“You can’t study the day before and take this test,” says Jane Bauer, the certification manager for the American Cheese Society. The professionals taking this test need at least 4,000 hours of work experience in the cheese business. “There’s a difference between certification and certificates. A lot of people try to call things certifications, and they’re not.”
Stock your shelves and storage containers with our spices and seasonings, from classic American rubs to international spices and salts. Infuse every dish with flavor with a little help from our vast variety of condiments and sauces. From gourmet mustards and fine oils and vinegars to zesty barbeque sauces and spicy hot sauces, we have something to spread, dip or drizzle on all of your favorite foods.
These programs prepare you to be a taste authority, a sensory expert, an arbiter and evangelist in the field, but you’re likely not producing anything. Even so, they’re in demand. What is it about this epoch that values such mastery over taste? Were we all truly so clueless and naive about these matters once upon a time? Has life become so fraught and complicated that even decisions over our smallest pleasures now require expert intervention?
I love chicken parmesan… SO much.  But I definitely don’t love the tedious breading process, so many dishes to wash, and how long it can take to make it!  I dreamt up this dish a while ago, then found out The Cookie Rookie had already made a great version… so I headed over to her page and made some tweaks based on what I had on hand.  This version is made with everyday ingredients, and is incredibly flavorful!
A gourmet doesn't see food as a means to an end. To a gourmet, food is art. These food enthusiasts are into edible luxury. Gourmets enjoy the experience of eating, making, or displaying food. Some even explore the history and the anthropology of the foods they eat. A gourmet takes time and care in preparing food and usually eat food slowly. Gourmets frequent places that offer extra information about a food's origin and where ingredients are of top quality, foods are prepared from scratch, and the dishes are served in a luxurious manner. The person you may have called a gourmet years ago might today be called a "foodie."
Why go: Although originally set up in Key West, Santiago’s now boasts two additional locations in Orlando, each with a particular personality. This communal spot embodies the sharing mentality behind Spanish-style small plates. Come here with a large group to sample the breadth of the menu but make sure not to leave before really delving into the space’s look. The reclaimed wood bar top, stained glass windows, Gaudi-esque furniture and one-of-a-kind artwork all over the restaurant make it that much more special.
Yes. Orlando has theme parks. Lots of ‘em. The best in the world, some might say (we certainly would). But we’re also a city of real-live people who might spend some of our date nights drinking around the world at Epcot... but not all of them. In recent years, our foodie scene has exploded. We’ve got James Beard nominees among our elite. We’ve got fancy eats and food trucks and quite frankly, we like them all. And so do our record-breaking numbers of visitors. Sure, they love Dole Whip as much as we do. Who wouldn't?! But we also think they'll love the bleu cheese-laden pub burger at the Ravenous Pig or the incredibly fresh and creative offerings at Kabooki Sushi as much as the rest of us. On this list, you’ll find Asian soup in spades, from silky Japanese ramen at Domu to mouthwatering Malaysian Kari mee at Mamak Asian Street Food. You'll find phenomenal high-rent steaks and snappy, spicy, house-made currywurst at a neighborhood butcher shop. We've got spectacular Spanish and sublime internationally-infused fare the shadow of a grand, gorgeous fountain. So, step away from the kiosk chicken tenders, tourists. Our impressive culinary scene awaits….
Serving ‘food for the starving artist’, Café Tu Tu Tango is an artsy, colorful little venue with a huge spirit of fun and community. Local artists display their work on the restaurant’s walls and strike up conversation with guests, while local ingredients are turned into delicious, tapas-style concoctions perfect for sharing. Try the Argentinean-style orange chimmichurri steak, the adventurous guava-glazed barbecue pork ribs or the chorizo al fuego – a delicious mix of spicy Spanish chorizo served with brandy-glazed fingerling potatoes. The atmosphere at Café Tu Tu Tango is vibrant and bohemian, so prepare to dive into a world where creativity meets community.
The meaning of the word Gourmet has evolved throughout the centuries. The word Gourmet is derived from an old French term for a servant that works with wine. The French are known for their love of foods, and word Gourmet often is tied to French cuisine particularly in relation to their cheese and wine. By the 1700s, the terms Gourmet and Gourmand were used to simply describe an individual who enjoyed overeating. Luckily, Gourmet lost its derogatory connotation and has been rehabilitated into a positive term, describing a highly desirable type of food.

With taste education so intertwined with commerce, some public skepticism over such certifications is understandable. This past fall, a cheating scandal rocked the Court of Master Sommeliers, which had to invalidate the tasting portion of its hallowed master sommelier diploma exam. One of the proctors had leaked the exam’s most sacred secrets: the identity of the wines that the master’s candidates were supposed to taste blind.
Owners Marshall Phanthachit and Kevin Phanhvilay aren’t shy about displaying the full spectrum of flavors of Laotian cuisine at their popular Mills 50 eatery. The sweet, the spicy, the fishy and the fermented are presented in street snack form and, best of all, the whole menu can be had for around $65. Scooping wee balls of sticky rice in one hand then dipping it into jaew mak len (a charred tomato paste) or jaew bong (sweet chili paste with pork skin) is digital dining at its finest. Lemongrass pork sausage, sesame beef jerky and pork tapioca dumplings shouldn’t be overlooked. The fearless can test their fortitude with the funky, fermented, fishy quintessence of thum maak thang, a spicy cucumber salad.
Considering that the last time I took a hard science class was when I received a C-plus in high school chemistry, believe me when I tell you I had trouble keeping up. Luckily, the exam we will take in a few weeks — to receive our course certificates — will be open-notebook, and we are provided a glossary and all the pages of Jacobsen’s PowerPoint presentation.
Indeed, what the rise of specialized taste education, the cult of sensory analysis, and the wine-ification of everything means is that taste is becoming more and more codified all the time. There are good tastes and bad tastes; not only that, there’s a growing caste of gatekeepers in every field who are keeping score on what tastes great, middling and flawed. Maybe this is what morality or philosophy looks like in an increasingly post-religious, post-intellectual, materialistic United States. We are a people in need of an authority, a higher voice, some guidance — even if it comes from behind the cheese counter. Maybe, for many affluent Americans, the sommeliers of everything represent something shaman-like. Listen to me. I am your one true sommelier.

Chef Shuichi Tanida left his post at Epcot’s Mitsukoshi restaurant to open a downtown ramen shop (appropriately dubbed “The Ramen”) in the former Philly Connection space and the soup cognoscenti have caught on. The broths, be it tonkotsu, shoyu or miso are unquestionably legit and there’s even a vegan ramen offered. The soup-averse can give any of the donburi (rice bowls) or bento boxes (with choice of karaage, panko-fried chicken tender, or potato croquette) a go but, really, it’s all about the ramen at The Ramen.
When I move to the evaluation portion, however, I immediately realize I am in way over my head. Any hubris I had cracks when I pop my first sample, a soft-ripened cheese, into my mouth. I chew. It just tastes like … soft cheese. I am supposed to evaluate this based on 70 characteristics and flaws in four categories (appearance, aroma, texture and flavor). And not just the presence of, say, a nutty or herbal aroma or an animal or grassy flavor, but “much too little,” “too little,” “just about right,” “too much” or “much too much.” At the table in front of me I see another candidate spit into a bucket. Wait a minute! I think. Are we supposed to spit cheese when we taste it, like wine? I spit my soft-ripened cheese into the bucket on my table (which is gross, to be honest). Still, I gamely trudge on for almost three hours. When I get to the evaluation sheet for Emmental-style (i.e., Swiss) cheese, there is a category for “Eye Development,” with characteristics such as blind, underset, irregular and dead/dull eyes. So cheese has eyes? When I approach the cheesemongers for a sample of cheddar, I steal a glance at the clipboard of a bearded guy in a Hawaiian shirt and Birkenstocks standing next to me. He marks “seamy” on one of his score sheets. What does it mean to have a seamy cheese? I am so out of my league, I don’t even know what I don’t know.

Alright, the title's a little misleading. Technically only the No. 1 pick – Walt Disney World's famed Five-Diamond venue Victoria & Albert's – actually requires male guests to wear jackets. Some diners balk at restaurant dress codes, but when it comes to fine dining, wearing a special-occasion dress or cufflinks seems to level everything up, making an opulent evening out that much more sumptuous. Not that you'd call the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa's signature venue anything but. With up to 14 prix fixe courses available, dining at Victoria & Albert's is nothing less than a culinary experience, which is why reservations are best made well in advance. But lest you think the Disney realm is the only place in Orlando where dining is magical, be sure to investigate this roster’s other gems. Those looking for a classic steakhouse experience will find no fault at Christner's Prime Steak & Lobster where thick cuts are seared to perfection and the side dishes are as decadent as anything off the dessert menu.  Celebrity chef Norman Van Aken's namesake at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes will delight those who enjoy Floribbean fare and if you're looking for something with more of a locals-only feel, check out his newer venture in Mount Dora: 1921. Its charming, walkable location boasts many options for pre-meal cocktails and window shopping to work up your appetite.
MEAT. It's what's for dinner (and breakfast, brunch and lunch) at this Mills 50 mecca of all things carnivorous. Grass-fed beef, pastured pork, goat, lamb, eggs, you name it - all of it locally sourced - is what goes into dishes like the Sloppy Jehosephat (loose beef and cheddar on a French roll), the arugula-and-cheddar-laden Crushinator breakfast sammich ("No, Pa! I love him!") and a medium-rare burger that the whole of Orlando's meat-eating community has unanimously raved about. Orlando Meats is open for all three squares; the breakfast menu features some creative spins on traditional offerings, but serious carnivores can order up that signature burger at 8 am if their lovingly clogged hearts so desire. Other delights, including sippable beef or chicken bone broth and house-made doughnuts, are also worth the visit.
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