Level: Complex

Chef John Rivers: The Southern Cowboy

Chef John Rivers: The Southern Cowboy

One story above historic Park Avenue lives the heart of a man and his vision: Chef John Rivers. No amount of press, blogging, nor story-telling can prepare you for John River’s restaurants, the culinary creations within, and the emanating spirituality supporting his blossoming business. Together with […]

Lamb Chops Artichokes and Aioli Sauce

Lamb Chops Artichokes and Aioli Sauce

We love lamb chops The savory flavor of grilled lamb is a delicacy enjoyed in cuisines throughout the world. And this recipe is no exception. Seared lamb chops are versatile enough for a casual weeknight meal, a dinner party with friends, or a special romantic evening for two. […]

Best Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Best Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Food Hacks to Keep Your Food Fresh

Food Hacks to Keep Your Food Fresh

Loaded up on a bounty of produce at your local market this weekend? Check out this handy food hacks infographic. It shows you how to keep your food fresh for longer. You know how asparagus is presented upright on ice at the grocery store? There’s […]

Marlow’s Tavern: Ribs & Whiskey

Marlow’s Tavern: Ribs & Whiskey

  Marlow’s Tavern runs an annual program called Ribs & Whiskey. The menu features entrees enticing guests into their local neighborhood gems. Of particular interest are the following menu items: BBQ Blazed Cobb Salad BBQ Chicken, Crisp Field Greens, Roma Tomato, Apple-Smoked Bacon, Sweet Corn, […]

The COOP A Southern Affair

The COOP A Southern Affair

The Coop A Southern Affair
The Coop is the second concept to launch in Winter Park, FL by Chef John Rivers.


Restaurant Preview on Park Avenue

I received an invite for a Scott Joseph Supper Club preview of The COOP menu, a new restaurant concept from the Rivers crew… A Southern Affair… Where? In the headquarters test kitchen of course! I could not turn down the exclusive opportunity for A: Test Kitchen (we could stop there but…), B: Meeting John Rivers in person, C: A cooking demonstration by the man himself!

Cooking Demonstration

coop chef rivers 1

coop chef rivers 2

Watch this video where John Rivers presents The COOP. He talks about local purveyors and a few of his favorite restaurants.

coop chef rivers 3
coop chef rivers 8
coop chef rivers 4
coop chef rivers 6


Around the Office at Winter Park HQ
coop menu board
coop rivers test kitchen 1
cowboy kitchen mission
cowboy kitchen first menu

Okay, NOW let’s get on with drooling over the good stuff…

The Tasting Menu!

low country shrimp n grits

Low Country Shrimp & Grits
Spicy Tasso Tomato Reduction, Creamy Anson Mills Grits

Chef plated this dish with a generous helping of smoked ham, fine sliced green onions, and a splash of hot sauce. The perfectly creamed grits gave way to delicately simmered shrimp with a subtle hit of pepper and tomato acidity. The balance made me pause a few moments while the entire test kitchen and its audience fell into a distant background murmur.

buttermilk chicken n biscuit

Buttermilk Chicken N’ Biscuits 
Maple-Bourbon Drizzle

Served appetizer-style, these wholesome fried chicken bites nestled in a delicate blanket of buttery, sticky-sweet goodness perfect for sharing.  Served here with house peppered dill pickle.

fried chicken

Fried Chicken Wings
Homemade Honey Buffalo Sauce | Maple-Bourbon Drizzle


Charleston Shrimp & Sausage Perloo
Florida Shrimp, Benton Bacon, Lake Meadow Red & Green Peppers

maple bourbon drizzle

Maple-Bourbon Drizzle

Hello! Once I recovered from the thrill of this lovely light glaze presented in a cast iron dutch oven with a ladle *breathe*,  I was able to drizzle a nice spoonful over the famous fried chicken from Heaven. Yes, from Heaven. YUM!

coop deviled eggs

Deviled Eggs
Lake Meadow Organic, Goat Cheese, Dill

Creating a deviled egg for any occasion or nod to virtually any area of the globe is certainly a trend on the food circuit, heightened by up-swinging southern interest. While I’ve personally turned a number of the boiled delectables into a taste of the nations, you’ll not find such adventure at The COOP. What you will experience is a blessed perfection hailing to old-fashioned farm egg. Shared sentiments include my love of local organic dairy, and endorsement of Lake Meadow Naturals sustainable farming practices. A Sriracha dot adds liquid heat that ground cayenne or smoked paprika cannot.

pimento cheese
Pimento Cheese
Who loves pimento cheese? We all do, right?

grilled cheese

Three Cheese Grilled Toasts
Fontina, Gruyere, Cheddar, Arugula

Nothing short of comfort food, this grilled cheese was the perfect bite to fill the belly with love.

macaroni and cheese

COOP Mac N’ Cheese
Creamy Three Cheese Combination, Toasted Panko

I could tell this was my grandmother’s macaroni and cheese before I tasted it. The bread crumb baked crust, the way the sauce snugly bathed the noodles in a committed and majestic coat, not too saucy, not too dry, just right. How did I know this before sampling? Because I know southern too, and this dish my friends, is perfection. That’s not to say I may or may not be competing against the crew in the O-Town MacDown in August!

cinnamon roll bread pudding

Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding

coop cookies n cream moon pie

COOP Moon Pies
Cookies & Cream

peanut butter moon pie

COOP Moon Pies
Peanut Butter

Rioja Wine

Wine Program Provided by Rioja Wines


Winter Park Distilling Co. coop winter park distilling 2 coop fruitstrawberry mojito

Strawberry Mojito
Dog Island Rum, Fresh Lime Juice, Mint Simple Syrup, Muddled Strawberries, Club Soda

A twist on the traditional, this was a favorite of the ladies in attendance.  When asked which cocktail I’d prefer, my response was, “I prefer a gentleman’s drink. SO I’ll have the Manhattan.”

Citrus Manhatan

Citrus Manhattan (plus the cinnamon bread pudding to round out the bourbon)
Bear Gully Classic Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon, sweet vermouth, grapefruit bitters, orange bitters, blood orange liquor

To be fair, I’d estimate this beverage was 95% bourbon, 5% the remaining ingredients, and definitely confirmed as not a weak mix, care of Winter Park Distilling Company. Certainly the best pour I’ve had since my mixologist friend had a party, and also local and hand crafted for a super bonus topper to the evening.

Gift Bags

The Coop guest gifts

The COOP Guest Gift Bags
Famous fried chicken flour, maple bourbon drizzle, The COOP magnet, The COOP Teaser Menu

The COOP will be opening soon at 610 W. Morse Blvd., Winter Park, FL and can be reached by phone at 407-THE-COOP. You can also follow on Facebook and check out their Website.





Chef’s Tasting at Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen

Chef’s Tasting at Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen

Photo courtesy of Dry Creek Kitchen There’s nothing quite like the realization that you are somewhere beyond daily monotony. Post anticipation and preparation for excursions new, there is a certain oxymoronic, anxious calm that manifests just below the collar. It’s like a morning dew that […]

Papa Joe’s Pizza 25th Anniversary Dinner

Papa Joe’s Pizza 25th Anniversary Dinner

Once upon a time in Brooklyn, Sicilian immigrants began opening Italian restaurants and pizzerias showcasing family recipes from their homeland. While the origins of pizza specifically, are hotly debated, the history behind Papa Joe’s is certain. When Papa Joe relocated from Brooklyn, New York to […]

A Kitchen Checklist for a New Home

A Kitchen Checklist for a New Home

…for the Aspiring Cook

Whether starting out on your own, beginning anew, or just plain paring down, this kitchen checklist contains the essentials for your new home. Some items are specific for a reason, to which I’ll elaborate in future posts in this section. Others are open to one’s own tastes and preferences. A sharp knife is first on the list for a reason. It is the most crucial item in any kitchen. Here is a basic kitchen checklist for a new home.


  • Sharp knives
  • Dishwasher safe plastic cutting board
  • Box grater
  • Silicon whisk
  • Heat-safe spatula, slotted spoon, and ladle
  • Strainer
  • Kitchen tongs
  • Measuring spoons
  • Spaghetti fork
  • 4 cup and 1 cup Pyrex liquid measuring cups


  • Sea salt
  • Iodized salt
  • Seasoned salt
  • Black pepper
  • Mustard powder
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Coriander
  • Lemon zest
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Parsley
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Marjoram

Tip: The general rule to convert fresh to dry measurements in a recipe is 1 tsp. dried = 1 Tbs. fresh

These ingredients are useful to add to your collection in the cooler winter months when soups and baked goods are part of your menu.

  • Curry powder
  • Herbs de Provence
  • Bay leaves
  • Tarragon
  • Sage
  • Dill
  • Celery seed or celery salt
  • Whole nutmeg
  • Vanilla extract
  • Almond extract
  • Orange extract


  • Baking soda
  • All-purpose flour
  • Sugar – granulated, brown, powdered, honey, agave nectar
  • Vinegar – white, balsamic, red wine, cider
  • Oil – olive oil, extra virgin, canola, sesame, peanut
  • Tomato – paste, sauce, diced/crushed
  • Beans – pinto, black, garbanzo, white
  • Broth – chicken, beef
  • Pasta – ziti, fusilli, spaghetti, linguine, shell, lasagna
  • Rice – jasmine, basmati, long-grain, arborio
  • Breadcrumbs and crackers
  • Coconut milk
  • Nuts and dried fruits
  • Garlic


  • Ketchup
  • Mayonnaise
  • Dijon mustard
  • Sauces – Worcestershire, soy, Tabasco, barbecue
  • Grape jelly
  • Horseradish
  • Maple syrup
  • Chili paste
  • Marinated items – capers, pickles, artichoke, olives


  • Eggs – farm raised or organic
  • Butter – not margarine!
  • Milk – cow, almond, or soy
  • Cheese – Parmigiano-Reggiano, cheddar
  • Onions – sweet, red, green, shallot
  • Greek yogurt
  • Lemons and limes
  • Frozen berries
  • Frozen spinach and other veggies
  • Meats, fish, seafood fresh or frozen
  • Carrots
  • Apples


Thumbprint Cellars French River Cruise

Thumbprint Cellars French River Cruise

Sonoma winery owners are hosting a food and wine excursion sure to please. The Touring & Tasting Luxury River Wine Cruise to Burgundy and Provence is an all-inclusive 8-day vacation April 6 -13, 2014.  Visit the Thumbprint Cellars tour page for details on booking this group tour. Indulge in […]

Anthony Bourdain: Guts And Glory Tour

Anthony Bourdain: Guts And Glory Tour

  Image: Bourdain Guts and Glory Wildly (not a typo) known for his egregious food escapades, Chef Anthony Bourdain takes on his first annual Guts and Glory Tour through our good ‘ole North American states. His globe trotting food and culture binges range from eclectic metropolitan cities such […]

Uptown Art Expo: A Feast for Your Senses

Uptown Art Expo: A Feast for Your Senses


Cranes Roost Park
Saturday, Feb. 16th 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sunday, Feb. 17th 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

The Uptown Art Expo showcases art, color, music, and food. The streets and boardwalk along the lake are perfect for a leisurely stroll through fine arts exhibits and plenty of nosh at this 2nd annual event. International Street cuisine and good old-fashioned festival foods available throughout the event. I’ve inquired about specific vendors and will update as soon as I receive more info.

The festival is free and will feature a Chalk Street Painting masterpiece creation, street performers, and live music performed by Marty Balin of Jefferson on Saturday and Firefall Trio on Sunday. The Uptown Art Expo even entertains the kids with face painting, a bounce house, and a sand art station.

To find out more details visit Uptown Art Expo

NYC Restaurant Week

NYC Restaurant Week

Enjoy NYC Restaurant Week  January 13 – February 8th $25 lunch | $38 dinner 3 courses Here’s the info you need: Participating Restaurants Browse and book at Open Table  

Fiddler’s Green

Fiddler’s Green

Photo from Florida Burger Lover Fiddler’s Green Irish Pub rem·i·nisce /ˌreməˈnis/ Verb: Indulge in enjoyable recollection of past events. Synonyms: remember, recollect A colleague recently turned 29, yes for real, not 29 again. As per usual, the birthday person selects the lunch venue and the fun […]