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Orlando's Newest Attraction: World-Class Dining

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Orlando Leads Florida With Four Chefs Named Semifinalists In 2014 James Beard Awards

ORLANDO, FL, Feb. 21, 2014 /CNW/ - As foodie culture becomes increasingly mainstream, more and more Canadians are eager to fulfill their sense of culinary adventure through travel. While overseas destinations have been historically popular for food enthusiasts, Canadians should remember that there are incredible chefs and restaurants much closer to home.  For the second consecutive year, Orlando leads all Florida destinations for the number of chefs nominated for The James Beard Foundation's 2014 Restaurant and Chef Award, securing its place as a top culinary destination for travelers. The nominees are:

  • James and Julie Petrakis, The Ravenous Pig and Cask & Larder
  • Hari Pulapaka, Cress Restaurant
  • Henry Salgado, Txokos Basque Kitchen and Spanish River Grill

"Orlando has emerged as a distinct dining destination with a passionate community of chefs leading a flourishing farm-to-table movement, creating a growing independent restaurant scene and sourcing local and organic ingredients that showcase the benefits of Florida's four growing seasons and proximity to Florida's abundant fresh fish and seafood sources," said Visit Orlando President & CEO George Aguel. "Award-winning restaurants and James Beard nominated chefs across our destination are attracting foodies in increasing numbers."

"I'm so impressed with the growth of Orlando's dining scene," said president of the James Beard Foundation Susan Ungaro during a press conference on February 19. "I expect Orlando, which has been a prime tourist destination for so many years, can now add culinary destination to its long list of reasons to visit."

On February 19, Orlando hosted the first-ever live semifinalist announcement. The event took place at East End Market, Orlando's new community marketplace and the first of its kind in the Southeast.

About the Orlando Semifinalists
James and Julie Petrakis - Graduates of the Culinary Institute of America, Julie and James Petrakis opened their American gastropub The Ravenous Pig in 2007 and have been receiving accolades ever since. The Pig has been so successful that the couple opened a sister restaurant, Cask & Larder in September of 2012.  The restaurant is a micro pub with Southern artisanal food and hand-crafted beer.

Hari Pulapaka - Chef Hari Pulapaka and wife Jenneffer are modern day Superheroes.  By day, Hari is a mathematics professor at Stetson University.  By night, he turns out award-winning fare at Cress Restaurant. Hari first came to the U.S. from Mumbai to earn his graduate degree in mathematics and later got his culinary degree. Restaurant co-owner Jenneffer Pulapaka is a podiatric surgeon and restaurant manager.

Henry Salgado - Chef Henry cooks up creative specialties using a blend of regional ingredients strongly influenced by the bustling barrios of Latino neighborhoods and the traditional Spanish countryside. In addition to Spanish River Grill, Chef Salgado's new restaurant Txokos Basque Kitchen will open in March 2014 at East End Market. While Spanish River Grill features Latin-influenced recipes, Txokos will be an entirely different concept focusing on food and wine specific to the Basque region of Spain.

This is the fourth year that James and Julie Petrakis have been named a semifinalist, the third year for Hari Pulapaka and the second year for Henry Salgado.

About Visit Orlando
Visit Orlando is the official tourism association for the most visited destination in the United States, with representation in more than a dozen countries around the world. Together with its 1,200 member companies, Visit Orlando represents one of the most popular and vibrant travel destinations in the world. For more information about Orlando's chefs and restaurants, go to OrlandoDistricts.com.

About James Beard Foundation
Founded in 1986, the James Beard Foundation is dedicated to celebrating, preserving, and nurturing America's culinary heritage and diversity in order to elevate the appreciation of our culinary excellence. A cookbook author and teacher with an encyclopedic knowledge about food, James Beard, who died in 1985, was a champion of American cuisine. He helped educate and mentor generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts. Today, the Beard Foundation continues in the same spirit by administering a number of diverse programs that include educational initiatives, food industry awards, scholarships to culinary schools, and publications, and by maintaining the historic James Beard House in New York City's Greenwich Village as a "performance space" for visiting chefs.

SOURCE Visit Orlando

Image with caption: "Pictured left to right: Susan Ungaro, James Beard Foundation President; semifinalists Julie & James Petrakis, The Ravenous Pig and Cask & Larder; semifinalist Henry Salgado, Spanish River Grill and Txokos Basque Kitchen; semifinalist Hari Pulapaka, Cress Restaurant; and George Aguel, Visit Orlando President & CEO. (CNW Group/Visit Orlando)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140221_C6385_PHOTO_EN_36982.jpg

©2012 PR Newswire. All Rights Reserved.

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