With the rise of the Food Network and the celebrity-chef craze over the last decade, Orlando has seen a number of famous chefs come to town. While you might be among those who prefer to dine at locally-owned restaurants, sometimes it’s fun to hit up a celebrity spot and see if it lives up to the hype. Here are a few that offer up some exciting “ethnic” dining options, from Greek to sushi to Asian fusion.
Emeril Lagasse’s Tchoup Chop, Loews Royal Pacific at Universal Orlando. Emeril is perhaps the most famous celebrity chef in the world, with a 12-restaurant empire that stretches from Las Vegas to Miami. Tchoup Chop, his second Orlando restaurant, features Asian and Polynesian-inspired dishes such as Mongolian glazed slow roated pork belly, Tchoup Chop crunchy shrimp with sweet and sour glaze, and Hot iron seared yellowfin tuna steak with Thai sticky rice and smoked bacon.
Cat Cora’s Kouzzina, Disney’s Boardwalk. Cat Cora is famous as the Food Network’s first female Iron Chef. Kouzzina serves up Greek and Mediterranean classics including Spanakopita, Goat cheese-stuffed grape leaves, and Slow-cooked lamb shank.
Wolfgang Puck’s Grand Cafe, Downtown Disney. Wolfgang Puck is the celebrity chef/owner of Spago in Beverly Hills, one of the most acclaimed restaurants in the country. Grand Cafe in Downtown Disney features a wide-array of cuisines from around the world, including the Daily sushi special, Tortilla soup with goat cheese and tortilla strips, and Macadamia nut crusted chicken breast with red papaya marmalade.
Todd English’s bluezoo, Walt Disney Dolphin Resort. Todd English is a celebrity chef best known for his restaurant Olives in Boston and at the 5-star Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas. His Orlando restaurant, Bluezoo, is set in an amazing sea-themed dining room and serves up a seafood oriented menu with dishes such as bajo octo (octopus, fresh garbanzo, red ribbon sorrel), and Florida grouper (black truffle spaetzle, black radish, black truffle vinaigrette).
Norman Van Aken’s NORMAN’S, The Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes. Norman Van Aken is Florida’s original celebrity chef and one of the founders of New World fusion cuisine. He has been featured on Emeril Live and more recently on No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain. The menu at NORMAN’S features Florida/Caribbean-inspired dishes including Shrimp ceviche with tomato and avocado, Creamy cracked conch chowder, and Pan-cooked filet of Key West yellowtail with asparagus spears, mashed potatoes, and citrus butter sauce.
Roy Yamaguchi’s Roy’s Restaurant, Restaurant Row in Dr. Phillips. Roy Yamaguchi is a Japanese-American celebrity chef who lives in Hawaii and has appeared on Food Network’s Iron Chef and Bravo TV’s Top Chef Masters. Roy’s Restaurant serves up Hawaiian-fusion cuisine with a menu featuring Peppercorn-crusted ahi tuna, Tempura lobster with citris ponzu sauce, and Hawaiian salt smoked ribeye.
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