COMING TO DISNEY SPRINGS: JOSé ANDRéS
In addition to feeding much of Puerto Rico after the hurricane and Washington, D.C., workers who are suffering during the government shutdown, celebrity chef and humanitarian José Andrés is pushing forward on his super-huge new restaurant Jaleo to debut soon in Disney Springs. The design inspiration? An artichoke. His ThinkFoodGroup is working with renowned Spanish design firm Capella Garcia Arquitectura on the 22,000-square-foot project (his largest to date), which will have petals that open up, forming pergolas. There will be no straight lines, no cubic forms, no opaque walls. The freestanding, two-story building lacks solid walls and is completely open to the outside, with large windows offering views of the lake while protecting diners from the sun. Whoa.
The idea of Jaleo, the Spanish word for "revelry," informs what will be a large, family-style gathering space. Think tapas, sangria and foosball tables, then elegant central seating for paellas and grilled meats from an open kitchen with a wood fire grill, and near the front corner a quick-serve section for street-food-inspired sandwiches and salads. Andrés' first Jaleo debuted in Washington, D.C., in 1993. This will be his first restaurant in Central Florida.
UKA-PALOOZA: A SPAM-OFF
You have no idea what I just said, right? The Tampa Bay Uke Society will put on a ukulele festival on Feb. 9. As part of the celebration they will hold an amateur Spam-Off. Beginning at noon at the Charles M. Davis Special Events Center at the Florida State Fairgrounds, eight amateur cooks will go mano a mano with everyone's favorite canned lunch meat (or, you know, Spam). Chefs will receive a list of 11 ingredients plus Spam in the basket. Contestants will compete two at a time at two identical cooking stations that will include two hotplates, a small oven, pots and pans and utensils. Contestants will create a recipe using at least five of the ingredients plus the Spam and one secret item of their choice. Does this sound like you? Are you itching to show the world your best Spam concoction? Call Emily Stehle at (727) 688-7993 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Oh, and there's also a Spam carving contest that day. It's a real thing.
SAVE THE DATE: FORKS & CORKS
The 2019 Forks & Corks Food & Wine Festival celebrates its 12th year Jan. 24 to 27, presented by the Sarasota-Manatee Originals. Taking place at participating Originals restaurants across Sarasota, Manatee and Venice, the 2019 winemaker dinners will feature extravagant multicourse affairs with top wineries such as Chateau Lagrange from Bordeaux, France; Iron Horse Vineyards from Sonoma, Calif.; Paul Cluver Wines (Best of Show white wine) from Elgin, South Africa; and others. Dinners are being added daily and can be found at eatlikealocal.com/forksandcorks/2019-events. For reservations, contact participating restaurants directly.
GROCERY WARS: SPROUTS SPROUTS NEW LOCATIONS
Sprouts Farmers Market, one of the fastest-growing retailers in the country, just announced plans for three additional Florida stores: in Tampa at Bruce B. Downs Boulevard and Hunter's Green Drive, in Seminole at Seminole Plaza and a third in Stuart on the other coast. The grocer currently operates six stores in the state and just opened a store in Clearwater. Locations in Wellington and Naples will come in the first quarter of 2019.