planning your foodie itinerary for your next visit, with the help of our website.
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Written by Cory O’Born, Communications Associate Representative at Visit Orlando. She enjoys puns, getting lost in foreign countries, petting every dog she sees and uncovering hidden gems in her hometown of Orlando.