When we were approached by Hyatt Regency Orlando about hosting The Dinner Party Project there, there were no questions asked, after we saw the huge crystal chandelier in the foyer. It was such a delightful evening, that we had to sneak in 2 extra people, for a total of 10 people around the table.
We were so lucky to have not one, but two Guest Chefs for the Evening. They came up w a Gourmet Tailgating Menu. It was the fanciest twist on tailgating food that we had ever heard of.
We got to hear a little bit about their background and we will share it with you:
Chef Will Walters - Chef de Cuisine of Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse:
"I've been cooking in restaurants for 12 years, but I've been in the kitchen with my grandma, mom, and aunt since I can remember.
I realized I loved cooking and wanted it to be my profession when I was going to school in PA for business and marketing. I picked up a job at as a prep guy at a local hot spot called Rillo's Italian restaurant. To make a long story short I slowly started skipping my business classes to go to the restaurant early because I was loving the fact that I learned something new every day and it never got boring! Soon after I failed out of Shippensburg University (parents didn't like that too much) and worked full time at Rillo's, which lead to culinary school, and that's what brought me to Florida to work at the Peabody.
My biggest influence in cooking is most certainly my mom. She taught me to put love into every dish and not to take short cuts. Professional influence is Chef Scott Maurer who used to be the executive sous chef at the Peabody and Hyatt Regency Orlando, and Chef Jared Gross who is the chef of Urban Tide at the Hyatt Regency Orlando and my partner in the dinner party project tomorrow. These two chefs hired me, taught me, believed in me and promoted me over the last 9 years in florida.
I would have to say as of right now my signature dish is one of my new apps on our 2015 fall/winter menu. It's Oktoberfest braised veal cheeks with caraway seed- ginger carrot puree with coriander- Grilled cipollini onion- roasted golden beets with white balsamic- and chervil. It speaks to my inner beer snob!"
Jared Gross, Chef de Cuisine of Urban Tide:
I have been cooking for 19 + years
I actually went to culinary school in Pittsburgh for front of the house and restaurant management, as a requirement we needed to learn the kitchen for 6 months and I feel I love with cooking at that point and completed my culinary degree instead
The biggest influence on my cooking style have been my old Mentor Chef Scott Maurer and Celebrity Chef Michael Symon (his cooking techniques and style are what I feel is the route I took as a Culinary interests.)
I have a Cioppino dish on my menu now for 6 years and is very popular. I was challenged to bring this signature dish of San Francisco to Florida, so by utilizing the local Floridian seafood and Caribbean seasonings
Dessert was INCREDIBLE. I know you can't see it from here, but it was served on a cylinder of dry ice. Everyone was asking if this dessert was on the Menu and when was the soonest we could come back and have some more!
The Dinner Party guests had such a blast around the table! So many connections, passions, and hilarious stories were shared around the table.
We are SO thankful to Hyatt Regency Orlando for hosting us and taking care of us so well! Looking forward to visiting their restaurants again for their delightful offerings!