Chefs of Orlando
Orlando includes six very distinct dining districts, all of which feature amazing restaurants — not to mention talented culinary artisans whose savory creations inspire and tempt us all. Prepare your palate for MICHELIN Guide honorees, celebrity chefs, James Beard Award nominees, experts on fine wine and craft beer, passionate advocates of the farm-to-table movement, pastry artisans, and restaurateurs dedicated to providing the very best in exceptional service. Bon appétit.
Discover: Orlando Dining
JOSÉ ANDRÉS: JALEO AND PEPE
Named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” and awarded “Outstanding Chef” by the James Beard Foundation, Andrés has brought his famed JALEO brand to Disney Springs® at Walt Disney World® Resort. Focusing on the spirit and flavors of Spain, this is the biggest, boldest JALEO yet. It’s complemented by Pepe by José Andrés, the first-ever brick-and-mortar location for the chef’s famous food truck, adjacent to JALEO and serving hot and cold Spanish-style sandwiches.
Discover: Things to Do at DISNEY SPRINGS
RICK BAYLESS: FRONTERA COCINA
Located in Town Center at Disney Springs, Bayless’ Frontera Cocina is as notable for its design elements as its authentic Mexican fare. Having notched up eight James Beard Awards in his career, Bayless is also known for television hits such as Mexico — One Plate at a Time and Bravo’s Top Chef Masters.
Richard Blais: Four Flamingos
At Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress close to Walt Disney World, Four Flamingos, A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen brings the Top Chefs: All-Stars winner to Orlando. At his MICHELIN Guide Recommended concept, Blais combines the memory of vintage eras with Florida’s natural bounty, resulting in a treasure-packed menu that focuses on fresh-caught surf and fire-grilled turf. Four Flamingos is also the perfect place to linger and libate thanks to its colorful interior and refreshing cocktail creations.
Todd English’s bluezoo
Stylish and entertaining, English has appeared on such TV programs as Cooking Under Fire and Food Trip. With an assist from Chef Christopher McDonough, Todd English’s bluezoo combines the freshest seafood and global coastal cuisine with an unforgettable atmosphere at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort and Walt Disney World Swan Reserve.
GUY FIERI: CHICKEN GUY! AND PLANET HOLLYWOOD
Thanks to these venues, Town Center at Disney Springs is the gateway to Flavortown. A New York Times-bestselling author and Emmy Award-winning television host, Fieri doesn’t oversee Planet Hollywood‘s entire menu, but the chef and restaurateur did contribute a signature line of burgers and sandwiches. And at the quick-service Chicken Guy! — which now has a second location in Winter Park — you can chow down on all-natural sandwiches, salads and sides made with Fieri’s off-the-hook flare.
Primo by Melissa Kelly
Happily for Orlando, Kelly’s original Primo in Maine closes in the winter, during which time she can often be found overseeing operations at the famous eatery’s MICHELIN Guide Recommended location at JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes. Like its namesake, Orlando’s Primo serves Mediterranean cuisine using local, organic ingredients — in fact, they have their own onsite herb garden. A Culinary Institute of America graduate, Kelly is also a two-time James Beard Award recipient.
Masaharu Morimoto: Morimoto Asia
Best known for his winning appearances on Iron Chef, Morimoto has been refining his craft for nearly five decades. Located in The Landing at Disney Springs, his MICHELIN Guide Recommended Morimoto Asia invites you to partake in a culinary journey across Asia. Late-night revelers will also want to visit the eatery’s Forbidden Lounge, serving cocktails and a limited menu until 2 a.m. nightly.
Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill
Sample Puck’s famous creations when you visit The Marketplace at Disney Springs. Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill features a Mediterranean-influenced menu and ambiance inspired by California. Expect innovative takes on comfort food classics paired with handcrafted specialty cocktails, beer and wine.
Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips
The famously fiery chef has brought his world-renowned Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips quick-service eatery to ICON Park® on International Drive. Ramsay’s take on the classic English favorite marks his first foray into Orlando.
Discover: Things to Do at ICON Park
Art Smith: Homecomin’ Florida Kitchen
A two-time James Beard Award winner, Smith is a sixth-generation Floridian who’s appeared on such cooking shows as BBQ Pitmasters and Top Chef Masters. Found in The Landing at Disney Springs, Smith’s Homecomin’ Florida Kitchen pays homage to Florida’s rich agricultural heritage with farm-to-table freshness.
John Tesar: Knife & Spoon
Well known to Top Chef audiences, Chef John Tesar brought his Knife & Spoon to The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes in 2021 — and it has already earned a coveted MICHELIN Star. At this steak and seafood concept, see why gourmet legend Anthony Bourdain raved about Tesar, who enjoyed the pseudonym Jimmy Sears in Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential and Medium Raw.
Norman Van Aken: Norman’s
The only Floridian inducted into the James Beard list of “Who’s Who in American Food and Beverage,” Norman Van Aken is a homegrown celebrity chef with a dedicated fan base. Credited with coining the term “Fusion Cuisine” in 1989, he is also regarded as the Founding Father of New World Cuisine.
Van Aken’s latest dining concept, Norman’s in Orlando’s famous Restaurant Row, showcases his signature New World Cuisine and freshest culinary creations. It also features a glass-enclosed, 4,000-bottle wine cellar with an extensive list of varietals, as well as an elegant main dining room, two private dining rooms, beautiful al fresco dining, a sultry lounge and a terrace bar.
Celebrity chefs aren’t the only reason for gourmets to visit Orlando — not with these local culinary heroes ready to thrill your taste buds.
Trina Gregory-Propst: Se7en Bites
A longtime Orlando favorite thanks to her Se7en Bites in Orlando’s Milk District, Gregory-Propst has also made a name for herself on Food Network. After being featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, she was invited to appear on Guy’s Grocery Games — and won. Her signature eatery serves gourmet, down-home comfort food for breakfast, brunch and lunch.
Discover: Things to Do in Orlando Neighborhoods
Scott Hunnel: Victoria & Albert’s
Scott Hunnel oversees the ultimate fine dining experience at Walt Disney World Resort, having served as the culinary head of Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa since 1995. Today, he holds the title of culinary director and oversees dining operations at multiple Walt Disney World Resort hotels. Neither he nor his most famous restaurant have gone unnoticed by the James Beard Foundation in that time, either. In addition to Hunnel’s “Best Chef: South” nominations in 2007-2013 and 2015 — eight total — Victoria & Albert’s was a semifinalist in the “Outstanding Service” category for 2019.
Discover: WALT DISNEY WORLD Resort Hotels
Recognized as one of the finest restaurants in the southeastern U.S., Victoria & Albert’s has earned AAA’s Five Diamond Award, a Five-Star rating from Forbes Travel Guide and glowing Zagat reviews. They serve modern American cuisine with globally sourced ingredients, employing an imaginative approach that elevates food to an art form with aromatic flavors, vivid colors and exciting textures, as well as exquisite wine pairings for every course.
Steve Jayson: Universal Orlando Resort
A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Jayson is the corporate executive chef at Universal Orlando Resort, and he’s worked there since it opened in 1989. In that time, he’s helped develop the entire menu for the Three Broomsticks™ restaurant at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, including the famed Butterbeer™, Pumpkin Juice™, Cauldron Cakes and Treacle Fudge. Jayson was also instrumental in creating Mythos Restaurant, a fine-dining eatery within Universal Islands of Adventure that has been voted “Best Theme Park Restaurant” on multiple occasions.
Taking the fictitious and making it delicious is all in a day’s work for this 2000 winner of The American Culinary Federation’s “National Chef of the Year.” Jayson continues to provide a hands-on role within the culinary industry, including his work on former First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Chef’s Move to Schools” campaign.
Wendy Lopez: Reyes Mezcaleria
A native of Michoacán, Mexico, and a Florida resident since 1998, Lopez studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France, before diving into Orlando’s culinary scene. The executive chef at downtown Orlando’s Reyes Mezcaleria since 2018, Lopez was named chef-partner in 2022. She has made multiple Food Network appearances and earned numerous local culinary honors. She also supports externship and mentorship programs with aspiring chefs.
Brandon McGlamery: Prato and Luke’s Kitchen
The multifaceted Brandon McGlamery oversees two of the Orlando area’s best restaurants: the MICHELIN Guide Recommended Prato in Winter Park, about 20 minutes north of International Drive, and Luke’s Kitchen and Bar in Maitland, just north of Winter Park. The former made him a James Beard semifinalist for “Best Chef: South” in 2017, and both deserve your attention.
Discover: Things to Do in Winter Park
A top dining destination on Winter Park’s famous main thoroughfare, Park Avenue, Prato offers innovative, seasonally directed Italian classics with modern techniques. And at Luke’s Kitchen, savor American favorites created with seasonal ingredients and responsibly sourced proteins. No matter which you choose, you’re in for an exceptional meal — but why limit yourself to just one of McGlamery’s restaurants?
Henry Moso: Kabooki Sushi
A two-time James Beard Award semifinalist in 2020 (“Rising Star Chef of the Year”) and 2022 (“Best Chef: South”), and now a finalist for “Best Chef: South” in 2023, Henry Moso oversees both Kabooki Sushi locations. They include the original, MICHELIN Guide Recommended restaurant just east of downtown Orlando on Colonial Drive and its new venue on Orlando’s Restaurant Row, close to International Drive.
Both of Moso’s restaurants create imaginative dishes that blend the vibrancy of Mexican flavor, the sophistication of French preparation and the curated integrity of Japanese cuisine. What’s more, the Colonial Drive location has expanded, so if you haven’t tasted their delicacies yet, you are out of excuses.
James & Julie Petrakis: The Ravenous Pig, The Polite Pig and Cask & Larder
The husband-and-wife team of Chefs James and Julie Petrakis are practically synonymous with the best aspects of Orlando dining, and for good reason. They’ve been semifinalists for James Beard’s “Best Chefs in America” category six times — 2011 through 2016 — and were also semifinalists for “Outstanding Restaurateur” in 2019.
Their signature restaurant is Winter Park’s The Ravenous Pig, a MICHELIN Bib Gourmand gastropub that serves inventive, seasonal cuisine for lunch and dinner, paired with house-made charcuterie and extensive cocktail, craft beer and wine selections, but that’s not the only place to sample their creations. They also operate The Polite Pig at Disney Springs, as well as Cask & Larder at Orlando International Airport.
David Ramirez: Rosen Shingle Creek
Given his status as a self-described “chocoholic,” it’s fitting that Executive Pastry Chef David Ramirez of Rosen Shingle Creek creates edible works of art using chocolate and other goodies. His delicious constructs have landed him an appearance on Food Network and won him major culinary accolades — including a gold medal at the National Pastry Championship in 2005 and being named captain of “Team USA” for the 2009 World Pastry Championship in Lyon, France.
Ramirez earned a degree in baking and pastry arts from Johnson & Wales University. After graduation, he worked at the Swiss Hotel in Boston. Ramirez then moved to Orlando at the age of 22 to become the executive pastry chef at Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld and the youngest executive-level employee in the organization’s history. He joined Rosen Shingle Creek in 2006.
JOHN RIVERS: 4 RIVERS SMOKEHOUSE & THE COOP
While many Orlando-area chefs have been formally trained in the culinary arts, John Rivers walks a bit of a different path. Once the president of a $1 billion-plus pharmaceutical company, Rivers now serves barbecue at his 4 Rivers locations, including East Orlando, Kissimmee, Longwood, SoDo, Winter Garden and Winter Park, as well as The COOP by 4 Rivers and the 4 Rivers Cantina Barbacoa Food Truck.
The story began nearly two decades ago for Rivers, when the chef-owner began his “barbecue ministry” out of his garage, initially benefitting schools, charitable groups and churches. Since Rivers opened his first restaurant in Winter Park during 2009, his barbecue, gourmet side dishes, bottled sauces and rubs, and desserts have reached legendary status among local foodies — so much in fact that he smokes more than 15,000 pounds of meat each week. He was also invited to cook at the famed James Beard House in August 2013. And in late 2022, Rivers opened the first phase of the 4Roots Farm Campus, an 18-acre urban farm focused on innovation, sustainability and education.
Rabii Saber: Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort
Executive Pastry Chef of Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort, Rabii Saber isn’t just a 2019 and 2022 James Beard semifinalist for “Outstanding Pastry Chef” — he’s also cooked at the invite-only James Beard House in New York City. What’s more, he was a key member of the U.S. team for the 2017 Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie in France, where his chocolate cake won the prestigious competition’s top honors.
Having started his Four Seasons career as the executive pastry chef of the brand’s Lanai resort in Hawaii, Saber brought a taste of the islands with him to Orlando. Today, the mainland’s finest produce serves as inspiration for his endless dessert options. His sweet touch can be felt through all of Four Seasons Resort Orlando’s dining establishments, including the One-MICHELIN-Star Capa Steakhouse & Bar, Ravello and many others.
There Is Always More to Do in Orlando
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