Culinary Spotlight: Beard in Baldwin

Jason and Sue Chin are sowing them with the Beard in Baldwin event, bringing attention to our bounty of chefs.



Jason and Sue Chin (right) with Alexia and Rhys Gawlak of Winter Park’s Swine & Sons at the Beard in Baldwin event.

Nathan Dobbins

The James Beard Foundation made its presence felt on April 14, when Jason and Sue Chin, owners of Seito Sushi, The Osprey Tavern and Reyes Mezcaleria, hosted their second Beard in Baldwin event, which benefits the Foundation’s National Scholars Program. This was the only appearance of the Beard brand in Orlando this year, as there were no local chefs or restaurants on the most recent James Beard Awards semifinalist ballot.

The event was a showcase of culinary creativity, and it was thrilling to see each restaurant represented not only by their talented crews but the chefs themselves, not an easy thing to arrange on a very busy Saturday night.

Attendees arrived to do some serious eating, and the chefs were there to cook. Highball & Harvest’s Scott Pizzo created an outrageous little dish of  squid stuffed with duck pot pie, served in a wild onion bisque with duck pate and a cracker made from Mexican huitlacoche. Camilo Velasco of 1921NVA channeled Norman Van Aken’s love of Florida fare by deep frying Cape Canaveral anchovies (a bycatch of the shrimp trade) and serving them with a cod fritter and boiled peanut Catalan sauce. Chef Chau (Sushi Pop) delivered a charcoal-grilled salmon hand roll; Soco’s Greg Richie turned out beautiful duck confit on a foie gras buttermilk biscuit with pickled tomato; and Bruno Zacchini of namesake Pizza Bruno worked his portable wood-fired oven like a magician to make Margherita pizzas and octopus worthy of Naples.

It was my first chance to sample carne asada tamales from Tamale & Co., and the savory pork ragu over creamy polenta from Terralina. Roberto Treviño arrived from El Buda Latin Asian with shrimp chicharron in garlicky al ajillo sauce and Asian-style pate.

It’s not often you can turn a corner and encounter chefs Tim Keating (Urbain 40) and Tony Mantuano (Terralina) in deep conversation, while Joseph Creech (Hunger Street Tacos) is checking out the offerings from Black Rooster Taqueria and its burning hot chef, John Calloway. There were almost too many Orlando stars to track: James Petrakis, Jamie McFadden, Julie Casey … and that’s just the J’s.

The maven of 1921, Norman Van Aken himself, not only introduced the guest chefs in the VIP lounge (aka Osprey Tavern) but spoke to the masses from the Lake Baldwin stage and then wailed on harmonica along with the guest band, the amazing Legendary JCs. Inside the VIP, guest chefs Jeremiah Langhorne (The Dabney), Soraya Caraccioli-Kilgore (MadLab Creamery), Top Chef winner Jeremy Ford and Frank Anderson (The Rez Grill) shared the Osprey kitchen with its chef, Elek Kovacs, and superstar pastry chef Kristy Carlucci. And I must say, the food outside on Broad Street matched in every way the caliber inside.

And this is why Beard in Baldwin was an important happening, and why Orlando (and you) should care about a $110 ($175 for VIP) food event. Even with a multitude of semifinalist mentions in the Beard Awards (Victoria & Albert’s Scott Hunnel alone has been tagged eight times), Orlando has never made it to the finalist list, and therefore has never had a chance at winning. And it’s not, as some area writers posit, that Orlando doesn’t get national press, because it does. As we know from food television, chefs don’t peruse newspapers for news; they talk to other chefs. And the national Beard judges, who determine award-winning nominations, are chefs, food professionals and writers. So it takes a motivated, gifted organizer like Jason Chin to attract the attention where it’s needed, at the kitchen level.

Chin plans on making Beard in Baldwin an annual event. It just might be the key to stepping us into the award level, and we’d have Jason and Sue to thank—and our extraordinary chefs.

Edit Module
Want to read the whole issue? Download and read this issue and others on Magzter.

Add your comment:
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags

Guides & Resources

2018 Premier Veterinarians

The 2018 Pet Guide: Pet Resource Guide

Here are some of the places you can go in Central Florida when you need supplies, products and services for your best friends.

Premier Realtors 2018

Let Orlando's best realtors help you find your dream home!

Orlando's Best Lawyers 2018

Our annual list includes hundreds of Orlando-area attorneys in dozens of areas of practice.

Orlando's Top Dentists of 2018

Our annual list featuring 224 of the area's finest dental professionals.

Guide to Private Schools 2018

Our searchable annual database will help you chart an educational course for your family.

2017 Premier Doctors

Our annual list of over 500 doctors.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

MoreRecent Blog Posts

Health Hub: Cancer Care For The Body, Mind and Spirit

Treating the whole patient can improve outcomes.

Texas de Brazil Fall Feast Giveaway

Enter to win a $200 gift certificate for four to Texas de Brazil for a Fall Feast to remember!

Kid Kontributor of the Month - September 2018

Read all about why Leah's cat, Missy, is special, and learn all about our monthly feature, the "Kid Kontributor of the Month."

Orlando Burger Battle 2018 Giveaway

Enter to win VIP and General Admission tickets to our epic Orlando Burger Battle and a subscription to Orlando Magazine!

Health Hub: September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Research and advancements in treatment provide hope for the future
Edit Module